By Ernest Renan
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These accounts invariably describe the marching out to war of the king and his army, the battle and inevitable victory, the triumph and the punishment meted out to the vanquished, and the king’s concluding report back to his god. Regardless of the reality, war was presented as a defensive or punitive measure, a glorious exercise in kingship whose triumph was made in the name of an increasingly formalized or symbolic deity. Pictorial records of the Assyrian kings’ campaigns were also depicted on glazed bricks mounted on stone slabs within the palaces.
Subsequent civilizations ignored this legacy at their peril. Chapter 3 The Glory that was Rome Rome lacked the rich mythological sources available to Greek propagandists, so it created a mythology of its own to provide examples for its citizens to emulate. Indeed, the Romans were exceptional creators of mythological propaganda and their writings often tell us more about contemporary Roman attitudes than they do about the actual historical record. One story stated that Rome was founded by the survivors of Troy and the very best aristocratic families claimed to be able to trace their lines back to the arrival of those founding fathers.
Omens, prophecies, and oracles were also forms of social persuasion and initially it was from religion that propaganda concerning the future outcome of wars most commonly derived. Invoking the gods was of course an ideal way to sustain the power and position of the priesthood in a superstitious society; but it was also a means of boosting morale prior to a fight if priests and king were of the same mind. But it was the king who instigated war and it was his partnership with the gods that legitimized his actions.
Averroès et l'averroïsme : essai historique by Ernest Renan