In "The Triumph of Life," Shelley shows us how, throughout history, the human spirit has often been crushed by life itself. In ancient Rome, triumphs were large, lavish processions staged to celebrate a military victory. They were elaborate affairs, with long lines of captive slaves from the vanquished enemy dragged along in their wake. This is an appropriate metaphor for how Shelley sees life itself. Life triumphs over the human spirit just as completely as the Roman legions triumphed over their enemies. For Shelley, life is a "painted veil" that conceals more than it reveals. Like a Roman triumph, it is a colorful pageant which successfully disguises its crushing of the human spirit. The crowds that throng the triumph's route may cheer, just as we may derive a superficial enjoyment of life. But their spirits—and ours—have been crushed just as surely as the sad procession of vanquished slaves paraded during a Roman triumph.