BOOK I, CHAPTER VI
and favourable terms, and to allow the troops free entry in hot blood. Lucius Æmilius Regillus, the Roman prætor, having wasted much time trying to take the city of Phocæa by force, because of the extraordinary prowess of the people in defending themselves, made an agreement with them to receive them as friends of the Roman people, and to make his entry as into an allied city, relieving them from all fear of hostile action. But having taken his army into the city, in order to present himself with greater pomp, it was not in his power, whatever effort he might make, to bridle his soldiers; and he saw a large part of the city sacked before his eyes, the claims of avarice and vengeance overriding those of his authority and of military discipline.
(a) Cleomenes said that, whatever injury one can inflict on the enemy in war is above the realm of justice and not subject to it, whether before gods or men; and having made a truce with the Argives for seven days, the third night after, he fell upon them when they were all asleep, and killed them declaring that in the truce no mention was made of nights; but the gods avenged this treacherous sophistry.
(c) During the parley, and while they were deliberating upon their guaranties, they of Casilinum were taken by surprise; and that nevertheless in the age of the most honourable captains and of the most perfect military discipline among the Romans; for there is no rule that according to time and place we may not take advantage of our enemies’ folly as we do of their cowardice. And certainly war has many reasonable privileges not consonant with reason; and in this case the rule fails: Neminem id agere ut ex alterius prædetur inscitia. But I am surprised at the extension which Xenophon gives these privileges, both by his words and by divers deeds of his perfect Emperor — he being a
- See Livy, XXXVII, 32.
- See Plutarch, Apothegms of the Lacedæmonians.
- In the first instance, Montaigne wrote in the Latin text of this passage: Casilinum inter colloquia, cunctationemque petentium fidem, per occasionem captum est (Livy, XXIV, 19), for which he afterwards substituted the translation.
- No one should so act as to profit by another's ignorance. — Cicero, De Off., III, 17.
- In the Cyropædeia.