The Maverick Philosopher
, Bill Vallicella, says
, "If I remember my Latin, Si vis pacem, bellum paratum
: if you want peace be prepared for war." It's rare to catch Homer nodding or Bill forgetting, but the usual form of the quotation is si vis pacem, para bellum
. The Web is full of claims that Vegetius said this, but what Vegetius actually said (book 3, preface) was qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum
(who wishes peace, let him prepare for war). Similar expressions are:
- Plato, Laws 829a: The citizens ought to practise war -- not in time of war, but rather while they are at peace.
- Cicero, Philippics 7.6.19: If we want to enjoy peace, we must wage war; if we avoid war, we will never enjoy peace (si pace frui volumus, bellum gerendum est; si bellum omittimus, pace numquam fruemur).
- Cicero, De Officiis 1.11.35: Wars must be undertaken for this reason, that we may live in peace without harm (suscipienda quidem bella sunt ob eam causam, ut sine iniuria in pace vivatur).
- Livy 6.18.7: Just show war; you'll have peace (ostendite modo bellum; pacem habebitis).
- Nepos, Life of Epaminondas 5.4: Peace is produced by war (paritur pax bello).
The Maverick Philosopher's excellent post ends with a clever twist on the hippie mantra "Give peace a chance" -- "Sometimes we need to give war a chance."