How to End a History with a Cliffhanger

The Romans fought a war in Africa against the Numidians led by their King, Jugurtha (112-104 BCE). The Romans won. Sallust tells the tale of the war, but he ends it with the ominous anticipation of future dangers:

Sallust, Bellum Jugurthinum 114

“At that time, a battle was fought and lost against the Gauls by the generals Quintus Caepio and Gnaeus Mallius. Because of this, all of Italy quaked in fear. The Romans from that time down to our own have believed that while all other matters give way to our virtue, with the Gauls it is an issue of safety, not glory.

After it was made known that the war in Numidia was concluded and that Jugurtha was being returned as a prisoner, Marius was made consul even though absent, and Gaul was set as his province. On the first day of January, he celebrated his triumph as consul in great glory. And at that moment, the hope and health of the state resided with him.”

Per idem tempus adversum Gallos ab ducibus nostris Q. Caepione et Cn. Manlio male pugnatum. Quo metu Italia omnis contremuerat. Illincque [et inde] usque ad nostram memoriam Romani sic habuere, alia omnia virtuti suae prona esse, cum Gallis pro salute, non pro gloria certare. Sed postquam bellum in Numidia confectum et Iugurtham Romam vinctum adduci nuntiatum est, Marius consul absens factus est, et ei decreta provincia Gallia, isque Kalendis Ianuariis magna gloria consul triumphavit. Et ea tempestate spes atque opes civitatis in illo sitae.

Sulla As Dictator and the Evils of Civil War

Velleius Paterculus 2.28

“The evils of the civil war seemed to have ended when they were rekindled by Sulla’s cruelty. Once he was made dictator—and this honor had been avoided for a hundred and twenty years since the last time it had been used was one year after Hannibal quit Italy—and it is obvious that the fear which prompted the Roman people to want a dictator was less than how much they feared his power. As dictator, Sulla applied the power which earlier dictators had used only to save the country from the greatest dangers with unmeasured degrees of savagery.

He was the first—and I wish he had been the last—to discover the model of proscription with the result that in the same state in which legal recourse is available to an actor booed from the stage, in that state a price was set for the murder of a Roman citizen: he would have the most who killed the most! The reward for the killing of an enemy would be no greater than for the murder of a citizen.

In essence, each man was valued for the price of his own death. Such savagery was applied not only to those who had carried arms against them, but against many innocents too. In addition to this, the goods of the proscribed were offered for sale: children already deprived of their father’s goods were also prohibited from the right of seeking public office and, the most unjust thing of all, they had to maintain the standards of their social rank without recourse to the rights.”

Videbantur finita belli civilis mala, cum Sullae crudelitate aucta sunt. Quippe dictator creatus (cuius honoris usurpatio per annos centum et viginti intermissa; nam proximus post annum quam Hannibal Italia excesserat, uti adpareat populum Romanum usum dictatoris haud metu desiderasse tali quo timuisset potestatem) imperio, quo priores ad vindicandam maximis periculis rem publicam olim usi erant, eo in inmodicae crudelitatis licentiam usus est.3 Primus ille, et utinam ultimus, exemplum proscriptionis invenit, ut in qua civitate petularitis convicii iudicium histrioni ex albo redditur, in ea iugulati civis Romani publice constitueretur auctoramentum, plurimumque haberet, qui plurimos interemisset, neque occisi hostis quam civis uberius foret praemium Geretque quisque merces mortis suae.4 Nec tantum in eos, qui contra arma tulerant, sed in multos insontis saevitum. Adiectum etiam, ut bona proscriptorum venirent exclusique paternis opibus liberi etiam petendorum honorum iure prohiberentur simulque, quod indignissimum est, senatorum filii et onera ordinis sustinerent et iura perderent.

Sulla - Wikipedia

What Should One Learn from Early Histories?

Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, Praefatio 9

“But these tales and those like them—whether to ponder them or how to weigh them—I don’t emphasize greatly. Let anyone who reads these instead pay attention to what life was like, what the customs were, through which men and by which skills the empire was born and increased. And, when discipline bit by bit deteriorated, how at first customs degraded with desire, then they collapsed more and more, then they began to fall headlong until we came to our own time when we can endure neither our sins nor their remedies.”

ad haec tempora quibus nec vitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus. Sed haec et his similia utcumque animaduersa aut existimata erunt haud in magno equidem ponam discrimine: ad illa mihi pro se quisque acriter intendat animum, quae vita, qui mores fuerint, per quos viros quibusque artibus domi militiaeque et partum et auctum imperium sit; labente deinde paulatim disciplina velut desidentes primo mores sequatur animo, deinde ut magis magisque lapsi sint, tum ire coeperint praecipites, donec ad haec tempora quibus nec vitia nostra nec remedia pati possumus perventum est.

Surprise! A Dictator and his Master of Horse

Livy, Ab Urbe Condita 22 8

“Before any certain plans were completed, another disaster was suddenly reported: four thousand cavalry under the command of Gaius Cenentius and sent by the consul Servilius to his colleague in Umbria had turned around after hearing news of the Battle of Lake Trasimene and was trapped by Hannibal.

This news affected people differently: some, whose minds were overcome by a greater sorrow, believed that this recent loss of cavalry was a minor matter when compared to earlier events. Another group did not judge what happened on its own, but just as when a body was already sick any anguish, however minor, would be sensed more deeply than when in wealth, so too this should be judged not by some abstract measure but in realization of the fact that the country was sick and weakened and was incapable of withstanding any more grief.

For this reason, the people took refuge in a solution which had been neither desired nor used for a long time: the declaration of a dictator. But since the consul was away and they believed only he could announce a dictator, and because it was not easy to send a messenger or letter through an Italian countryside overcome by Carthaginian soldiers, the people did something that had never been done before that day: they made Quintus Fabius Maximus dictator and Marcus Mincius Rufus Master of Horse.”

Priusquam satis certa consilia essent, repens alia nuntiatur clades, quattuor milia equitum cum C. Centenio propraetore missa ad collegam ab Servilio consule in Umbria, quo post pugnam ad Trasumennum auditam averterant iter, ab Hannibale circumventa. eius rei fama varie homines adfecit. pars occupatis maiore aegritudine animis levem ex comparatione priorum ducere recentem equitum iacturam; pars non id quod acciderat per se aestimare sed, ut in adfecto corpore quamvis levis causa magis quam in valido gravior sentiretur, ita tum aegrae et adfectae civitati quodcumque adversi inciderit, non rerum magnitudine sed viribus extenuatis, quae nihil quod adgravaret pati possent, aestimandum esse.

Itaque ad remedium iam diu neque desideratum nec adhibitum, dictatorem dicendum, civitas confugit; et quia et consul aberat, a quo uno dici posse videbatur, nec per occupatam armis Punicis Italiam facile erat aut nuntium aut litteras mitti, quod nunquam ante eam diem factum erat, dictatorem populus creavit Q. Fabium Maximum et magistrum equitum M. Minucium Rufum

Jean Lievens, Quintus Fabius Maximus

“Beware the many, if you do not fear the one”

From the Historia Augusta, on the two Maximini, IX

“In order to hide his low birth, he had everyone who knew about it killed—not a few of them were friends who had often given him much because of his pitiable poverty. And there was never a crueler animal on the earth, placing all in his strength as if he could not be killed. Finally, when he believed that he was nearly immortal because of the magnitude of his body and bravery, there was a certain actor whom they report recited some Greek lines when he was present in the theater which had this Latin translation:

Even he who cannot be killed by one is killed by many
The elephant is large and he is killed.
The lion is brave and he is killed
The tiger is brave and he is killed.
Beware the many if you do not fear the one.

And these words were recited while the emperor was there. But when he asked his friends what the little clown had said, they claimed he was singing some old lines written against mean men. And, since he was Thracian and barbarian, he believed this.”

IX. nam ignobilitatis tegendae causa omnes conscios generis sui interemit, nonnullos etiam amicos, qui ei saepe misericordiae paupertatis causa pleraque donaverant. neque enim fuit crudelius animal in terris, omnia sic in viribus suis ponens quasi non posset occidi. denique cum immortalem se prope crederet ob magnitudinem corporis virtutisque, mimus quidam in theatro praesente illo dicitur versus Graecos dixisse, quorum haec erat Latina sententia:

“Et qui ab uno non potest occidi, a multis occiditur.

elephans grandis est et occiditur,
leo fortis est et occiditur,
tigris fortis est et occiditur;
cave multos, si singulos non times.”

et haec imperatore ipso praesente iam dicta sunt. sed cum interrogaret amicos, quid mimicus scurra dixisset, dictum est ei quod antiquos versus cantaret contra homines asperos scriptos; et ille, ut erat Thrax et barbarus, credidit.

