Raptores orbis, postquam cuncta vastantibus defuere terrae, mare scrutantur: si locuples hostis est, avari, si pauper, ambitiosi, quos non Oriens, non Occidens satiaverit: soli omnium opes atque inopiam pari adfectu concupiscunt. Auferre trucidare rapere falsis nominibus imperium, atque ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.


  1. The more things change, the more they stay the same.


  2. It should perhaps be noted that the speaker of this fine speech (a Briton) was on the losing side, the side which can only lament but never rectify the unfortunate truism: might makes “right.” The sole exception being, one hopes, in the historian’s annals. …quos non Oriens, non Occidens satiaverit – indeed.

  3. An English rendering for those who, like me, are very rusty on their high school Latin.

  4. Thanks, Songdog. I provided a translation in a mouseover, but I realize not everyone can read mouseovers. Besides, yours is livelier.

  5. You’re welcome – I overlooked the mouseover (although I did click on the link). FYI: I just went back to check, and at least in Mozilla 1.3 beta (on Windows 2000) the title text is too long to see in its entirety.

  6. Perhaps the most interesting thing about this, aside from the fact that it was true then and is true then, is that it was almost certainly NOT spoken by a Briton.

    Tacitus probably made this up, putting into his mouth the things ‘Calgacus’ would have said.

  7. Well, yeah, but that pretty much goes without saying for all speeches reported long after the fact before the invention of the tape recorder. (See: Thucydides. And let’s face it, speeches by modern politicians are just as faked; the difference is it’s done before the fact and they don’t have ghostwriters of the stature of Thucydides and Tacitus.) Granted, in this case who knows if Calgacus even made a speech — he may have just bared his teeth and snarled in a go-get-em way — but who cares, it’s a great speech.

  8. Clearly they are Tacitus’ own words – he was not with the Britons listening to their speech, and even if he was, he couldn’t have understood the language they were speaking.

  9. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Links dead, mouseover lost in the mires of technology, but truth remains. (Even without a translation and with my sorry excuse for latinity, there is not much to mistake).

    But still.

  10. Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant: How Tacitean can you get?

  11. Hey, I can still read the mouseover! But I’ve replaced the dead URL with an archived link; thanks for the heads-up.

  12. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Oh, the mouse-over was/is on the link. I was assuming that Movable Type or whatever it was had a feature to put a hover text on a whole paragraph, which at the time probably would have necessitated what is technically called stupid programmer tricks. (Putting them on links and images has always been possible).

  13. Stu Clayton says

    … a feature to put a hover text on a whole paragraph … technically called stupid programmer tricks. (Putting them on links and images has always been possible).

    Such as using an image to spoof the text paragraph ?

  14. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    Yeah, you could probably use a single transparent pixel scaled to cover the paragraph to do that — with the risk that some browsers did not support transparency, and the side effect that links and copy-paste wouldn’t work in the covered text. (These days there are CSS features that should let you put a hover text on anything you want, without such side effect and supported in all browsers. In 2003, not so much).

  15. I haven’t used hover text in years, but I seem to have been quite fond of it in the early 2000s.

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