No Excuses — Fight or Die

Excellent read. Enjoy this Sunday afternoon!

Fix Bayonets!


Archaeologists and historians will say that maritime history dates back “thousands” of years, citing evidence of sea trade between ancient civilizations and the discovery of pre-historic boats, such as dugout canoes developed somewhat independently by various stone age populations. Of course, fashioning out a handmade canoe and using it to cross a river may not exactly qualify as “maritime.” Nor should we conclude that Austronesian explorers qualified as a naval force, per se, but it was a start.

Egyptians had well-developed trade routes over the Red Sea to Arabia. Navigation was known to the Sumerians between 4,000-3,000 B.C., and it was the search for trade routes that led the world into the Age of Exploration and Discovery.

Minoan traders from Crete were active in the Mediterranean by 2,000 B.C., and the Phoenicians (ancient Lebanese) became a somewhat substantial maritime culture from around 2,500 to 64 B.C. What the ancient…

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8 thoughts on “No Excuses — Fight or Die

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  1. Plato thought that ships turned fighters into cowards, and wasn’t it Cortez who burned his ships? I think there’s also a point in the Trojan war where the Greeks, under attack, retreated to their beached ships and contemplated abandoning the siege.

    “Fight or die” is when the commander camps with an uncrossable river to his rear… as most commanders would rather be judged at a Court Martial than face the certain annihilation of his men.

    Socrates, in Plato’s “Laches” dialogue also questions the “stand your ground” as “rule”… that it might be better to “fight while flying”… or to retreat so as to offer an opportunity to re-engage should disorder amongst the pursuers break out.

    I think regardless of the “rule”… I’d take my chances in a Court Martial. But then again, I know that despite Socrates refusal to put the Athenian Admirals on trial, the Admirals were all put to death. There’s nothing certain in love or war.

    From the Jowett summary of Plato’s “Laches”

    ‘What is Virtue?’—or rather, to restrict the enquiry to that part of virtue which is concerned with the use of weapons—’What is Courage?’ Laches thinks that he knows this: (1) ‘He is courageous who remains at his post.’ But some nations fight flying, after the manner of Aeneas in Homer; or as the heavy-armed Spartans also did at the battle of Plataea. (2)

    “Courage” isn’t something you can legislate or mandate in some General Order.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And by a prudent flight and cunning save A life which valour could not, from the grave. A better buckler I can soon regain, But who can get another life again?


      Liked by 1 person

    2. Spartan mothers or wives gave a departing warrior his shield with the words: “With it or on it!” (Greek: Ἢ τὰν ἢ ἐπὶ τᾶς! E tan e epi tas!), implying that he should return with his shield (buckler), or (his dead body) upon it, but by no means after saving himself by throwing away his heavy shield and fleeing.

      Trust the British Admiralty to wax laconic…

      In Sparta, its’ men were its’ walls… in Britain, it’s ships were its’ walls. In America, it’s the air above.

      Liked by 1 person

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