phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Blood and treasure

Posted by ESC on November 16, 2006

Went on a Web search for the phrase origin after this was called to my attention:

"Prime Minister Maliki repudiated that timeline the next day, providing additional evidence that the Iraqi political leaders do not understand that there is a limit to the blood and treasure that Americans are willing to spend given the unwillingness of the Iraqis themselves to put their political house in order."

Statement of Senator Carl Levin at the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Iraq. Accessed November 15, 2006.

The phrase "blood and treasure" or "lives and treasure" has been used to refer to the human and monetary costs associated with various (usually state-initiated) endeavours such as space exploration or war.

"If in 1861 the men who loved the Union had believed that peace was the end of all things, and war and strife the worst of all things, and had acted up to their belief, we would have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, we would have saved hundreds of millions of dollars. Moreover, besides saving all the blood and treasure we then lavished, we would have prevented the heartbreak of many women, the dissolution of many homes, and we would have spared the country those months of gloom and shame when it seemed as if our armies marched only to defeat. We could have avoided all this suffering simply by shrinking from strife. And if we had thus avoided it, we would have shown that we were weaklings, and that we were unfit to stand among the great nations of the earth." Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919). The Strenuous Life. 1900. Speech before the Hamilton Club, Chicago, April 10, 1899. 58/1.html Accessed November 15, 2006.

This next site - Snarkmarket - details the search for the source of the phrase. Several uses here. I think this is as far back as they got.

The ultimate source for the phrase and the idea -- while not an exact match --is probably Petrarch. Petrarch, motherf**kers! That's fourteenth century, if you don't know.

From the Trionfi della Morta (Triumph of Death):

Dopo l'imprese perigliose e vane,
e col sangue acquistar terre e tesoro,
vie più dolce si trova l'acqua e 'l pane,
e 'l legno e 'l vetro che le gemme e l'oro.

(After all these, wherein you winning lose
Treasures and territories dear bought with blood,
Water and bread hath a far sweeter close,
And gold and gem gives place to glass and wood.)

Trans. by Mary Sidney, c. 1595. Not strictly literal, but sangue and tesoro speak for themselves.

Posted by: Tim on April 4, 2006 PM Snarkmarket: Red Badge of Verbiage at [Dead link removed - ed] Accessed November 15, 2006.