Vittorio Alfieri: Thousands immolated on the altar of despotism, slaves born but to fertilize the soil

Antiwar literary selections


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Vittorio Alfieri: The infamous trade of soldier, the sole basis of all arbitrary authority


Vittorio Alfieri
From Memoirs
Anonymous translation of 1810


I visited Zorndorff, a spot rendered famous by the sanguinary battle fought between the Russians and the Prussians, where thousands of men on both sides were immolated on the altar of despotism and thus escaped the galling yoke which oppressed them. The place of their interment was easily recognised by its greater verdure and by yielding more abundant corn than the barren and unproductive soil in its immediate vicinity. On this occasion I reflected with sorrow that slaves seemed everywhere only born to fertilize the soil on which they vegetate.


The trade of arms and the life of a soldier were never conformable to me character; but I relished them still less in a country where liberty…

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