 

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I am big. Really big. Everyone is saying that, not me. I mean, look how big I am.

A Tyranny Gained Through Luck

Sallust, Letter to Caesar 2.3

“While the courts just as in previous eras have been run by the three orders, those political factions still rule them: they give and take what they may, giving the innocent the runaround and heaping honors on their own. Neither crime nor shame nor public disgrace disqualifies them from office. They rob, despoil whomever they please. And finally, as if the city has been sacked, they rely on their own lust and excess instead of the laws.

And for me this would only be a source of limited grief if, in their typical fashion, they were pursuing a victory born from excellence. But the laziest of people whose total strength and excellence come from their tongue are arrogantly administering a tyranny gained through luck and from another person! For what treason or civil discord has obliterated so many families? Whose spirit was ever so hasty and extreme in victory?”

Iudicia tametsi, sicut antea, tribus ordinibus tradita sunt, tamen idem illi factiosi regunt, dant, adimunt quae lubet, innocentis circumveniunt, suos ad honorem extollunt. Non facinus, non probrum aut flagitium obstat, quo minus magistratus capiant. Quos commodum est trahunt, rapiunt; postremo tamquam urbe capta libidine ac licentia sua pro legibus utuntur.

Ac me quidem mediocris dolor angeret, si virtute partam victoriam more suo per servitium exercerent. Sed homines inertissimi, quorum omnis vis virtusque in lingua sita est, forte atque alterius socordia dominationem oblatam insolentes agitant. Nam quae seditio aut dissensio civilis tot tam illustris familias ab stirpe evertit? Aut quorum umquam in victoria animus tam praeceps tamque inmoderatus fuit?

 

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Really, We Have To Go to War

Thucydides, Peloponnesian War 1.144

“I have many other reasons to hope for the outcome if you are willing not to grow your empire by warring more and not to add dangers of your own choosing. For I am much more afraid of our own mistakes than our enemies’ plans.

But these are topics which will be explained in another speech on those matters. For now, let use send them away with these answers, that we will allow the Megarians to use our marketplace and harbors provided that the Spartans do not continue their foreign actions against us or our allies—for nothing stops this action or that one in the treaties we have. In addition, we will leave cities independent if they were independent when we came into contact with them and when those cities did not give in to them, they should be independent too, as each of them desires.

Add as well that we are willing to submit to judgments according to the treaties and we will not begin the war, although we will defend against those who do start it. These answers are just and proper answers for the city. You need to understand that we must go to war—but if we welcome it willingly, we will have less enthusiastic opponents.

Remember also that the greatest honors come both in private and public from the greatest dangers. Didn’t our fathers stand up against the Medes even though they started from so unequal a position? And when they left everything they had behind, they fought off the barbarian with greater intelligence than luck and greater daring than power and raised our state to what it is today. For this reason, we must not fall back, but we must defend against our enemies in every way and strive to give to our descendants a state no weaker at all.”

