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Seneca the Elder: It is this that drives the world into war


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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Seneca the Elder: What is this hideous disease, this appalling evil that drove you to shed each other’s blood?


Seneca the Elder
From Controversiae
Translated by M. Winterbottom

Be reconciled: on a fatal battlefield armed hands stretch out to seal a treaty. The whole world would have been destroyed if pity did not put an end to anger…

I owe a debt of pity to many: I have given it to many. Whoever makes me his image by suffering any disaster, I regard as my relation.

“How much longer will you lie on that comfortless camp bed? How much longer will the trumpet break into your sleep? How much longer will you live stained with blood?”

“What longing is this , my child, to eat and drink blood? I fear you may be a prey to battle, disease, suffering. I fear for the whole world…”

Do not covet money. What am I to say to you? It is this that feeds the discord of a city and drives the world into war, spurring on the human race, that is by nature akin, to fraud, crime and and mutual hatred…

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