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date: 27 September 2023

spolia opimalocked

spolia opimalocked

  • Piero Treves
  •  and Tim Cornell


Spoils offered by a Roman general who had slain an enemy leader in single combat. The practice was traditionally instituted by *Romulus, who fought a victorious duel against King Acron of Caenina, stripped him of his armour, and dedicated it in the newly built temple of Jupiter Feretrius (Livy 1. 10; Plut.Rom. 16). The only other recorded instances were in 437 bce, when the military tribune (see tribuni militum) A. *Cornelius Cossus killed Lars Tolumnius of *Veii, and in 222, when M. *Claudius Marcellus (1) overcame the Celtic chieftain Viridomarus. Interest in the spolia opima revived in 29 bce when M. *Licinius Crassus (2) killed Deldo, king of the *Bastarnae, and claimed the right to dedicate the spoils. Octavian (see augustus) rejected the claim on the (probably spurious) grounds that only the commander of the army was entitled to the spolia opima, and backed his argument by the ‘discovery’ that Cossus had been consul when he slew Tolumnius (although Rich has offered a different interpretation of this episode).


  • Roman Material Culture

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