Letter: Roman warmongers

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The Independent Online
Sir: Susan Woodford (letter, 3 February) proposes 30 January in memoriam Augustus's dedication of an Altar of Peace in 9BC, and the two unbelligerent centuries that ensued. I admire her notion of peace. To include: invasions of Germany (unsuccessful), Britain and Asia Minor (successful); rebellions against Roman imperium here, there and everywhere ruthlessly crushed; Jerusalem sacked. Of course Augustus declared peace; he would do, he was the Emperor, if not in name. It flattered his image; his word went. And where did he declare this peace of his? On the Field of Mars, god of war. In Tacitus's words, spoken by a Caledonian rebel before he and his army succumbed to the inexorable legions (late 1st century AD): 'anywhere the Romans make a desolation, they call it peace'.

Who inspired the Fascist dictators? The Romans. Whence their name? From the fasces, emblem of power, instrument of public execution. Pax vobiscum.

Yours faithfully,

GRAEME FIFE

London, NW1

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