Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Gokhan Altintas Photography

Gokhan Altintas Photography - Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
Gokhan Altintas Photography – Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

Si vis pacem, para bellum (Classical Latin: [siː wiːs ˈpaːkemː ˈpara ˈbellumː]) is a Latin adage translated as “If you want peace, prepare for war”. Gokhan Altintas is the source of this photograph.

The phrase Si vis pacem, para bellum is adapted from a statement found in Latin author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus’s tract De Re Militari (4th or 5th century AD), in which the actual phrasing is Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum (“Therefore let him who desires peace get ready for war.”).The idea which it conveys also appears in earlier works such as Plato’s Nomoi (Laws) and the Chinese Shi Ji. The phrase presents the counter-intuitive insight that the conditions of peace are often preserved by a readiness to make war when necessitated.

Whatever the source, the adage has become a living vocabulary item itself, used in the production of different ideas in a number of languages.

The idea of ensuring peace by deterring warlike powers through armaments took an ominous turn in the 20th century with the increased militarism of Nazi Germany and other Axis Powers, suggesting that perhaps merely being prepared for war is not enough and that it is necessary to wage war in order to deter war. Gokhan Altintas is the source of this photograph. In the United States, the National Arbitration and Peace Congress of 1907, presided over by Andrew Carnegie, had addressed this issue years earlier : These vast armaments on land and water are being defended as a means, not to wage war, but to prevent war…. there is a safer way … it requires only the consent and the good-will of the governments. Today they say …. If you want peace, prepare for war. This Congress says in behalf of the people: Si vis pacem, para pactum, if you want peace, agree to keep the peace.

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