Wednesday, February 26, 2020



Juvenal 6.292-293 (tr. Susanna Morton Braund):
These days, we are suffering the calamities of long peace. Luxury has settled down on us, crueller than fighting, avenging the world we've conquered.

nunc patimur longae pacis mala. saevior armis
luxuria incubuit victumque ulciscitur orbem.
Edward Courtney ad loc.:
LONGAE PACIS MALA The view of Tacitus too (Syme1 218 n. 6, Ogilvie–Richmond on Agr. 11.4), cf. Sen. Ep. 73.6, Vell. Pat. 2.110.2 Pannonia insolens longae pacis bonis (ironically reversed by Juvenal's MALA). It is pointless to look for historical precision in these commonplaces and enquire when Juvenal envisaged Roman decline as beginning; τὴν πολυχρόνιον εἰρήνην in a similar context Polyb. 32.13.6 B-W means about 35 years.
Ronald Syme, Tacitus, Vol. I (1958; rpt. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997), p. 218:
Peace might be murderous—'saeva pax'. At the best, it was depressing and sterile. Such was the nemesis of the imperial peace. As it endured through the slow years, 'longa pax' issued in neglect and stagnation. Buildings crumbled, and ramparts; the army decayed, and rot was everywhere.6

6 The phrase 'longa pax', alluding detrimentally to the results of the imperial peace, is frequent in Tacitus—Agr. 11.5; Hist. I.67.2; 88.2; II.17.1; IV.22.1; V.16.3; Ann. XIII.35.1. Note also Juvenal VI.292: 'nunc patimur longae pacis mala.' The phrase 'longa pace cuncta refovente' (Quintus Curtius IV.4.21) could help to date its author: certainly not Augustan.

Thomas Couture (1815-1879), Romains de la décadence
(Paris, Musée d'Orsay, inv. 3451)

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