When I consider how much honor is attributed to antiquity, and how many times, not to mention many other examples, a fragment of an antique statue has been bought at a great price in order to have it near to one, honoring his house, being able to have it imitated by those who delight in those arts, and how they then strive with all industry to present them in all their work: and when I see, on the other hand, the works of greatest virtu which Historians indicate have been accomplished by ancient Kingdoms and Republics, by Kings, Captains, Citizens, Lawgivers, and others who have worked themselves hard for their country, to be more readily admired than imitated, or rather so much neglected by everyone in every respect that no sign of that ancient virtu remains, I cannot otherwise than wonder and at the same time be sad: and so much more when I see in the civil differences that arise between Citizens, or in the maladies which men incur, they always have recourses to those judgments or to those remedies that have been judged or instituted by the ancients. For the civil laws are nothing else but the decisions given by the ancient Jurisconsults, which reduced to a system presently teach our Jurisconsults to judge and also what is medicine if not the experience had by the ancient Doctors, [and] on which the present Doctors base their judgments? None the less in the instituting of Republics, in maintaining of States, in the governing of Kingdoms, in organizing an army and conducting a war, in [giving] judgment for Subjects, in expanding the Empire, there will not be found either Prince, or Republic, or Captain, or Citizen, who has recourse to the examples of the ancients. Which I am persuaded arises not so much from the weakness to which the present education has brought the world, or from that evil which an ambitious indolence has created in many Christian Provinces and Cities, than from not having a real understanding of history, and from not drawing that [real] sense from its reading, or benefiting from the spirit which is contained in it. whence it arises that they who read take infinitely more pleasure in knowing the variety of incidents that are contained in them, without ever thinking of imitating them, believing the imitation not only difficult, but impossible: as if heaven, the sun, the elements, and men should have changed the order of their motions and power, from what they were anciently. Wanting, therefore, to draw men from this error, I have judged it necessary to write upon all those books of Titus Livy which, because of the malignity of the times, have been prevented [from coming to us], in order that I might judge by comparing ancient and modern events what is necessary for their better understanding, so that those who may read these Discourses of mine may be able to derive that usefulness for which the understanding of History ought to be sought. And although this enterprise may be difficult, none the less, aided by those who have advised me to begin carrying this load, I believe I can carry it so that there will remain for others a short way to bring it to its destined place [end].
Those who read what the beginning of the City of Rome was, and of her Law-givers and how it was organized, do not wonder that so much virtu had been maintained for so many centuries in that City, and that afterward there should have been born that Empire to which that Republic was joined. And wanting first to discuss its birth, I say that all Cities are built either by men born in the place where they build it or by foreigners. The first case occurs when it appears to the inhabitants that they do not live securely when dispersed into many and small parties, each unable by himself both because of the location and the small number to resist attacks of those who should assault them, and they are not in time (the enemy coming) in waiting for their defense: or if they should be, they must abandon many of their refuges, and thus they would quickly become the prey of their enemies: so much that in order to avoid these dangers, moved either by themselves or by some one among them of greater authority, they restrict themselves to live together in a place selected by them, more convenient to live in and more easy to defend. Of these, among others, have been Athens and Venice: the first under the authority of Theseus was built by the dispersed inhabitants for like reasons: the other built by many people [who] had come to certain small islands situated at the head of the Adriatic Sea, in order to escape those wars which every day were arising in Italy because of the coming of new barbarians after the decline of that Roman Empire, began among themselves, without any particular Prince who should organize them, to live under those laws which appeared to them best suited in maintaining it [their new state]. In this they succeeded happily because of the long peace which the site gave to them [for] that sea not having issue, where those people who were afflicting Italy, not having ships with which they could invest them; so that from a small beginning they were enabled to come to that greatness which they now have.
The second case, when a city is built by foreign forces, is caused by free men and by men who depend on others, such as the Colonies sent either by a Republic or by a Prince to relieve their towns of [excessive] inhabitants or for the defense of that country which they have newly acquired [and] want to maintain securely and without expense; [thy Roman people built many cities, throughout all their Empire] or they are built by a Prince, not to live there but for his own glory, as was the City of Alexandria built by Alexander. And because these cities at their origin do not have their freedom, it rarely happens that they make great progress and are able to be numbered among the chief Kingdoms. Such was the building of Florence, for [it was built either by the soldiers of Sulla, or perhaps by the inhabitants of the Mountains of Fiesole, who trusting in that long peace which prevailed in the world under Octavian were led to live in the plain along the Arno] it was built under the Roman Empire, and could not in its beginning have any other growth that those which were conceded to her through the courtesy of the Prince.
The builders of Cities are free when any people either under a Prince or by themselves are constrained either by pestilence or by famine or by war to abandon their native country, and seek new homes: These either inhabit the cities that they find in the countries they acquire, as Moses did, or they build new ones, as Eneas did. This is a case where the virtu and fortune of the builder of the edifice is recognized, which is of greater or less wonder according as that man who was the beginner was of greater or less virtu. The virtu of whom is recognized in two ways: the first is in the selection of the site, the other in the establishment of the laws. And because men work either from necessity or from choice: and because it is seen here that virtu is greater where choice has less authority [results from necessity], it is [something] to be considered whether it would be better for the building of a city to select sterile places, so that men constrained to be industrious and less occupied with idleness, should live more united, where, because of the poverty of the site, they should have less cause for discord, as happened at Ragusa and in many other cities built in similar places; which selection would without doubt be more wise and more useful if men would be content to live of their own [possessions], and not want to seek to command that of others.
However, as men are not able to make themselves secure except through power, it is necessary to avoid this sterility of country and locate it in very fertile places, where because of the fertility of the site, it can grow, can defend itself from whoever should assault it, and suppress whoever should oppose its aggrandizement. And as to that idleness which the site should encourage, it ought to be arranged that in that necessity the laws should constrain them [to work] where the site does not constrain them [does not do so], and to imitate those who have been wise and have lived in most amenable and most fertile countries, which are apt to making men idle and unable to exercise any virtu: that to obviate those which the amenity of the country may cause through idleness, they imposed the necessity of exercise on those who were to be soldiers: of a kind that, because of such orders, they became better soldiers than [men] in those countries where nature has been harsh and sterile: among which was the Kingdom of Egypt, which notwithstanding that the country was most amenable, that necessity ordained by the laws was so great, that most excellent men resulted therefrom: and if their names had not been extinguished by antiquity, it would be seen that they would have merited more praise than Alexander the Great, and many others of whom memory is still fresh. And whoever had considered the Kingdom of Soldan and the order of the Mamelukes, and of their military [organization] before it was destroyed by Selim the Grand Turk, would have seen there how much the soldiers exercised, and in fact would have known how much they feared that idleness to which the benignity of the country could lead them if they had not obviated it by the strongest laws. I say therefore that the selection of a fertile location in establishing [a city] is more prudent when [the results] of that fertility can be restricted within given limits by laws.
Alexander the Great, wishing to build a city for his glory, Dinocrates, the Architect came to him and showed him how he could do so upon the mountain Athos, which place in addition to being strong, could be arranged in a way that the City would be given human form, which would be a marvelous and rare thing and worthy of his greatness: and Alexander asking him on what the inhabitants would live, he replied that he had not thought of it: at which he laughed, and leaving that mountain as it was, he built Alexandria, where the inhabitants would stay willingly because of the richness of the country and the convenience to the sea and of the Nile.
Whoever should examine, therefore, the building of Rome if he should take Eneas for its first ancestor, will know that that City was built by foreigners: [but] if Romulus, it would have been built by men native to the place, and in any case it would be seen to have been free from the beginning without depending on anyone: it will also be seen [as it will be said below] to what necessity the laws made by Romulus, Numa, and the others had constrained them; so much so that the fertility of the site, the convenience of the sea, the frequent victories, the greatness of the Empire, could not corrupt her for many centuries, and they maintained her full of so much virtu than any other republic has ever been adorned. And because the things achieved by them and that are made notable by Titus Livius, have taken place either through public Councils or private [individuals] either inside or outside the City, I shall begin to discourse upon those things which occured inside; and as for the public Council, which is worthy of greater annotation, I shall judge, adding all that is dependent on them; with which discourses this fast book, or rather this fast part will be ended.
I want to place aside the discussion of those cities that had their beginning subject to others, and I will talk of those which have had their beginning far removed from any external servitude, but which [were] initially governed themselves through their own will, either as Republics or as Principalities; which have had [as diverse origins] diverse laws and institutions. For to some, at the beginning or very soon after, their laws were given to them by one [man] and all at one time, as those which were given to the Spartans by Lycurgus: Some have received them by chance, and at several times, according to events, as Rome did. So that a Republic can be called fortunate which by chance has a man so prudent, who gives her laws so ordered that without having need of correcting them, she can live securely under them. And it is seen that Sparta observed hers [laws] for more than eight hundred years without changing them and without any dangerous disturbance: and on the contrary that City has some degree of unhappiness which [not having fallen to a prudent lawmaker] is compelled to reorganize her laws by herself. And she also is more unhappy which has diverged more from her institutions; and that [Republic] is even further from them whose laws lead her away from perfect and true ends entirely outside of the right path; for to those who are in that condition it is almost impossible that by some incident they be set aright. Those others which do not have a perfect constitution, but had made a good beginning, are capable of becoming better, and can become perfect through the occurrence of events. It is very true, however, that they have never been reformed without danger, for the greater number of men never agree to a new law which contemplates a new order for the City, unless the necessity that needs be accomplished is shown to them: and as this necessity cannot arise without some peril, it is an easy thing for the Republic to be ruined before it can be brought to a more perfect constitution. The Republic of Florence gives a proof of this, which because of the incident of Arezzo in [the year] one thousand five hundred and two 1502 was reorganized, [and] it was disorganized by that of Prato in [the year] one thousand five hundred and twelve 1512.
Wanting therefore to discourse on what were the institutions of the City of Rome and what events brought her to her perfection, I say, that some who have written of Republics say there are [one of] three States [governments] in them called by them Principality [Monarchy], of the Best [Aristocracy], and Popular [Democracy], and that those men who institute [laws] in a City ought to turn to one of these, according as it seems fit to them. Some others [and wiser according to the opinion of many] believe there are six kinds of Governments, of which those are very bad, and those are good in themselves, but may be so easily corrupted that they also become pernicious. Those that are good are three mentioned above: those that are bad, are three others which derive from those [first three], and each is so similar to them that they easily jump from one to the other, for the Principality easily becomes a tyranny, autocracy easily become State of the Few [oligarchies], and the Popular [Democracy] without difficulty is converted into a licentious one [anarchy]. So much so that an organizer of a Republic institutes one of those three States [governments] in a City, he institutes it for only a short time, because there is no remedy which can prevent them from degenerating into their opposite kind, because of the resemblance that virtu and vice have in this instance.
These variations in government among men are born by chance, for at the beginning of the world the inhabitants were few, [and] lived for a time dispersed and like beasts: later as the generations multiplied they gathered together, and in order to be able better to defend themselves they began to seek among themselves the one who was most robust and of greater courage, and made him their head and obeyed him. From this there arose the knowledge of honest and good things; differentiating them from the pernicious and evil; for seeing one man harm his benefactor there arose hate and compassion between men, censuring the ingrates and honoring those who were grateful, and believing also that these same injuries could be done to them, to avoid like evils they were led to make laws, and institute punishments for those who should contravene them; whence came the cognition of justice. Which thing later caused them to select a Prince, not seeking the most stalwart but he who was more prudent and more just. But afterwards when they began to make the Prince by succession and not by election, the heirs quickly degenerated from their fathers, and leaving off from works of virtu they believed that Princes should have nothing else to do than surpass others in sumptuousness and lasciviousness and in every other kind of delight. So that the Prince began to be hated, and because of this hate he began to fear, and passing therefore from fear to injury, a tyranny quickly arose. From this there arose the beginnings of the ruin and conspiracies; and these conspiracies against the Prince were not made by weak and timid men, but by those who because of their generosity, greatness of spirit, riches, and nobility above the others, could not endure the dishonest life of that prince.
The multitude therefore following the authority of these powerful ones armed itself against the Prince, and having destroyed him, they obeyed them as their liberators. And these holding the name of chief in hatred, constituted a government by themselves, and in the beginning [having in mind the past tyranny] governed themselves according to the laws instituted by them, preferring every common usefulness to their conveniences, and governed and preserved private and public affairs with the greatest diligence. This administration later was handed down to their children, who not knowing the changeability of fortune [for] never having experienced bad [fortune], and not wanting to remain content with civil equality, they turned to avarice, ambition, violation of women, caused that aristocratic government [of the Best] to become an oligarchic government [of the Few] regardless of all civil rights: so that in a short time the same thing happened to them as it did to the Tyrant, for the multitude disgusted with their government, placed itself under the orders of whoever would in any way plan to attack those Governors, and thus there arose some one who, with the aid of the multitude, destroyed them. And the memory of the Prince and the injuries received from him being yet fresh [and] having destroyed the oligarchic state [of the Few], and not wanting to restore that of the Prince, the [people] turned to the Popular state [Democracy] and they organized that in such a way, that neither the powerful Few nor a Prince should have any authority. And because all States in the beginning receive some reverence, this Popular State maintained itself for a short time, but not for long, especially when that generation that had organized it was extinguished, for they quickly came to that license where neither private men or public men were feared: this was such that every one living in his own way, a thousand injuries were inflicted every day: so that constrained by necessity either through the suggestion of some good man, or to escape from such license, they once again turn to a Principality; and from this step by step they return to that license both in the manner and for the causes mentioned [previously].
And this is the circle in which all the Republics are governed and will eventually be governed; but rarely do they return to the same [original] governments: for almost no Republic can have so long a life as to be able often to pass through these changes and remain on its feet. But it may well happen that in the troubles besetting a Republic always lacking counsel and strength, it will become subject to a neighboring state which may be better organized than itself: but assuming this does not happen, a Republic would be apt to revolve indefinitely among these governments. I say therefore that all the [previously] mentioned forms are inferior because of the brevity of the existence of those three that are good, and of the malignity of those three that are bad. So that those who make laws prudently having recognized the defects of each, [and] avoiding every one of these forms by itself alone, they selected one [form] that should partake of all, they judging it to be more firm and stable, because when there is in the same City [government] a Principality, an Aristocracy, and a Popular Government [Democracy], one watches the other.1
1 That is, an Executive, a House of Lords or Senate [originally sitting as a Judiciary], and a Commons or House of Representatives or Legislature each acting to check and balance the other.
Among those who have merited more praise for having similar constitutions is Lycurgus, who so established his laws in Sparta, that in giving parts to the King, the Aristocracy, and the People, made a state that endured more than eight hundred years, with great praise to himself and tranquillity to that City. The contrary happened to Solon who established the laws in Athens, [and] who by establishing only the Popular [Democratic] state, he gave it such a brief existence that before he died he saw arise the tyranny of Pisistratus: and although after forty years his [the tyrants] heirs were driven out and liberty returned to Athens, for the Popular state was restored according to the ordinances of Solon, it did not last more than a hundred years, yet in order that it be maintained many conventions were made by which the insolence of the nobles and the general licentiousness were suppressed, which had not been considered by Solon: none the less because he did not mix it [Popular state] with the power of the Principate and with that of the Aristocracy, Athens lived a very short time as compared to Sparta.
But let us come to Rome, which, notwithstanding that it did not have a Lycurgus who so established it in the beginning that she was not able to exist free for a long time, none the less so many were the incidents that arose in that City because of the disunion that existed between the Plebs and the Senate, so that what the legislator did not do, chance did. For, if Rome did not attain top fortune, it attained the second; if the first institutions were defective, none the less they did not deviate from the straight path which would lead them to perfection, for Romulus and all the other Kings made many and good laws, all conforming to a free existence. But because their objective was to found a Kingdom and not a Republic, when that City became free she lacked many things that were necessary to be established in favor of liberty, which had not been established by those Kings. And although those Kings lost their Empire for the reasons and in the manner discussed, none the less those who drove them out quickly instituted two Consuls who should be in the place of the King, [and] so it happened that while the name [of King] was driven from Rome, the royal power was not; so that the Consuls and the Senate existed in forms mentioned above, that is the Principate and the Aristocracy. There remained only to make a place for Popular government for the reasons to be mentioned below, the people rose against them: so that in order not to lose everything, [the Nobility] was constrained to concede a part of its power to them, and on the other hand the Senate and the Consuls remained with so much authority that they were able to keep their rank in that Republic. And thus was born [the creation] of the Tribunes of the plebs,2 after which creation the government of that Republic came to be more stable, having a part of all those forms of government. And so favorable was fortune to them that although they passed from a Monarchial government and from an Aristocracy to one of the People [Democracy], by those same degrees and for the same reasons that were discussed above, none the less the Royal form was never entirely taken away to give authority to the Aristocracy, nor was all the authority of the Aristocrats diminished in order to give it to the People, but it remained shared [between the three] it made the Republic perfect: which perfection resulted from the disunion of the Plebs and the Senate, as we shall discuss at length in the next following chapters.
