A triumph in ancient Rome was a public honor bestowed on a general who had been successful in war. It consisted of a solemn procession along the Via Sacra up to the Capitol, where sacrifice was offered to Jupiter. The victor stood in a chariot, drawn by four horses – his captives marching before, his troops following behind.
The ovation (from ovare, "to shout"), or lesser triumph, differed from the greater chiefly in these respects, that the imperator entered the city on foot, clad in the simple toga praetexta of a magistrate, instead of the toga picta and the tunica palmata of the more highly honored commander, that he bore no scepter, was not preceded by the senate and a flourish of trumpets, nor followed by his victorious troops, but only by the equites and the populace. The ovation was granted when the success, though considerable, did not fulfill the conditions specified for a triumph, or if the conqueror had not been in supreme command.
See also triumphal arch.