Cowards’ Political Echoes from History


This passage from Tacitus’s The Life of Cnaeus Julius Agricola struck a similar chord, for me, to that played by the local, state, and federal governments currently ruling over us.  Tacitus is putting representative words in the mouths of rebellious Britons building up to an unsuccessful rebellion against the Roman Empire (paragraph 15):

In war it is the strong who plunders; now, it is for the most part by cowards and poltroons that our homes are rifled, our children torn from us, the conscription enforced, as though it were for our country alone that we could not die.

Agricola’s solution, as a Roman governor of the island, was to combine continued military activity against as-yet unconquered tribes with a less capricious domination of those that had already capitulated.  In our times, the “cowards and poltroons” lording it over us are not foreigners, but our fellow citizens, and the tools at their disposal are much more powerful and subtle.

Identifying them, though, is the first step of effective resistance.

[The Complete Works of Tacitus, Modern Library College Editions, edited by Moses Hadas.]

  • Rhett Hardwick

    It may be well to remember that while participating in “continued military activity” the entire 9th Legion simply disappeared.