2 A judiciary.
As all those have shown who have discussed civil institutions, and as every history is full of examples, it is necessary to whoever arranges to found a Republic and establish laws in it, to presuppose that all men are bad and that they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity; and if such malignity is hidden for a time, it proceeds from the unknown reason that would not be known because the experience of the contrary had not been seen, but time, which is said to be the father of every truth, will cause it to be discovered. It seemed that in Rome there was a very great harmony between the Plebs and the Senate [the Tarquins having been driven out], and that the nobles had laid aside their haughtiness and had become of a popular spirit, and supportable to everyone even to the lowest. This deception was hidden, nor was the cause seen while the Tarquins lived, whom the nobility feared, and having fear that the maltreated plebs might not side with them [the nobles] they behaved themselves humanely toward them: but as soon as the Tarquins were dead, and that fear left the Nobles, they begun to vent upon the plebs that poison which they had kept within their breasts, and in every way they could they offended them: which thing gives testimony to that which was said above that men never act well except through necessity: but where choice abounds and where license may be used, everything is quickly filled with confusion and disorder. It is said therefore that Hunger and Poverty make men industrious, and Laws make them good. And where something by itself works well without law, the law is not necessary: but when that good custom is lacking, the law immediately becomes necessary. Thus the Tarquins being dead through fear of whom the Nobles were kept in restraint, it behooved them [the Nobles] to think of a new order, which would cause the same effect which the Tarquins had caused when they were alive. And therefore after many confusions, tumults, and dangers of troubles, which arose between the Plebs and the Nobility, they came for the security of the Plebs to the creation of the Tribunes, and they were given so much preeminence and so much reputation, that they then should always be able to be in the middle between the Plebs and the Senate, and obviate the insolence of the Nobles.
I do not want to miss discoursing on these tumults that occurred in Rome from the death of the Tarquins to the creation of the Tribunes; and afterwards I will discourse on some things contrary to the opinions of many who say that Rome was a tumultuous Republic and full of so much confusion, that if good fortune and military virtu had not supplied her defects, she would have been inferior to every other Republic.
I cannot deny that fortune and the military were the causes of the Roman Empire; but it indeed seems to me that this would not happen except when military discipline is good, it happens that where order is good, [and] only rarely there may not be good fortune accompanying. But let us come to the other particulars of that City. I say that those who condemn the tumults between the nobles and the plebs, appear to me to blame those things that were the chief causes for keeping Rome free, and that they paid more attention to the noises and shouts that arose in those tumults than to the good effects they brought forth, and that they did not consider that in every Republic there are two different viewpoints, that of the People and that of the Nobles; and that all the laws that are made in favor of liberty result from their disunion, as may easily be seen to have happened in Rome, for from Tarquin to the Gracchi which was more than three hundred years, the tumults of Rome rarely brought forth exiles, and more rarely blood. Nor is it possible therefore to judge these tumults harmful, nor divisive to a Republic, which in so great a time sent into exile no more than eight or ten of its citizens because of its differences, and put to death only a few, and condemned in money [fined] not very many: nor can a Republic in any way with reason be called disordered where there are so many examples of virtu, for good examples result from good education, good education from good laws, and good laws from those tumults which many inconsiderately condemn; for he who examines well the result of these, will not find that they have brought forth any exile or violence prejudicial to the common good, but laws and institutions in benefit of public liberty. And if anyone should say the means were extraordinary and almost savage, he will see the People together shouting against the Senate, The Senate against the People, running tumultuously throughout the streets, locking their stores, all the Plebs departing from Rome, all of which [things] alarm only those who read of them; I say, that every City ought to have their own means with which its People can give vent to their ambitions, and especially those Cities which in important matters, want to avail themselves of the People; among which the City of Rome had this method, that when those people wanted to obtain a law, either they did some of the things mentioned before or they would not enroll their names to go to war, so that to placate them it was necessary [for the Senate] in some part to satisfy them: and the desires of a free people rarely are pernicious to liberty, because they arise either from being oppressed or from the suspicion of going to be oppressed. And it these opinions should be false, there is the remedy of haranguing [public assembly], where some upright man springs up who through oratory shows them that they deceive themselves; and the people [as Tullius Cicero says] although they are ignorant, are capable of [appreciating] the truth, and easily give in when the truth is given to them by a trustworthy man.
One ought therefore to be more sparing in blaming the Roman government, and to consider that so many good effects which came from that Republic, were not caused except for the best of reasons: And if the tumults were the cause of creation of Tribunes, they merit the highest praise, for in addition to giving the people a part in administration, they were established for guarding Roman liberty, as will be shown in the next chapter.
Among the more necessary things instituted by those who have prudently established a Republic, was to establish a guard to liberty, and according as this was well or badly place, that freedom endured a greater or less [period of time]. And because in every Republic there exists the Nobles and the Populace, it may be a matter of doubt in whose hands the guard is better placed. And the Lacedemonians, and in our times the Venetians, placed it in the hands of the Nobles, but that of Rome was placed in the hands of the Plebs. It is necessary therefore to examine which of the Republics had made the better selection. And if we go past the causes and examine every part, and if their results should be examined, the side of the Nobles would be preferred since the liberty of Sparta and Venice had a much longer life than that of Rome: And to come to the reasons, I say [taking up first the part of the Romans] that thing [liberty] which is to be guarded ought to be done by those who have the least desire of usurping it. And without doubt, if the object of the Nobles and of the Ignobles [populace] is considered, it will be seen that the former have a great desire to dominate, and the latter a desire not to be dominated and consequently a greater desire to live free, being less hopeful of usurping it [liberty] than are the Nobles: so that the People placed in charge to guard the liberty of anyone, reasonably will take better care of it; for not being able to take it away themselves, they do not permit others to take it away.
On the other hand, he who defends the Spartan and Venetian arrangement, says that those who placed that guardianship in the hands of the Powerful [Nobles], made two good points: The one, that they satisfy more the ambitions of those who playing a greater part in the Republic, [and] having this club in their hands, have more reason to be content; the other, that they take away a kind of authority from the restless spirit of the People which is the cause of infinite discussions and troubles in a Republic, and apt to bring the Nobility to some [act of] desperation which in times may result in some bad effects. And they give for an example this selfsame Rome, where the Tribunes of the Plebs having this authority in their hands, [and] the having of one Consul from the Plebs was not enough for them [the People], but that they wanted to have both [the Consuls from the Plebs]. From this they afterward wanted the Censure, the Praetorship, and all the other ranks of the Empire [Government] of the Republic. Nor was this enough for them, but urged on by the same fury they began in time to idolize those men whom they saw adept at beating down the Nobility: whence arose the power of Marius and the ruin of Rome.
And truly whoever should discuss well both of these things could be in doubt as to what kind of men may be more harmful to the Republic, either those who desire to acquire that which they do not have, or those who desire to maintain the honors already acquired. And in the end whoever examines everything skillfully will come to this conclusion: The discussion is either of a Republic which wants to create an Empire, as Rome, or of one which is satisfied to maintain itself. In the first case it is necessary for it to do everything as Rome did; in the second, it can imitate Venice and Sparta, for those reasons why and how as will be described in the succeeding chapter.
But to return to the discussion as to which men are more harmful in a Republic, either those who desire to acquire, or those who fear to lose that which they have acquired, I say that when Marcus Menenius had been made Dictator, and Marcus Fulvius Master of the cavalry, both plebeians, in order to investigate certain conspiracies that had been formed in Capua against Rome, they were also given authority by the people to be able to search out who in Rome from ambition and by extraordinary means should endeavor to attain the Consulate and other houses [offices] of the City. And it appearing to the Nobility that such authority given to the Dictator was directed against them, they spread the word throughout Rome that it was not the Nobles who were seeking the honors for ambition, or by extraordinary means, but the Ignobles [Plebeians] who, trusting neither to their blood [birth] nor in their own virtu, sought to attain those dignities, and they particularly accused the Dictator: And so powerful was this accusation, that Menenius having made a harangue [speech] and complaining of the calumnies spread against him by the Nobles, he deposed the Dictatorship, and submitted himself to that judgement [of himself] which should be made by the People: And then the cause having been pleaded, he was absolved; at which time there was much discussion as to who was the more ambitious, he who wanted to maintain [his power] or he who wanted to acquire it, since the desires of either the one or the other could be the cause of the greatest tumults. But none the less more frequently they are caused by those who possess [power], for the fear of losing it generates in them the same desires that are in those who want to acquire it, because it does not seem to men to possess securely that which they have, unless they acquire more from others. And, moreover, those who possess much, can make changes with greater power and facility. And what is yet worse, is that their breaking out and ambitious conduct arouses in the breasts of those who do not possess [power] the desire to possess it, either to avenge themselves against them [the former] by despoiling them, or in order to make it possible also for them to partake of those riches and honors which they see are so badly used by the others.
We have discussed above the effects which were caused by the controversies between the People and the Senate. Now these having continued up to the time of the Gracchi, where they were the cause of the loss of liberty, some might wish that Rome had done the great things that she did without there being that enmity within her. It seems to me therefore a thing worthy of consideration to see whether in Rome there could have been a government [state] established that could have eliminated the aforementioned controversies. And to desire to examine this it is necessary to have recourse to those Republics which have had their liberty for a long time without such enmities and tumults, and to see what [form] of government theirs was, and if it could have been introduced in Rome.
For example, there is Sparta among the ancients, Venice among the modern, [both] having been previously mentioned by me. Sparta created a King with a small Senate which should govern her. Venice did not divide its government by these distinctions, but gave all those who could have a part in the administration [of its government] the name of Gentlemen: In this manner, chance more than prudence gave them [the Venetians] the laws [form of Government], for having taken refuge on those rocks where the City now is, for the reasons mentioned above many of the inhabitants, as they had increased to so great a number, with the desire to live together, so that needing to make laws for themselves, they established a government, [and] came together often in councils to discuss the affairs of the City; when it appeared to them that they had become numerous enough for existing as a commonwealth, they closed the path to all the others who should newly come to live there to take part in their government: And in time finding in that place many inhabitants outside the government, in order to give reputation to those who were governing, they called them Gentlemen, and the others Popolari. This form [of Government] could establish and maintain itself without tumult, because when it was born, whoever then lived in Venice participated in that government, with which no one could complain: Those who came to live there later, finding the State firm and established did not have cause or opportunity to create a tumult. The cause was not there because nothing had been taken from them. The opportunity was not there because those who ruled kept them in check and did not employ them in affairs where they could pick up authority. In addition to this, those who came to inhabit Venice later were not very many, or of such a great number that these would be a disproportion between those who governed and those who were governed, for the number of Gentlemen were either equal to or greater than the others: so that for these reasons Venice could establish that State and maintain it united.
Sparta, as I have said, being governed by a King and limited Senate could thus maintain itself for a long time because there being few inhabitants in Sparta, and the path having been closed to those who should want to live there, and the laws of Lycurgus having acquired such reputation that their observance removed all the causes for tumults. They were able to live united for a long time, for Lycurgus had established in Sparta more equality of substance and less equality in rank, because equal poverty existed here and the Plebs were lacking ambitious men, as the offices of the City were extended to few Citizens, and were kept distant from the Plebs, nor did the Nobles by not treating them badly ever create in them the desire to want them. This resulted from the Spartan Kings, who, being placed in that Principate and living in the midst of that Nobility, did not have may better means of maintaining their office, than to keep the Plebs defended from every injury: which caused the Plebs neither to fear nor to desire authority, and not having the dominion, nor fear of it, there was eliminated the competition which they might have had with the Nobility, and the cause of tumults, and thus they could live united for a long time. But two things principally caused this union: The one, the inhabitants of Sparta were few, and because of this were able to be governed by a few: The other, that not accepting outsiders in their Republic, they did not have the opportunity either of becoming corrupt or of increasing so much that they should become unsupportable to those few who governed her.
Considering all these things, therefore, it is seen that it was necessary that the legislators of Rome do one of two things in desiring that Rome be as quiet as the above mentioned Republic, either not to employ the Plebs in war like the Venetians, or not to open the door to outsiders like the Spartans, But they did the one and the other, which gave the Plebs strength and increased power and infinite opportunities for tumults. And if the Roman State had come to be more tranquil, it would have resulted that she would have become even more feeble, because there would have been cut off from her the means of being able to attain that greatness which she achieved. So that Rome wanting to remove the causes for tumults, would also take away the causes for expansion. And as in all human affairs, those who examine them will indeed see that it is never possible to avoid one inconvenience but that another one will spring up. If therefore, you want to make a people numerous and armed in order to create a great Empire, you will make it of a kind that you are not able afterward to manage it in your own way: if you keep them either small or disarmed in order to be able to manage them, [and], if you acquire other dominion, you will not be able to hold them, or you will become so mean that you will become prey to whoever assaults you. And therefore, in every one of our decisions, there ought to be considered where the inconveniences are less, and then take up the better proceeding, for there will never be formed anything entirely clear of suspicion. Rome could therefore, like Sparta, have created a Prince for life, and established a limited Senate; but desiring to build a great Empire, she could not, like Sparta, limit the number of her Citizens: which, in creating a King for life and a small number in the Senate, would have been of little benefit in connection with her unity. If anyone therefore should want to establish a new Republic, he should have to consider if he should want it to expand in dominion and power as did Rome, or whether it should remain within narrow limits. In the first case, it is necessary to establish it as Rome, and to give place to tumults and general dissensions as best he can; for without a great number of men, and [those] well armed, no Republic can ever increase, or if it did increase, to maintain itself. In thy second case he may establish her as Sparta and Venice: but because expansion is the poison of such Republics, he ought in every way he can prevent her from making acquisitions, for such acquisitions, based on a weak Republic, are entirely their ruin, as happened to Sparta and Venice, the first of which having subjected almost all of Greece, showed the weakness of its foundation with the slightest accident; for when there ensued the rebellion of Thebes caused by Pelopidas, the other cities also rebelling, ruined that Republic entirely.
Similarly Venice having occupied a great part of Italy, and the greater part [obtained] not by war but by money and astuteness, when it came to make a test of her strength everything was lost in one engagement. I believe then that to create a Republic which should endure a long time, the better way would be to organize internally like Sparta, or like Venice locate it in a strong place, and of such power that no one should believe he could quickly oppress her: and on the other hand, it should not be so powerful that she should be formidable to her neighbors, and thus she could enjoy its state [independence] for a long time. For there are two reasons why war is made against a Republic: The one, to become lord over her: the other, the fear of being occupied by her. These two means in the above mentioned manner almost entirely removed [the reasons for war], for it is difficult to destroy her, being well organized for her defense, as I presuppose, it will rarely or never happen that one can design to conquer her. If she remains within her limits, and from experience it is seen that there is no ambition in her, it will never happen that someone for fear of her will make war against her: and this would be so much more so if there should be in her constitution or laws [restrictions] that should prohibit her expansion. And without doubt I believe that things could be kept balanced in this way, that there would be the best political existence, and real tranquillity to a City. But all affairs of men being [continually] in motion and never being able to remain stable, it happens that [States] either remain stable or decline: and necessity leads you to do many things which reason will not lead you to do; so that having established a Republic adept at maintaining itself without expanding, and necessity should induce her to expand, her foundations would be taken away and her ruin accomplished more readily. Thus, on the other hand, if Heaven should be so kind that she would never have to make war, the languidness that should arise would make her either effeminate or divided: which two together, or each one by itself, would be cause of her ruin. Not being able, therefore, [as I believe] to balance these things, and to maintain this middle course, it is necessary in organizing a Republic to think of the more honorable side, and organize her in a way that if necessity should induce her to expand, she may be able to preserve that which she should have acquired. And to return to the first discussion, I believe it is necessary to follow the Roman order and not that of any other Republic [because I do not believe it is possible to find a middle way between one and the other] and to tolerate that enmity that should arise between the People and the Senate, accepting it as an inconvenient necessity in attaining the Roman greatness. Because in addition to the other reasons alleged, where the authority of the Tribunes is shown to be necessary for the guarding of liberty, it is easy to consider the benefit that will come to the Republic from this authority of accusing [judiciary], which among others was committed to the Tribunes, as will be discussed in the following chapter.
