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.