We are set in the Rome of the 70dc, which is bursting with excitement by the news coming from the overseas. Titus Flavius Vespasian, the Emperor Vespasian’s son, has beaten, after seven years of war, the so-called revolt of the Jews. After this triumph, he devastates and plunders the second temple of Jerusalem, and in its place he installs the Legio X Fretensis headquarters. There is honour and money for the needing coffers of the Empire’s capital. With their work done, the accomplishment and the highest honours, Titus Flavius sails from Alexandria to Rome where his father prepares a godly welcome.
Those of you who will be in Tarragona’s amphitheatre on Friday the 5th or Saturday the 6th of August will be able to enjoy a live show related to the historical re-enactment of ‘A Triumph in Rome: The celebration of a military victory‘ which is going to be starred by local groups as Projecte Phoenix, Nemesis Arq and Thaleia accompanied by the principal research music group, the Italian Ludi Scaenici. ‘A triumph in Rome‘ is the main novelty and the highlight of this edition of Tarragona Living History.
But what was the Triumph about? The Triumph was the solemn arrival of a victorious general in Rome, who wanted the country to reward their efforts, recognize and prize their achievements. It is itself a religious festival, an official act of thanksgiving to the Maximum Optimal Jupiter winner, the patron of the city.
However, the survival of this triumph is still alive in our culture. Isn’t Barça’s parade a triumph, when it wins the Champions League? Even the popular procession of Santa Tecla’s festivities is an evolution of the Roman triumph.
Did you know that there is a documented list of triumphs, from the archaic age until the 19 BC?. This list, called fasti Triumphalis, was exposed to the travellers on one of the walls of the region (Maximum Pontiff’s home). The list is still being preserved today in the current Palace of the Conservatives at the Capitoline Museums of Rome.
The triumphal parade (the pump):
What was it like, the triumphal pomp? Did it follow any guidelines at all?
On the day agreed by the Senate or the Emperor, the victorious general, who had been waiting (sometimes for months) at Campus Martius with his army, entered Rome which had been embellished with all the traditional ceremony’s elements. The parade began entering Rome by the so-called Triumphalis door, the position of which is unknown, but that would probably be the oldest door in the city. Then the procession continued to the Circus Flaminius, Boari Forum, the Circus Maximus, the Via Sacra, crossing the Roman Forum and ended up at the Capitol in front of the temple of Jupiter.
Every single spot in the city: the streets and squares, were decorated with garlands, the temples were open and all the platforms raised towards the sky, clambered by columns of incense.
The Delegation was headed by many senators and judges who were representing the Senate and Rome’s inhabitants, who thus followed a band of trumpets. Then, there came the wagons –carrying spoils and the booty taken from the enemy–. This demonstration of strength and power was accompanied by banners with a list of the cities and territories which had been conquered, followed by wreaths bearers and gold bidders offered to kings and peoples allies.
The following Command in the parade were the bulls and animals which had to be slaughtered. Bulls should be white or with a white spot on their heads. They wore golden horns and a triangle representing an eagle, the Jupiter’s symbol. And, after the animals, there were the enemy leaders and other prisoners who, once arrived at the Capitol, were executed the first ones, and sold as slaves the second ones.
Then there came the lictors with the fasces, the vase bearers, some ‘pebeters’ with their perfumes, and musicians, who preceded the car of the winner –drawn by four white horses–. This one was dressed up in palmate tunic (a purple tunic with golden palm patterns) and the toga picta (a golden geometric gown with stars). On their heads, they wore a laurel wreath (the symbol of Mars) on their left hands, they carried a branch of laurel, and on their right hands a sceptre with an eagle, the symbol of Jupiter. Their faces and hands were painted orange, after the colour of the original terracotta statue of Jupiter and the immortal’s colour. All this was known as the ‘’ornatus jovis’’ or as the ‘’ornatus triumpahlis’’; and once the pump was returned to the temple of Jupiter, it was safely kept.
The soldiers closed the pump with its distinctive decorations and laurel wreaths on their heads. The legionnaires went on shouting: Io triumphe! (Here the victory!).
Once the pump was over at the Capitol, the victor sacrificed the victims (bulls) and then a banquet was offered to their guests, one for the senators and magistrates, and another for their soldiers, friends and the inhabitants in general. While the festival initially lasted one day, to increase the spoils of the war, the victor could extend general celebrations.
The victory that will be recreated on the 5th and the 6th of August at Tarragona’s amphitheatre does not refer to anything in particular, although a large part has been taken from the Arc de Triomphe –built in honour to the emperor Titus for his victory over the Jews and the texts of Flavi Josep (“The Jews’ war”)–. Will you dare to miss it?
PROGRAM OF TARRAGONA HISTÒRIA VIVA
From the bar to the street, from the theatre to the community centre, from the Part Alta to the Serrallo; not a single place in Tarragona can avoid to get moving at the sound of Dixieland Festival, the city’s spring symphony. On the way to its 20th edition, the show has found some fertile basis on the party personality of Tarragona, as well as bringing an entire generation of local musicians the chance of taking centre stage. Raül Cid, Stromboli Jazz Band’s vocalist and trombonist, is living these days a true jazz musician’s dream. Dixieland Festival is written by means of names like his.
Raül had already showing huge devotion for BB King, Percy Sledge or Aretha Franklin, but it was when first watching Dixieland Festival in Tarragona, as a young boy, that he knew exactly who he’d like to become. From that moment, he has put all the effort, talent and character in the service of the score. After performing for thirteen years on an emblematic local musical training, Small River, Raül and a group of friends set up the Stromboli Jazz Band, style and musical attitude in continuous eruption.
Attitude, yes; because not all music will necessary sound properly, says Raül. “Dixie is popular jazz music, a kind of festival conjunction, and Tarragona likes to have fun. Of course, this music style does particularly allow everything you have inside as a performer to flow out. If you feel cool and tuned, chemistry works, and people will enjoy that. On the other hand though, if you are on a bad mood with yourself or the rest of the band, nothing will work and it’ll be harder to connect with the public”, explains using pedagogy.
And this is actually what Hot Jazz is all about; colour at the rhythm of brass and improvisation, a style that derives from classic standards, but also able of integrating, recycling and becoming enriched with new popular music models, just like the Stromboli music band did with Star Wars.
Dixieland’s sound was born about a century ago by the Mississippi, but it soon settled in Tarragona, where artists such as Chic Corea, Bebo Valdés or the Dirty Dozen Brass Band have left a mark. Despite this being the only festival specialized of this kind in Spain, and one of the very few ones in Europe, it also gathers other music genres on its programme; from modern jazz to flamenco, to swing, bebop, funky, soul and blues, which comes to define a rich and varied soundtrack.
In a period of budget containment, fame on this year’s edition, April 7-13, will be split between a bunch of musicians in good shape, such as Randy Greer, Perico Sambeat and Llibert Fortuny, or Joan Chamorro and Andrea Motis, but it will also count on a number of local bands such as Pixidixi Band, Feos, Diximania or the above mentioned Stromboli or Small River, which will keep standards very high indeed by means of their effort, rigour and passion.
For them, the festival is not just a mere celebration but the best possible way of professional advertising. In a moment of general greyness, Raül Cid does not miss a beat and points at Dixie as the light in the dark: “People need good vibes and Dixie passes some on”. Music, people say, soothes the savage beast and, sometimes, can even make it dance.
(We’d like to thank Peter Martínez, the emblematic Cal Peter owner, and Montse Adán.)