Today on March 1st 752 BC, Romulus, the founding King of Rome, celebrates the first triumph.
A triumph was a major public celebration in ancient Roman times. These exciting parades served both a civil and religious function and typically occurred after a significant military campaign. The objective was to honor the victorious Roman commander and his legionnaires. The troops would march through the streets with spectators cheering at the sidelines. This provided an opportunity to showcase their spoils of war, such as newly acquired slaves, prisoners, rare objects, and even foreign animals. Riding upon a four-horse chariot, the victorious general would wear the iconic gold laurel wreath and dress in a purple toga. This ultimately signified his high, and even divine, status within society.
The parade stopped at Jupiter's Temple on the Capitoline Hill. They would honor the gods by offering gold coins and sacrifices from their spoils. While showing humility in front of the gods, these triumphal parades ultimately served as an important publicity opportunity for the general. According to ancient tradition, Rome’s founding father and first king, Romulus, held the inaugural triumph after winning an important victory against the Caeninenses. Romulus infamously ordered the rape of the Sabine Women, executed their leader, and routed the entire army.
The Romans later built massive triumphal arches to commemorate their greatest victories. Today in Rome, the Arch of Titus and Arch of Constantine still have a dominating presence in the ancient forum. Throughout history, many other military leaders like Charlemagne, Napoleon and Hitler, would seek to recreate the glory of an ancient Roman triumph. The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is perhaps the most grand and recognizable triumphal arch in the world.