previous next


TROPAEUM (τρόπαιον), a trophy, a sign and memorial of victory, which was erected on the field of battle where the enemy had turned (tre/pw, troph\) to flight, and, in case of a victory gained at sea, on the nearest land. The expression for raising or erecting a trophy is τροπαῖον στῆσαι or στήσασθαι,to which may be added a genitive with or without ἀπὸ or κατά. The trophy was often left standing for a number of years (see Thuc. 4.67, 5.10; and the passages of Pausanias cited below).

When the battle was not decisive, or each party considered it had some claims to the victory, both erected trophies (Thuc. 1.54, 105; 2.92). Trophies usually consisted of the arms, shields, helmets, &c., of the enemy that were defeated; and from the descriptions of Virgil and other Roman poets, which have reference to the Greek rather than to the Roman custom, it appears that the spoils and arms of the vanquished were placed on the lopped trunk of a tree, which was fixed on an elevation (Verg. A. 11.5; Serv. ad loc.; Lucan 1.135; Stat. Theb. 3.707; Juv. 10.133; Mayor ad loc.). It was consecrated to some divinity with an inscription (ἐπίγραμμα), recording the names of the victors and of the defeated party (Eur. Phoen. 583; Schol. ad loc.; Paus. 5.27.7; Verg. A. 3.288; Ovid, As. Am. 2.744;

Trophy of Augustus. (
Mus. Capitol.
i. tav. v.)

Tac. Ann. 2.22); whence trophies were regarded as inviolable, which even the enemy were not permitted to remove (D. C. 42.58). Sometimes, however, a people destroyed a trophy, if they considered that the enemy had erected it without sufficient cause, as the Milesians did with a trophy of the Athenians (Thuc. 8.24). That rankling and hostile feelings might not be perpetuated by the continuance of a trophy, it seems to have been originally part of Greek international law that trophies should be made only of wood and not of stone or metal, and that they should not be repaired when decayed (Plut. Quaest. Rom. 100.37, p. 273 c; Diod. 13.24). Hence we are told that the Lacedaemonians accused the Thebans before the Amphictyonic council, because the latter had erected a metal trophy (Cic. de Invent. 2.2. 3, 69). It was not, however, uncommon to erect such trophies. Plutarch (Plut. Alc. 29, p. 207 d) mentions one raised in the time of Alcibiades, and Pausanias (2.21.9; 3.14.7; 5.27.7) speaks of several which he saw in Greece. (Wachsmuth, Hell. Alt. vol. ii. pt. i. p. 424, 1st ed.; Schömann, Ant Jur. Publ. Graec. p. 370; Droysen, Gr. Kriegsalterth. p. 94.)

The trophies erected to commemorate naval victories were usually ornamented with the, beaks or acroteria of ships [ACROTERIUM; ROSTRA]; and were generally consecrated to Poseidon or Neptune. Sometimes a whole ship was placed as a trophy (Thuc. 2.84, 92).

The Macedonian kings never erected trophies, for the reason given by Pausanias (9.40.4), and hence the same writer observes that Alexander raised no trophies after his victories over Dareius and in India. The Romans too, in early times, never erected any trophies on the field of battle (Florus, 3.2), but carried home the spoils taken in battle, with which they decorated the public buildings, and also the. private houses of individuals. [SPOLIA] Subsequently, however, the Romans adopted the Greek practice of raising trophies on the field of battle: the first trophies of this kind were erected by Domitius Ahenobarbus and Fabius Maximus in B.C. 121, after their conquest of the Allobroges, when they built at the junction of the Rhone and the Isara towers of white stone, upon which trophies were placed adorned with the spoils of the enemy (Florus, l.c.; Strabo iv. p.185). Pompey also raised trophies on the Pyrenees after his victories in Spain (Strabo iii. p.156; Plin. Nat. 3.18; D. C. 41.24; Sall. ap. Serv. in Verg. A. 11.6); Julius Caesar did the same near Zela, after his victory over Pharnaces (D. C. 42.48), and Drusus, near the Elbe, to commemorate his victory over the Germans (D. C. 51.1; Florus, 4.12). Still, however, it was more common to erect some memorial of the victory at Rome than on the field of battle. The trophies raised by

Coin of M. Furius Philus.

Marius to commemorate his victories over Jugurtha and the Cimbri and Teutones, which were cast down by Sulla and restored by Julius [p. 2.901]Caesar, must have been in the city (Suet. Jul. 11). In the later times of the Republic, and under the Empire, the erection of triumphal arches was the most common way of commemorating a victory, many of which remain to the present day. [ARCUS] We find trophies on the Roman coins of several families. The above coin of M. Furius Philus is an example; on the reverse, Victory or Rome is represented crowning a trophy,

[W.S] [G.E.M]

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: