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Quote of the day: The more common report is that Remus con
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Germania by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Chapter 14: On the battle-field
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In the day of battle, it is scandalous to the Prince to be surpassed in feats of bravery, scandalous to his followers to fail in matching the bravery of the Prince. But it is infamy during life, and indelible reproach, to return alive from a battle where their Prince was slain. To preserve their Prince, to defend him, and to ascribe to his glory all their own valorous deeds, is the sum and most sacred part of their oath. The Princes fight for victory; for the Prince his followers fight. Many of the young nobility, when their own community comes to languish in its vigour by long peace and inactivity, betake themselves through impatience to other States which then prove to be in war. For, besides that this people cannot brook repose, besides that by perilous adventures they more quickly blazon their fame, they cannot otherwise than by violence and war support their huge train of retainers. For from the liberality of their Prince, they demand and enjoy that war-horse of theirs, with that victorious javelin dyed in the blood of their enemies. In the place of pay, they are supplied with a daily table and repasts; though grossly prepared, yet very profuse. For maintaining such liberality and munificence, a fund is furnished by continual wars and plunder. Nor could you so easily persuade them to cultivate the ground, or to await the return of the seasons and produce of the year, as to provoke the foe and to risk wounds and death: since stupid and spiritless they account it, to acquire by their sweat what they can gain by their blood. Cum ventum in aciem, turpe principi virtute vinci, turpe comitatui virtutem principis non adaequare. Iam vero infame in omnem vitam ac probrosum superstitem principi suo ex acie recessisse. Illum defendere, tueri, sua quoque fortia facta gloriae eius adsignare praecipuum sacramentum est. Principes pro victoria pugnant, comites pro principe. Si civitas, in qua orti sunt, longa pace et otio torpeat, plerique nobilium adulescentium petunt ultro eas nationes, quae tum bellum aliquod gerunt, quia et ingrata genti quies et facilius inter ancipitia clarescunt magnumque comitatum non nisi vi belloque tueare; exigunt enim principis sui liberalitate illum bellatorem equum, illam cruentam victricemque frameam. Nam epulae et quamquam incompti, largi tamen apparatus pro stipendio cedunt. Materia munificentiae per bella et raptus. Nec arare terram aut exspectare annum tam facile persuaseris quam vocare hostem et vulnera mereri. Pigrum quin immo et iners videtur sudore adquirere quod possis sanguine parare.