Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XIII.: Of the Genius of the Romans as to Maritime Affairs. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XIII.: Of the Genius of the Romans as to Maritime Affairs. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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Of the Genius of the Romans as to Maritime Affairs.
THE Romans laid no stress on any thing but their land forces, who were disciplined to stand firm, to fight on one spot, and there bravely to die. They could not, like the practice of seamen, who first offer to fight, then fly, then return, constantly avoid danger, often make use of stratagem, and seldom of force. This was not suitable to the genius of the* Greeks, much less to that of the Romans.
They destined, therefore, to the sea only those citizens who were not† considerable enough to have a place in their legions. Their marines were commonly freed-men.
At this time we have neither the same esteem for land-forces, nor the same contempt for those of the sea. In the former,‡ art is decreased; in the§ latter, it is augmented: now things are generally esteemed in proportion to the degree of ability requisite to discharge them.
[* ]As Plato has observed, lib. 4. of laws.
[† ]Polybius, lib. 5.
[‡ ]See the Considerations on the causes of the rise and declension of the Roman grandeur.