No more useful and necessary authority can be given to those who are appointed in a City to guard its liberty, as is that of being able to accuse the citizen to the People or to any Magistrate or Council, if he should in any way transgress against the free state. This arrangement makes for two most useful effects for a Republic. The first is, that for fear of being accused, the citizens do not attempt anything against the state, and if they should [make an] attempt they are punished immediately and without regard [to person]. The other is, that it provides a way for giving vent to those moods which in whatever way and against whatever citizens may arise in the City. And when these moods do not provide a means by which they may be vented, they ordinarily have recourse to extra ordinary means that cause the complete ruin of a Republic. And there is nothing which makes a Republic so stable and firm, as organizing it in such a way that changes in the moods which may agitate it have a way prescribed by law for venting themselves. This can be demonstrated by many examples, and especially by that of Coriolanus, which Titus Livius refers to, where he says that the Roman Nobility being irritated against the Plebs, because it seemed to them the Plebs had too much authority concerning the creation of the Tribunes who defended them, and Rome [as happened] experiencing a great scarcity of provisions, and the Senate having sent to Sicily for grain, Coriolanus, enemy of the popular faction, counselled that the time had come [to be able] to castigate the Plebs and take away authority which they had acquired and assumed to the prejudice of the Nobility, by keeping them famished and not distributing the grain: which proposition coming to the ears of the people, caused so great an indignation against Coriolanus, that on coming out of the Senate he would have been killed in a tumultuary way if the Tribunes had not summoned him to appear and defend his cause. From this incident there is to be noted that which was mentioned above, that it is useful and necessary for a Republic with its laws to provide a means of venting that ire which is generally conceived against a citizen, for if these ordinary means do not exist, they will have recourse to extraordinary ones, and without doubt these produce much worse effects that do the others. For ordinarily when a citizen is oppressed, even if he has received an injustice, little or no disorder ensues in the Republic, because its execution is done by neither private nor foreign forces which are those that ruin public liberty, but is done by public force and arrangement which have their own particular limits, and do not transcend to things that ruin the Republic.
And to corroborate this opinion with examples, among the ancient ones I want this one of Coriolanus to be enough, on which anyone should consider how much evil would have resulted to the Roman Republic if he had been killed in the tumults, for there would have arisen an offense by a private [citizen] against a private [citizen]; which offense generates fear, fear seeks defense, for this defense partisans are procured, from the partisans factions arise in the City, [and] the factions cause their ruin. But the matter being controlled by those who had authority, all those evils which could arise if it were governed by private authority were avoided. We have seen in our time that troubles happened to the Republic of Florence because the multitude was able to give vent to their spirit in an ordinary way against one of her citizens, as befell in the time of Francesco Valori, who was as a Prince in that City [and] who being judged ambitious by many, and a man who wanted by his audacity and animosity to transcend the civil authority, and there being no way in the Republic of being able to resist him except by a faction contrary to his, there resulted that he [Valori] having no fear except from some extraordinary happening, began to enlist supporters who should defend him: On the other hand, those who opposed him not having any regular way or repressing him, thought of extraordinary ways, so that it came to arms. And where [if it were possible to oppose him, Valori, by regular means] his authority would have been extinguished with injury to himself only, but having to extinguish it by extraordinary means, there ensued harm not only to himself, but to many other noble citizens. We could also city in support of the above mentioned conclusion the incident which ensued in Florence in connection with Piero Soderini, which resulted entirely because there was not in that Republic [means of making] accusations against the ambitions of powerful citizens: for the accusing of a powerful one before eight judges in a Republic is not enough; it is necessary that the judges be many because the few always judge in favor of the few. So that if such a means had been in existence, they would have accused him [Soderini] of evil while yet alive, and through such means without having the Spanish army [called] to come in, they would have given vent to their feelings; or if he had not done evil they would not have had the audacity to move against him, for fear that they would be accused by him: and thus both sides would have ceased having that desire which was the cause of the trouble.
So that this can be concluded, that whenever it is seen that external forces are called in by a party of men who live in a City, it can be judged to result from its bad organization because there did not exist within that circle of arrangements, a way to be able without extraordinary means to give vent to the malignant moods that arise in men, which can be completely provided by instituting accusations before many judges and giving them reputation [authority]. These things were so well organized in Rome that in so many discussions between the Plebs and the Senate, neither the Senate nor the Plebs nor any particular citizen, ever attempted to avail [himself] of external force, for having the remedy at home it was not necessary to go outside for it. And although the above examples are amply sufficient to prove this, none the less I want to refer to another recital by Titus Livius in his history, which refers to there having been in Chiusi [Clusium], at that time a most noble City of Tuscany, one Lucumones who had violated a sister of Aruntes, and Aruntes not being able to avenge himself because of the power of the violator, went to seek out the French [Gauls] who then ruled in that place which today is called Lombardy, and urged them to come to Chiusi with arms in hand, pointing out to them how they could avenge the injury he had received with advantage to themselves: but if Aruntes could have seen how he could have avenged himself by the provisions of the City, he would not have sought the barbarian forces. But just as these accusations are useful in a Republic, so also are calumnies useless and harmful, as we shall discuss in the next chapter.
Notwithstanding that the virtu of Furius Camillus when he was liberating [Rome] from the oppression of the French [Gauls] had caused the Roman citizens to yield him [top honors] without appearing to them to have lost reputation or rank, none the less Manlius Capitolinus was not able to endure that so much honor and glory should be bestowed on him; for it seemed to him he had done as much for the welfare of Rome by having saved the Campidoglio [Capitol], he had merited as much as Camillus, and as for other warlike praises he was not inferior to him. So that filled with envy, he was not able to sow discord among the Fathers [Senators] he turned to the Plebs, sowing various sinister opinions among them. And among other things he said was, that the treasure which had been collected [together] to be given to the French [Gauls], and then was not given to them, had been usurped by private citizens: and if its should be recovered it could be converted to public usefulness, alleviating the plebs from tribute or from some private debt. These words greatly impressed the Plebs, so that Manlius begun to have concourse with them and at his instigation [created] many tumults in the City: This thing displeased the Senate and they deeming it of moment and perilous, created a Dictator who should take cognizance of the case and restrain the rashness of [Manlius]; whereupon the Dictator had him summoned, and they met face to face in public, the Dictator in the midst of the Nobles and Manlius in the midst of the Plebs. Manlius was asked what he had to say concerning who obtained the treasure that he spoke about, for the Senate was as desirous of knowing about it as the Plebs: to which Manlius made no particular reply, but going on in an evasive manner he said, that it was not necessary to tell them that which they already knew, so that the Dictator had him put in prison. And it is to be noted by this text how detestable calumnies are in free Cities and in every other form of government, and that in order to repress them no arrangement made for such a proposition ought to be neglected. Nor can there be a better arrangement to putting an end to these [calumnies] than to open the way for accusations, for accusations are as beneficial to Republics as calumnies are harmful: and on the other hand there is this difference, that calumnies do not need witnesses nor any other particular confrontation to prove them so that anyone can be calumniated by anyone else, but cannot now be accused, as the accuser has need of positive proof and circumstances that would show the truth of the accusation. Men must make the accusations before the Magistrates, the People, or the Councils: calumnies [are spread] throughout the plaza and lodgings [private dwellings]. These calumnies are practiced more where accusations are used less and where Cities are less constituted to receive them. An establisher of a Republic therefore ought so to organize it that it is possible to accuse every citizen without any fear and without any suspicion: and this being done, and well carried out, he should severely punish the calumniators, who cannot complain if they are punished, they having places open to them to hear the accusations of those who had caluminated them in private. And where this part is not well organized great disorders always follow, for calumnies irritate but do not castigate citizens, and those who have been irritated think of strengthening themselves, easily hating more than fearing the things that are said against them.
¶ This part [as has been said] was well organized in Rome, and has always been poorly organized in our City of Florence. And as in Rome this institution did much good, at Florence this poor order did much evil. And whoever reads the history of this City, will see how many calumnies have been perpetrated in every time against those citizens who occupied themselves in its important affairs. Of one, they said he had robbed money from the Community; of another, that he had not succeeded in an enterprise because of having been corrupted; and of yet another, because of his ambitions had caused such and such inconvenience. Of the things that resulted there sprung up hate on every side, whence it came to divisions, from divisions to Factions [Sects], [and], from Factions to ruin. If in Florence there had been some arrangement for the accusation of citizens and punishment of calumniators, there would not have occurred the infinite troubles that have ensued, for those Citizens who had been either condemned or absolved, could not have harmed the City, and there would have been a much less number accused than there had been calumniated, as it could not have been [as I have said] as easy to accuse as to calumniate any one. And among the other things that some citizens might employ to achieve greatness have been these calumnies, which employed against powerful citizens who opposed his ambition, did much for them; for by taking up the past of the people, and confirming them the opinion which they had of them [the nobles], he made them his friends.
And although we could refer to many examples, I want to be content with only one. The Florentine army which was besieging Lucca was commanded by Messer Giovanni Guicciardini, their Commissioner. It was due either to his bad management or his bad fortune, that the fall of that City did not ensue. But whatever the case may have been, Messer Giovanni was blamed, alleging he had been corrupted by the Lucchesi: which calumny, being favored by his enemies, brought Messer Giovanni almost to the last desperation. And although, to justify himself because there was no way in that Republic of being able to do so. From which there arose great indignation among the friends of Messer Giovanni, who constituted the greater part of the nobility, and [also] among those who desired to make changes in Florence. This affair, both for this and other similar reasons, grew so, that there resulted the ruin of the Republic.
Manlius Capitolinus was therefore a calumniator and not an accuser; and the Romans showed in this case in point how the calumniators ought to be punished. For they ought to be made to become accusers, and if the accusation proves true either to reward them or not punish them; but if it does not prove true, to punish them as Manlius was punished.
And it may appear perhaps to some that I have gone too far into Roman history, not having yet made any mention of the organizers of this Republic, or of [having regard for] her institutions, her religion, and her military establishment. And therefore, not wanting to keep in suspense the minds of those who want to understand these matters, I say, that many perhaps should judge it a bad example that the founder of a civil society, as Romulus was, should first have killed his brother, then have consented to the death of Titus Tatius, a Sabine, who had been chosen by him to share the Kingdom; because of which it might be judged that the citizens could, from ambition and the desire to rule, with the authority of their Prince, attack those who should be opposed to their authority. Which opinion would be correct, if the object he had in mind in causing that homicide should be considered. But this must be assumed, as a general rule, that it never or rarely occurs that some Republic or Kingdom is well organized from the beginning, or its institutions entirely reformed a new, unless it is arranged by one [individual only]: rather it is necessary that the only one who carries it out should be he who on whose mind such an organization depends. A prudent Organizer of a Republic, therefore, who has in mind to want to promote, not himself, but the common good, and not his own succession but his [common] country, ought to endeavor to have the authority alone: and a wise planner will never reprimand anyone for any extraordinary activity that he should employ either in the establishment of a Kingdom or in constituting a Republic. It is well then, when the deed accuses him, the result should excuse him; and when it is good, as that of Romulus, he will always be excused; for he ought to be reprehended who is violent in order to destroy, and not he who does so for beneficial reasons. He ought, however, to be so prudent and wise that the authority which he has assumed, he will not leave to his heirs [or] any other: for men being more prone to evil than to good, his successor could employ for reasons of ambition that which should be employed for virtuous reasons by him. In addition to this, even if one is adept at organizing, the thing organized will not endure long if its [administration] remains only on the shoulders of one individual, but it is good when it remains in the care of many, and thus there will be many to sustain it. As the organization of anything cannot be made by many because of the diverse opinions that exist among them, yet having once understood this, they will not agree to forego it. And that Romulus merited to be excused for the death of his brother and that of his companion, and that what he had done he did for the common good and not for his own ambition, is shown by his immediate institution of a Senate with which he should consult, and according to the opinions of which he would make his decision. And whoever considers well the authority which Romulus reserved for himself, will see that he did not reserve anything else other than the command of the army when war was decided upon, and of convening the Senate. This was seen at that time when Rome became free after the driving out of the Tarquins, where there was no other innovation made on the ancient institutions except that in place of an hereditary King there should be two Consuls [elected] each year. Which gives testimony that all the institutions at the origin of that City were more in conformity with a free and civil society than with an absolute and tyrannical one.
Infinite examples could be given in corroboration of the things mentioned above, such as Moses, Lycurgus, Solon, and other founders of Kingdoms and Republics, who were able to formulate laws for the common good [only] by assigning the [necessary] authority to themselves: but I want to omit these as they are already well known. I will refer only to one not so well known, but which should be given consideration by those who desire to be institutors of good laws, [and], this is that of Agis, King of Sparta, who desiring to bring the Spartans back to those limits which the laws of Lycurgus had delimited for them, [and], it seeming to him that by deviating in part from them his City had lost much of that ancient virtu, and consequently her power and dominion, was at once killed by Spartan Ephors as a man who wanted to become a Tyrant. But Cleomenes succeeding him in the Kingdom, there arose in him the same desire from [reading] the records and writings of Agis that he found, in which his thoughts and intentions were seen, [and] he recognized that he could not render this good to his country, unless he should become alone in authority, as it seemed to him he would not be able because of the ambitions of men to provide the good for the many against the desires of the few: and seizing a convenient opportunity had all the Ephors killed and those who could oppose him: after which he completely restored the laws of Lycurgus. This decision helped to revive Sparta and give to Cleomene that reputation which was [equal] to that of Lycurgus, if it had not been for the power of Macedonia and the weakness of the other Greek Republics. For after this establishment [of the laws] he was soon assaulted by the Macedonians, and finding that by herself [Sparta] was inferior in strength, and not having anyone to whom he could have recourse, he was defeated, and his plans [no matter how just and laudable] remained incompleted. Considering all these things, therefore, I conclude that to establish a Republic it is necessary that one must be alone, and Romulus merits to be excused and not censured for the death of Remus and of Tatius.
Among all men who have been praised, the most lauded are those who are heads and establishers of Religion. Next after them are those who have founded Republics or Kingdoms. After these are celebrated those who have commanded armies, [and] who have enlarged the [territory] of their Kingdom of those of their country. To these should be added men of letters, and because these are of many fields, they are celebrated according to their degree [of excellence]. To other men, the number of whom is infinite, some degree of praise is given to them as pertain to their art and profession. On the other hand, those men are infamous and destroyers of Religion, dissipators of Kingdoms and Republics, enemies of virtu, of letters, and of every other art which brings usefulness and honor to human generations [mankind], such as are the impious and violent, the ignorant, the idle, the vile and degraded. And no one will ever be so mad or so wise, so wicked or so good, that selecting between these two kinds of men, does not laud what is laudable, and censure what is censurable. None the less, however, nearly all men deceived by a false good or a false glory allow themselves to drift either voluntarily or ignorantly into the ranks of those who merit more censure that praise. And being able to establish either a Kingdom or a Republic with eternal honor to themselves, they turn to Tyranny, nor do they see because of this action how much fame, how much glory, how much honor, security, and tranquil satisfaction of the mind, they lose; and how much infamy, disgrace, censure, danger, and disquiet, they incur. And it is impossible that those who live as private individuals in a Republic, or who by fortune or virtu become Princes, if they read the history and the records of ancient events, would do well living as private citizens in their country to live rather as a Scipio than a Caesar; and those who are Princes, rather as Agesilaus, Timoleon, and Dion, than as Nabis, Phalaris, and Dionysius, because they will see these [latter] to be thoroughly disgraced and those [former] most highly praised. They will also see that Timoleon and the others had no less authority in their country than had Dionysius and Phalaris, but they will see that they had had greater security for a longer time. Nor is there anyone who deceives himself by the glory of Caesar, he being especially celebrated by writers, for those who praised him were corrupted by his fortune and frightened by the long duration of the Empire which, ruling under his name did not permit that writers should talk of him freely. But whoever wants to know what the writers would have said of him freely, let him observe what they say of Cataline. And so much more is Caesar to be detested, as how much more is he to be censured for that which he did, than he who [just] intends to do evil. He will also see how Brutus was extolled with so many praises; so that not being able to censure him [Caesar] because of his power they extolled his enemy. Let he who has become a Prince in a Republic also consider how much more praise those Emperors merited who, after Rome became an Empire, lived under the laws [and] as good Princes, than those who lived an in a contrary manner; and he will also see that it was not necessary for the praetorian soldiers or the multitudes of the legions to defend Titus, Nerva, Trajan, Hadrai Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus, and Marcus [Aurelius], because their customs, the good will of the people, and the love of the Senate would defend them. He will also see that the Eastern and Western armies were not sufficient to save Caligula, Nero, Vitellius, and so many other wicked emperors, from those enemies which their bad customs and evil lives had raised up against them.
