Home > Uncategorized > Robert Burton: We hate the hawk because it is always at war

Robert Burton: We hate the hawk because it is always at war


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

British writers on peace and war

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Robert Burton: War’s nuptials, war’s justice

Robert Burton: What fury first brought so devilish, so brutish a thing as war into men’s minds?


Robert Burton
From Anatomy of Melancholy

I hate wars if they be not ad populi salutem [for the salvation of the public] upon urgent occasion. Odimus accipitrim, quia semper vivit in armis [we hate the hawk because it is always at war]. Offensive wars, except the cause be very just, I will not allow of. For I do highly magnify that saying of Hannibal to Scipio, in Livy: “It had been a blessed thing for you and us, if God had given that mind to our predecessors, that you had been content with Italy, we with Africa. For neither Sicily nor Sardinia are worth such cost and pains, so many fleets and armies, or so many famous captains’ lives.” Omnia prius tentanda, fair means shall first be tried. Peragit tranquilla potestas, Quod violenta nequit [peaceful pressure accomplishes more than violence]. I will have them proceed with all moderation: but hear you, Fabius my general, not Minutius, nam qui Consilio nititur plus hostibus nocet, quam qui sini animi ratione, viribus [for strategy can inflict greater blows on the enemy than uncalculating force]. And in such wars to abstain as much as is possible from depopulations, burning of towns, massacring of infants, &c.

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