This paper examines an ancient Roman ceremony, the Triumph, and explains the effect this ritual had on Roman civilization during the Empire and the effects it still has on our historical interpretation of that society. Using Erving Goffman’s theory of dramaturgy, I compare the leaders of Rome to actors on a stage playing to an audience. In this paper, I argue that the Triumph, which was a ceremony dedicated to the creation of a “God amongst men” in a conquering general, fueled a reciprocal relationship between the actions of society and the way in which we remember the Empire. Achieving a record in historical texts was the primary goal for those who sought immortality; and to attain this they had to be uncommon in a world of commoners. Thus, the imperialistic drive of Roman leaders was not simply about war, it was about becoming a hero of Rome by stretching their empire as far as possible during their reign. The Triumph was the way in which Roman leaders would make sure that the audience, in a controlled environment, would witness this character created through war.
"Dramaturgical History: The Roman Triumph,"
Great Plains Sociologist: Vol. 18:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://openprairie.sdstate.edu/greatplainssociologist/vol18/iss1/2