‘Πολλὰ δὲ καὶ ἄλλα ἔχω ἐς ἐλπίδα τοῦ περιέσεσθαι, ἢν ἐθέλητε ἀρχήν τε μὴ ἐπικτᾶσθαι ἅμα πολεμοῦντες καὶ κινδύνους αὐθαιρέτους μὴ προστίθεσθαι· μᾶλλον γὰρ πεφόβημαι τὰς οἰκείας ἡμῶν ἁμαρτίας ἢ τὰς τῶν ἐναντίων διανοίας. ἀλλ’ ἐκεῖνα μὲν καὶ ἐν ἄλλῳ λόγῳ ἅμα τοῖς ἔργοις δηλωθήσεται· νῦν δὲ τούτοις ἀποκρινάμενοι ἀποπέμψωμεν, Μεγαρέας μὲν ὅτι ἐάσομεν ἀγορᾷ καὶ λιμέσι χρῆσθαι, ἢν καὶ Λακεδαιμόνιοι ξενηλασίας μὴ ποιῶσι μήτε ἡμῶν μήτε τῶν ἡμετέρων ξυμμάχων (οὔτε γὰρ ἐκεῖνο κωλύει ἐν ταῖς σπονδαῖς οὔτε τόδε), τὰς δὲ πόλεις ὅτι αὐτονόμους ἀφήσομεν, εἰ καὶ αὐτονόμους ἔχοντες ἐσπεισάμεθα, καὶ ὅταν κἀκεῖνοι ταῖς ἑαυτῶν ἀποδῶσι πόλεσι μὴ σφίσι [τοῖς Λακεδαιμονίοις] ἐπιτηδείως αὐτονομεῖσθαι, ἀλλ’ αὐτοῖς ἑκάστοις ὡς βούλονται· δίκας τε ὅτι ἐθέλομεν δοῦναι κατὰ τὰς ξυνθήκας, πολέμου δὲ οὐκ ἄρξομεν, ἀρχομένους δὲ ἀμυνούμεθα. ταῦτα γὰρ δίκαια καὶ πρέποντα ἅμα τῇδε τῇ πόλει ἀποκρίνασθαι. εἰδέναι δὲ χρὴ ὅτι ἀνάγκη πολεμεῖν, ἢν δὲ ἑκούσιοι μᾶλλον δεχώμεθα, ἧσσον ἐγκεισομένους τοὺς ἐναντίους ἕξομεν, ἔκ τε τῶν μεγίστων κινδύνων ὅτι καὶ πόλει καὶ ἰδιώτῃ μέγισται τιμαὶ περιγίγνονται. οἱ γοῦν πατέρες ἡμῶν ὑποστάντες Μήδους καὶ οὐκ ἀπὸ τοσῶνδε ὁρμώμενοι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰ ὑπάρχοντα ἐκλιπόντες, γνώμῃ τε πλέονι ἢ τύχῃ καὶ τόλμῃ μείζονι ἢ δυνάμει τόν τε βάρβαρον ἀπεώσαντο καὶ ἐς τάδε προήγαγον αὐτά. ὧν οὐ χρὴ λείπεσθαι, ἀλλὰ τούς τε ἐχθροὺς παντὶ τρόπῳ ἀμύνεσθαι καὶ τοῖς ἐπιγιγνομένοις πειρᾶσθαι αὐτὰ μὴ ἐλάσσω παραδοῦναι.’

File:Jean-auguste-dominique ingres, uomo deificato, detto l'apoteosi di omero, 1827, 02.jpg
Detail of J.A.D Ingres’  “Apotheosis of Homer”

 

Royal Domestic Violence

Earlier, Cambyses marries one sister (3.31) and murders another. This one is unnamed.

Herodotus, Histories 3.32

“There are two stories regarding her death just as in the case of Smerdis. The Greeks report that Cambyses made a puppy fight with a lion cub and that this woman was watching. When the puppy was being defeated, another puppy—its sibling—broke its leash and was helping him. Together, the two puppies overpowered the lion cub.

Cambyses was pleased when he saw this, but she was crying as she sat alongside him. When Cambyses saw that she was crying and asked why she was, she responded that she cried upon seeing the puppy try to avenge his brother because she was thinking of Smerdis and realizing that there was no one who would avenge him.

The Greeks claim that she was executed for Cambyses for this response. The Egyptians, however, say that when the two of them were sitting at a table the woman took up some lettuce, plucked off the leaves, and then asked her husband if the lettuce seemed better plucked or with its leaves still. When he said he liked it more intact, she said that “but you must recall that you have stripped the house of Cyrus just like this lettuce.” In rage over this, he leaped on her even though she was pregnant. She died after miscarrying.”

