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.

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