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Dio Cassius: When peace was announced the mountains resounded

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Dio Cassius: Weeping and lamenting the fratricide of war

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Dio Cassius
From Roman History
Translated by Earnest Cary

After drafting these compacts and reducing them to writing they deposited the documents with the Vestal Virgins, and then exchanged pledges and embraced one another. Upon this a great and mighty shout arose from the mainland and from the ships at the same moment. For many soldiers and many civilians who were present suddenly cried out all together, being terribly tired of the war and strongly desirous of peace, so that even the mountains resounded; and thereupon great panic and alarm came upon them, and many died of no other cause, while many others perished by being trampled under foot or suffocated.

Those who were in the small boats did not wait to reach the land itself, but jumped out into the sea, and those on land rushed out into the water. Meanwhile they embraced one another while swimming and threw their arms around one another’s necks as they dived, making a spectacle of varied sights and sounds. Some knew that their relatives and associates were living, and seeing them now present, gave way to unrestrained joy. Others, supposing that those dear to them had already died, saw them now unexpectedly and for a long time were at a loss what to do, and were rendered speechless, at once distrusting the sight they saw and praying that it might be true, and they would not accept the recognition as true until they had called their names and had heard their voices in answer; then, indeed, they rejoiced as if their friends had been brought back to life again, but as they must yield perforce to a flood of joy, they could not refrain from tears.

Again, some who were unaware that their dearest ones had perished and thought they were alive and present, went about seeking for them and asking every one they met regarding them. As long as they could learn nothing definite they were like madmen and were reduced to despair, both hoping to find them and fearing that they were dead, unable either to give up hope in view of their longing or to give up to grief in view of their hope. But when at last they learned the truth, they would tear their hair and rend their garments, calling upon the lost by name as if their voices could reach them and giving way to grief as if their friends had just then died and were lying there before their eyes. And even if any had no such cause themselves for joy or grief, they were at least affected by the experiences of the rest; for they either rejoiced with him that was glad or grieved with him that mourned, and so, even if they were free from an experience of their own, yet they could not remain indifferent on account of their comradeship with the rest. Accordingly they became neither sated with joy nor ashamed of grief, because they were all affected in the same way, and they spent the entire day as well as the greater part of the night in these demonstrations.

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