Cup from Boscoreale Treasure

A Roman General who returned a conquering hero was, at the pinnacle of his career, celebrated with a Triumph.  He rode through the streets in a chariot displaying the proofs of his success, the captives and the plunder.  He dispensed gifts and wealth to the people, and they worshiped him as a God for a day.

At the same time the Republican Romans liked to remind the General  that he was just a man amongst men.  They didn’t like Generals who got ideas above their station.  They employed two strategies to ground the general triumphant.  Firstly a priest rode behind him on the chariot, reminding him from time to time with the words “remember you are mortal”.  On a lighter note the troops brought the general back to earth with their songs.  Like soldiers the world over they reveled in bawdy rhymes and the butt of most of their songs was their own general.  There were no sacred cows and the victor received a thorough roasting.

We can all do with being brought down to earth from time to time.


Pride is a deceiving sense
you are master of the world;
an all conquering hero,
attended for every word.

Plumed in self-importance
inflated with success
how did your endeavour
end in such a mess?

The higher that you rise
the further that you fall
and when fully deflated
you feel so very small.

Self worth comes from
climbing out of that hole;
overcoming adversity
reveals the true soul.

D. Clancy, Aug 2016