Academic journal article Parameters

On Military Critics

Academic journal article Parameters

On Military Critics

Article excerpt

Lucius Amelius Paulus, a Roman Consul who had been selected to conduct war with the Macedonian, B.C. 168, went out from the Senate-house into assembly of the people and addressed them as follows:

   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 that territory 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 anything is done
   in any other manner than what they have pointed out, they arraign
   the consuls, as if he were on trial before them. 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 ability be
   questioned 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 at no time to receive
   advice; on the contrary, I should deem that man more proud than
   wise, who regulated every proceeding by the standard of his own
   single judgement. What then is my opinion'? That commanders should
   be counselled, chiefly, by persons of known talent; by those who
   have made the art of war their particular study, and whose
   knowledge is derived from experience; from 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, like people
   embarked in the same ship, are sharers of the danger. … 
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