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?

New contributor
FluidCode is a new contributor to this site. Take care in asking for clarification, commenting, and answering. Check out our Code of Conduct.

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

Your Answer

FluidCode is a new contributor. Be nice, and check out our Code of Conduct.

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.