Ἀμφὶ δὲ τῷ θανάτῳ αὐτῆς διξὸς ὥσπερ περὶ Σμέρδιος λέγεται λόγος. Ἕλληνες μὲν λέγουσι Καμβύσεα συμβαλεῖν σκύμνον λέοντος σκύλακι κυνός, θεωρέειν δὲ καὶ τὴν γυναῖκα ταύτην, νικωμένου δὲ τοῦ σκύλακος ἀδελφεὸν αὐτοῦ ἄλλον σκύλακα ἀπορρήξαντα τὸν δεσμὸν παραγενέσθαι οἱ, δύο δὲ γενομένους οὕτω δὴ τοὺς σκύλακας ἐπικρατῆσαι τοῦ σκύμνου. καὶ τὸν μὲν Καμβύσεα ἥδεσθαι θεώμενον, τὴν δὲ παρημένην δακρύειν. Καμβύσεα δὲ μαθόντα τοῦτο ἐπειρέσθαι δι᾿ ὅ τι δακρύει, τὴν δὲ εἰπεῖν ὡς ἰδοῦσα τὸν σκύλακα τῷ ἀδελφεῷ τιμωρήσαντα δακρύσειε, μνησθεῖσά τε Σμέρδιος καὶ μαθοῦσα ὡς ἐκείνῳ οὐκ εἴη ὁ τιμωρήσων. Ἕλληνες μὲν δὴ διὰ τοῦτο τὸ ἔπος φασὶ αὐτὴν ἀπολέσθαι ὑπὸ Καμβύσεω, Αἰγύπτιοι δὲ ὡς τραπέζῃ παρακατημένων λαβοῦσαν θρίδακα τὴν γυναῖκα περιτῖλαι καὶ ἐπανειρέσθαι τὸν ἄνδρα κότερον περιτετιλμένη ἡ θρίδαξ ἢ δασέα εἴη καλλίων, καὶ τὸν φάναι δασέαν, τὴν δ᾿ εἰπεῖν “Ταύτην μέντοι κοτὲ σὺ τὴν θρίδακα ἐμιμήσαο τὸν Κύρου οἶκον ἀποψιλώσας.” τὸν δὲ θυμωθέντα ἐμπηδῆσαι αὐτῇ ἐχούσῃ ἐν γαστρί, καί μιν ἐκτρώσασαν ἀποθανεῖν.

Possible seal image of Cambyses II

Harming the Athenians

Thanks to Dimitri Nakassis for sending me this passage

Thucydides. 7.27

“Thirteen hundred peltasts, Thracian swordsmen from the Dii tribe, also came to Athens the same summer. They were supposed to have traveled to Sicily with Demosthenes. Because they were rather late, the Athenians decided to send them back to Thrace where they came from. For it seemed too expense to retain them for the Decelean War since they each were earning a drachma a day.

Since Decelea was first invested by the whole enemy army in that summer and later was held by the garrisons coming from different cities coming in turn to ravage the land, it was causing great harm to the Athenians. Indeed, this undermined Athenian affairs first by loss of property and then by the death of men.

Previous attacks were brief and did not keep the Athenians from deriving benefit from their land the rest of the time. But once they were continually invested in Attica and they were sometimes attacking in force and at other times using a single garrison attacking the country and pillaging to supply itself. The Spartan king Agis was also present and he was no slacker in prosecuting the war.

The Athenians were greatly harmed; they were deprived of their whole land. More than twenty thousand slaves freed themselves and a great number of these were craftspeople. All of the sheep and pack animals perished. And the Athenian horses, because the cavalry was deploying every day to attack Decelea and guard the land, either went lame because of working on rocky ground or they were wounded.

