Saturday, January 24, 2009

Well, Clarice - have the lambs stopped screaming?

When informed by a francophone friend that there was no common French word for "procrastination", I immediately said "There has to be!, what about cunctation?".

The great Carthaginian general Hannibal managed to keep the Romans, during the Second Punic War, at bay in modern day Italy for at least seventeen years. After crossing the Alps, his troops and allies fought and won a number of battles. The Romans confronted him many times, under many generals, without success until the arrival of Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus. Fabius was aware of the military superiority of the Carthaginians, and so when Hannibal invaded Italy, Fabius refused to meet him in a pitched battle. Instead he kept his troops close to Hannibal, hoping to exhaust him in a long war of attrition. Fabius was able to harass the Carthaginians, limiting Hannibal's ability to wreak destruction while conserving his own military force. At the beginning, the Roman populace was not impressed and gave Fabius the epithet, "Cunctator" (the delayer), as an insult. However, when this stratagem proved worthwhile, the title was then evolved to become an honorific one.

Procrastination may not exist, but I'm pretty sure cunctation does.

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Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica

Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica