Welcome to Battle School. I should start by saying that this is predominantly for fantasy writers before mechanised warfare. Also, most of the information will be general and generic in its nature. If you want to write about the Romans, do your own research.
This series of essays isn’t meant to be a comprehensive guide about how to write riveting and realistic battle scenes, it isn’t about writing battle scenes at all. It’s about all those pesky little things no one ever thinks about when they decide to put a battle, or even just a large melee into their story.
Just how do you get 5,000 men to do what you want on 20 acres of battlefield in the days before radio, walkie-talkies, telephones, semaphore, or even minimal literacy? Simple, you shout at them. And, if they are too far away to hear you, you go over and shout at them there. Simple?
You have a nice, fancy and oh-so-deadly cavalry regiment of 600 men, how much hay and grain do they need to feed their horses each and every day? Not so very much, just 4 metric tons—each and every day. Or the horses will either founder on too much green grass or they’ll starve and you’ll then have 600 foot-sore infantry. And lets not mention the 20-40 litres of water they need each day too.
So, my preliminary list of topics will be this:
Why have a war at all? Army, what army? Before the war there is logistics Strategy Getting to the battlefield Songs around the campfire: The night before Command and control Battle Tactics Wounded, Prisoners, and the Butcher’s Bill.
If anyone has anything they’d like to ask, know, or suggest as a topic, feel free to let me know.
kdw (Notice the lower case? I can learn.), where would you like me to put these? Hmmm, perhaps I should rephrase that a little.
You could use the Writing Challenges area, if you like.
Or, if you think that might get cumbersome (and logistically challenging), I might be able to set up a separate "Special Projects" area, or even a "How to Have a Believable Battle" area.
Thing is, we don't have sub-topic capability so far as I know. It would be nice to be able to have a "Battle" topic, say in Writing Challenges, with sub-topics for each of the things you've listed (and any additional ones), but maybe nesting topics is beyond what forums should (or even want) to do.
So, if you think "Writing Challenges" wouldn't work for you, let me know, and I'll poke around in the workings and see what else can be managed.
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Battle school, to me, seems suited to the Writing Class forum. Like, it's school and the class topic sessions are about battle in general and in the specific. Individual threads could be labeled Battle School: C Cubed (Command, Control, and Communication), for example.
The content proposed seems to be of a lecture type, too. Though mindful of two particular and peculiar characteristics of lecture venues generally; that is, though the discourse method overtly is one-directional -- lecturer to receiver -- responses to a lecture, including question and answer sessions and follow-on responses and dissents and further contributions, are conversational of remove in time and space. Lecture is as much a conversation as a casual discourse midday at a coffee shop.
The second criteria of substance is that a lecturer opines and through that process develops greater appreciation of a topic from sharing knowledge, testing knowledge through both a Socratic method -- knowledge held in abeyance (perhaps even overlooked from a lecturer's knowledge) so that auditors and interlocutors can self-actualize learning -- and through peer review.
That latter, peer review, is sublime in more ways than the obvious potentials for straightforward addition and dissent or contention that note factual, logical, rationale, and organization shortfalls. Of particular note is peer review's propensity for collaborative efforts and outcomes; that is, a reception and perception of broader and more focused bases for a topic's effectual realization.
For example, C Cubed is a battle strategy as old and noble as human existence. The communication part is as essential as command and control. An early strategy for effective battle communication probably developed intuitively. A troupe selected a leader based on physical stature. The tallest man or woman is by necessity and nature more visible than the average participants. The troupe naturally looks to the tallest person for direction because he or she is most visible.
That characteristic is so ingrained in human society that, to this day, physical stature remains an instinctive decision that influences leader selection and likewise shapes hierarchal stratification. The leader need not be an effective strategist and tactician, only be most visible to the rank and file and intermediate leadership.
On a battlefield, leaders enhance their communication aptitudes by adornments that as well stand out from the fray. Brighter apparel, rank insignia, pennants, higher heights, like from a steed, command car, or tower, even a hilltop height away from the front line. Leadership semaphore signals codes combatants perceive, interpret, and act upon.
In an ideal battle situation, a leader's primary role is battle tactics moderator through communications, not tyranical commander or controller, which may alienate a battle corps and result in a leader's replacement, mutiny, mass desertion, and worse. Maybe leaders are decision-makers between numerous competing options advisors, tacticians, strategists, even weather and surveillance and other such fact-based knowledge experts propose as well, again, moderator and communicator.
