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p418 Porta Triumphalis

Article on pp418‑419 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Porta Triumphalis: * a gate through which a Roman general, who was celebrating a triumph, passed at the beginning of his march. It is mentioned in five passages (Cic. in Pis. 55; Tac. Ann. I.8; Cass. Dio LVI.42; Suet. Aug. 100; Joseph. Bell. Iud. VII.5.4), but only the last contains any topographical indications. These seem to point to a location in the campus Martius, not far from the circus Flaminius and the villa Publica. Four views have been held as to the character of this gate and its site: (1) that it was a gate in the Servian wall between the porta Flumentana and the porta Carmentalis (Nibby, Mura di Roma 1821, 132‑134; Piale, Delle porte del monte Aventino e delle altre occidentali di Roma, 1834, 19‑27; LR 64); (2) that the circus Maximus abutted on the city wall and that the porta Triumphalis was its principal entrance at this point (Bunsen, Beschreibung der Stadt Rom i.630‑633; II.1.439‑441; Mél. 1909, 135‑140; (3) that it was merely a name given to any gate through which the victorious general entered the city, or to a temporary arch erected at any point along the line of march (Morpurgo, BC 1908, 107‑150);a (4) that it was an arch or gate standing by itself in the campus Martius, according to the indications of Josephus noted above (Becker, Topogr. 149‑154; HJ 495; Richter 124). This is the generally accepted explanation at present. For a full discussion and citation of literature, see Morpurgo op. cit.; v. Domaszewski, AR 1909, 70, 73, who thinks p419the porta Triumphalis was built to take the place in the triumph which previously was held by the porta Carmentalis; and Makin in JRS 1921, 25‑36.


Thayer's Note:

a While surely there must have been a few improvised triumphal arches (and what else would one call them if not arcus or portae triumphales?), this is the weakest of the 4 schools of thought, since Not. app. includes a triumfalis among its 29 gates.


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