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On Wikipedia I came across a quote by Tacitus which says:

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire;
and where they make a desert, they call it peace.

From my school days I remember a very similar quote by Martial, but after more than two decades and some relocations my old textbook is lost. I wanted to find out about it, but on the internet there's no trace of it so I have to rely on my memories. I remember that the textbook said that Martial beside the Epigrams wrote a minor epic poem. In that poem a Barbarian chief before a battle with the Romans addressed his tribe and said:

They rape, they kill, they plunder, they burn
they leave a desert and they call it peace

Actually I prefer the supposed Martial's version, the translation has a stronger rhythm. Did he really write it? Is there any reference somewhere?

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Tacitus's Agricola says, at the end of XXX:

XXX. "... Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant."

which is to say

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.

It might be possible that Martial wrote something along the same lines, and that Tacitus borrowed Martial's simile, but Google has not helped me verify this.

  • It's true that my memory might be wrong, but I don't rule out that Tacitus plagiarised Martial. In that period senators where still trying to resist the recently established role of the emperor, so a lot of them were keen to mock the imperial propaganda. – FluidCode Jan 14 at 13:54
  • BTW I knew that Google couldn't help on this, I did a lot of searches on Google, Wikipedia, Metager, Qwant and so on before posting this question. – FluidCode Jan 14 at 14:01
  • Only in my old, now lost, textbook. – FluidCode Jan 14 at 14:56
  • Why do you think I posted this question? If the answer required just some googling there would have been no need to post it. – FluidCode Jan 14 at 15:29
  • I don't mean to offend you; of course you Googled as you stated. I do not wish to argue with you; I do wish you good luck in finding resolution to your question. I will delete my earlier comments. – kimchi lover Jan 14 at 15:47

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