I propose then that battle school lectures and discussions be posted in the Writing Class forum and that they be labeled by topic; that is, Main Topic: Subtopic, as I suggest above: Battle School: C Cubed or a more focused subtopic label, Battle School: Communication.
I'm curious as to how civilian opinion/opposition/support would be included in this topic as it pertains to armies (invading, defending, raiders, etc). Locals/civilians have long played a role in aspects of war, whether it be camp followers (logistics), informers (scouting and spying), guerrillas (in which case they are more like combatants), or victims (let's be honest, there are a lot of dark moments in history where civilians were given as rewards to conquering armies as slaves, wives, prizes, sacrifices, etc)
Also, not sure if this is included in your list of topics already, but maybe include sections on intelligence and scouting? Battlefield intelligence and subterfuge can greatly effect a battle, as can having reliable information on terrain and weather.
Another couple of additions could be training, mercenaries, and morale, though I suppose all of these could be folded into the "Army" or "the night before" sections.
*Edit: Since this is a general topic of aspects of pre-modern battle, how about a general categorization of soldier types? Such as a difference between light infantry, skirmishers, heavy infantry, heavy cavalry, shock cavalry, beasts-of-war, etc? This is probably just a section of the "Army" composition and is highly subjective/based on civilization, but I would still consider mildly important on its own (Comparing a Post-Marian reform legionary to a dismounted High Middle Age Men-at-arms. Both can be considered generally as a "heavy" infantry based on that time period. Going along with that thought, there are advantages and disadvantages to weapons of all types. An army of heavy infantry composed of pole-arm wielders will rely extensively on their armor to protect them against ranged, while those fighting with shields have an additional/alternate layer of defense.
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The role of the civilian in war has been changed, modified, and even ignored as military 'fads' come and go. Yes, in war, like most other things, fashion trends come and go and return. I don't mean clothing, I mean modus operandi. In the Greek city states, the army was the civilian population--mainly free males between 15 and 50. Then, almost 2,000 years later, the mass armies of the French revolutionary republic were essentially civilians who took up arms because they wanted to, not because they were forced to. That had all changed by 1792 though.
As for troop types, I think it would be a far too complex study for what I have in mind. The Greek hoplite was considered heavy infantry, but they were essentially naked when compared with an English dismounted man-at-arms at Agincourt covered with full plate from head to toe. Different times generate different names for different categories and they're not interchangeable. How do you compare heavy horse with stirrups against those without stirrups?
I will give some thought to your question about intelligence gathering but you need to remember that average maps are recent inventions, roughly 1600's at a guess while survey and ordinance maps were first introduced as a result of the Jacobite rebellion in 1745, I think. Maps were rough sketches and most intelligence was gathered by word of mouth and was out of date by the time a general heard about it, even in the Napoleonic period.
In regards to intelligence gathering, I am constantly reminded of the possibility of battle plans falling into the hands of the opposing sides, whether it be due to capture of a messenger/command staff, discovered inside the main camps, or simply given due to betrayal. While a battle plan may not be particularly notable in the melee of a battle (tactical command), it would be quite important in the grand view (strategic command). For instance, if one side decided to split his forces into two to commit a flanking maneuver, it would be in the best interest of the other side to attack the split army. Likewise, if an army was crossing a river or narrow crossing, the question of whether to attack while they are in transit or while they are reorganizing exists.
I feel that terrain and weather could also be somewhat useful to discuss, mainly the power of geography in deciding where battles are undertaken. For instance, there's the idea that having your troops fight with the river at your back will cause your men to fight with further fervor (as the assumption is that there is no retreat and therefore a fight to the death). Yet I can recall a battle that occurred in the Chinese Historical Classic/Fiction Romance of the Three Kingdoms in which one army who deliberately put his army into a similar situation, only to have his army fall into pieces after failing to break out.
Weather plays a significant role in battles as well. A major battle during the 100 Years War (I can't remember the name off the top of my head. If I remember or someone tells me, I'll update it), during which Genoese crossbowmen were pitted against English longbowmen after a rain. The English were able to unstring their bows and keep their strings dry, while the Genoese crossbows were soaked, leading to less range for the crossbows. I'm no military historian, though, so maybe there are counter-examples of where weather did not affect the battle as much? Not sure if this falls into the purview of a "battle," but sieges (both the attacking and defending forces) were also fairly important. Whether the sieges were on camps/outposts or full-on citadels, the placement of such defensive installations are a large influence in war in general. However, this falls more unto the purview of War rather than Battle.
