Quotes Suitable for Framing: Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus


While he was Supreme Commander Allied Powers in Japan, General MacArthur had a framed quote on his wall.  The quote is from the Roman conqueror of Macedonia Lucius Aemilius Paullus Macedonicus, or at least the words that Livy put into the mouth of Paullus:

Do you give full credit to whatever I shall write to you, or to the senate; but do not by your credulity encourage mere rumours, of which no man shall appear as the responsible author.  For, no man is so entirely regardless of reputation, as that his spirits cannot be damped; which I have observed has commonly occurred, especially in this war.  In every circle, and, truly, at every table, there are people who lead armies into Macedonia; who know where the camp ought to be placed; what posts ought to be occupied by troops; when and through what pass Macedonia should be entered; where magazines should be formed; how provisions should be conveyed by land and sea; and when it is proper to engage the enemy, when to lie quiet. And they not only determine what is best to be done, but if any thing is done in any other manner than what they have pointed out, they arraign the consul, as if he were on his trial. These are great impediments to those who have the management of affairs; for every one cannot encounter injurious reports with the same constancy and firmness of mind as Fabius did, who chose to let his own authority be diminished through the folly of the people, rather than to mismanage the public business with a high reputation.  I am not one of those who think that commanders ought never to receive advice; on the contrary, I should deem that man more proud than wise, who did every thing of his own single judgment. What then is my opinion?  That commanders should be counselled, chiefly, by persons of known talent; by those, especially, who are skilled in the art of war, and who have been taught by experience; and next, by those who are present at the scene of action, who see the country, who see the enemy; who see the advantages that occasions offer, and who, embarked, as it were, in the same ship, are sharers of the danger.  If, therefore, any one thinks himself qualified to give advice respecting the war which I am to conduct, which may prove advantageous to the public, let him not refuse his assistance to the state, but let him come with me into Macedonia. He shall be furnished by me with a ship, a horse, a tent; and even with his travelling charges.  But if he thinks this too much trouble, and prefers the repose of a city life to the toils of war, let him not, on land, assume the office of a pilot.

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  1. I am sure our resident European expert in ancient languages, MPS, will correct me if I err, but wasn’t this an excerpt from chapter 22 of Livy’s book 44? Let us see if I got this right – it’s been 30+ years since I read any Livy in the original tongue, so hopefully I have not embarrassed myself.
    Vos quae scripsero senatui ac vobis, iis modo credite et cavete ru mores credulitate vestra alatis, quorum auctor nemo extabit. Nam nunc quidem, quod vulgo fieri, hoc praecipue bello, animaduerti, nemo tam famae contemptor est, cuius non debilitari animus possit. In omnibus circulis atque etiam, si displacet, in conuiviis sunt, qui exercitus in Macedoniam ducant, ubi castra locanda sint sciant, quae loca praesidiis occupanda, quando aut quo saltu intranda Macedonia, ubi horrea ponenda, qua terra, mari subvehantur commeatus, quando cum hoste manus conserendae, quando quiesse sit melius. Nec, quid faciendum sit, modo statuunt, sed, quidquid aliter, quam ipsi censuere, factum est, consulem veluti dicta die accusant. Haec magna impedimenta res gerentibus sunt: neque enim omnes tam firmi et constantis animi contra adversum rumorem esse possunt, quam Q. Fabius fuit, qui suum imperium minui per vanitatem populi maluit, quam secunda fama male rem publicam gerere. Non sum is, Quirites, qui non existumem admonendos duces esse: immo eum, qui de sua unius sententia omnia gerat, superbum iudico magis quam sapientem. Quid ergo est? Primum a prudentibus et proprie rei militaris peritis et usu doctis monendi imperatores sunt; deinde ab iis, qui intersunt gerendis rebus, qui loca, qui hostem, qui temporum opportunitatem vident, qui in eodem velut navigio participes sunt periculi. itaque si quis est, qui, quod e re publica sit, suadere se mihi in eo bello, quod gesturus sum, confidat, is ne deneget operam rei publicae et in Macedoniam mecum veniat. Nave, equo, tabernaculo, viatico etiam a me iuvabitur; si quem id facere piget et otium urbanum militiae laboribus praeoptat, e terra ne gubernaverit.

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