Some quotations from Rosemary Sutcliff | Courtesy of Goodreads

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I do wish the film The Eagle (2011) had been more successful with audiences, although it did recoup its costs for the film companies). The title Eagle (no ‘of the Ninth’) and the changed ending grated with Sutcliff fans, although I found it a compelling film-story if not exactly Rosemary Sutcliff’s story.

I was recently reminded by a collection of quotes at the Goodreads community of something Rosemary Sutcliff once said:

I do not think that you can be changing the end of a song or a story like that, as though it were quite separate from the rest. I think the end of a story is part of it from the beginning.

Other quotes they have collated include:  

Esca tossed the slender papyrus roll onto the cot, and set his own hands over Marcus’s. “I have not served the Centurion because I was his slave,” he said, dropping unconsciously into the speech of his own people. “I have served Marcus, and it was not slave-service…my stomach will be glad when we start on this hunting trail.” (The Eagle of the Ninth)

You cannot expect the man who made this shield to live easily under the rule of man who worked the sheath of this dagger . . . You are the builders of coursed stone walls, the makers of straight roads and ordered justice and disciplined troops. We know that, we know it all too well. We know that your justice is more sure than ours, and when we rise against you, we see our hosts break against the discipline of your troops, as the sea breaks against a rock. And we do not understand, because all these things are the ordered pattern, and only the free curves of the shield-boss are real to us. We do not understand. And when the time comes that we begin to understand your world, too often we lose the understanding of our own.(The Eagle of the Ninth)

Better to be a laughing-stock than lose the fort for fear of being one.”  (The Eagle of the Ninth)

See now, for a good blade, one that will not betray the man in battle, rods of hard and soft iron must be heated and braided together. Then is the blade folded over and hammered flat again, and maybe yet again, many times for the finest blades… So the hard and soft iron are mingled without blending, before the blade is hammered up to its finished form and tempered, and ground to an edge that shall draw blood from the wind. So comes the pattern, like oil and water that mingle but do not mix. Yet it is the strength of the blade, for without the hard iron the blade would bend in battle, and without the soft iron it would break.” (The Shining Company)

It may be that the night will close over us in the end, but I believe that morning will come again. Morning always grows out of the darkness, though maybe not for the people who saw the sun go down. We are the Lantern Bearers, my friend; for us to keep something burning, to carry what light we can forward into the darkness and the wind.”  (The Lantern Bearers)

For a moment they stood looking at each other in the firelight, while the old harper still fingered the shining strings and the other man looked on with a gleam of amusement lurking in his watery blue eyes. But Aquila was not looking at him. He was looking only at the dark young man, seeing that he was darker even than he had thought at first, and slightly built in a way that went with the darkness, as though maybe the old blood, the blood of the People of the Hills, ran strong in him. But his eyes, under brows as straight as a raven’s flight-pinions, were not the eyes of the little Dark People, which were black and unstable and full of dreams, but a pale clear grey, lit with gold, that gave the effect of flame behind them.”  (The Lantern Bearers)

I have a special “ah, here I am again, I know exactly what they are going to have for breakfast” feeling when I get back into Roman Britain, which is very nice. Why should a deserter take the trouble to light Rutupiae Beacon?” Aquila demanded, and his voice sounded rough in is own ears.
Maybe in farewell, maybe in defiance. Maybe to hold back the dark for one more night.”  (The Lantern Bearers)

And it came to Marcus suddenly that slaves very seldom whistled. They might sing, if they felt like it or if the rhythm helped their work, but whistling was in some way different; it took a free man to make the sort of noise Esca was making. (The Eagle of the Ninth)

And what will they do to you when you have told them this story?’Esca said very simply, ‘They will kill me.”I am sorry, but I do not think much of that plan.’ Marcus said.”(The Eagle of the Ninth)

The wind blustered in from the sea, setting the horses’ manes streaming sideways, and the gulls wheeled mewing against the blue-and-grey tumble of the sky; and Aquila, riding a little aside from the rest as usual, caught for a moment from the wind and the gulls and the wet sand and the living, leaping power of the young red mare under him, something of the joy of simply being alive that he had taken for granted in the old days.” (The Lantern Bearers)

It wasn’t as good as love; it wasn’t as good as hate; but it was something to put into the emptiness within him; better than nothing at all.” (The Lantern Bearers)

Quietness rose within Aquila, easing his wild unrest as the salve was cooling the smart of his gashed side. But that was always the way with Brother Ninnias– the quietness, the sense of sanctuary, were things that he carried with him.” (The Lantern Bearers)

We shall have made such a blaze that men will remember us on the other side or the dark. (Sword at Sunset)

Always, in these times, I am wretched save when sleep comes to me. Therefore, I have come to look upon sleep as the best of all gifts.” – Helen, about the war”  (Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad)

No, don’t draw away from me. Whatever else I am, I am your son – your most wretched son. If you do not hate me, try to love me a little, Father; it is lonely never to have been loved, only devoured.(Sword at Sunset)

I have provided a possible explanation for Antiochus’s insane foolhardiness when left in command of the Athenian Fleet, because Thucidides’s bald account is so unbelievable (unless one assumes that both Antiochus and Alkibiades were mentally defective) that any explanation seems more likely than none.Alkibiades himself is an enigma. Even allowing that no man is all black and all white, few men can ever have been more wildly and magnificently piebald. Like another strange and contradictory character Sir Walter Raleigh, he casts a glamour that comes clean down the centuries, a dazzle of personal magnetism that makes it hard to see the man behind it. I have tried to see. I have tried to fit the pieces into a coherent whole; I don’t know whether I have been successful or not; but I do not think that I have anywhere falsified the portrait. (Introduction: The Flowers of Adonis)

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