Ritual Experience

The reused Trajanic reliefs prompted a direct association between Honorius and Trajan.  Honorius celebrated his Spanish ancestry by upholding memories of Trajan, also from Spain.  In fact, Claudian—in a text written to celebrate Honorius’ earlier fourth consulship—traced the Theodosian family back to Trajan, a putative ancestor.  “Not unworthy of reverence nor but newly acquainted with war is the Ulpian family [that of Trajan] and that Spanish house. . .  . Hence came [count] Theodosius, grandfather of Honorius.”[1] Plausibly, the depiction of the ficus Ruminalis, the fig tree, together with the statue of Marsyas in the Trajanic relief close to their display site in the Forum made the representations in the Trajanic reliefs appear palpably real.

  1. [1] Claudian, IV Cons. 17-25: “Haud indigna coli nec nuper cognita Marti / Ulpia progenies et quae diademata mundo / sparsit Hibera domus . . . hinc processit avus.” (trans. M. Platnauer).