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The Empire. Between dispute and nostalgia

Edited By Emanuel Plopeanu, Gabriel Stelian Manea and Metin Omer

The book examines how different imperial models of diplomacy, administration, economics, and cultural and religious policies were challenged or, on the contrary, defended during and after the collapse of the Empires that promoted them. It provides an overview from multiple perspectives of the imperial phenomenon in all its dimensions, and the studies published in this volume address broad chronological segments and geographical areas relevant to the imperial idea.

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Ubique Victor. Triumphus, Christianity and the Ritualization of Imperial Continuity

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Abstract: Arguably, every empire spins a complex web of political symbolism, embedded in all state rituals, re-enacted on every available social stage, and enriched according to each and all historical developments. My chapter endeavours to illustrate this by probing into the avatars of the Roman ceremony of the triumph in Late Roman, Byzantine, and Early Medieval times. As the notion and substance of empires change, cultural heritage is carried over and harnessed for new propaganda goals, fine-tuned according to religious and social demands. The triumphus is thus replicated in a new political environment, catering to the needs of novel imperial agendas. State rituals such as the funeral, the apotheosis, and the adventus, incorporate and appropriate old triumphal elements. By charting the way a liturgie civique becomes a Sieghaftigkeit ritual and ultimately a form of trans-or post-imperial legitimacy, I will attempt to show that behind any imperial nostalgia lurks the pragmatic need for articulating control and negotiating identities. This said, the imperial discourse on nostalgia can run the whole gamut from jingoistic exaltation to submissive heritage management. From the Flavian triumph in Rome to Clovis’ return to Tours, the Christianized triumph of John Troglita in Carthage, and the victories of quasi-Biblical attire celebrated by post-imperial kings after 600AD, the present chapter will recast rituals of continuity as the “political arm” of nostalgia.

Keywords: Roman triumph, paganism, ritual, political celebrations

For over a century and a half now, scholars have debated the triumph as the most...

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