Dr. Luther on War and Peace

“It is indeed a splendid and needful thing to build strong castles against one’s enemies; but that is nothing when compared with the work of a prince who builds a stronghold of peace, that is, loves peace and administers it.  Even the Romans, the greatest warriors on earth, had a saying that to make war without necessity was to go fishing with a golden net: if it was lost, the fishing could not pay for it; if it caught anything, the cost was too much greater than the profit.* One must not begin a war or work for it; it comes unbidden, all too soon.  One must keep peace as long as one can, even though one must buy it with all the money that would be spent on the war or won by the war.  Victory never makes up for what is lost by war.”  Martin Luther, “Commentary on Psalm 82,” in Luther’s Works, vol. 13, pp. 56-57.  [Emphasis added]

*According to footnote 25, this reference to the Roman saying is found in Suetonius, On the Life of the Twelve Caesars, Augustus 25, where the text reads: “He used to say that a war or a battle should not be begun under any circumstances, unless the hope of gain was clearly greater than the fear of loss; for he likened such as grasped at slight gains with no slight risk to those who fished with a golden hook, the loss of which, if it were carried off, could not be made good by any catch.”Life of Augustus

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