And if the history of those men should be well considered, it would be very instructive to any Prince in pointing out to him the way to glory or censure, to security or fear. For of the twenty-six who were Emperors from Caesar to Maximinius, sixteen were murdered. Ten died in a natural way; and if among those who were murdered there may have been some good men, such as Galba and Pertinax, they were killed by that corruption that his predecessors had left among the soldiers. And if among those who died in a natural way there were some wicked, such as Severns, it resulted from their very great good fortune and virtu, which two things are found together in few men. He will also learn from this lesson of history how a good Kingdom can be organized, for all, except Titus, were bad: [and] those who succeeded by adoption were all good, such as were those five from Nero to Marcus [Aurelius]. And when the Empire became hereditary, it came to ruin. Let a Prince therefore place himself in the times of Nero and Marcus, and let him compare them with those which preceded and followed [that period] and afterward let him select in which [of the two] he would want to be born and in which he would want to reign. For in those times governed by good [Emperors], he will see a Prince secure in thy midst of secure citizens, he will see the world full of peace and justice, he will see the Senate with its authority, the Magistrates with their honor, rich citizens enjoying their wealth, nobility and virtu exalted, he will see every quiet and good; and on the other hand [he will see] every rancor, every license, corruption, and ambition extinct; he will see that golden era where everyone can hold and defend whatever opinion he wishes: In the end, he will see the triumph of the world, the Prince full of reverence and glory, the people full of love and security. Then if he will consider the sorrowful times of the other Emperors, he will see the atrocities from war, discords from seditions, cruelty in peace and war, so many Princes slain by the sword, so many civil wars, so many foreign wars, Italy afflicted and full of new misfortunes, her Cities ruined and sacked: He will see Rome burned, the Capitol of its citizens destroyed, the ancient temples desolate, ceremonies corrupted, the City full of adulterers: he will see the sea full of exiles, the shores full of blood. He will see innumerable cruelties take place in Rome, and nobility, riches, honors, and above all virtu, accounted capital crimes. He will see informers rewarded, servants corrupted against the masters, freemen against their patrons, and those who should lack enemies, oppressed by friends. And he will also recognize very well what obligations Rome, Italy, and the world owed to Caesar. And without doubt [if he was born of man], he would be dismayed at every imitation of those evil times, and burning with an immense desire to follow the good. And truly, a Prince seeking the glory of the world ought to desire to possess a corrupt City, not to spoil it entirely like Caesar, but to reorganize it like Romulus. And truly the heavens cannot give man a greater opportunity for glory, nor could man desire a better one. And if to want to organize a City well, it should be necessary to abolish the Principate, he who had failed to [give her good laws] should merit some excuse. But he does not merit any excuse who can hold the Principate and organize it. And in sum, let he to whom the heavens gives the opportunity consider that there are two ways: The one which will make him live securely and render him glorious after his death, the other which will make him live in continual anxiety and after death leave of himself an eternal infamy.
Although Rome had Romulus as its original organizer and, like a daughter, owed her birth and education to him, none the less the heavens, judging that the institutions of Romulus were not sufficient for so great an Empire, put it into the breasts of the Roman Senate to elect Numa Pompilius as successor to Romulus, so that those things that he had omitted, would be instituted by Numa. Who, finding a very ferocious people and wanting to reduce them to civil obedience by the acts of peace, turned to religion as something completely necessary in wanting to maintain a civilization, and he established it in such a manner that for many centuries there never was more fear of God than in that Republic, which facilitated any enterprise which the Senate or those of great Roman men should plan to do. And whoever should discuss the infinite actions of the people of Rome [taken] all together, and of many Romans [individually] by themselves, will see that those citizens feared much more the breaking of an oath than the laws, like those men who esteem more the power of God than that of man, as is manifestly seen in the examples of Scipio and of Manlius Torquatus, for after the defeat that Hannibal had inflicted on the Romans at Cannae, many citizens had gathered together [and] frightened and fearful [and] had agreed to abandon Italy and take themselves to Sicily: when Scipio heard of this, he went to meet them, and with bared sword in hand he constrained them to swear not to abandon their country. Lucius Manlius, father of Titus Manlius, who was later called Torquatus, had been accused by Marcus Pomponius, a Tribune of the Plebs: and before the day of judgment arrived, Titus went to meet Marcus, and threatening to kill him if he did not swear to withdraw the accusation against his father, constrained him to swear, and he [Marcus] from fear of having sworn withdrew the accusation from him [Lucius]. And thus those citizens whom [neither] the love of their country and of its laws could keep in Italy, were kept there by an oath that they were forced to take, and the Tribune put aside the hatred that he had for his father, the injury that his son had done him, and his honor, in order to obey the oath taken; which did not result from anything else than from that religion which Numa had introduced in that City. And whoever considers well Roman history will see how much Religion served in commanding the armies, in reuniting the plebs, both in keeping men good, and in making the wicked ashamed. So that if it were discussed as to which Prince Rome should be more obligated, Romulus or Numa, I believe that Numa would [rather] attain the higher rank; for where Religion exists it is easily possible to introduce arms, but where there are arms and not religion, it [religion] can only be introduced there with difficulty. And it is seen that for Romulus to institute the Senate and to make the other civil and military arrangements, the authority of God was not necessary, but it was very necessary for Numa, who pretended he had met with a Nymph who advised him of that which he should counsel the people; and all this resulted because he wanted to introduce new ordinances and institutions in that City, and was apprehensive that his authority was not enough. And truly there never was any extraordinary institutor of laws among a people who did not have recourse to God, because otherwise he would not have been accepted; for they [these laws] are very well known by prudent men, but which by themselves do not contain evident reasons capable of persuading others. Wise men who want to remove this difficulty, therefore, have recourse to God. Thus did Lycurgus, thus Solon, thus many others who had the same aims as they.
¶ The Roman people, therefore, admiring his [Numa’s] goodness and prudence, yielded to his every decision. It is indeed true that those times were full of Religion, and those men with whom he [Numa] had to work were coarse [which] gave him great facility to pursue his designs, being able easily to impress upon them any new form. And without doubt whoever should want to establish a Republic in the present era, would find it more easy to do so among men of the mountains where there is no civilization, than among those who are used to living in the City, where civilization is corrupt, as a sculptor more easily extracts a beautiful statue from crude marble than of one badly sketched out by others. Considering all this I conclude therefore, that the Religion introduced by Numa was among the chief reasons for the felicity of that City, for it caused good ordinances, good ordinances make good fortune, and from good fortune there arises the happy successes of the enterprises. And as the observance of divine institutions is the cause of the greatness of Republics, so the contempt of it is the cause of their ruin, for where the fear of God is lacking it will happen that that kingdom will be ruined or that it will be sustained through fear of a Prince, which may supply the want of Religion. And because Princes are short lived, it will happen that that Kingdom will easily fall as he [Prince] fails in virtu. Whence it results that Kingdoms which depend solely on the virtu of one man, are not durable for long, because that virtu fails with the life of that man, and it rarely happens that it is renewed in [his] successor, as Dante prudently says:
Rarely there descends from the branches [father to son]
Human probity, and this is the will [of the one] who gives it,
because it is asked alone from him.
The welfare of a Republic or a Kingdom, therefore, is not in having a Prince who governs prudently while he lives, but one who organizes it in a way that, if he should die, it will still maintain itself. And although crude men are more easily persuaded by new ordinances and opinions, yet it is not impossible because of this to persuade civilized men, [and] who presume themselves not to be crude. The people of Florence did not seem either crude or ignorant, none the less Brother Girolamo Savonarola was persuaded that he talked with God. I do not want to judge whether that was true or not, because one ought not to talk of so great a man except with reverence. But I may well say that an infinite [number] believed him without they having seen anything extraordinary which would make them believe, because his life, the doctrine, the subjects he took up were sufficient to make them have faith. Let no one be dismayed, therefore, if he is not able to attain that which had been attained by others, for men [as was said in our preface] are born, live, and die, always in the same way.
Those Princes or those Republics that want to maintain themselves uncorrupted, have above everything else to maintain uncorrupted the servances of Religion, and hold them always in veneration. For no one can have a better indication of the ruin of a province than to see the divine institutions held in contempt. This is easy to understand, when it is known upon what the Religion of the fatherland is founded; for every Religion has the foundation of its existence on some one of its principal institutions. The life of the Gentile Religion was founded upon the responses of the Oracles and upon the tenets of the Augurs and Aruspices; all their other ceremonies, sacrifices, rites, depended on these. For they readily believed that that God who could predict your future good or evil, should also be able to concede it to you. From this arose their temples, their sacrifices, their supplication, and all the other ceremonies venerating him; for the Oracle of Delphi, the Temple of Jupiter Ammon, and other celebrated Oracles kept the world in admiration and devotion. As soon as these began to speak in the manner of the Potentates, and this falsity was discovered by the people, men became incredulous and disposed to disturb every good institution. The Princes of a Republic or a Kingdom ought therefore to maintain their Republic’s religions, and in consequence well and united. And therefore they ought in all things which arise to foster it [even if they should judge them false] to favor and encourage it: and the more prudent they are, and the more they understand natural things, so much more ought they to do this. And because this practice has been observed by wise men, there has arisen the beliefs in the miracles that are celebrated in Religion, however false; for the prudent ones have increased [their importance] from whatever origin they may have derived and their authority gives them credence with the people. There were many of these miracles in Rome, and among others was that [which occurred] when the Roman soldiers were sacking the City of Veienti, some of whom entered the Temple of Juno, and, standing in front of her statue, and saying “WILL YOU COME TO ROME?”, it appeared to some that she had made a sign [of assent], and to others that she had said yes. For these men, being full of Religion, [which T. Livius demonstrated] when they entered the Temple went in without tumult and completely devoted and full of reverence, seemed to hear that response to their question which perhaps they had presupposed: which opinion and belief was favored and magnified by Camillus and by the other Princes of the City.
If the Princes of the Republic had maintained this Christian religion according as it had been established by the founder, the Christian States and Republics would have been more united and much more happy than they are. Nor can any greater conjecture be made of its decline, than to see that those people who are nearer to the Church of Rome, the head of our Religion, have less Religion. And whoever should give consideration to its foundations, and observe how much different present usage is from them, should judge that without doubt her ruin or flagellation [chastisement] is near. And because some are of the opinion that the well-being of Italian affairs depend on the Church of Rome, I want to discuss those reasons against them that occur to me, and I will present two most powerful ones, which according to me are not controvertible. The first is, that by the evil example of that court, this province has lost all devotion and all Religion: so that it brings [with it] infinite troubles and infinite disorders; for where there is Religion every good is presupposed, so too where it is lacking the contrary is presupposed. We Italians therefore have this obligation with the Church and with the Priests of having become bad and without Religion; but we also have a greater one, which is the cause of our ruin. This is that the Church has kept and still keeps this province [country] of ours divided: and Truly any country never was united or happy, except when it gave its obedience entirely to one Republic or one Prince, as has happened to France and Spain. And the reason that Italy is not in the same condition, and is not also governed by one Republic or one Prince, is solely the Church, for having acquired and held temporal Empire, she has not been so powerful or of such virtu that she was able to occupy the rest of Italy and make herself its Prince. And on the other hand, she has not been so weak that the fear of losing her dominion of temporal things has made her unable to call in a power that could defend her against those who had become too powerful in Italy, as was seen anciently by many experiences, when through the medium of Charles the Great she drove out the Lombards who already were the kings of almost all Italy, and when in our times she took away the power of Venetians with the aid of France; afterwards she drove out the French with the aid of the Swiss. The church therefore not being powerful [enough] to occupy Italy, and not having permitted that another should occupy her, has been the cause why she [Italy] has not been able to be united under one head, but has been under so many Princes and Lords, from which there has resulted so much disunion and so much weakness, that she became prey not only to the powerful Barbarians, but to anyone who should assault her. This we other Italians owe to the Church of Rome, and to none others. And anyone who should want to observe the truth of this more readily through experience, should need to be of such great power that he should be sent to live at the Roman Court, with all the power it has in Italy, over the towns of the Swiss, who today are the only People who live accordingly to ancient customs both as far as Religion and military institutions [are concerned] and he would see that in a little time the evil customs of that Court would cause more disorders in that province [country] than could spring up from any other incident in any other time.
And it does not appear to me outside my purpose to refer to some examples where the Romans served themselves of Religion in order to reorganize the City and to further their enterprises. And although there are many in [the writings of] Titus Livius, none the less I want to content myself with these. The Roman people having created the Tribunes with Consular Power, and all but one [selected from the] Plebs, and pestilence and famine having occurred there that year, and certain prodigies coming to pass, the Nobles used this occasion of the creation of the new Tribunes, saying that the Gods were angered because Rome had ill-used the majesty of its Empire, and that there was no other remedy to placate the Gods than by returning the election of the Tribunes to its own [original] place; from which there resulted that the Plebs frightened by this Religion created all the Tribunes from the [class of the] Nobles.
¶ It was also seen at the capture of the City of the Veienti, that the Captains of the armies availed themselves of Religion to keep them disposed to an enterprise, when lake Albano had risen astonishingly that year, and the soldiers being weary from the long siege [and] wanted to return to Rome, the Romans insinuated that Apollo and certain other [oracles] had given replies that that year the City of the Veienti should be captured when Lake Albano should overflow: which event made the soldiers endure the weariness of the war and the siege, being taken by this hope of capturing the town, and they remained content to pursue the enterprise so much that Camillus who had been made Dictator captured that City after it had been besieged for ten years. And thus Religion well used was helpful both in the capture of that City and for the restoration of the Tribuneships to the Nobility, that without the said means either would have been accomplished only with difficulty.
¶ I do not want to miss referring to another example to this purpose. Many tumults had arisen in Rome caused by Terentillus the Tribune, [because of] his wanting to promulgate a certain law for the reasons which will be given in their place below: and among the first remedies that were used by the Nobility was Religion, of which they served themselves in two ways. In the first, they caused the sibylline books to be exhibited, and to give a reply to the City, that through the medium of civil sedition, there was impending that year the danger of [the City] losing its liberty; which thing [although it was discovered by the Tribunes] none the less put so much terror into the breasts of the Plebs that it cooled [their desire] to follow them. The other mode was when one Appius Erdonius with a multitude of bandits and servants numbering four thousand men occupied the Campidoglio [Capitol] by night, so that it was feared that the Equians and Volscians, perpetual enemies of the Roman name, should have come to Rome and attacked her; and the Tribunes because of this did not cease insisting in their pertinacity of promulgating the Terentillan law, saying that that fear was fictitious and not true; [and] one Publius Rubetius, a grave citizen of authority, went out from the Senate, [and] with words partly lovingly and partly menacing, showed them [the people] the danger to the City and the unreasonableness of their demands, so that he constrained the Plebs to swear not to depart from the wishes of the Consul. Whence the Plebs, forced to obey, reoccupied the Campidoglio: but the Consul Publius Valerius being killed in that attack, Titus Quintius was quickly made Consul, who in order not to allow the Plebs to rest, or to give them time to think again of the Terentillan law, commanded them to go out from Rome and go against the Volscians, saying that because of that oath they had taken not to abandon the Consul they were obligated to follow him: to which the Tribunes opposed themselves saying that that oath was given to the dead Consul and not to him. None the less Titus Livius shows that the Plebs for fear of Religion wanted more readily to obey the Consul than believe the Tribunes, saying in favor of the ancient Religion these words: “He feared that the age had not yet come, when the Gods were to be neglected, nor to make interpretations of their oaths and laws to suit themselves.” Because of which thing, the Tribunes, apprehensive of their losing all their liberty, made an accord with the Consul to remain in obedience to him and that for one year there should be no discussion of the Terentillan law and the Consuls, on the other hand, should not draw on the Plebs for war outside [of Rome]. And thus Religion enabled the Senate to overcome that difficulty which without it, they could never overcome.
The Auguries not only (as was discussed above) were the foundation in good part of the ancient Religion of the Gentiles, but they were also the causes of the well-being of the Roman Republic. Whence the Romans cared more for this than any other institution, and used it in their Consular Comitii, in starting their enterprises, in sending out their armies, in fighting engagements, and in every important activity of theirs, whether civil or military: and they never would go on an expedition unless they had persuaded the soldiers that the Gods promised them the victory. And among the Aruspices there were in the armies certain orders of Aruspices which they called Pollari [guardians of the Sacred Fowls]. And anytime they were ordered to fight an engagement with the enemy they desired these Pollari make their Aruspices; and if the fowls pecked away, they fought with a good augury: if they did not peck away, they abstained from battle. None the less, when reason showed them that a thing ought to be done, not withstanding the Aruspices should be adverse, they did it anyway: but then they turned these [aruspices] with conditions and in such a manner so adeptly, that it should not appear they were doing so with disparagement to their Religion: which method was used by Consul Papirus in a most important battle which he waged against the Samnites, which afterward left them entirely weak and afflicted. For Papirus being in the field encountered the Samnites, and as victory in battle appeared certain to him, and because of this wanting to come to an engagement, he commanded the Pollari that they make their Aruspices: but the fowls did not peck away, and the Prince of the Pollari seeing the great disposition of the army to fight and the thoughts to win which were in the Captain and all the soldiers, and in order not to take away this opportunity from the army of doing well, reported to the Consul that the Aruspices were proceeding well, so that Papirus ordered out his squadrons; but some of the Pollari having told certain soldiers that the fowls had not pecked away, they in turn told it to Spurius Papirus nephew of the Consul; and when he reported this to the Consul, he [the Consul] quickly replied that he should attend to doing his duty well, and that as to himself and the army the Aruspices were correct, and if the Pollarius had told a lie, it would come back on him to his prejudice. And so that the result should correspond to the prognostication, he commanded his legates that they should place the Pollari in the front ranks of the battle. Whence it resulted that in going against the enemy, a Roman soldier drawing a dart by chance killed the Prince of the Pollari: which thing becoming known, the Consul said that every thing was proceeding well and with the favor of the Gods, for the army through the death of that liar was purged of every blame and of whatever anger [the Gods] should have had against him. And thus by knowing well how to accommodate his designs to the Aruspices, he [Papirus] took steps to give battle without his army perceiving that he had in any part neglected the institutions of their Religion.
