selenak: (Tourists by Kathyh)
[personal profile] selenak
In which who penned the very last Classic Who adventure broadcast on tv in the 80s makes a comeback, lets Bill geek out over Rosemary Sutcliffe, and quotes Tacitus on us.



Seriously though: while the episode took the usual tv liberties, it made my inner Roman historian very happy. As soon as Kar started her stirring speech, I thought, hang on, this sounds familiar. And indeed it was. Tacitus gives it to the Caledonian (!) chief Galgacus, and it's been translated by the famous and infamous:

"Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant."

Some of the better known translations:

"To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace."

Or:

They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.

Or:

To plunder, butcher, steal, these things they misname empire: they make a desolation and they call it peace.

Or, as Byron translates it in "The Bride of Abydos":
"Mark where his carnage and his conquests cease!
He makes a solitude, and calls it — peace."

It's in Agricola, Tacitus' history of his father-in-law, a Roman general who was stationed in Britain. The thing with speeches in ancient histories: we have no idea how much of them, if anything, is authentic, because historians usually got creative, especially if they wanted to make a rethoric point to their readers. So Galcacus may or may not have said something along the lines, but it's a great speech, and works just as well 2000 years later, as I could see i n various reviews admiring the scriptwriter for it. I admire the scriptwriter as well, for finding the perfect use to it. Kar amd her people have good reason for their hostility. At the same time, the eventual team up between Romans and Picts, and the way they were individualized and not written as evil, was very much in the spirit not just of Doctor Who but of Sutcliffe's Eagle of the Ninth, and I'm not the slightest bit surprised Bill loves that book.

I'm not sure quite how the lights-as-fighting-method were supposed to work, but that was besides the point, and I didn't care. Otoh, if someone wants to write a fanfic detailing the Doctor's interlude as a Vestal Virgin, Second Class, feel free to point me its way. (Missing female regeneration or drag - you decide.) Nardole's "remember, I know maybe 10 percent of your secrets" was perfect, too.

The Doctor was awfully quick to volunteer for another eternity of guarding assignment, which makes me wonder, but I can't draw any conclusions. Ditto on the "Missy: faking or not?" question, though I love they made it textual, i.e. the Doctor and Missy bring it up themselves, and of course it leads to another intense moment between them. Which makes me think Missy won't be with us for muich longer, because this is the best the Doctor and the Master have gotten olong together for eons, and the longest, if you count those decades in the vault, and that means some vicious breakup will inevitably happen, thus is their lot.


Lasty: "Kar" and the whole thing with the talking crows was the kind of fairy tale stuff the Moffat era has as its signature, and when it works, as here, I love it.

Date: 19 Jun 2017 18:12 (UTC)
felis: (clara and twelve)
From: [personal profile] felis
Oh, thank you so much for the Tacitus quote and information! I had no idea, but it's a wonderful background detail for the episode, which I loved a lot.

Date: 19 Jun 2017 21:47 (UTC)
dhampyresa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dhampyresa
I loved the episode! The speech sounded familiar, but it was only on the "they make a desert and call it peace" that I could place it. /needs to brush up on Classics, evidently

Date: 19 Jun 2017 22:22 (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
I loved reading Annals 1 in A-level Latin (it was the first time I encountered the idea of "survivor guilt", because our Latin teacher explained it was the only way to understand Tacitus. Also, he encouraged free translations (generally involving football in general, and Everton in particular.))

So, in memory of Mr Nolan, I'll have a go myself:

"Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

"Looting, carrying out massacres, raping: all in the name of some spurious imperialist creed -- and then, when the bastards have laid waste to everything, they then have the sheer gall to claim they've created peace."


Edited Date: 19 Jun 2017 22:24 (UTC)

Date: 20 Jun 2017 16:11 (UTC)
legionseagle: (Default)
From: [personal profile] legionseagle
My Latin teacher had a great advantage in teaching girls Latin, in that he had been at school in the same class as Mike McGear. We didn't have the concept of six degrees of separation, but his having known a Beatle's brother cast a haze of reflected glory.

Date: 20 Jun 2017 05:38 (UTC)
vilakins: Vila's coat of arms (made up by me) (semper ubi sub ubi)
From: [personal profile] vilakins
Another enjoyable ep, and yes, I loved it was the Ninth.

The light was apparently 'poisoned', though I'm not sure how that held the monster in place.

I'm also unsure how Kar and the Romans would keep the gate closed for more than a few days their time without any sustenance, water, rest etc (and the Doctor would need the same). That's only around 1,600 years assuming they last a week. Maybe the rockfall blocked the gate for good.

Date: 20 Jun 2017 14:30 (UTC)
peasant: sweet pea (Default)
From: [personal profile] peasant
I'm not sure quite how the lights-as-fighting-method were supposed to work

I think the monster fed on light but the orange crystal ping-pong bat thing poisoned the light if it was shone through it. At one point the Doctor said they would need more crystal so presumably they either found some or broke up the original bat to make more. Beyond that it all gets very handwavy.

Date: 21 Jun 2017 23:42 (UTC)
labingi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] labingi
Thanks for the Tacitus context! This makes me feel better about an episode that kind of annoyed me for its lack of... historical cultural realism, I guess. (Lack of historical realism is pretty much a generic trait of Doctor Who, of course. This episode was perfectly in keeping with the dominant vibe. I'm just getting tired of the vibe.)

Date: 8 Jul 2017 11:51 (UTC)
lokifan: black Converse against a black background (Default)
From: [personal profile] lokifan
The Tacitus quote from a Caledonian chief is SO BRILLIANT. I didn't know that :D

I loved the Moffaty fairy-tale element of the crow. And having some Scottish history for Capaldi and Moffat's last season :D

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