Tacitus on Brigands.

A repost from 2003 (the past is never dead):

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. David Eddyshaw says

    Well, at least they gave us the concept of “children.”
    We might not have been here today, but for that.

  2. An important concept to im-plant.

  3. This has been unexpectedly triggering a flood of memories from the start of the war in Bosnia in April 1992. My brain was suddenly flooded with sounds and emotions I had long forgotten – gunfire, mortar shells, the smell of rotting flesh. I can only hope against hope that this is resolved quickly but I fear it will not be.

  4. Nemanja:

    I recently translated* a novel by a Croatian-Australian author, recalling horrific details of that kind. We can only hope such atrocities are beyond repeating. Or will be, one day.

    *With much help from the author of course.

  5. I can only hope against hope that this is resolved quickly but I fear it will not be.

    Same here.

  6. Noetica,

    Do you mind sharing the title /author with us?

  7. Just a few minutes ago I posted on FB, “How do you say ‘Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant’ in Ukrainian?”

  8. Де зробляють пустелю та кличуть її миром.

  9. Thanks. An Italian friend replied: “Baghdad.”

  10. I appreciate the sentiment but think it’s premature. I still see one potential outcome as Rusi solitudinem non facere possunt.

  11. This tweet of destruction in Kharkiv:

    has a caption reading “8 марта”

    I’m not clear on the background of this tweeter, though he uses Kharkov, not Kharkiv, so I’m assuming Russian.

    But marta isn’t listed as the month name for any Slavic language in this wiki page, Polish marzec the only one that comes close.:

    I found that interesting and wondered if anyone can comment on what’s going on. Is there a trend towards using Westernized names of months, as is apparently happening in Polish, maybe because it’s helpful in international business settings? Or is this just something random that isn’t representative? Or what?

  12. The Russian word for March is март.

  13. PlasticPaddy says

    marta is genitive, so 8 marta = eighth(lit. eight) of March, so regular in Russian. But maybe I misunderstood you…

  14. Thanks.

    Weirdly, I can’t reach wikipedia at all right now–“503 service unavailable”. The Slavic months page at wiki that I linked to showed a completely different Russian word for March, which I don’t remember.

    Sounds like the main answer is just “wiki is wrong.” Was there an older Slavic-derived word in Russian at some point? When did it give way to март? From the tone of responses so far, it sounds like the answer must be either centuries or just No, there wasn’t.

    It seems likely that wiki is down precisely because of wiki-editor battles related to the war.

  15. Ryan, the page you linked starts with “While many Slavic languages officially use Latin-derived names for the months of the year in the Gregorian calendar, there is also a set of older names for the twelve months that differs from the Latin month names, as they are of Slavic origin.” The table is of the older names. It even says “Russian (archaic)” in the table.

  16. @Ryan – Russian uses the Latin month names. My sources only say that Latin month names are attested from the start of the Russian written tradition (first in the Ostromir gospel from the 11th century) and that the Slavic month names, which were used in parallel in the Old Russian period, only have survived in the Belarusian and Ukrainian literary languages. That’s not a clear cut-off point, but I would be surprised to find Slavic month names in non-dialectal Russian texts after the 17th century.

  17. I see that in wiki now. Thanks. Moving too fast. And Hans, thanks for the longer explanation.

  18. David Marjanović says

    Latin vs. native month names is also an important distinction between Standard Serbian vs. Standard Croatian. (Indeed, the Serbian ones are directly from medieval or later Latin, not through Greek like the Russian ones: novembar, decembar.)

    Russian and Ukrainian can be distinguished at first glance in that only the former uses the letter ы, only the latter uses the letter і. (And Belarusian uses both, but doesn’t use the letter и at all. If you find all three, that’s Kazakh.)

  19. J.W. Brewer says

    Didn’t Russian likewise have all three of those before the Bolsheviks started monkeying with the orthography?