Appius Pulcher acted in a contrary fashion in Sicily in the first Punic war; for wanting to give battle to the Carthaginian army, he caused the Pollari to make Aruspices, and when they reported to him that those fowl did not peck away, he said “Let us see if they would drink,” and had them thrown into the sea: whence that giving battle he lost the engagement; for which he was condemned at Rome, and Papirus honored, not so much for the one having lost and the other having won, but because the one had gone against the Aruspices in a prudent manner, and the other fearfully. Nor did this method of making Aurispices have any other object than to have the soldiers go into battle with confidence, from which confidence almost always victory resulted. Which institution was not only used by the Romans, but by those outsiders; of which it seems to me proper to adduce an example in the following chapter.
The Samnites having been routed many times by the Romans, and having lastly been defeated in Tuscany, and their armies destroyed and Captains killed, and their allies such as the Tuscans, French [Gauls], and Umbrians having also been defeated, so that “They were not able to continue any longer with their own men or with those from outside, yet would not abstain from the war, and instead of giving up the unsuccessful defense of liberty, they would undertake one more attempt at victory before being overcome”. Whence they decided to make one last try: and since they knew that to want to win it was necessary to induce obstinacy into the courage of the soldiers, and that to induce it there was no better means than Religion, they decided to repeat their ancient sacrifices through the medium of Ovius Paccius their Priest, who arranged it in this form: that a solemn sacrifice being made, [and], in the midst of the slain victims and burning altars make all the heads of the army swear never to abandon the fight; then they summoned the soldiers one by one and in the midst of those altars and surrounded by many centurions with bared swords in their hands, they made them first swear that they would not reveal the things they saw or heard, then with execrable phrases and words full of terror they made them swear and promise the Gods that they would go readily wherever the Emperor should command them, and never to flee in battle, and to kill whomever they should see fleeing; which oath if not observed would be visited on the head of his family and on his descendants. And some of them being frightened, [and] not wanting to swear, were quickly put to death by the centurions: so that the others who followed, terrified by the ferocity of the spectacle, all swore. And in order to make this gathering of theirs more imposing, there being forty thousand men there, they dressed half of them in white clothes with crests and plumes on the helmets, and thus arrayed they took position at Aquilonia: Papirius came against them, who in encouraging his soldiers said, “Those crests cannot inflict wounds, and paint and gilding keep Roman javelins from transfixing shields”. And to weaken the opinion that his soldiers had of the enemy because of the oath they had taken, he said that it [the oath] was to inspire fear, and not courage, in those [who had taken it], for it made them at the same time fear their own Citizens, their Gods, and their enemies. And coming to the fight, the Samnites were defeated; for the virtu of the Romans, and the fear conceived from the past routs overcame whatever obstinacy they were able to assume by virtu of their Religion and by the oath they had taken. None the less it is seen that they [the Samnites] did not appear to have any other refuge, nor try other remedies to be able to revive hope and reestablish their lost virtu. Which fully testifies how much confidence can be obtained by means of Religion well used. And although this part might perhaps be rather placed among affairs of outside [peoples], none the less as this refers to one of the most important institutions of the Republic of Rome, it has appeared to me proper to commit this in this place so as not to divide this material and have to return to it many times.
Many examples derived from the records of ancient history will show how difficult it is for a people used to living under a Prince to preserve their liberty after they had by some accident acquired it, as Rome acquired it after driving out the Tarquins. And such difficulty is reasonable; because that people is nothing else other than a brute animal, which (although by nature ferocious and wild) has always been brought up in prison and servitude, [and] which later being left by chance free in a field, [and] not being accustomed to [obtain] food or not knowing where to find shelter for refuge, becomes prey to the first one who seeks to enchain it again. This same thing happens to a people, who being accustomed to living under governments of others, not knowing to reason either on public defense or offense, not knowing the Princes or being known by them, return readily under a yoke, which often times is more heavy than that which a short time before had been taken from their necks: and they find themselves in this difficulty, even though the people is not wholly corrupt; for a people where corruption has not entirely taken over, cannot but live at all free even for a very brief time, as will be discussed below: and therefore our discussions concern those people where corruption has not expanded greatly, and where there is more of the good than of the bad [spoiled]. To the above should be added another difficulty, which is that the state which becomes free makes enemy partisans, and not friendly partisans. All those men become its enemy partisans who avail themselves of the tyrannical state, feeding on the riches of the Prince, [and] who when they are deprived of the faculty of thus availing themselves, cannot live content, and some are forced to attempt to reestablish the tyrancy so as to recover their authority. It does not (as I have said) acquire friendly partisans, for a free society bestows honors and rewards through the medium of honest and predetermined rules, and outside of which does not honor or reward anyone; and when one receives those honors and rewards as appears to them he merits, he does not consider he has any obligation to repay them: in addition to this that common usefulness which free society brings with it, is not known by anyone (while he yet possesses it), which is to be able to enjoy his own possessions freely without any suspicion, not being apprehensive of the honor of his womenfolk, or that of his children, and not to fear offer himself; for no one will ever confess himself to have an obligation to one who only does not offend him.
Thus (as was said above) a free state that has newly sprung up comes to have enemy partisans and not friendly partisans. And wanting to remedy this inconvenience and these disorders which the above mentioned difficulties bring with them, there is no remedy more powerful, nor more valid, healthy, and necessary than [was] the killing of the sons of Brutus, who, as history shows, together with other Roman youths were induced to conspire against their country for no other reason than because they could not obtain extraordinary advantages for themselves under the Consuls as under the Kings; so that the liberty of that people appeared to have become their servitude. And whoever undertakes to govern a multitude either by the way of liberty [Republic] or by the way of a Principate, and does not make sure of those who are enemies of that new institution, establishes a short lived state. It is true that I judge those Princes unfelicitous who, to assure their state when the multitude is hostile, have to take extraordinary means; for he who has only a few enemies can easily and without great scandals make sure of them, but he who has the general public hostile to him can never make sure of them, and the more cruelty he uses, so much more weak becomes his Principate; so that the best remedy he has is to seek to make the People friendly. And although this discussion departs from that written above, in speaking of a Prince here and of a Republic there, none the less in order not to have to return again to this matter I want to speak a little more.
A Prince, therefore, wanting to gain over to himself a people who are hostile to him (speaking of those Princes who have become Tyrants in their country), I say that they ought first to look into that which the people desire, and he will find they always desire two things: the one, to avenge themselves against those who are the cause of their slavery: the other, to regain their liberty. The first desire the Prince is able to satisfy entirely, the second in part. As to the first, there is an example in point. When Clearchus, Tyrant of Heraclea, was in exile, a controversy arose between the people and the Nobles of Heraclea, [and] the Nobles seeing themselves inferior, turned to favor Clearchus, and conspiring with him they placed him in opposition to the disposition of the people of Heraclea, and [thus] took away the liberty from the people. So that Clearchus finding himself between the insolence of the Nobles, whom he could not in any way either content or correct, and the rage of the People who could not endure having lost their liberty, he decided suddenly to free himself from the nuisance of the Nobles, and to win the people over to himself. And on this, taking a convenient opportunity, he cut to pieces all the Nobles, to the extreme satisfaction of the People. And thus, in this way, he satisfied one of the desires people had, that is, to avenge themselves. But as to the desire of the people to regain their liberty, the Prince, not being able to satisfy it, ought to examine what are the reasons that make them desire to be free, and he will find that a small part of them desire to be free in order to command, but all the others, who are an infinite number, desire liberty also as to live in security. For in all Republics in whatever manner organized, there are never more than forty or fifty Citizens of a rank to command, and because this number is small, it is an easy matter to assure oneself of them, either by taking them out of the way, or by giving them a part of so many honors as, according to their condition, ought in good part to content them. The others, to whom it is enough to live in security, are easily satisfied by creating institutions and laws which, together with his power, gives realization to the general security of the people. And when a Prince does this, and the people see that no one breaks such laws by accident, they will begin in a very short time to live in security and contentment. In example for this, there is the Kingdom of France, which lives in security from nothing else other than those Kings being bound by an infinite number of laws in which the security of his people is realized. And whoever organized that state wanted that those Kings should do (in their own way) with the arms and the money as they wanted, but should not be able to dispose of any other thing otherwise than by the laws that were ordained. That Prince, therefore, or that Republic, that does not secure itself at the beginning of its state, should assure itself at the first opportunity, as the Romans did. And he who should allow this to pass will repent too late of not doing that which he ought to have done. The Roman people, therefore, being not yet corrupted when they recovered their liberty, were able to maintain it, after the sons of Brutus were put to death and the Tarquins destroyed, with all those remedies and institutions which have been discussed at another time. But if that people had been corrupted, there never would have been found valid remedies, in Rome or elsewhere, to maintain it [their liberty], as we shall show in the next chapter.
I judge that it was necessary that Kings should be eliminated in Rome, or [else] that Rome would in a very short time become weak and of no valor; for considering to what [degree of] corruption those Kings had come, if it should have continued so for two or three successions, [and] that that corruption which was in them had begun to spread through its members; [and] as the members had been corrupted it was impossible ever again to reform her [the state]. But losing the head while the torso was sound, they were able easily to return to a free and ordered society. And it ought to be presupposed as a very true matter that a corrupted City which exists under a Prince, even though that Prince with all his lives [family] may be extinguished, can never become free; and that rather it should happen that one Prince destroy the other, for [these people] will never be settled without the creation of a new Lord, who by his goodness together with his virtu will then keep them free: but that liberty will last only during his life time, as happened at different times in Syracuse to Dion and Timoleon, whose virtu while they lived, kept that City free: but when they died, it returned to the ancient Tyranny. But there is no more striking example to be seen than that of Rome, which after the Tarquins had been driven out, was able quickly to resume and maintain that liberty; but after the death of Caesar, Caligula, and Nero, and after the extinction of all the line of Caesar, she could not only never maintain her liberty, but was unable to reestablish it. And so great a difference in events in the same City did not result from anything else other than [the fact that] the Roman People in the time of Tarquin was not yet corrupt, and in the latter time [Caesar’s] it became very corrupt. For to keep her sound and disposed to keep away from Kings at that time, it was enough to make them swear that they should never consent that any of them should ever reign in Rome; but in the time of the other [Caesar] the authority of Brutus with all the Eastern legions was not enough to keep her disposed to want to maintain that liberty which he, in imitation of the first Brutus, had restored to her. Which resulted from that corruption which the party of Marius had spread among the people, at the head of which was Caesar, who was able so to blind the multitude that they did not recognize the yoke which they themselves were placing on their necks.
And although this example of Rome is to be preferred to any other example, none the less on this proposition I want to refer to people known before our times. I say, therefore, that no incident (although grave and violent) can ever restore Milan or Naples to freedom, because those people are entirely corrupt. Which was seen after the death of Filippo Visconti, who, wanting to restore liberty to Milan, did not know how and could not maintain it. It was therefore a great good fortune for Rome that no sooner had these Kings become corrupt than they were driven out, and that before their corruption should pass into the vitals of that City; which corruption was the cause of the infinite tumults which took place in Rome (men having good intentions) [and which] did no harm, but rather benefited the Republic. And this conclusion can be drawn, that where the people is not corrupted, tumults and other troubles do no harm; but where corruption exists, well ordered laws are of no benefit, unless they are administered by one who, with extreme strength, will make them be observed until the people become good [cured]; I do not know if this ever happened, or whether it be possible that it could happen; for it is seen (as I have said a little above) that a City coming to decadence because of the corruption of its people, if it ever happens that she is raised up again, it happens through the virtu of one man who is then living, and not by the virtu of the general public, that the good institutions are sustained: and as soon as such a one is dead, they will return to their pristine habits, as happened at Thebes, which by the virtu of Epaminondas, while he was alive, was able to maintain the form of a Republic and Empire, but after his death returned to its first disorders: the reason is this, that one man cannot live so long that the time will be enough to bring a City back to good habits which for a long time has had evil habits. And if one of very long life or two continuous successors of virtu do not restore it [the state], so one which lacks them (as was said above) is quickly ruined, unless it should be made to be restored through many dangers and much bloodshed. For such corruption and little inclination for a free society result from an inequality that exists in that City; and wanting to bring them to equality, it is necessary to use the most extraordinary means, which few know or want to use, as will be described in more detail in another place.
I believe it is not outside the purpose of this discussion, nor too distant from that written above, to consider whether a free State can be maintained in a City that is corrupted, or, if there had not been one, to be able to establish one. On this matter I say that it is very difficult to do either one or the other: and although it is almost impossible to give rules (because it will be necessary to proceed according to the degrees of corruption), none the less, as it is well to discuss every thing, I do not want to omit this. And I will presuppose a City very corrupt, where such difficulties come to rise very fast, as there are found there neither laws or institutions that should be enough to check a general corruption. For as good customs have need of laws for maintaining themselves, so the laws, to be observed, have need of good customs. In addition to this, the institutions and laws made in a Republic at its origin when men were good, are not afterward more suitable, when they [men] have become evil. And if laws vary according to circumstances and events in a City, its institutions rarely or never vary: which results in the fact that new laws are not enough, for the institutions that remain firm will corrupt it. And in order to make this part better understood, I will tell how the Government was established in Rome, or rather the State, and the laws with which afterwards the Magistrates restrained the Citizens. The institution of the State included the authority of the People, the Senate, thy Tribunes, the Consuls, method of seeking and creating Magistrates, and the method of making laws. These institutions were rarely or never varied by events. The laws that restrained the Citizens varied, such as was the law of the Adulterers, the Sumptuary, that of Ambition, and many others, according as the Citizens from day to day became corrupt. But the institutions of the State becoming firm, although no longer good for the corrupt [people], those laws that were changed were not enough to keep men good, but would have been of benefit if with the changes of the law the institutions should have been modified.
And that it is true that such institutions in a City that had become corrupt were not good, is expressly seen in these two principal points. As to the creation of the Magistracies and the laws, the Roman People did not give the Consulship and other high offices of the City, except to those who asked for them. In the beginning these institutions were good because no one asked for these [offices] except those Citizens who judged themselves worthy, and having a refusal was ignominious: so that in order to judge himself worthy every one worked well. However, this system became pernicious in a corrupt City, for it was not those who had more virtu, but those who had more power, who asked for the Magistracies, and the less powerful (no matter of how much virtu) abstained from asking from fear. This evil did not come on suddenly, but by degrees, as happens with all other evils: for the Romans having subjugated Africa and Asia, and reduced almost all of Greece to their obedience, had become assured of their liberty, nor did they seem to have more enemies who should give them fear. This security, and this weakness of her enemies, caused the Roman people no longer to regard virtu in bestowing the Consulship, but graciousness, drawing to that dignity those who knew better how to handle men, not to those who knew better how to conquer their enemies: afterwards they descended from those who had more graciousness to give it to those who had more power. So that because of the defects of such institutions, the good were entirely excluded from everything. A Tribune or some other Citizen could propose a law to the people on which every Citizen could speak in favor or against it before it should be adopted. This institution was good when the Citizens were good, for it was always well that anyone who intended some good for the public was able to propose it, and it was well that everyone could speak his thoughts on it, so that the people, having listened to all sides, could then select the best. But when the Citizens had become bad such institutions became the worst, for only the powerful proposed laws, [and] not for the common liberty, but for their own power, and everyone for fear of them was not able to speak against them: so that the people came to be deceived or forced into deciding their own ruin.
It was necessary, therefore, if Rome wanted to maintain herself free in her corruption, that she should have made new institutions, just as she had made new laws in the process of her existence, for other institutions and modes of living ought to be established in a bad people as well as in a good one, nor can the form be the same in a people entirely different. But because these institutions when they are suddenly discovered no longer to be good have to be changed either completely, or little by little as each [defect] is known, I say that both of these two courses are almost impossible. For in the case of wanting to change little by little a prudent man is required who sees this evil from a distance and at its beginning. It is easily probable that no one such as these springs up in a City: and even if one should spring up he is never able to persuade others of that which he intends; for men living in one manner, do not want to change, and the more so as they do not see the evil face to face, but being shown to them as [mere] conjecture.
As to changing these institutions all at once when everyone recognizes they are not good, I say that the defect which is easily recognized is difficult to correct, for to do this it is not enough to use ordinary means, as ordinary means are bad, but it is necessary to come to the extraordinary, such as violence and arms, and before anything else to become Prince of that City, and to be able to dispose of it as he pleases. And as the re-organization of the political life of a City presupposes a good man, and the becoming of a Prince of a Republic by violence presupposes a bad man; for because of this it will be found that it rarely happens that a [good] men wants to become Prince through bad means, even though his objectives be good; or that a bad one, having become Prince, wants to work for good and that it should enter his mind to use for good that authority which he had acquired by evil means. From all the things written above, arises the difficulty or impossibility of maintaining a Republic in a City that has become corrupted, or to establish it there anew. And even if it should have to be created or maintained, it would be necessary to reduce it more to a Royal State [Monarchy] than to a Popular State [Republic], so that those men who because of their insolence cannot be controlled by laws, should be restrained by a Power almost Regal. And to want to make them become good by other means would be either a most cruel enterprise or entirely impossible; as I said above this is what Cleomenes did, who for wanting to be alone [in the Government] killed the Ephors, and if Romulus for the same reasons killed his brother and Titus Tatius, the Sabine, and afterwards they used their authority well, none the less, it ought to be noted that one and the other of these men did not have their subjects stained with that corruption of which we have discussed in this chapter, and therefore they could desire [good], and desiring it, conform their designs accordingly.
