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."


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


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.
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