With Dr. Eireann Marshall
As central as enemies were to the Roman collective imagination, they were crucial to the enunciation of imperial power within the urban fabric of Rome, the Caput Mundi. Victories over enemies in the battlefield were followed by triumphs in Rome, which were headed by vanquished enemies and which displayed spoils of war, as well as canvases recreating the battles that saw their defeats. For each triumphant general, there was his enemy counterpart, just as each triumph was a celebration of one man’s achievement and another’s defeat. Each succeeding emperor intent on expressing his prowess, erected monuments which immortalized not only his achievements but his quasi-divine status by pitting him against his polar opposite, the vulnerable, defeated barbarian.
Triumphal arches, which materialised emperors’ triumphal processions, are littered with both military trophies, symbolising Roman potency, and barbarians, victims of this virility. Barbarians are always depicted in the same way: dishevelled, trousered, and bearded, with hands tied behind their backs and powerless. This virtual tour will take you around the heart of ancient Rome to explore imperial monuments such as the columns of Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, as well as the imperial fora where barbarians were a permanent reminder of imperial success. We will also be recreating the route of triumphs, walking along the Sacra Via past the Arch of Constantine and going through the forum to the Capitoline hill where enemies were ritually garrotted.