ἀφίκοντο δὲ καὶ Θρᾳκῶν τῶν μαχαιροφόρων τοῦ Διακοῦ γένους ἐς τὰς Ἀθήνας πελτασταὶ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ θέρει τούτῳ τριακόσιοι καὶ χίλιοι, οὓς ἔδει τῷ Δημοσθένει ἐς τὴν Σικελίαν ξυμπλεῖν. [2] οἱ δ᾽ Ἀθηναῖοι, ὡς ὕστεροι ἧκον, διενοοῦντο αὐτοὺς πάλιν ὅθεν ἦλθον ἐς Θρᾴκην ἀποπέμπειν. τὸ γὰρ ἔχειν πρὸς τὸν ἐκ τῆς Δεκελείας πόλεμον αὐτοὺς πολυτελὲς ἐφαίνετο: δραχμὴν γὰρ τῆς ἡμέρας ἕκαστος ἐλάμβανεν. [3] ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἡ Δεκέλεια τὸ μὲν πρῶτον ὑπὸ πάσης τῆς στρατιᾶς ἐν τῷ θέρει τούτῳ τειχισθεῖσα, ὕστερον δὲ φρουραῖς ἀπὸ τῶν πόλεων κατὰ διαδοχὴν χρόνου ἐπιούσαις τῇ χώρᾳ ἐπῳκεῖτο, πολλὰ ἔβλαπτε τοὺς Ἀθηναίους, καὶ ἐν τοῖς πρῶτον χρημάτων τ᾽ ὀλέθρῳ καὶ ἀνθρώπων φθορᾷ ἐκάκωσε τὰ πράγματα. [4] πρότερον μὲν γὰρ βραχεῖαι γιγνόμεναι αἱ ἐσβολαὶ τὸν ἄλλον χρόνον τῆς γῆς ἀπολαύειν οὐκ ἐκώλυον: τότε δὲ ξυνεχῶς ἐπικαθημένων, καὶ ὁτὲ μὲν καὶ πλεόνων ἐπιόντων, ὁτὲ δ᾽ ἐξ ἀνάγκης τῆς ἴσης φρουρᾶς καταθεούσης τε τὴν χώραν καὶ λῃστείας ποιουμένης, βασιλέως τε παρόντος τοῦ τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων Ἄγιδος, ὃς οὐκ ἐκ παρέργου τὸν πόλεμον ἐποιεῖτο, μεγάλα οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι ἐβλάπτοντο. [5] τῆς τε γὰρ χώρας ἁπάσης ἐστέρηντο, καὶ ἀνδραπόδων πλέον ἢ δύο μυριάδες ηὐτομολήκεσαν, καὶ τούτων τὸ πολὺ μέρος χειροτέχναι, πρόβατά τε πάντα ἀπωλώλει καὶ ὑποζύγια: ἵπποι τε, ὁσημέραι ἐξελαυνόντων τῶν ἱππέων πρός τε τὴν Δεκέλειαν καταδρομὰς ποιουμένων καὶ κατὰ τὴν χώραν φυλασσόντων, οἱ μὲν ἀπεχωλοῦντο ἐν γῇ ἀποκρότῳ τε καὶ ξυνεχῶς ταλαιπωροῦντες, οἱ δ᾽ ἐτιτρώσκοντο.

It would be edifying to write a history of the Peloponnesian War from the perspective of the slaves on either side. At the very least, a selection of all the passages which mentioned slavery and enslaved peoples would change the way we think of the war.

Note from Charles F. Smith on perseus.edu

πλέον  δύο μυριάδες : Boeckh, P. E. p. 55, reckons the number of slaves in Athens in the most flourishing period at 365,000, so that the number here given does not seem incredible.

From wikipedia

 

 

Tacitus on Germanic Standards for Women and Child-Rearing

Some of the rhetoric here seems a bit familiar…

Tacitus, Germania 19-20

In that country, no one finds vice amusing; nor is seducing or being seduced celebrated as a sign of the times. Even better are those communities where only virgins marry and a promise is made with the hope and vow of a wife. And so, they have only one husband just as each has one body and one life so that there may be no additional thought of it, no lingering desire, that they may not love the man so much as they love the marriage. It is considered a sin to limit the number of children or to eliminate the later born. There good customs are stronger than good laws.

There are children there naked and dirty in every house growing into the size of limbs and body at which we wonder. Each mother nourishes each child with her own breasts; they are not passed around to maids and nurses.”

nemo enim illic vitia ridet, nec corrumpere et corrumpi saeculum vocatur. melius quidem adhuc eae civitates, in quibus tantum virgines nubunt et cum spe votoque uxoris semel transigitur. sic unum accipiunt maritum quo modo unum corpus unamque vitam, ne ulla cogitatio ultra, ne longior cupiditas, ne tamquam maritum, sed tamquam matrimonium ament. numerum liberorum finire aut quemquam ex agnatis necare flagitium habetur, plusque ibi boni mores valent quam alibi bonae leges.In omni domo nudi ac sordidi in hos artus, in haec corpora, quae miramur, excrescunt. sua quemque mater uberibus alit, nec ancillis aut nutricibus delegantur.

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