The purpose of this article is twofold. On the one hand it analyses the context of three triumphal processions and points out which political messages were transmitted during the ritual or by measures taken in close temporal vicinity; on the other hand it asks, at a more general level, for the significance of the charismatic image of the ruler as victor from Antoninus Pius to Commodus. This is an aspect which is often neglected when looking at the reigns of the “humanistic” rulers Pius and Marcus Aurelius. Pius’ British expedition and the subsequent construction of the Antonine wall, rather than arising from economic or strategic considerations, should be taken as a measure of the new princeps to compensate for his lack of military prestige. Marcus happened to share both his triumphs with a co-ruler, first with the actual Parthian victor L. Verus and then with his son Commodus who was only fifteen at the time. While Verus was apparently much more keen on stressing his martial prowess, Marcus was, of course, also aware how much the militaristic aspect of his position mattered when dynastic stability was concerned and used it to present his son as the next emperor. Commodus eventually broke out from the established forms of imperial self-representation and styled himself as Hercules invictus and pacator orbis while showing his virtus in the arena.