Alinari/Art Resource, NY

The victorious emperor Trajan (ruled 98–117 A.D.) parades through Rome, in this early second-century frieze from a triumphal arch constructed in Benevento, Italy. Captives from recent battles, soldiers and officials participate in the lavish parade, which allowed the ruler to dazzle the multitude with his military prowess. To express his nearness to god, the emperor donned a purple robe and gold laurel wreath like those on statues of Jupiter.

Writing for gentile Christians in Rome, the evangelist Mark styled his description of the passion on a triumphal march in order to present Jesus’ tortured journey to Golgotha as, in fact, a victorious celebration.