Hostages tend to be a gamble. They provide saftey from forces that wish to thwart your agenda. But, on the same hand, they are a liability and are now extra baggage. Hostages are most usefull if the person holding the hostages does not wish to go anywhere.

Hos"tage (?), n. [OE. hostage, OF. hostage, ostage, F. otage, LL. hostaticus, ostaticum, for hospitaticum, fr. L. hospes guest, host. The first meaning is, the state of a guest, hospitality; hence, the state of a hostage (treated as a guest); and both these meanings occur in Old French. See Host a landlord.]

A person given as a pledge or security for the performance of the conditions of a treaty or stipulations of any kind, on the performance of which the person is to be released.

Your hostages I have, so have you mine; And we shall talk before we fight. Shak.

He that hath a wife and children hath given hostages to fortune. Bacon.

 

© Webster 1913.

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