April 20, 2020

Discourse of a Defeated King to his Victor

Caratacus giving the speech of his life before Roman Emperor Claudius

"If the degree of my nobility and fortune had been matched by moderation in success, I would have come to this City as a friend rather than a captive; nor wold you have disdained to receive with a treaty of peace one sprung from brilliant ancestors and commanding a great many nations.

But my present lot, disfiguring as it is for me, is magnificent for you. I had horses, men, arms, and wealth: what wonder if I was unwilling to lose them? If you wish to command everyone, does it really follow that everyone should accept your slavery?

If I were now being handed over as one who had surrendered immediately; neither my fortune nor your glory would have achieved brilliance. It is also true that in my case any reprisal will be followed by oblivion. On the other hand, if you preserve me safe and sound, I shall be an eternal example of your clemency."

King Caratacus of the Catuvellauni tribe
1st c. AD
Speech to the Roman Senate after 
being taken to Rome as prisoner.
He'd been captured by Queen Cartimandua
who handed him over to the Romans.
This speech saved his life.

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