Aeneas Tacticus 10.23-5: Dealing with reatives of hostages.

This extract gives a sense of the potentially brutal realities of ancient war - Aeneas attempts a complicated compromise between firm measures and sensitive treatment of people who are likely to be desperate or in distress.






23. When a city which has given hostages is attacked, the parents and relatives of the hostages should be removed from it until the siege is over, that they may not see their children brought up with the enemy as they attack, and meeting a cruel death: for if within the walls they might go so far as to offer resistance to the authorities. 24. If it proves difficult to use the pretexts I have mentioned for sending them away, they must remain, but should be assigned as small a part as possible in the conduct of operations, and should not know in advance where they will be sent or what they will have to do. They must be left as little as possible on guard by themselves, either by day or by night; and even when they are left alone, a number of people should, without raising suspicion, keep coming upon them in the execution of various commissions and special services: under whose observation they will be really under guard rather than on guard. 25. They should also be separated, for purposes of supervision; in this way there will be little chance of their making trouble.









created 14/02/2010 - updated 14/02/2010