  20. @JWB: Yes

  21. I’ve been scanning a lot of social media about the war, and of course one city that pops up frequently is Mykolaiv. I believe I’m seeing primarily Ukrainian sources. (Well, no. Overwhelmingly I’m seeing English language stuff, but often they’re retweeting something in Cyrillic letters, or I’ll follow a link). Yet I’ve always or at least almost always seen Николаев rather than Миколаїв. Can anyone tell me what’s up there? Am I just not noticing/recognizing the latter spelling as I skim?

    I know these are amazingly basic questions, which I could probably track down elsewhere. I ask here because it seems like there are 50 of you who will know the answer to virtually any language question one could ask. Thanks for indulging me.

  22. Николаев is the Russian name (and therefore the one traditionally used in English), Миколаїв is the Ukrainian one. By all means ask whatever questions occur to you — we all love answering questions in this joint!

  23. For some reason, the Ukrainian language has Mykola for the Russian Nikolai (Nicholas). So, it’s the same city.

    Off: a bit frivolous in the current situation, but there was a joke about Natasha Korolyova: “Is she from under Kherson or from under Nikolayev?” (Nikolayev being both the name of the city and the musician/poet Korolyova was involved with.)

  24. I understand that the N spelling is Russian. What I’m wondering is why what I think are Ukrainian sources are using what seems to be the Russian spelling. Here’s an example:
    Николаевская обл., опять российские всё побросали и съебались

    Content of this post and others makes me think the author is Ukrainian, but it uses the N spelling. I’m assuming that there’s nothing about the oblast name that changes the way it’s meant to be spelled or pronounced. It’s possible that this is just a Russian-speaking person with Ukrainian sympathies, so maybe the issue is just a bias in the sources that turn up via likes from people I’ve followed.

    I’ve been using google translate, and did notice “under” with city names a couple times. It makes me think of Bilbo and Underhill.

  25. Speaking of Bilbo, as I find a tweet that seems interesting, often a photo or video whose caption I want to understand, and I throw it into google translate, I’ll pay a bit of attention. I’ve started to recognize a couple Ukrainian words, but also a fair number of cognates and borrowings. My favorite of those thus far – орки.

  26. Николаевская обл., опять российские всё побросали и съебались

    That’s in Russian, not Ukrainian. Lots of people in Ukraine speak and write Russian, even now.

  27. Thanks! I guess there’s a skew in those sources I see that speak of Mykolaiv, that makes me see Russian more often. I’d only recognize the difference in a few names, mostly cities ending in ov/iv.

    And it’s tough for me to notice details when I’m still trying to remember the letters themselves. It took me a while to realize Xerconsk obl. wasn’t some new region I hadn’t heard of, but just Kherson oblast. It’s tempting for me to read a hard c in some settings, as one example. Words as false friends are hard enough. I’m still stuck at the letters as false friends stage.

  28. Is it more difficult to use search engines in languages that are more inflected than in English?

    I’ve been using Twitter search to find granular news about the war. If you click into a comment, Twitter has a translate link right there, so it’s pretty easy to read posts in Ukrainian or Russian, though some of the translations are whimsical.

    But I’m realizing that if I search for Kharkiv in the nominative, I don’t see posts where it’s used in what I assume is accusative (not there right now, but something like pid Kharkivom.)

    Does google have better algorithms than Twitter for that sort of thing? Or is it just more difficult to get a broad search? Do gender inflections create the same problems?

  29. Google seems to have no problem finding inflected forms.

  30. John Cowan says

    For some reason, the Ukrainian language has Mykola for the Russian Nikolai

    Cf. Polish Mikołaj, Hungarian Miklós, Czech and Slovak Mikuláš (but also Nikolas), Slovene Miklavž (but also Nikolaj).

  31. David Marjanović says

    what I assume is accusative (not there right now, but something like pid Kharkivom.)

    That’s the instrumental case, indicating place as opposed to direction (like with dative vs. accusative in German and ablative vs. accusative in Latin).

  32. yes, in Russian it is ACC and LOC if it is “on” or “in” and ACC and INSTR if it is “under, above, behind/beyond”

    the ball is under the table-INSTR
    look under the table-ACC (cast a glance)
    look under the table-INSTR (search)

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