a lesser triumph; the terms applied by the
Greek writers on Roman history are πεζὸς θρίαμβος,
or εὔας θρίαμβος.
It was distinguished from TRIUMPHUS
in the following particulars:--The general did not enter
the city in a chariot drawn by four horses, but on foot; he was not arrayed
in the gorgeous gold embroidered robe, but in the simple toga praetexta of a
magistrate; his brows were encircled with a wreath not of laurel but of
myrtle; he bore no sceptre in his hand; the procession was not heralded by
trumpets, headed by the senate and thronged with victorious troops, but was
enlivened by a crowd of fluteplayers, attended chiefly by knights and
plebeians, frequently without soldiers; the ceremonies were concluded by the
sacrifice not of a bull but of a sheep. (Plut.
; Dionys. A. R.
; Gel. 5.6
.) We must, however,
reject, alike on the grounds of form and probability, the theory of Plutarch
(and of some modern writers) that the word ovatio
is derived from this sacrifice of an ovis.
It cannot be said that the etymology is certain, but
the most probable is that (which Fick holds) from a root av,
which appears in αὔω,
“to shout,” &c.; hence the views of Festus that it came
from saying repeatedly O! in gladness, and of Dionysius that it came from
have at least an element of
truth. At least we may surmise that the word ovo
meant “to rejoice” before it was connected with
sacrifice at all. Dionysius is mistaken in assigning a laurel chaplet to the
conqueror on these occasions, since all the Roman writers agree with
Plutarch in representing that the myrtle crown, hence called ovalis corona,
was a characteristic of the ovation.
(Festus, s. v. Ovalis Corona;
Pliny, Plin. Nat. 15.125
; Plut.; Gell. ll. cc.
) Compare CORONA
In later times, the victor entered upon horseback (Serv. in
Verg. A. 4.543
), and the ovations celebrated
by Octavianus, Drusus, Tiberius, &c., are usually recorded by Dio
Cassius by a reference to this circumstance (D. C.
Strictly speaking, neither a triumph nor an ovation was granted except to the
victor in a bellum justum:
that is to say, it
could not be claimed upon the defeat of revolted citizens or slaves in a
, “neque aut ovans,
D. C. 42.18
Tac. Hist. 4.4
.) This explains
“Bella geri placuit nullos habitura triumphos.
This rule held with regard to triumphs, but was relaxed for ovations
from an early time, so that Gellius does not mention this as precluding an
ovation (5.6). Thus, for instance, M‘. Aquillius had an ovation,
a triumph, after the Servile war B.C. 100
(Cic. de Orat. 2.47
, 195); see also
the instance of Crassus below, and Octavian's two ovations for the civil
wars, Suet. Aug. 22
. (Cf. Mommsen,
An ovation was granted when the advantage gained, although considerable, was
not sufficient to constitute a legitimate claim to the higher distinction of
a triumph, or when the victory had been achieved with little bloodshed, as
in the case of Postumius Tubertus, who first [p. 2.307]
received this honour (Plin. Nat.
); or when hostilities had not been regularly proclaimed
(Festus, Gell. ll. cc.
); or when the war had not
been completely terminated, which was one of the ostensible reasons for
refusing a triumph to Marcellus on his return from Sicily (Plut. l.c.;
); or when the contest had been
carried on against base and unworthy foes: and hence when the servile bands
of Athenion and Spartacus were destroyed by Perperna and Crassus, these
leaders celebrated ovations only (Florus, 3.19
although the latter by a special resolution of the senate was permitted to
wear a laurel crown.