Home > Uncategorized > Edgar Saltus: Soldiers and no farmers; imperial sterility…and demise

Edgar Saltus: Soldiers and no farmers; imperial sterility…and demise

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Edgar Saltus
From Imperial Purple (1892)

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Conquest once solidified, the rest was easy…The principalities and kingdoms that of their own wish [a wish often suggested, and not always amicably either] became allies of Rome and mingled their freedom with hers, entered into an alliance whereby in return for Rome’s patronage and protection they agreed to have a proper regard for the dignity of the Roman people and to have no other friends or enemies than those that were Rome’s – a formula exquisite in the civility with which it exacted the renunciation of every inherent right…

As for herself she fought, she did not till. Italy, devastated by the civil wars, was uncultivated, cut up into vast unproductive estates. From one end to the other there was barely a trace of agriculture, not a sign of traffic. You met soldiers cooks, petty tradesmen, gladiators, philosophers, patricians, market gardeners, lazzaroni and millionaires; the merchant and the farmer, never. Rome’s resources were in distant commercial centres, in taxes and tributes; her wealth had come of pillage and exaction. Save her strength, she had nothing of her own. Her religion, literature, art, philosophy. luxury and corruption, everything had come from abroad. In Greece were her artists; in Africa, Gaul and Spain, her agriculturists; in Asia her artisans. Her own breasts were sterile. When she gave birth it was to a litter of monsters, sometimes to a genius, by accident to a poet. She consumed, she did not produce. It was because of that she fell.

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