Home > Uncategorized > Silius Italicus: Peace is the best thing that man may know; peace alone is better than a thousand triumphs

Silius Italicus: Peace is the best thing that man may know; peace alone is better than a thousand triumphs

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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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Silius Italicus
From Punica
Translated by J.D. Duff

“For I propose that we should now sue for peace, should now lay down the arms that are stained by a breach of treaty, and avoid a war that will destroy us. Or rather, do you yourselves weigh well his proposals; there is no other decision for us to come to. He asks for arms, soldiers, and gold, for fleets, provisions, and elephants. Had he been defeated, he could not have asked for more. We have drenched the soil of Italy with Roman blood, and all Latium is laid low on the battle-fields. Then suffer us at last, noble conqueror, to forget our troubles and take our ease at home; suffer us to keep some children in the families so often thinned by the insatiable demands of war…Shall we, forsooth, snatch from their mothers’ laps boys who are not yet fit to carry heavy armour, and make them fight? Shall we, at his demand, build a thousand ships of war and ransack all Libya for elephants, in order that Hannibal may prolong his command and fight on for years and exercise a tyrant’s sway till the day of his death? But I appeal to you – for the trap is set in our sight – rob not your homes of your loved ones, but set a limit to the armies and the power of these potentates. Peace is the best thing that man may know; peace alone is better than a thousand triumphs; peace has power to guard our lives and secure equality among fellow-citizens. Let us then after so long recall peace to the city of Carthage…”

“nunc pacem orandum, nunc improba foedere rupto
arma reponendum et bellum exitiale cavendum
auctor ego. atque adeo vosmet perpendite, quaeso,
quid ferat; haud aliud nobis censere relictum est.
tela, viros, aurum, classes, alimenta precatur
belligeramque feram. victus non plura petisset.
sanguine Dardanio Rutulos saturavimus agros,
et iacet in campis Latium. deponere curas
tandem ergo, bone, da, victor, liceatque sedere
in patria; liceat non exhaurure rapacis
impensis belli vacuatos saepe penates…”

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