Sorry about the stuff I'm throwing at you Grumpy old guy, I just keep nitpicking into particular stuff.
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quote:Sorry about the stuff I'm throwing at you Grumpy old guy, I just keep nitpicking into particular stuff.
Don't worry about it, but you can now appreciate the reason I wanted to keep this discussion general and generic. Terrain is certainly a consideration, as is weather, however the impact of both is variable and depends on circumstances. Up until the 11th or 12th century, most battles were held at agreed times and places. There was no such thing as the battle of maneuver and strategic, theater level operations were unheard of until Napoleon, or perhaps Fredrick the Great before him.
On the topic of fodder, I highly recommend David Hackett Fischer's book *Washington's Crossing*. One of the things I took away from that book was the overwhelming importance of animal fodder in a pre-mechanized army.
Like many Americans, I was taught a very simplistic theory for Britain's military setbacks in the American Revolutionary War: the British military commanders were stupid. They dressed their troops in bright red coats and massed them in tight phalanxes where the colonials could pick them off, hiding safely behind trees and rocks. Of course nothing could be farther from the truth. British commanders had developed special warfare tactics for North America during the Seven Years War (called the French and Indian War here in the US). They even had special units that specialized in sylvan combat -- what today we'd call call commandos or mountain troops.
The Royal Army was in many way surprisingly modern; finding Washington dug in in Manhattan and Brooklyn, General Howe and his brother Richard launched a massive amphibious assault involving over 30,000 troops, all coordinated with *flags*. Howe's regulars easily flanked the outclassed Colonials, and Washington was forced to retreat to New Jersey, where things got interesting.
In New Jersey Washington discovered his metier as a general. He might well be the most skillful retreater in military history. His troops maybe weren't that practiced at marching in formation, but they were farmers and could dig temporary fortifications like nobody's business. And when the situation called for it they could run like hell, which is a big deal when stretching out the conflict works in your favor. Washington quickly learned to capitalize on those strengths. His army would show up out of nowhere, hit the Royals then retreat so fast that it was like they'd vanished by the time the regulars had formed up for a response.
The British couldn't bring their might to bear to strike a death blow on Washington's army, so the campaign headed into winter, and that meant the Royal Army's animals couldn't graze; they needed fodder. And that meant they needed forage parties. And that meant, sooner or later, atrocities committed by troops on forage parties.
To an American reading this book in 2006, General Howe's position was eerily familiar. He had the most agile army in the world tied down because he couldn't find the enemy until the enemy attacked, at a place and time of their choosing. He was negotiating troubled political currents too; he was running a "hearts and minds" campaign to keep as many colonists as possible on the loyal side, but the demands of forage brought his troops into conflict with civilians and the longer that went on the more sympathy the rebels won.
Anyway, great book, I highly recommend it.
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Interesting topics. I'm not as familiar with battle tactics as I see some here are, and yet I wonder about a few things. Weather and fodder were mentioned as important aspects that could turn a battle one way or the other. There has always been a turn-a-blind-eye stance in most books I have read concerning the question of what happens after eating and drinking. Essentially, how long does a battle, or series of battles need to be for an army to worry about where, and how, it would need to build and maintain a latrine or some such facility? Or for that matter, are soldiers involved in simple daily skirmishes even worried about such things? I never really see any writers ever worrying about these things. I'm sure it's important in real life but does it need to be brought up in fiction? Just my two cents.
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The intention of the essays is purely to provide information to writers in fields they may never have considered before. Just why are most inns on the road 20-25 miles apart? Because that's an average days travel for a horse.
quote:Originally posted by Smiley:
Essentially, how long does a battle, or series of battles need to be for an army to worry about where, and how, it would need to build and maintain a latrine or some such facility?
If you have 100 men sitting in the same place for a day or more, just where will they conduct their necessary business?
Whether a writer uses any of the information I'll be dropping in here is entirely up to them. There is no requirement to mention when or where the latrines were dug unless it is important to the plot. For example: In Henry V's siege of Harfleur the English army was decimated by dysentery caused by one, eating too many green apples from the orchards and two, more importantly, siting their latrines upriver. Doh!
