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MARCUS VARRO, in that book of his Antiquities of Man which treats Of War and Peace, 1 defines indutiae (a truce) in two ways. “A truce,” he says, “is peace for a few days in camp;” and again in another place, “A truce is a holiday in war.” But each of these definitions seems to be wittily and happily concise rather than clear or satisfactory. For a truce is not a peace—since war continues, although fighting ceases—nor is it restricted to a camp or to a few days only. For what are we to say if a truce is made for some months, and the [p. 113] troops withdraw from camp into the towns? Have we not then also a truce? Again, if a truce is to be defined as only lasting for a few days, what are we to say of the fact, recorded by Quadrigarius in the first book of his Annals, that Gaius Pontius the Samnite asked the Roman dictator for a truce of six hours? 2 The definition “a holiday in war,” too, is rather happy than clear or precise.

Now the Greeks, more significantly and more pointedly, have called such an agreement to cease from fighting ἐκεχειρία, or “a staying of hands,” substituting for one letter of harsher sound a smoother one. 3 For since there is no fighting at such a time and their hands are withheld, they called it ἐκεχειρία. But it surely was not Varro's task to define a truce too scrupulously, and to observe all the laws and canons of definition; for he thought it sufficient to give an explanation of the kind which the Greeks call τύποι (“typical” ) and ὑπογραφαί (“outline” ), rather than ὁρισμοί (“exact definition” ).

I have for a long time been inquiring into the derivation of indutiae, but of the many explanations which I have either heard or read this which I am going to mention seems most reasonable. I believe that indutiae is made up of inde uti iam (“that from then on” ). The stipulation of a truce is to this effect, that there shall be no fighting and no trouble up to a fixed time, but that after that time all the laws of war shall again be in force. Therefore, since a definite date is set and an agreement is [p. 115] made that before that date there shall be no fighting but when that time comes, “that from then on,” fighting shall be resumed: by uniting (as it were) and combining those words which I have mentioned the term indutiae is formed. 4

But Aurelius Opilius, in the first book of his work entitled The Muses, says: 5 “It is called a truce when enemies pass back and forth from one side to another safely and without strife; from this the name seems to be formed, as if it were initiae, 6 that is, an approach and entrance.” I have not omitted this note of Aurelius, for fear that it might appear to some rival of these Nights a more elegant etymology, merely because he thought that it had escaped my notice when I was investigating the origin of the word.

1 xxii, fr. 1, 2, Mirsch.

2 Fr. 21, Peter.

3 That is, ἐκεχειρία instead of an original ἐχεχειρία, from ἔχω and χείρ, the first χ, an aspirate, being reduced to the smooth mute κ, since in Greek an aspirate may not begin two successive syllables.

4 The correct derivation seems to be from *in-du-tus (cf. duellum for bellum), “not in a state of war.”

5 p. 88, Fun.

6 This derivation is clearer from the older form induitiae; see the critical note.

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