A ROMAN TRIUMPH (CONTINUED)
OF course all the spectators cheered the victorious
general when he thus marched through Rome in triumph;
and they praised him so highly that there was some
danger that his head would be turned by their flattery.
To prevent his becoming too conceited, however, a
wretched slave was perched on a high seat just behind
him. This slave wore his usual rough clothes, and was
expected to bend down, from time to time, and whisper
in the conqueror's ear:
"Remember you are nothing but a man."
Then, too, a little bell was hung under the chariot, in
such a way that it tinkled all the time. This ringing
was to remind the conqueror that he must always be
good, or he would again hear it when he was led to
prison, or to gallows; for the passage of a criminal in
Rome was always heralded by the sound of a bell.
 If the
victory was not important enough to deserve a triumph,
such as has just been described, the returning general
sometimes received an ovation. This honor was something
like a triumph, but was less magnificent, and the
animal chosen as the victim for sacrifice was a sheep
instead of a bull.
The Roman who received an ovation came into the city on
foot, wearing a crown of myrtle, and escorted by flute
players and other musicians. The procession was much
smaller than for a triumph, and the cheers of the people
were less noisy.
Now you must not imagine that it was only the generals
and consuls who were publicly honored for noble deeds.
The Romans rewarded even the soldiers for acts of
bravery. For instance, the first to scale the walls of
a besieged city always received a crown representing a
wall with its towers. This was well known as a mural
crown, and was greatly prized. But the man who saved
the life of a fellow-citizen received a civic crown, or
wreath of oak leaves, which was esteemed even more
All those who fought with particular bravery were not
only praised by their superiors, but also received
valuable presents, such as gold collars or armlets, or
fine trappings for their horses. The soldiers always
treasured these gifts carefully, and appeared with them
on festive occasions. Then all their friends would
admire them, and ask to hear again how they had been
All Roman soldiers tried very hard to win such gifts.
They soon became the best fighters of the world, and
are still praised for their great bravery.