I have found that arcane knowledge about things people almost never consider consciously adds so much more depth and 'realism' to a narrative; it also throws up intriguing plot twists.
A septic mistake like an upstream location of a latrine can also subtly influence character development and movement. Latrines are a somewhat recent organized military development. Imagine knights are pretty much fixed into their armor for days on end and no one ready to hand to aid their relief in battle. Tents of old were often fouled in at least one corner. No chamber pots for the rank and file either, maybe senior officers.
Also, latrine sanitation is a comparatively recent development and not too conscientiously appreciated even in today's armed forces. MD doctors used to inspect latrine (dysentery and cholera), bedding (typhus and plague), and food and water sanitation (botulism, e-coli, salmonella, cholera, toxic salinity flux, etc.) and personal hygiene (insect pests communicable diseases, and rots and bacterial growths on all enclosed body parts).
Veterinary doctors have taken up more of the human sanitation role for U.S. Army deployments recently. The human doctors focus on human battle medicine more so. Though I don't imagine a moderately wounded soldier would be too particular about a vet's giving care if a vet was all who was available because human doctors worked more serious trauma cases. All the above of which offer plot, character, and emotional movement potentials.
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I believe one of the core elements in battle is often left out which is endurance. I use to do some pretty hefty sword fights on stage with swords and other weapons with close to accurate weight. I was in good shape but I will tell you for a fact. Two minutes of straight sword to sword combat is a lifetime. By that two minute mark your arms are fiercely burning. The weight of the sword feels like an anvil. Your body is drenched. Your lungs are on fire. You've burned a ton of water. This is why techniques were honed and weapons became lighter. So before characters go running about with weapons drawn through a whole castle or on the battlefield the writer should start to first figure out the length of a fight or battle. It can feel like an eternity to a character or army, but in truth it won't last long if all the soldiers are committed at once. Also my opponents on stage most of the time had a better muscle build than me. It actually worked against them. They couldn't endure as long as I could, but if they did hit it would probably be more fatal depending on how tired they were.
So how much endurance does each of your characters realistically have? How much endurance did they use getting to the fight? How heavy is their equipment and weapons before and during the battle. Do they even have the strength left to pull back that great bow or how far now can they really throw that spear. A one handed weapon is harder to use over time than one you can also use with two.
So before your legolas goes running everywhere over the battlefield and never looks tired after constantly switching between his bow and his two swords and back again. Take a moment ask yourself--How long would his arm strength really last? Then add some extra because this is fantasy and he/she does have heroic endurance and strength. But remember. The stronger the bow the more strength used to constantly pull it back.
So don't be afraid to add in all the great obstacles of failing endurance--sweat in eyes, shaky legs, gasping breath, slick hands, sticky clothing, failing agility, snotty nose, weakening bladder, matted tangled hair, pulled muscles, and feverish body heat to add some great color to your battle canvas.
Life is not in the win or lose but the struggle in between.
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I've done tournament style fencing (I'm still only an amateur at best) for a couple of years (which is nowhere like historical fencing or actual combat) and the one thing that stays with me is the feeling of being in a semi-enclosed helmet. Sounds are muffled quite a bit. Sweat dripped into my eyes and I couldn't do anything to get rid of it. I was in decent shape, but by the end of a bout, I'd be breathing as if I just sprinted a 100 meter dash. And this is with a modern helmet with relatively good ventilation and padded cloth. I shudder to think of how much worse it would be if I had to wear thicker armor with a enclosed helmet.
One interesting source that I was always fascinated about is the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism), particularly their heavy-armor combat. If anyone has experience in that type of action, perhaps he or she could pitch in their experience as well?
But I digress from the original topic.
walexander, adding onto the endurance detail, there's the Battle of Pharsalus between Julius Caesar and the Roman Republic's Army led by Pompey. Caesar's veteran legionaries, when ordered to attack, stopped out without orders to in order to rest and regroup before initiating their final charge. Compare that to movies where you see armies rushing towards each other from quite a distance away. It would probably look far less dramatic if both sides had soldiers tripping from exhaustion instead of giving and taking sword thrusts.
It would be boring to add in to much detail, but I do find it fascinating that when historians try recreating certain events and reported weaponry that most of the time it completely changes what the reality of a battle was probably like.
