Vae Victus

Classical Musings on a Modern World - Politics, Military Analysis, Dog Training, and More

Location: Chicago, IL

I am a consultant from chicago where I live with my wife, our dog, and two cats

Friday, July 18, 2003

Well, the first question is probably why this name for the Blog. I think that it is a phrase that has caught my attention because of the much more pragmatic worldview that one finds in the classics. It's not that they don't whine every now and again. Rather, they save their complaints for times that truly warrant them.

The story for the phrase was put together recently by John Derbyshire of the National Review... Enjoy!

"The events of the story occurred in 390 B.C. At that time, Rome was little more than a city-state rising to dominance in west-central Italy. Most of Europe was dominated by the Gauls, a Celtic people. In the year in question, these Gauls crossed the Alps, ravaged the valley of the Po, then marched over the Appenines to sack Rome. They actually burned a large part of the city, and the Romans were besieged at last on their one remaining hill, the Capitoline. However, "the Gallic race," says Livy, "was accustomed to dampness and cold," and could not stand the hot, dry climate of Rome, aggravated by smoke from the burning parts of the city. They were smitten with plague, until they could no longer bury their dead properly but had to cremate them in heaps. The Gaulish leaders were therefore willing to cut a deal with the Romans. The Romans, for their part, were hoping for the siege to be lifted by an allied army that had been away on campaign; but when the relievers didn't show up and food ran low, the Romans were willing to deal, too.

Negotiations were undertaken. The leader of the Gauls, a man named Brennus, agreed that for payment of a thousand pounds of gold, he would withdraw his army. A table was set up with a set of scales to weigh out the gold. Now, the Gauls were a rough crowd, with an easygoing approach to accounting principles: You can think of them as the WorldCom execs of the early fourth century B.C. They brought their own sets of weights for weighing out the gold. When the Romans complained that these weights were too heavy, one of the Gaulish warriors tossed his sword into the balance pan, uttering the words: Vae victis! — "Woe to the vanquished!" *"


Hello, This is Alan and Welcome to my Blog. This is an initial message to test the system and make sure everything is working. More will be coming soon!