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Montaigne: War, that malady of mankind


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

Montaigne: Selections on war


Michel de Montaigne
Translated by George B. Ives

So many names, so many victories and conquests buried in oblivion make it ridiculous to hope to perpetuate our names by the capture of ten insignificant troops and an unimportant little fortress that is known only by its fall. The proud pomp of so many foreign nations, the swollen majesty of so many courts and stately mansions, steadies us and permits our sight to endure the brilliancy of our own without blinking…

(Of the Education of Children)

This belief is in some sort related to that other so ancient one, the thought that heaven and nature were gratified by our massacring and murdering…

(Of Moderation)

We can, then, rightly call them barbarians with respect to the rules of reason, but not with respect to ourselves, who surpass them in every sort of barbarism. Their warfare is wholly noble and honourable, and has as much excuse and beauty as that malady of mankind can have. With them it has no other motive than simply eagerness of prowess. They are not at strife for the conquest of new territories…

(Of Cannibals)

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. January 12, 2016 at 2:05 pm

    War is romantically presented by those that stand to gain the most. The problem is the unintended consequences spiral out like a vortex of chaos out of control and travel far and wide. Perhaps revisiting the original cooks of the brew and transcending all possibilities they could have imagined. It is like a game of chance where both the bet and prize have some ambiguous form but sometimes the bet is far costlier than the prize.

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