Home > Uncategorized > Aristides on the two types of war: Bad and worse

Aristides on the two types of war: Bad and worse

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Aristides
From Panathenaic Oration
Translated by C.A. Behr

[T]here are two varieties of war: aggression and self-defence. The former is unjust, and the latter, by being subject to compulsion also, inglorious, because determination is by nature distinct from compulsion. But, I think, he who acts justly under compulsion is better than a willing transgressor. However, one might say that he is not master of the situation.

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If oratory will assert that there is a law which justifies the utmost violence and that the mighty hand of Heracles ought to prevail…it will perish by its own arguments. What place or use is left for oratory or words, if force will define justice?…Where is persuasion, if force will prevail, and that too when that very art, whose product is persuasion, grants the use of force?

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