Roman triumph

When I went down occasionally from Scotland to London, I would usually take in one of the new movie releases, preferring to see it on the gigantic screens London offered rather than the small ones at St Andrews.  It was on one such visit that I saw “Patton: Lust for Glory” starring George C Scott.  He gave so impressive a performance that it lifted what might have been just a war movie into a classic. I particularly liked the closing, voice-over, lines about how the Romans honoured their victorious generals.

 "For over a thousand years Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of triumph, a tumultuous parade.”

The sequence closed with the line,

“A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting."

When I stayed at my Florida Keys house I used to buy books commissioned or reissued from Barnes & Noble and acquired a small library. I was surprised when I opened “Rome Triumphant” by Robert Payne. First published in 1962, eight years before the movie, its introduction was word for word identical, bar a phrase or two omitted for brevity, with the movie’s closing lines. It resonated as well in print as I remembered it spoken in the movie. I hope the movie’s producers acknowledged Robert Payne’s contribution and paid him a fee.