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Roman relief showing tropaion
Roman relief showing the tropaion

Tropaion, also simply called the trophy (tropaeum) is a form of military monument erected by Greeks and Romans in honour of victory in the battle. It was usually a vertical pole in the shape of a tree with outstretched arms (later crossed with two sticks), to which captured military items were attached. The trophy was next sacrificed to deities for victory.

Probably the most often tropaeumwas exposed to the public in Rome. During the Republic, it was part of the political game and an attempt to gain fame and electorate. One of the Roman chiefs, Marcellus, personally made such a Tropaion and carried it on his shoulders, riding a chariot during a triumph.

The image of such a Tropaion appears on the beautiful “Gemma Augustea” from the beginning of the first century CE.

Later, made of marble or metal, it took the form of a monument – an example is the tropaion of Trajan in Adamklissi, erected after the victory over the Dakis in 109 CE.

Soldiers of Augustus build tropaeum after a victorious battle with the Iberian Cantabras tribe around 25 BCE.
Author: Seán Ó'Brógáin for Ancient Warfare
  • Mała encyklopedia kultury antycznej, PWN, Warszawa

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