In considering the virtu and the mode of proceeding of Romulus, of Numa, and of Tullus, the first three Kings of Rome, it will be seen that Rome was favored by the greatest good fortune, having the first King most ferocious and warlike, the next quiet and religious, the third similar in ferocity to Romulus, and a greater lover of war than of peace. For it was necessary in Rome that in the beginning there should spring up an Organizer of civil institutions, but it then indeed was necessary that the other Kings should reassume the virtu of Romulus, otherwise that City would have become effeminate and prey to her neighbors. Whence it can be noted that a successor not having as much virtu as the first, is able to maintain a State which was erected by that man before him and can enjoy his labors; but if it happens either that his life is a long one, or that after him there should not spring up another who should reassume the virtu of the first one, that Kingdom of necessity will be ruined. And so, on the contrary, if two, one after the other, are of great virtu, it will often be seen that they achieve most great things and that they will rise with their fame to the heavens. David without doubt was a man most excellent in arms, in doctrine, and in judgment, and so great was his virtu, that having conquered and beaten down all his neighbors, he left a peaceful Kingdom to this son Solomon, which he was able to preserve with the arts of peace and of war, and he was able happily to enjoy the virtu of his father. But he could not thus leave it to his son Rehoboam, who not being like his grandfather in virtu, or like his father in fortune, remained heir to the sixth part of the Kingdom only with great effort. Bajazet, Sultan of the Turks, although he was more a lover of peace than of war, was able to enjoy the efforts of his father Mahomet, who having like David beaten his neighbors, left him a firm Kingdom and capable of being preserved easily with the arts of peace. But if his own son Soliman, the present lord, had been like his father and not his grandfather, that Kingdom would have been ruined: but it was seen that this man was to surpass the glory of his grandfather.
I say, therefore, through these examples, that it is possible for a weak Prince succeeding an excellent one to preserve any Kingdom, even if it should not be as that of France, which is maintained by its ancient institutions: and those Princes are weak who are not able to endure war. I conclude, therefore, with this discussion that the virtu of Romulus was so great, that it was able to give time to Numa Pompilius to be able to rule Rome with the arts of peace; but he was succeeded by Tullus, who by his ferocity reassumed the reputation of Romulus; after whom there followed Ancus, so gifted by nature that he was able to use peace and endure war. And first he addressed himself to want to hold the ways of peace, but he soon knew that his neighbors judging him effeminate esteemed him little, so that he decided that if he wanted to maintain Rome he needed to turn to war and imitate Romulus, and not Numa. Let all the Princes who have a State take example from this, that he who imitates Numa may keep it [the State] or not keep it, according as the times and fortune may turn his way; but he who imitates Romulus, and is like him armed with prudence and weapons, will keep it in any case, unless it is taken from him by an obstinate [and] excessive force. And certainly it can be though that, if Rome had not by chance had as her third King a man who had not known how to recover with arms her reputation, she would never then have been able, except with the greatest difficulty, to gain a foothold, nor to achieve the results that she did. And thus as long as she lived under Kings, she was subject to these dangers of being ruined under a weak or bad King.
After Rome had driven out her Kings, she was no longer exposed to those perils which were mentioned above, resulting from a succession of weak or bad Kings; for the highest [authority] was vested in the Consuls, who came to that Empire not by heredity or deceit or violent ambition, but by free suffrage, and were always most excellent men, from whose virtu and fortune Rome had benefited from time to time, [and] was able to arrive at her ultimate greatness in as many years as she had existed under her Kings. For it is seen that two continuous successions of Princes of virtu are sufficient to acquire the world, as was [the case of] Philip of Macedonia and Alexander the Great. A Republic ought to be able to do so much more, having the means of electing not only two successions, but an infinite number of Princes of great virtu who are successors one after the other: which succession of virtu is always well established in every Republic.
Present Princes and modern Republics, who lack their own soldiers in regard to defense and offense, ought to be ashamed of themselves and to think from the example of Tullus that such a defect exists not because of the lack of men suitable for the military, but that by their own fault they have not known how to make soldiers of their men.3 For Tullus, after Rome had been at peace forty years, did not find a man (when he succeeded to the Kingdom) who had ever been in war. None the less, planning to make war, he did not think of availing himself of the Samnites, or of the Tuscans, or of others who were accustomed to bear arms, but as a most prudent man decided to avail himself of his own people: And such was his virtu that he was able quickly to make excellent soldiers under his own government. And there is nothing more true than that [truth], if there are no soldiers where there are men, this results from the defect of the Prince, and not from any local or natural defect: of which there is a very recent example: For everyone knows that in recent times the King of England assaulted the kingdom of France, and did not take as soldiers any other than his own people: and because that Kingdom had been for more than thirty years without making war, he did not have either soldiers or a Captain who had ever fought: none the less, he did not hesitate with them to assault a Kingdom full of Captains and good armies, which had been continually under arms in the wars in Italy. All of which resulted from that King being a prudent man and that Kingdom well organized, that in time of peace did not neglect the arrangements of war. The Thebans, Pelopidas and Epaminondas, after having liberated Thebes, and rescued her from the servitude of the Spartan Empire, finding themselves in a City accustomed to servitude, and in the midst of an effeminate people, did not hesitate (so great was their virtu) to put them under arms and with them go to meet the Spartan armies in the field and conquered them: and whoever writes says, that these two in a short time showed that men of war were born not only in Lacedemonia, but in every other place where men are born, as long as there was to be found one man who should know how to train them in military service, as is seen [in the case] of Tullus who knew how to train the Romans. And Virgil could not express this thought better, and with other words shows how he adhered to that, when he said: “And Tullus made of These men soldiers”.
3 Establish a National Army or Militia, rather than rely on Mercenaries.
Tullus, King of Rome, and Metius, King of Alba, agreed that that people should be lord of those whose above mentioned three men should overcome [those of] the others. All the Alban Curatii were killed, [and] there remained only one of the Roman Horatii alive, and because of this Metius, King of the Albans, with his subjects, remained subject to the Romans. And when that Horatius returned as conqueror to Rome, meeting his sister who was married to one of the three dead Curatii, and who was weeping over the death of her husband, he killed her. Whence that Horatius, because of this crime, was placed on trial and after much deliberation was freed, more because of thy prayers of his father than because of his own merits. Here three things are to be noted. One, that one should never risk all his fortune with only part of his forces. Next, that in a well organized City, the demerits [crimes] are never rewarded with merits. The third, that proceedings are never wise where one ought to be doubtful of their observance. For being in servitude means much to a City, that it ought never to be believed that any of those Kings or of those People should be content that three of their Citizens should make them subject, as is seen Metius wanted to do, who although immediately after the victory of the Romans confessed himself conquered and promised obedience to Tullus, none the less, in the first expedition in which they were to come against the Veienti, it is seen that he sought to deceive them, as one who sees too late the imprudence of the proceeding undertaken by him. And because this third point has been talked about much, we will talk only of the other two in the following two chapters.
It was never judged [to be] a wise proceeding to put into peril all of one’s fortune or all of one’s forces. This may be done in many ways. One is to do as Tullus and Metius did when they committed all the fortune of their country and the virtu of so many men, as both of these had in their armies, to the virtu and fortune of three of their Citizens, which came to be only a minimum part of the forces of each of them. Nor did they see that because of this proceeding all the labors that their ancestors had endured in the establishment of the Republic in order to have it exist free a long time, and to make her Citizens defenders of their liberty, were as it were made in vain, it being in the power of so few to lose it. Which action [on the part] of those Kings could not be considered worse. This error is also almost always committed by those who (seeing the enemy) plan to hold different places and guard the passes. For almost always this decision will be damaging unless you can thus conveniently keep all your forces [there] in that difficult place. In this case such a procedure is to be taken: but being in a rugged place and not being able to keep all your forces there, the procedure is damaging. I am made to think thusly by the example of those who, when they are assaulted by a powerful enemy, and their country being surrounded by mountains and rugged places, never tried to combat the enemy in the passes and in the mountains, but have gone out to meet them in front of these, or when they did not wish to do that, have awaited him behind these mountains in easy and not-rugged places. And the reason was, as it were, as alleged before; for many men cannot be brought to the guarding of rugged places, not only because it is not possible to live there a long time, but also because being in narrow places capable of [admitting] only a few, it is not possible to sustain an enemy who comes in a large body to hurl himself at you: And it is easy for the enemy to come in large numbers, because his intention is to pass and not stop, while to him who awaits him [the enemy] it is impossible to wait with large numbers, having to quarter himself for a longer time (not knowing when the enemy may attempt to pass) in narrow and sterile places, as I have said. Having therefore lost that pass that you had presupposed to hold, and in which your people and the army had trusted, there will very often enter in the people and the rest of the forces so much terror that, without being able to test the virtu of those remaining, they are lost; and thus you have lost all your fortune with only part of your forces.
Everyone knows with how much difficulty Hannibal crossed the Alps which divide Lombardy from France, and with how much difficulty he crossed those which divide Lombardy from Tuscany; none the less, the Romans awaited him first on the Ticino and afterwards on the plains of Arezzo; and they wanted rather that their army should be consumed by the enemy in places where they themselves could conquer, than to lead it over the Alps to be destroyed by the malignity of the site. And whoever reads all the histories attentively will find very few Captians of virtu to have held similar passes and for the reasons mentioned, and because they cannot close them all, the mountains being like the fields and having roads not only well known and frequented, but many other which, if not known to outsiders, are well known to the people of the country, with whose aid you will always be brought to any place against the wishes of whoever opposes you. Of this a most recent example in the year one thousand five hundred fifteen 1515 can be cited. When Francis King of France planned to cross into Italy in order to recover the State of Lombardy, the greater foundation of those who opposed his enterprise was that the Swiss would stop him in the mountain passes. And as was seen from this experience, that foundation of theirs was vain, for that King, leaving aside two or three places guarded by them [Swiss], came by another unknown road, and was already in Italy before they were aware of it. So that, frightened, they retreated to Milan, and all the people of Lombardy adhered to the French forces, having been proved wrong in their opinion that the French would be held in the mountains.
The merits of Horatius had been very great, having by his virtu conquered the Curatii. None the less such a homicide displeased the Romans so much, that he was brought to trial for his life, notwithstanding that his merits were so great and so recent. Which thing, to whoever should consider it only superficially, would seem to be an example of the ingratitude of the people. None the less, whoever should examine it closer, and with better consideration will look for what the orders of the Republic ought to be, will blame that people rather for having absolved him than for having wanted to condemn him: and the reason is this, that no well-ordered Republic ever cancels the misbehavior of its citizens by their merits; and having rewarded one for having acted well, if that same one afterwards acts badly, it castigates him without having regard to any of his good actions. And if these orders are well observed, a City will exist free for a long time; if otherwise, it will quickly be ruined. For if to a citizen who has done some eminent work for the City, there is added to his reputation of that which he acquired, and audacity and confidence of being able to do some wrong without fear of punishment, he will in a short time become so insolent as to put an end to all civil law. But wanting that the punishment for evil actions be feared, it is very necessary to observe rewarding good, as is seen was done by Rome. And although a Republic may be poor and can give only a little, it ought not to abstain from giving that little, because every little gift given to someone in recompense for a good deed, no matter how big [the deed], will always be esteemed very greatly by whoever receives it as an honorable thing. And the history of Horatius Codes and that of Mutius Scaevola are well known; how one held back the enemy on a bridge until it was cut, [and] the other burned his hand having erred in wanting to murder Porsenna, King of the Tuscans. For these two eminent deeds two measures of land were given to each of those men by the public. The history of Manlius Capitolinus is also well known. For having saved the Campidoglio from the Gauls who were besieging it, this man was given a small measure of flour by those who had been besieged inside with him, which reward (according to the value that was then current in Rome) was great and of quality; [but] when Manlius afterward, either from envy or from his evil nature, moved to raise up sedition in Rome, and seeking to gain over the People to himself, he was, without regard to any of his merits, thrown precipituously from that Campidoglio which he had previously with so much glory saved.
He who desires or wants to reform the State [Government] of a City, and wishes that it may be accepted and capable of maintaining itself to everyone’s satisfaction, it is necessary for him at least to retain the shadow of ancient forms, so that it does not appear to the people that the institutions have been changed, even though in fact the new institutions should be entirely different from the past ones: for the general mass of men are satisfied with appearances, as if it exists, and many times are moved by the things which appear to be rather than by the things that are. The Romans knew this necessity in the beginning of their free existence, [and] for this reason, had in place of one King created two Consuls, [and] did not want them to have more than twelve Lictors so as not to exceed the number that ministered to the Kings. In addition to this, an annual sacrifice was made in Rome, which could not be done except by the King in person, and as the Romans wishing that the People should not desire any of the ancient things because of the absence of the King, created a chief for the said sacrifice, whom they called the King of sacrifice, and placed him under the high priest. So that the people through this means came to be satisfied with that sacrifice and never to have reason, for lack of them, to desire the return of the King. And this ought to be observed by all those who want to abolish an ancient [system of] living in a City and bring it to a new and more liberal [system of] living. For as new things disturb the minds of men, you ought to endeavor that these changes retain as much as possible of the ancient [forms]; and if the magistrates change both in number and in authority and in duration [of term] from the ancients, the names at least ought to be retained. And this (as I have said) ought to be preserved by whoever wants to organize an absolute power into a Republic or a Kingdom; but he who wants to establish an absolute power, which by authors is called a Tyranny, ought to change everything, as will be mentioned in the following chapter.
Whoever becomes Prince either of a City or a State, and more so if his foundations are weak, and does not want to establish a civil system either in the form of a Kingdom or a Republic, [will find] the best remedy he has to hold that Principality is (he being a new Prince) to do everything anew in that State; such as in the City to make new Governors with new titles, with new authority, with new men, [and] make the poor rich, as David did when he became King, who piled good upon the needy, and dismissed the wealthy empty-handed. In addition to this he should build new Cities, destroy old ones, transfer the inhabitants from one place to another, and in sum, not to leave anything unchanged in that Province, [and] so that there should be no rank, nor order, nor status, nor riches, that he who obtains it does not recognize it as coming from him; he should take as his model Philip of Macedonia, father of Alexander, who, by these methods, from a petty King became Prince of Greece. And those who write of him tell how be transferred men from Province to Province, as the Mandrians [Shepherds] move their sheep. These methods are most cruel and hostile to every system of living, not only Christian, but human, and should be avoided by every man; and he should want rather to live as a private individual than as a King at the [expense of the] ruin of men. None the less, he who does not want to take up the first path of good, must, if he wants to maintain himself, follow the latter path of evil. But men take up certain middle paths which are most harmful, for they do not know how to be entirely good or entirely bad, as the following chapter will show by example.
When Pope Julius II in the year one thousand five hundred and five 1505 went to Bologna to drive the house of Bentivogli out of that State, of which they had held the Principate [of that State] for a hundred years, he wanted also to remove Giovanpagolo Baglioni from Perugia, of which he was Tyrant, [and] to be the one who planned to eliminate all the Tyrants who were occupying the lands of the Church. And having arrived at Perugia with this purpose and decision known to everyone, he did not wait to enter in that City with his army that was protecting him, but entered unarmed, notwithstanding that Giovanpagolo was inside with large forces that he had gathered for defense. And thus, brought by that fury which governed all his actions, with only his simple guard he placed himself in the hands of the enemy, whom he then carried off with him, leaving a governor in that City who should administer it for the Church. The temerity of the Pope and the cowardice of Giovanpagolo were noted by the prudent men who were with the Pope, nor could they understand whence it happened that he [Baglioni] did not with his perpetual fame attack his enemy at once and enrich himself with booty, there being with the Pope all the Cardinals with their valuables. Nor could it be believed that he abstained either from goodness or that his conscience restrained him; for no regard of piety could enter in the heart of a riotous man, who had kept his sister, and had put to death his cousins and nephews in order that he could reign there: but it is concluded that men do not know how to be entirely bad or perfectly good, and that when an evil has some greatness in it or is generous in any part, they do not know how to attempt it. Thus Giovanpagolo, who did not mind being publicly [called] incestuous and a parricide, did not know how, or to say more correctly, did not dare (even having a justifiable opportunity) to make an enterprise where everyone would have admired his courage and which would have left an eternal memory of himself, being the first who would have shown the Prelates how little esteemed are they who live and reign as they do, and would have done an act, the greatness of which would have overcome every infamy and every danger that could have resulted from it.