All I was suggesting was for a writer facing that very difficult situation of putting together their battle scene. These small elements used in very sprinkled amounts add a flavor that breaks up the typical go to swashbuckler or hack and slash scene.
What makes a good commander. Knowing not only the strengths of their army but also the weaknesses. They know where they are most likely to lose and try and fight the battle where they are strongest.
A great philosophical question I like to reflect on before writing out a battle scene is why does evil win? It always seems to come down to advantage vs. disadvantage and how those are exploited. Our basic understanding of real warfare is easily transferred to fantasy. Each side has a stake in both victory and failure. How much do they believe in their cause? Do they believe their leaders can lead them to victory? Do they even get a choice? These may seem broad but it builds the dialog before, during, and after the battle. Why does the character that seemed the weakest find their true self when the chaos is at its worse?
In a real fight. Where your life is seriously on the line each of our minds and instincts move along a vast line from completely frozen to absolute clarity. You might feel absolutely numb. It may feel like time is slowed down. You may feel your death is eminent and panic or find you have a very weird calm as chaos reigns down.
Bravery and cowardess often builds by a group effort. The more who agree. the more likely the battle will sway that way. In the group moments it is a great spot to have the strengths and weaknesses of an army stand out. Things like loyalty, courage, honor, duty, all come in to question and pass in a blink of an eye.
That is why I suggest just sprinkles. When I visualize a battle I move from pov close action and pov broad action. I think of it really like one man in a row boat fighting to stay alive on the ocean in a storm. His mind moves from everything close that is happening to him and the boat but also there is this constant broad view of how does he navigate to keep from being completely overwhelmed by this mass chaos. That broad view can even be as simple as how well is the combined shield wall holding together then back to how well the character is doing to hold their small part together. Then back to the right side is failing. Then back to individual. Hold or do something to try and stop the collapse. Dialog-- "The right side's collapsing! Shift right!" or "Fall Back!" etc etc
So why did the right side fail: overwhelmed, pole arms, arrow fire, exhaustion, fear, now how can it be reversed or can it?
And of course you have to adjust your detail by your audience. Is it a harry potter bloodless battle or a walking dead blood bath? Is it an organized 300 everyone dies battle or a one sided storm troopers can't shoot complete loss?
Obviously if your battle is fought by fantasy bloodless fashion models like twilight you probably don't want to get them to dirty. So cater your weaponry appropriately.
This is just an opinion. Each of us has a unique voice and I look forward to reading some future great battle scenes.
The real problem when trying to work out what real combat between armed opponents was like is that both of you have to be seriously trying to KILL each other. When all that's between you and the hereafter is a teeny-weeny sword, are you going to be the one who strikes first? What if you miss? Then--you're the one who's dead.
I have fenced with broadsword (weighing about 2.9 kg) and foil (the long, thin, pointy thing with no edge). We were well padded and armoured and going for broke. With broadsword the average length of a single combat was roughly 30 seconds before a fatal blow was landed (neck, armpit, groin, and back of the knee). With foil it was about 5 seconds to get a point into the torso.
The preferred combat option when outmatched was to run away because, believe it or not, there was no concept of surrender in European combat until about 1100 AD. Seriously. If you didn't win, you died running away.
Added later for clarity: The fighting times mentioned refer only to how long the actual I'm trying to kill you phase of the duel took. Prior to that, there was a lot of dancing about and feinting. As for surrender, I should have said "surrender for the purposes of being taken prisoner". Anyone could surrender, but they'd have their throats cut if they were lucky. The first recorded instance of someone surrendering to be a prisoner of war was Lambert de Thury in 1211, one of Simon de Montfort’s most trusted knights. What is also interesting about this is that the surrender was agreed to with a handshake. Of course, this grace was only extended to the nobility, the common spear-pusher was still slaughtered until about Agincourt.
[ November 05, 2015, 02:18 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]
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That's interesting GOG, because we know there must have been surrender dating a lot farther back or slavery would have been a lot tougher to get off the ground.
I know Chinngis Knan was around that same time and it is recorded he gave options: Option one: Everyone surrenders now before the battle and lives will be spared. Option two: battle starts and everyone dies. It's a basic fact that written history likes the story of the hold outs. But suurender in a duel was around long before that under a different phrase just like dueling had a different name. trial by combat and asking/begging for mercy.
