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Aelian: A parable of two cities

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Aelian: That is the benefit of peace

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Aelian
From Historical Miscellany
Translated by N.G. Wilson

Silenus spoke to Midas on the following themes.

Europe, Asia, and Libya [Africa] are islands, around which the ocean flows, and the only continent is the one surrounding the outside of this world. He explained how infinitely big it is…There are many large cities, with various styles of life, and laws in force among them are different from those customary among us. He said that there were two very big cities, not at all like each other, one called Warlike and the other Pious. The inhabitants of Pious live in peace and with great wealth; they obtain the fruits of the earth without the plough and oxen, and they have no need to farm and cultivate. They remain healthy and free of disease, he said, and end their lives full of laughter and contented. They are indisputably just, so that even the gods frequently deign to visit them. The citizens of Warlike are for their part very bellicose; they are born with weapons, they are always fighting, and they subdue their neighbors; this one city controls a great many nations. The inhabitants are not less than twenty million. Sometimes they die of illness, but this is rare, since for the most part they lose their lives in battle…

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