Home > Uncategorized > Appian: Drawing the sword for mutual slaughter. The tears of fratricide.

Appian: Drawing the sword for mutual slaughter. The tears of fratricide.


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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Appian: War fueled by blood and gold, excuse for expenditure of one, expropriation of the other


From The Civil Wars
Translated by Horace White

When all was in readiness on both sides they waited for some time in profound silence, hesitating, looking steadfastly at each other, each expecting the other to begin the battle. They were stricken with sorrow for the great host, for never before had such large Roman armies confronted the same danger together. They had pity for the valor of these men (the elite of both parties), especially because they saw Romans embattled against Romans. As the danger came nearer, the ambition that had inflamed and blinded them was extinguished, and gave place to fear. Reason purged the mad passion for glory, estimated the peril, and exposed the cause of the war, showing how two men contending with each other for supremacy had put themselves in a position where the one who should be vanquished could no longer hold even the humblest place, and how so great a number of the nobility were incurring the same risk on their account. The leaders reflected also that they, who had lately been friends and relatives by marriage, and had coöperated with each other in many ways to gain rank and power, had now drawn the sword for mutual slaughter and were leading to the same impiety those serving under them, men of the same city, of the same tribe, blood relations, and in some cases brothers against brothers. Even these circumstances were not wanting in this battle; because many unexpected things must happen when thousands of the same nation come together in the clash of arms. Reflecting on these things each of them was seized with unavailing repentance, and since this day was to decide for each whether he should be the highest or the lowest of the human race, they hesitated to begin the fight. It is said that both of them shed tears.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 25, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    I have no words, but thank you for these timeless gifts which few eyes look upon today. What little wisdom humans had, seems to have died along with the fearsome machines of death they now command.
    Does one not cringe in shame from God — witnessing all the immoral madness we are committing and throwing all His precious gifts to us in His divine face?

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