Whoever reads of the things done by Republics will find in all of them some species of ingratitude against their citizens, but he will find less in Rome than in Athens, and perhaps in any other Republic. And in seeking the reasons for this, speaking of Rome and Athens, I believe it was because the Romans had less reason to suspect their citizens than did the Athenians. For in Rome (discussing the time from the expulsion of the Kings up to Sulla and Marius) liberty was never taken away from any of its citizens, so that in that [City] there was no great reason to be suspicious of them, and consequently [no cause] to offend them inconsiderately. The very contrary happened in Athens, for her liberty having been taken away by Pisistratus in her most florid time and under the deception of goodness, so soon then as she became free, remembering the injuries received and her past servitude, she became a harsh avenger not only of the errors of her citizens, but even the shadow of them. From which resulted the exile and death of so many excellent men: From this came the practice of ostracism and every other violence which that City at various times took up against her Nobility. And it is very true what these writers say of that Civil Society, that when they have recovered their liberty, they sting their people more severely than when they have preserved it. Whoever would consider, therefore, what has been said, will not blame Athens for this, nor praise Rome, but he will blame only the necessity resulting from the difference of events which occurred in those Cities. For whoever will consider things carefully, will see that if Rome had had her liberty taken away as it was in Athens, Rome would not have been any more merciful toward her citizens than was the latter. From which a very real conjecture can be made of that which occurred after the expulsion of the Kings against Collatinus and Publius Valerius, of whom the first (although he was found in liberating Rome) was sent into exile for no other reason than for having the name of the Tarquins, and the other having only given suspicion by building a house on Mount Celius, was also made to be an exile. So that it can be judged (seeing how severe Rome was in these two suspicions) that she would have been ungrateful as Athens was, if she had been offended by her citizens as she was in her early times and before her expansion. And so as not to have to return again to this matter of ingratitude, I shall say that which will occur in the following chapter.
It appears to me apropos of the above written matter to discuss with example who practiced this ingratitude more, a People or a Prince. And to discuss this part further, I say that this vice of ingratitude arises either from avarice or from suspicion: For when a People or a Prince has sent out one of its Captains on an important expedition, where that Captain (having won) has acquired great glory, that People or that Prince is bound in turn to reward him: and if in place of a reward they, moved by avarice, either dishonor or offend him, not wanting (held back by this cupidity) to take the trouble, they make an error that has no excuse, but will leave behind for them an eternal infamy. Yet many Princes are found who err in this way. And Cornelius Tacitus tells the reason in this sentence; An injury is more apt to be repaid than a benefit, where gratitude is onerous and exultation is had in revenge. But when they do not reward one; or (to say it better) they offend one, moved not by avarice, but by suspicion, then both the People and Prince merit some excuse. And much is read of this ingratitude shown for such reasons, for that Captain who by his virtu has conquered an Empire for his Lord, overcoming the enemy and filling himself with glory and his soldiers with riches, of necessity acquires so much reputation with his soldiers, with his enemies, and with the Prince’s very own subjects, that that victory can be distasteful to that Lord who had sent him. And because the nature of men is ambitious and suspicious, and puts no limits on the fortune of anyone, it is not impossible that the suspicion which is suddenly aroused in the Prince after the victory of his captain, may not by itself have been increased by some of his actions or expressions made insolently. So that the Prince cannot think otherwise than to secure himself: and to do this thinks of either having him die or taking away from him that reputation which he gained among his army and the people, and with all industry show that the victory was not due to the virtu of that [Captain], but by chance and cowardice of the enemy, or by the wisdom of other Captains who had been with him in that action.
After Vespasian, while in Judea, was declared Emperor by his army, Antonius Primus, who was to be found with another army in Illyria, took his side, and came into Italy against Vitellius who reigned in Rome, and with the greatest virtu routed two armies of Vitellius and occupied Rome, so that through the virtu of Antonius, Mutianus, who had been sent by Vespasian, found everything achieved and all difficulties overcome. The reward which Antonius received was that Mutianus took away from him the command of the army, and little by little reduced his authority in Rome to nothing: so that Antonius went to find Vespasian who was yet in Asia, by whom he was received in such a fashion, that in a brief time, having been reduced to no rank, died almost in despair. And histories are full of such examples.
In our own times anyone now living knows with what industry and virtu Gonsalvo Ferrante, fighting in the Kingdom of Naples for Ferrando King of Aragon against the French, had conquered and won that Kingdom, and was rewarded for his victory by Ferrando, who departed from Aragon and came to Naples, where he first took away from him the command of the armed forces, then took away from him the fortresses, and then took him with him to Spain, where in a short time he died unhonored.
And this suspicion, therefore, is so natural in Princes that they cannot defend themselves against them, and it is impossible for them to show gratitude toward those who, by victory under their ensigns, have made great conquest. And if a Prince cannot defend himself from them, is it not a miracle or something worthy of greater consideration, that a people does not also defend itself; for a City which exists free has two objectives, one conquering, the other maintaining itself free, and it happens that because of excessive love for both of these it makes errors. As to the errors made in conquering, they will be spoken of in their proper place. As to the errors made in maintaining itself free, among others they are those of offending those Citizens whom it ought to reward, and of having suspicion of those in whom it ought to have confidence. And although these things in a Republic already corrupted cause great evils, and which many times rather leads to tyranny, as happened in Rome under Caesar who took by force that which ingratitude denied him, none the less in a Republic not yet corrupted they are the cause of great good, and make for a longer free existence, maintaining itself because the fear of punishment makes men better and less ambitious.
It is true that among all the people who ever had an Empire for reasons discussed above, Rome was the least ungrateful, for it can be said there is no other example of her ingratitude than that of Scipio; for Coriolanus and Camillus were both made exiles because of the injuries that the one and the other had inflicted on the Plebs: But he one was never pardoned for having always preserved a hostile spirit against the People: the other was not only recalled [from exile], but for the rest of his life was adored as a Prince. But the ingratitude shown to Scipio arose from a suspicion that the Citizens begun to have of him that was never had of others, which [suspicion] arose from the greatness of the enemy that Scipio conquered, from the reputation which that victory in such a long and perilous war had given him, from the rapidity of it, from the favor which his youth, his prudence, and his other memorable virtues had acquired for him. These were so many, that for no other reason, the Magistrates of Rome feared his authority, which displeased intelligent men as something unheard of in Rome. And his manner of living appeared so extraordinary that Cato the elder, reputed a saint, was the first to go against him, and to say that a City could not be called free where there was a Citizen who was feared by the Magistrates. So that if the people of Rome in this case followed the opinion of Cato, they merit the excuse that I said above was merited by those People and those Princes who, because of suspicion, are ungrateful. Concluding this discourse, therefore, I say that using this vice of ingratitude for either avarice or suspicion, it will be seen that the People never use it from avarice, and from suspicion much less than do Princes, having less reason for suspicion, as will be told below.
A Prince, to avoid the necessity of having to live with suspicion or to be ungrateful, ought to go on his expeditions in person, as those Roman Emperors did in the beginning, as does the Turk in our times, and as those of virtu have done and still do. For winning, the glory and the conquests are all theirs: and when they do not (the glory belonging to others) it does not appear to them to be able to use that conquest unless they extinguish that glory in others which they have not known how to gain for themselves, and to become ungrateful and unjust is without doubt more to their loss than to their gain. But when either through negligence or little prudence they remain idle at home and send a Captain, I have no precept to give them, then, other than that which they know by themselves. But I will say to that Captain, judging that he will not be able to escape the stings of ingratitude, that he must do one of two things: either immediately after the victory he must leave the army and place himself in the hands of the Prince, guarding himself from any insolent and ambitious act, so that he [the Prince] despoiled of every suspicion has reason either to reward him or not to offend him, or if he does not please to do this, to take boldly the contrary side, and take all those means through which he believed that that conquest is his very own and not of his Prince, obtaining for himself the good will of his soldiers and of the subjects, and must make new friendships with his neighbors, occupy the fortresses with his men, corrupt the Princes [Leaders] of his army, and assure himself of those he cannot corrupt, and by these means seek to punish his Lord for that ingratitude that he showed toward him. There are no other ways: but (as was said above) men do not know how to be all bad, or all good. And it always happens that immediately after a victory, he [a Captain] does not want to leave his army, is not able to conduct himself modestly, does not know how to use forceful ends [and] which have in themselves something honorable. So that being undecided, between the delays and indecision, he is destroyed.
As to a Republic wishing to avoid this vice of ingratitude, the same remedy cannot be given as that of a Prince; that is, that it cannot go and not send others on its expeditions, being necessitated to send one of its Citizens. It happens, therefore, that as a remedy, I would tell them to keep to the same means that the Roman Republic used in being less ungrateful than others: which resulted from the methods of its government, for as all the City, both the Nobles and Ignobles [Plebeians] devoted themselves to war, there always sprung up in Rome in every age so many men of virtu and adorned with various victories, that the People did not have cause for being apprehensive of any of them, there being so many and one guarding another. And thus they maintained themselves wholesome and careful not to show any shadow of ambition, nor give reason to the People to harm them as ambitious men; and if they came to the Dictatorship, that greater glory derived rather from their laying it down. And thus, not being able by such methods to generate suspicion, they did not generate ingratitude. So that a Republic that does not want to have cause to be ungrateful ought to govern as Rome did, and a Citizen who wants to avoid its sting ought to observe the limits observed the limits observed by the Roman Citizens.
The Romans were (as we discussed above) not only less ungrateful than other Republics, but were even more merciful and considerate in punishing their Captains of the armies than any other. For if their error had been from malice, they castigated them humanely: if it was through ignorance, they did not punish them but rewarded and honored them. This manner of proceeding was well considered by them, for they judged that it was of great importance to those who commanded their armies to have their minds free and prompt and without any outside regard as to how they took up their duties, that they did not want to add anything, which in itself was difficult and dangerous, believing that if these were added no one would be able to operate with virtu. For instance, they sent an army into Greece against Philip of Macedonia, and into Italy against those people who first overcame them. This Captain who was placed in charge of such an expedition would be deeply concerned of all the cares that go on behind those activities, which are grave and very important. Now, if to such cares should be added the many examples of the Romans who had been crucified or otherwise put to death for having lost the engagement, it would be impossible for that Captain, among such suspicions, to be able to proceed vigorously. Judging, therefore, that the ignominy of having lost would be a great punishment for such a one, they did not want to frighten him with other greater penalties.
As to errors committed through ignorance, here is an example. Sergius and Virginius were besieging Veii, each in charge of part of the army, of which Sergius was on the side whence the Tuscans could come, and Virginius on the other side. It happened that Sergius being assaulted by the Faliscans among other people, preferred being routed and put to flight before sending to Virginius for help: And on the other hand, Virginius waiting for him [Sergius] to be humiliated, would rather see the dishonor of his country and the ruin of the army, than to succor him. A truly bad case, and worthy to be noted, and of creating a poor conjecture of the Roman Republic, if both of them had not been castigated. It is true that where another Republic would have punished them with a capital penalty, it [Rome] punished them with a monetary fine. Which was done, not because their errors merited greater punishment, but because the Romans wanted in this case, for the reasons already mentioned, to maintain their ancient customs.
As to errors [committed] through ignorance, there is no more striking example than that of Varro, through whose temerity the Romans were routed at Cannae by Hannibal, where that Republic was brought in danger of its liberty, none the less because it was ignorance and not malice, they not only did not castigate him, but honored him, and on his return to Rome, the whole Senatorial order went to meet him, [and] not being able to thank him for the battle, they thanked him for returning to Rome and for not having despaired of Roman affairs.
When Papirus Cursor wanted to have Fabius put to death for having, against his command, combatted with the Samnites, among the other reasons which were assigned by the father of Fabius against the obstinacy of the Dictator was this, that in any defeat of its Captains, the Roman People never did that which Papirus in victory wanted to do.
Although the Romans succeeded happily in being liberal to people, yet when danger came upon them from Porsenna coming to assault Rome in order to restore thy Tarquins, the Senate apprehensive of the plebs who might want to accept the Kings than to sustain a war, in order to assure themselves [of the plebs], relieved them of the salt gabelle and all other taxes, saying that the poor did much for the public benefit if they reared their children, and that because of this benefice that people should submit itself to endure siege, famine, and war: let no one who trusts in this example defer in gaming the people over to himself until the time of danger, for it will not succeed for him as it succeeded for the Romans; for the people in general will judge not to have gotten that benefit from you, but from your adversaries, and becoming afraid that once the necessity is past, you would take back from them that which by force you gave them, they will have no obligation to you. And the reason why this proceeding turned out well for the Romans was because the State was new, and not yet firm, and that the people had seen that other laws had been made before for their benefit, such as that of the appeal to the Plebs: so that they could persuade themselves that that good which was done, was not caused so much by the coming of the enemy as much as the disposition of the Senate to benefit them: In addition to this the memory of the Kings, by whom they had been ill-used and injured in many ways, was fresh. And as similar occasions rarely occur, so it rarely occurs that similar remedies do good. Therefore Republics as well as Princes ought to think ahead what adversities may befall them, and of which men in adverse times they may have need of, and then act toward them as they might judge necessary (supposing some case) to live. And he who governs himself otherwise, whether Prince or Republic, and especially a Prince, and then on this fact believes that if danger comes upon him, he may regain the people for himself by benefits, deceives himself, because he not only does not assure himself, but accelerates his ruin.
The Roman Republic growing in reputation, strength, and empire, its neighbors which at first had not thought how much harm that new Republic would be able to bring to them, commenced (but too late) to recognize their error, and wanting to remedy that which at first they had not remedied, they [arranged] for forty peoples [tribes] to conspire against Rome: whence the Romans among the usual remedies made by them in urgent perils, wanted to create a Dictator, that is, to give power to one man who, without any consultation, should be able to decide, and without any appeal should be able to execute his decisions: This remedy which formerly was useful and a means of overcoming imminent perils, was also always most useful in all those incidents which sprung up at any time against the Republic in the expansion of the Empire. On which subject it will first be discussed, that when an evil springs up either within a Republic or against a Republic, whether from intrinsic or extrinsic causes, and has become so great that it begins to make [everyone] afraid, it is a much more safe procedure to temporize with it than to try to extinguish it. For almost always those who try to crush it, make its force greater, and make that evil which is suspected from it to be accelerated. And incidents similar to these arise more frequently in a Republic from intrinsic and extrinsic causes, as it often occurs that it allows a Citizen more power than is reasonable, or the corrupting of a law is begun which is the nerve and life of a free society: and this error is allowed to run so far, that it is a more harmful procedure to want to remedy it than to let it go on. And it is so much more difficult to recognize these evils when they first arise, as it seems more natural to men always to favor the beginning of things: And such favors are accorded more to those accomplishments which have in them some virtu or are done by young men, than to any other thing: for if some young noble is seen to spring up in a Republic who has in him some extraordinary virtu, the eyes of all the Citizens begin to turn toward him, and they agree without regard [to consequences] to honor him: so that if there is any stitch of ambition in him, the assemblage of favors which nature and these incidents give him, he will soon come to a place that when the Citizens see their error, they will have few remedies to stop him, and they wanting so much to employ that which they have, do nothing other than to accelerate his power.
Of this many examples can be cited, but I want to give only one of our City [of Florence]. Cosimo De’Medici, from whom the house of Medici in our City owed the beginning of its greatness, came into such reputation by the favor which his prudence and the ignorance of the other Citizens gave him, that he begun to bring fear to the State, so that the other Citizens judged it dangerous to offend him and still more dangerous to allow him to go on. But Niccolo Da Uzzano living in those times, who was held to be a man most expert in civil affairs, and having made the first error in not recognizing the dangers that could arise from the reputation of Cosimo, never permitted while he lived that a second [error] be made, that is, that it should be attempted [to want] to destroy him, judging that such an attempt would be the ruin of their State, as in fact was seen after his death; for those Citizens [who remained] not observing these counsels of his, made themselves strong against Cosimo and drove him out of Florence. Whence there resulted that, his party resentful of this injury, a little later called him back and made him Prince of the Republic, to which rank he could never have ascended without that manifest opposition. This same thing happened in Rome to Caesar who was favored by Pompey and the others for his virtu; which favor a little while later was converted to fear: to which Cicero gives testimony, saying that Pompey had too late begun to fear Caesar. Which fear caused them to think of remedies, and the remedies they took accelerated the ruin of the Republic.
I say, therefore, that since it is difficult to recognize these evils when they spring up, this difficulty caused by the deception which things give in the beginning, it is the wiser proceeding to temporize with them when they are recognized than to oppose them. For by temporizing with them, they will either extinguish themselves, or the evil will at least be deferred for a longer time. And Princes ought to open their eyes to all these things which they plan to do away with, and be careful by their strength and drive not to increase them instead of decreasing them, and not believe that by blowing at a thing, it can be done away with, or rather to suffocate the plant by blowing on it. But the force of the evil ought to be well considered, and when they see themselves sufficient to oppose it, to attack it without regard [to consequences], otherwise they should let it be, and in no way attempt it. For it will happen as was discussed above, and as it did happen to the neighbors of Rome, to whom after Rome had grown so much in power, it was more salutary to seek to placate her and hold her back with methods of peace, than with methods of war to make her think of new institutions and new defenses. For their conspiracy did nothing other than to make them united, more stalwart, and to think of new ways by which in a short time they expanded their power: Among which was the creation of a Dictator, by which new institution they not only overcame the imminent dangers, but was the cause of obviating infinite evils in which, without that remedy, that Republic would have been involved.
