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Custom spolia opima

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Spolia opima (“great loot”) was a martial custom in republican Rome. According to it, the person who defeated in the direct duel the general of the hostile army was granted the honor of putting the armor drawn from his body and the rest of the gear in the temple of Jupiter Feret’rius on the Capitol.

Tradition derived the custom spolia opima from the early beginnings of Rome, when Romulus was supposed to defeat the king of Sabine – Acron in a duel and take his armor. In fact, this custom probably had a much older origin and originated from some archaic rituals.

In addition to Romulus, spolia opima was done only by two generals in Rome’s history: in 428 BCE Aulus Cornelius Cossus defeated the king of Veii Lars Tolumnius and in 222 BCE Marcellus defeated the leader of the Gauls – Viridomarus. In 29 BCE proconsul of Macedonia Marcus Licinius Crassus was to perform spolia opima for defeating the Bastarn leader, but triumph was blocked by Augustus on the accusation that Crassus was not an independent commander of the army, so he is not entitled to such honor.

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