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In bellum civile duces cm Roma pararet,
Viribus & caderet Martia terra[1] suis,[2]
Mox [=Mos] fuit in partes turmis countibus hasdem,
Coniunctas dextras[3] mutua dona dari.
Foederis haec species, id habet Concordia signum,
Ut quos iungit amor, iungat & ipsa manus.

When Rome was marshalling her generals to fight in civil war and that martial land was being destroyed by her own might, it was the custom for squadrons coming together on the same side to exchange joined right hands as gifts. This is a token of alliance; concord has this for a sign - those whom affection joins the hand joins also.

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Pour la paix faire & casser guerre,
Les anciens touchoient aux mains:
Et navoient pour serment aultre arre,
Les capitaines des Romains.
Ce signe feist les cueurs humains,
Et joignoit la main les concordes:
Ores tel signe nest ferme, ains,
Lon rompt bien du serment les cordes.


1. ‘Martial land’, a reference not only to Rome’s bellicose history but to the legend that Rome’s founder Romulus was the son of Mars, the god of war.

2. Cf. Horace, Epodes 16.2, ‘Rome is being destroyed by her own might’ (written during the civil conflicts of 41 BC).

3. These were fashioned in some kind of metal for use as tokens of friendship; see e.g. Tacitus, The Histories 1.54 and 2.8, (referring to another time of civil conflict, 69 - 70 AD). Alciato worked on the text of Tacitus and wrote some annotations.

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