But even before that. It's written for gladiators -
Pugnare ad digitum - "To fight to the finger." Combat took place until the defeated gladiator raised his finger (or his hand or whole arm) to signal the munerarius to stop the fight.
Missio - A gladiator who acknowledged defeat could request the munerarius to stop the fight and send him alive (missus) from the arena. If he had not fallen he could be "sent away standing" (stans missus). The editor took the crowd's response into consideration in deciding whether to let the loser live or order the victor to kill him.
And there's a huge irony for us writers. The giver of the games or "Editor" as they were called was the one who decided a gladiators fate. Oh, the sweet irony.
The concept of a warrior's death comes from a neolithic era combat ritual (pre-metal, new stone age -- advanced stone and bone tool and weapon manufacture and use); that is, die honorably in battle or after if captured. A conscious surrender is unthinkable to an honorable warrior. Unconscious and implicit surrender from a battle trauma is somewhat okay. A captured warrior went through a torture trial that redeemed the warrior's right to an honorable death, the honorable coup de grace of a warrior's death.
If the captive cried out, moaned, shed tears, begged for mercy, showed cowardice, the captive immediately received a fatal blow, often from a blunt force trauma to the head. Stove in head, a dishonorable death; injury fatal to the heart, honorable death: the head, the intellect; the heart, the spirit. Head-busted men returned to haunt their native people for not teaching them the honorable ways. Heart-busted men earned honorable and restful places in the afterlife. The ritual resolves upon ancestor worship beliefs that encouraged individual sacrifice for a community's common good.
John Smith's account of Pocahontas saving his life, first of four times, contains an Anglo perspective of that ritual, though only ceremonial, without the torture preamble part. Pochantas tipped off Smith at the first "audience" with Wahunsonacaugh not to flinch when his head was laid on a block stump and the club swung at his head. He didn't flinch and passed the warrior's test, the club swing diverted. Opechancanough had earlier captured Smith in a battle which left Smith incapacitated, bogged down in a quick-marsh mire, and his companions dead.
Neolithic people took captive women and children for slaves. The slavery was more temporary indentured servitude than lifelong servile property servitude and not rigid at that. Women were taken into a community woman's family, kinship, or tribe group whose warrior "won" them for a battle prize. Women worked menial chores until they became full tribe members and married into the tribe or exceeded their station's prerogatives and were cast out or killed. Children were more like adopted step-children than servants, accorded all the training, education, and support of any child born to the tribe, though of lower station and could earn higher standing from particular skill proficiency that benefited the community or from marriage, like captive women.
This won't go into the "Moccasin Woman" and similar neolithic era social practices, which fickle female captives at times resorted to as a last resort short of exile or death. Mature adult content.
Those consequences of combat loss played out generally and widely though at root universally across all of neolithic culture globally, with regional and era variants. The central ideas are that population pressures required new "blood" (genes) and warriors probably could cause problems, exceptions at times. Keep the women and children, execute the men. Net overall, keep the gene pool healthy. Likewise, captured foodstuffs and other resources kept a community agriculture and, as the case may be, pastoral livestock healthy and the community technologically up to date. The ancient necessary evils of war contributed to community well-being and prosperity. Never mind the actual war evils that wickedly preyed upon neighbor and enemy resources alike: greed's avarice, sloth's laziness, and envy's covetousness -- plus lust, pride, wrath, and, more often than not, gluttony.
Occasional Mongol horde and other lithic and early metal age no-quarter, genocidal excesses notwithstood.
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walexander, gladiatorial combat, like trial by combat (Which only applied to the nobility, the 'common man' could request trial by ordeal which might or might not be granted.), had rules. Warfare didn't.
"The giver of the games" title for a public presentation's emcee in Latin is ēditior, not "editor." The current English "editor," though, does derive from the same Latin origin: nominative first declensions: ēditus, masculine; ēdita, feminine; ēditum, neuter; perfect passive participle of verb ēdō, bring forth, bring about, to the public, to publish, which an editor or, also nominative case, masculine and feminine indicative, comparative variant of ēditus, ēditior brings forth to the public, etc.
Likewise, a fourth declension of ēditus, is a bull's brought forth solid waste, the proscribed other four-letter word like scat. Or ēditus boum in the Latin for B.S. in English. Found the above when investigating origins for the term "bull" to mean those delightful, grotesque, absurd blunders of language. Say for instance, I'll tear off your legs and trip you down the mountain with them.