Monday, December 12, 2016

Second Corinthians 2:14 and Roman Military Triumphs

A Roman military triumphal procession was one of the grandest spectacles of ancient times. It was granted to a conqueror only when certain conditions had been fully complied with. Among these it was required that the victory be complete and decisive, that it should be over a foreign foe, that at least five thousand of the enemy should be slain in a single battle, that the conquest should extend the territory of the state, and that it put an end to the war. When the senate decided that all required conditions had been met, a day was appointed and every necessary arrangement was made for the splendid pageant. When the day arrived the people crowded the streets and filled every place from which a good view of the procession could be obtained. The temples were all open and decorated with flowers, and incense was burned on every altar. Fragrant odors from burning spices were profusely scattered through the temples and along the streets, filling the air with perfume.

In the procession were the senate and chief citizens of the state, who by their presence honored the conqueror. The richest spoils of war—gold, silver, weapons of every description, standards, rare and costly works of art, and everything that was deemed most valuable by either conqueror or vanquished—were carried in open view in the procession. The general in whose honor the triumph was decreed rode in a chariot that was of peculiar form and drawn by four horses. His robe was embroidered with gold, and his tunic with flowers. In his right hand was a laurel bough, and in his left, a scepter. On his brow there was a wreath of Delphic laurel. Amid the shouts of the soldiers and the applause of the populace, the conqueror was carried through the streets to the temple of Jupiter, where sacrifices were offered, after which there was a public feast in the temple.

To the splendors of such a scene the apostle doubtless alludes to in 2 Corinthians 2:14,
"But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere."
He also alludes to the triumphs in Colossians 2:15: “and having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”