Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Back To Rome

In ancient Roman times, so the story goes, Roman generals and emperors who had won victories over Rome's enemies would be given what was called triumphus, which was basically a ceremonial procession celebrating the victorious general or emperor. This was a big deal and something only the Senate could grant, as I understand it.

On the day of his triumphus, the victor would dress up all fancy and ride through the streets of Rome in a chariot (probably slave-driven), and people would cheer for him and shower him with flowers. Captured prisoners from the other side would also march in the procession in chains, and just for fun, a captured general from the other side might be strangled to death. Sometimes a monument would also be erected in honor of the victor. There was also usually a massive feast and, basically, a huge party.

What I find interesting, though, is that there might have been the temptation for these processions to be used by the victor as self-promotional events or as a way of causing the victor to get a big head. To help prevent this, certain precautions were taken.

The man being honored was expected to conduct himself with the utmost dignity and humility and remember that his triumph was on behalf of his people, Rome, and the gods. He was also given a wreath which he offered in a temple to the gods as a symbol of the fact that he wasn't aspiring to be king of Rome.

My favorite thing, however (which may or may not be true) was that during the procession there was a slave whose job it was to whisper in the victor's ear things that would remind him of his mortality or remind him to remain humble. The specific words may have been something like "Look behind you, remember you are only a man,' or "Remember that you are mortal," or "all glory is fleeting," or something along those lines.

Imagine having this huge, massive celebration because of important things you did and having some guy all day whispering in your ear that it will all go away, that you're just a man, that you'd better stay humble. I was thinking some of our leaders or celebrities today could use that. Heck, I think we all could. Just some guy whispering in our ears that we need to remember how we got where we are and who we did it for and that it's not about us at all and that everything we have worked so hard for could just as easily be gone tomorrow.

I suppose the Holy Ghost serves that purpose. Too bad so many people, including myself at times, tune Him out.

1 comment:

Neal said...

WOW! That's very powerful. I learned something new today.