Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Trajan's posthumous triumph for his Parthian War

There have been multiple theories proprosed for Trajan's war with Parthia that began in 113 Ce with the pretext that Rome disapproved of a puppet king placed on the throne of Armenia by the Parthians.  Some scholars point to the propaganda value of an Eastern conquest that would emulate, in Roman fashion, those of Alexander the Great.  An expansionist policy was supported by a powerful circle of conservative senators from Hispania, first among them being the all-powerful Licinius Sura as well.  I've previously discussed theories about attempts to balance trade relations with India.  Some scholars, though, think Trajan's original aims were purely military and quite modest: to assure a more defensible Eastern frontier for the Roman Empire, crossing Northern Mesopotamia along the course of the Khabur River in order to offer cover to a Roman Armenia.  Whatever the motivation, Trajan succeeded in placing a client king on the Parthian throne and if he had lived to return to Rome, he probably would have celebrated a triumph.

Image: Relief depicting a deified Trajan's posthumous Parthian triumph in 118 CE, from Praeneste at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale Palestrina courtesy of Carole Raddato.

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