When it comes to the “triumph,” the subjected realms of the Roman Empire would be enlightened as to these happenings through the never-ending stream of Roman imperial propaganda (of which the Caesar cult was part and parcel and served to undergird), proclaiming the endless glory and power of Rome, the bringer of peace and security. Finally, those that were defeated at the hands of Rome would be well aware of this grand event, as they would find themselves as very unwilling and unfortunate participants.
So what was this “triumph”? The “triumph” was perhaps the greatest honor that could be bestowed upon a citizen of the empire. The “triumph” would generally be connected to the leading of an army to victory over an enemy of Rome. Also known as the “triumphus”, it was a both a civil ceremony and a religious ritual. As just indicated, it was held in order to celebrate the celebrate the military achievement of an army commander who had posted significant military successes. By origin and by tradition, the triumph would be held at the successful completion of a war on foreign soil---enemy conquered.
Though there are records indicating the celebration of hundreds of “triumphs,” in line with the elevation of the Caesar to the status of “son of god” in connection with Augustus Caesar (the reason that Augustus began to be referred to in this way, with this epithet falling to the emperors to follow him, is that Julius Caesar, who was essentially deified at his death, was also said to have adopted Augustus as his son via his last will and testament, thus he could be referred to as the “son of god”. Augustus is not the given name of the emperor, but rather, it means “revered one”), the number of “triumphs” dropped dramatically. Between 27 B.C. and 166 A.D., there were only five recorded “triumphs.” Therefore, in the time of John the Revelator, though few such events had taken place, these few events were accorded a place within the civil and religious liturgy of the Roman Empire. As one would expect when power and prestige and authority moves from the many to the few (or the singular), the number of “triumphs” dropped dramatically upon Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire.
On the day that the “triumph” would take place, the one being so honored, if not the emperor---in the vast majority of cases, a general, would wear clothing that would readily identify him as semi-divine or kingly. Essentially, the one that would be referred to as the “man of triumph” was being trumpeted as something close to “king for a day.” The clothing that he wore would be that which was traditionally associated with the statue of “Jupiter Capitolinus,” the supreme deity of Rome. This would include a pure white and gold toga, a laurel crown, and red boots. He might even have his face reddened in honor of the god whose garments he was presumed to be wearing, albeit briefly. Obviously, if it was the emperor himself, then his divinity, along with his kingly status, would be a given and implied.
The one being celebrated, the man of triumph, would ride through the streets of Rome in a chariot. He would do so at the head of a procession with his army and the spoils of his victorious campaign of warfare trailing behind him. His army would be unarmed. The only weapon (or weapons, as there would often be more than one) to be found within the procession would be something known as the “fasces,” carried by the bodyguard of the honoree. Though carried by his guard, it would be understood that this weapon is one that had been truly wielded, and would be well handled, by the celebrant. The “fasces” is a bundle of sticks, tied together, with the blade of an axe emerging from the center of the bundle. Traditionally, this symbolized power and jurisdiction, and the power of life over death. It often served as a symbol of Rome itself.