Those Romans who introduced into that City the method of creating a Dictator have been condemned by some writers, as something that was in time the cause of tyranny in Rome; alleging that the first tyrant who existed in that City commanded her under this title of Dictator, saying if it had not been for this, Caesar could not under any public [title] have imposed his tyranny. Which thing was not well examined by those who held this opinion and was believed beyond all reason. For it was not the name or the rank of Dictator that placed Rome in servitude, but it was the authority taken by the Citizens to perpetuate themselves in the Empire [government]: and if the title of Dictator did not exist in Rome, they would have taken another; for it is power that easily acquires a name, not a name power. And it is seen that the Dictatorship while it was given according to public orders and not by individual authority, always did good to the City. For it is the Magistrates who are made and the authority that is given by irregular means that do injury to Republics, not those that come in the regular way. As is seen ensued in Rome where in so much passage of time no Dictator did anything that was not good for the Republic. For which there are very evident reasons: First, because if a Citizen would want to [offend and ] take up authority in an irregular manner, it must happen that he have many qualities which he can never have in an uncorrupted Republic, for he needs to be very rich and to have many adherents and partisans, which he cannot have where the laws are observed: and even if he should have them, such men are so formidable that free suffrage would not support them. In addition to this, a Dictator was made for a [limited] time and not in perpetuity, and only to remove the cause for which he was created; and his authority extended only in being able to decide by himself the ways of meeting that urgent peril, [and] to do things without consultation, and to punish anyone without appeal; but he could do nothing to diminish [the power] of the State, such as would have been the taking away of authority from the Senate or the people, to destroy the ancient institutions of the City and the making of new ones. So that taking together the short time of the Dictatorship and the limited authority that he had, and the Roman People uncorrupted, it was impossible that he should exceed his limits and harm the City: but from experience it is seen that it [City] always benefited by him.
And truly, among the other Roman institutions, this is one that merits to be considered and counted among those which were the cause of the greatness of so great an Empire: For without a similar institution, the Cities would have avoided such extraordinary hazards only with difficulty; for the customary orders of the Republic move to slowly (no council or Magistrate being able by himself to do anything, but in many cases having to act together) that the assembling together of opinions takes so much time; and remedies are most dangerous when they have to apply to some situation which cannot await time. And therefore Republics ought to have a similar method among their institutions. And the Venetian Republic (which among modern Republics is excellent) has reserved authority to a small group [few] of citizens so that in urgent necessities they can decide on all matters without wider consultation. For when a similar method is lacking in a Republic, either observing the institutions [strictly] will ruin her, or in order not to ruin her, it will be necessary to break them. And in a Republic, it should never happen that it be governed by extraordinary methods. For although the extraordinary method would do well at that time, none the less the example does evil, for if a usage is established of breaking institutions for good objectives, then under that pretext they will be broken for evil ones. So that no Republic will be perfect, unless it has provided for everything with laws, and provided a remedy for every incident, and fixed the method of governing it. And therefore concluding I say, that those Republics which in urgent perils do not have resort either to a Dictatorship or a similar authority, will always be ruined in grave incidents. And it is to be noted in this new institution how the method of electing him was wisely provided by the Romans. For the creation of a Dictator being of some discredit to the Consuls, as the Chiefs of the City had to come to the same obedience as others, [and] wanting that the authority for such election should remain in the consuls, believing that if an incident should arise that Rome would have need of this Regal power, by doing this voluntarily by themselves [Consuls], it would reflect on them less. For the wounds and every other evil that men inflict on themselves spontaneously and by choice, pain less in the long run than do those that are inflicted by others. In later times, however, the Romans, in place of a Dictator, used to give such authority to the Consul, in these words: Let the Consuls see that the Republic suffers no detriment. But to return to our subject, I conclude, that the neighbors of Rome seeking to oppress her, caused her to institute methods not only enabling her to defend herself, but enabling her with more strength, better counsels, and greater authority to attack them.
The election of the Ten citizens [Decemvirs] created by the Roman people to make the laws in Rome, who in time became Tyrants, and without any regard took away her liberty, appears to be contrary to what was discussed above, that that authority which is taken by violence, not that which is given by suffrage, harms the Republics. Here, however, the methods of giving authority and the time for which it is given, ought to be considered. For when free authority is given for a long time (calling a long time a year or more) it is always dangerous and will produce effects either good or bad, according as those upon whom it is conferred are good or bad. And if the authority given to the Ten and that which the Dictators have are considered, it will be seen beyond comparison that that of the Ten is greater. For when a Dictator was created there remained the Tribunes, Consuls, [and] the Senate, with all their authority, and the Dictator could not take it away from them; and even if he should have been able to remove anyone from the Consulship, or from the Senate, he could not suppress the Senatorial order and make new laws. So that the Senate, the Consuls, and the Tribunes, remaining with their authority, came to be as his guard to prevent him form going off from the right road. But in the creation of the Ten all the contrary occurred, for they annulled the Consuls and the Tribunes, and they were given authority to make laws and do every other thing as the Roman People had. So that, finding themselves alone, without Consuls, without Tribunes, without the appeal to the People, and because of this not having anyone to observe them, moved by the ambitions of Appius, they were able in the second year to become insolent. And because of this, it ought to be noted that when [we said] an authority given by free suffrage never harmed any Republic, it presupposed that a People is never led to give it except with limited powers and for limited times: but when either from having been deceived or for some other reason it happens that they are induced to give it imprudently and in the way in which the Roman people gave it to the Ten, it will always happen as it did to them [Romans]. This is easily proven, considering the reasons that kept the Dictators good and that made the Ten bad: and considering also how those Republics which have been kept well ordered have done in giving authority for a long [period of] time, as the Spartans gave to their King, and how the Venetians give to their Doges; for it will be seen in both these methods, guardians were appointed who watched that the Kings [and the Doges] could not ill use that authority. Nor is it of any benefit in this case that the people are not corrupted, for an absolute authority in a very brief time corrupts the people, and makes friends and partisans for itself. Nor is it harmful either to be poor or not to have relatives, for riches and every other favor quickly will run after power, as we will discuss in detail in the creation of the said Ten.
The Romans had made Marcus Fabius and C. Manlius Consuls, and had won a glorious engagement against the Veienti and the Etruscans, in which, however, Quintus Fabius brother of the Consul, who the previous year had himself been Consul, was killed. Here, then, ought to be considered how much the institutions of that City were adept at making her great, and how much the other Republics deceived themselves in deviating [themselves] from her methods. For although the Romans were great lovers of glory, none the less they did not esteem it a dishonorable thing to obey presently those whom at another time they had commanded, and to serve in that army of which they had been Princes. Which custom is contrary to the opinion, orders, and practices of the Citizen of our times: and in Venice this error still holds that a Citizen having had a high rank would be ashamed to accept a lesser, and the City consents to them what she cannot change. Which thing, however honorable it should be for a private [citizen] is entirely useless for the public. For a Republic ought to have more hope, and more confidence in a Citizen who descends from a high rank to govern a lesser, than in one who rises from a lower rank to govern a higher one. For the latter cannot reasonably be relied upon unless he is surrounded by men, who are of such respectability or of such virtu, that his inexperience can be moderated by their counsel and authority. And if in Rome there had been the same customs as are in Venice, and other modern Republics and Kingdoms, where he who had at one time been Consul should never want to enter the army except as Consul, there would have arisen infinite things prejudicial to a free society, both because of the errors that new men would make, and because of their ambition which they could have indulged in more freely, not having men around them in whose presence they should be afraid to err, and thus they would have come to be more unrestrained, which would have resulted entirely to the detriment of the public.
It was the verdict of ancient writers that men afflict themselves in evil and weary themselves in the good, and that the same effects result from both of these passions. For whenever men are not obliged to fight from necessity, they fight from ambition; which is so powerful in human breasts, that it never leaves them no matter to what rank they rise. The reason is that nature has so created men that they are able to desire everything but are not able to attain everything: so that the desire being always greater than the acquisition, there results discontent with the possession and little satisfaction to themselves from it. From this arises the changes in their fortunes; for as men desire, some to have more, some in fear of losing their acquisition, there ensues enmity and war, from which results the ruin of that province and the elevation of another. I have made this discussion because it was not enough for the Roman Plebs to secure themselves from the Nobles through the creation of the Tribunes, to which [desire] they were constrained by necessity, that they soon (having obtained that) begun to fight from ambition and to want to divide with the Nobles their honors and possessions, as things more esteemed by men. From this there arose the plague that brought forth the contentions about the Agrarian law, and in the end was the cause of the destruction of the Roman Republic. And because well-ordered Republics have to keep the public [State] rich and its Citizens poor, it was apparent that there was some defect in that law in the City of Rome, which either was now drawn in the beginning in such a way that it required to be redrawn every day, or that it was so long deferred in the making that it became troublesome in regard to the past, or if it had been well ordered in the beginning, it had become corrupted in its application. So that whatever way it may have been, this law could never be spoken of in Rome without that City going upside down [from turmoil]. This law had two principal articles. Through the first it provided that each Citizen could not possess more than so many jugeri of land, through the other that the fields which were taken from the enemy should be divided among the Roman people. This, therefore, came to make two strong offenses against the Nobles, for those who possessed more land than the law permitted (of whom the Nobles were the greater part) had to be deprived of it, and by dividing the possessions of the enemy among the Plebs, it deprived them [Nobles] that means of enriching themselves. Since this offense came to be against the powerful men, and who thought that by going against it they were defending the public, whenever (as I have said) this was brought up, that City would go upside-down, and the Nobles with patience and industry temporized, either by calling out the army, or by having that Tribune who proposed it opposed by another Tribune, or sometimes by yielding in part, or even by sending a Colony to that place that was to be distributed, as happened in the countryside of Antium, about which a dispute spring up from this law; a Colony drawn from Rome was sent to that place, to whom the said countryside was assigned. Concerning which Titus Livius used a notable remark, saying that it was difficult to find in Rome one who would give his name to go to the said Colony; so much more ready were the Plebs to defend the things in Rome than to possess them in Antium.
This mood concerning this law thus troubled them for a time, so that the Romans begun to conduct their armies to the extreme parts of Italy, or outside of Italy, after which time it appeared that things settled down. This resulted because the fields that the enemies of Rome possessed being far removed from the eyes of the Plebs, and in a place where it was not easy to cultivate them, became less desirable; and also the Romans were less disposed to punish their enemies in such a way, and even when they deprived them of some land from their countryside, they distributed Colonies there. So that for these reasons this law remained, as it were, dormant up to the time of the Gracchi, by whom it being revived, wholly ruined the liberty of Rome; for it found the power of its adversaries redoubled, and because of this [revival] so much hate developed between the Plebs and the Senate, that it came to arms and bloodshed beyond every civil limit and custom. So that the public Magistrates not being able to remedy them, nor either faction having further confidence in them, recourse was had to private remedies, and each of thy factions decided to appoint a chief [for themselves] who would defend them. In these troubles and disorders the Plebs came and turned to Marius with his reputations, so that they made him Consul four times; and with few intervening intervals that his Consulship continued so that he was able by himself to make himself Consul another three times. Against which plague thy Nobility, not having any remedy, turned their favor to Sulla, and having made him Head of their party, arrived at civil war, and after much bloodshed and changes of fortune, the Nobility remained superior. Later, in the time of Caesar and Pompey, these moods were revived, for Caesar making himself Head of the party of Marius, and Pompey of that of Sulla; [and] coming to arms Caesar remained superior, who became the first Tyrant in Rome, so that City was never again free.
Such, therefore, was the beginning and the end of the Agrarian law. And although elsewhere we showed that the enmity in Rome between the Senate and the Plebs should maintain Rome free, because it gave rise to those laws which favored liberty, and therefore the result of this Agrarian law may seem different from such a conclusion, I say that I do not on that account change my opinion, for so great is the ambition of the Nobles, that if it is not beaten down in various ways and means in a City, it will soon bring that City to ruin. So that if the contentions about the Agrarian law took three hundred years in bringing Rome to servitude, she would perhaps have been brought to servitude much sooner if the Plebs with this law and their other desires had not always restrained the ambitions of the Nobles. It is also to be seen from this how much more men esteem property than honors, for the Roman Nobility, always yielded without extraordinary trouble to the Plebs in the matter of honors, but when it came to property, so great was its obstinacy in defending it, that the Plebs in order to give vent to their appetites had recourse to those extraordinary proceedings which were discussed above. The movers of these disorders were the Gracchi, whose intentions should be praised more than their prudence. For to want to remove an abuse that has grown up in a Republic, and enact a retrospective law for this, is a badly considered proceeding, and (as was discussed above at length) does nothing else than to accelerate that evil which leads to that abuse; but by temporizing with it, either the evil comes much later, or by itself in time (before its end comes) it will extinguish itself.
Because of a very great pestilence occurring in Rome, it appeared to the Volscians and the Equeans that the time had come for them to be able to attack Rome, these two people raised a large army and assaulted the Latins and the Ernicians, and their country being laid waste, the Latins and Ernicians were constrained to make it [to be] known to Rome, and pray that they might be defended by the Romans, but the Romans being afflicted by the pestilence, answered them that they should take up the proceeding of defending themselves with arms, for they were not able to defend them. In which is recognized the generosity and prudence of that Senate, that in every circumstance they always wanted to be the one that should be Prince of [make] the decisions which her subjects had to take; nor were they ever ashamed to decide something contrary to their mode of living or to other decisions previously made by them, whenever necessity should compel them. I say this, because at other times the same them, whenever necessity should compel them. I say this, because at other times the same Senate had forbidden the said people to arm and defend themselves, so that to a less prudent Senate it would then have seemed to them a falling from their dignity to concede to them this defense. But that [Senate] always judged things as they ought to be judged, and always took the less objectionable proceeding as the better; for they knew the evil of not being able to defend their subjects, and they knew also the evil of letting them arm themselves without them [the Romans], for the reasons given and many others that are understood: none the less knowing that they [thy Latins and Ernicians] had in any case armed themselves from necessity, having the enemy upon them, they took the honorable course and decided to let them do what had to be done with their permission, so that having once disobeyed from necessity, they might not accustom themselves to disobeying from choice.
And although this would appear to be a proceeding that every Republic ought to have taken, none the less weak and ill-advised Republics do not know how to assume it, nor how to gain honor in a similar necessity. The Duke of Valentino had taken Faenza and made Bologna submit to his terms. Afterwards wanting to return to Rome by way of Tuscany, he sent one of his men to Florence to ask passage for himself and his army. In Florence they consulted how this thing should be managed, but everyone counselled that it not be conceded to them. The Roman way was not followed in this, for the Duke being very well armed, and the Florentines disarmed so that they could not prohibit the passage, it was much more to their honor that it should appear that he [the Duke] passed with their permission than by force; for as it was they had nothing but shame, which would have in part been less if they had managed otherwise. But the worst part that weak Republics have, is to be irresolute; so that all the proceedings they take are taken by force, and if anything good should be done by them, they do it by force and not by their prudence. I want to give two other examples of this which occurred in our times in the State [Government] of our City in the year one thousand five hundred 1500.
King Louis XII of France having retaken Milan, wanting to restore Pisa in order to obtain the fifty thousand ducats that had been promised him by the Florentines after such restitution, he sent his armies toward Pisa captained by Monsignor De Beaumont, who, although French, was none the less a man in whom the Florentines had great confidence. This Captain placed himself and his army between Cascina and Pisa in order [to go] to assail the walls, where delaying several days to organize themselves for the capture, Pisan Orators [Ambassadors] came to Beaumont and offered to give up the City to the French army, with terms that under the pledge of the King he promise not to put them into the hands of the Florentines until four months after [the surrender]. This proceeding was completely refused by the Florentines, so that after beginning the siege, it followed that [he had to raise it and] he had to retire in shame. Nor was the proceeding refused for any other reason than the mistrust of the faith of the King, into whose hands they had been forced to place themselves because of their weak counsel; and on the other hand, while they did not trust him, neither were they able to see that it would have been easier for the King to restore Pisa to them after he had gone inside the City, and if he did not restore it to expose his mind [perfidy]; but not having [the City] he could promise it to them and they would be forced to buy that promise: So that it would have been much more useful to them to have consented that Beaumont should have taken it [Pisa] under any promise, as was seen in the subsequent experience in the year MDII 1502 when Arezzo having rebelled, Monsignor Imbault was sent by the King of France to the succor of the Florentines with French forces, who, arriving near Arezzo, soon began to negotiate an accord with the Arentines who were [willing] to give up the town under certain pledges similar to those [asked] by the Pisans. This proposal was rejected in Florence: when Monsignor Imbault learned of this, and it appeared to him that the Florentines little understood him, he began to hold negotiations for the treaty [of surrender] on his own without the participation of the Commissioners so that he could conclude it in his own way; and under it, he entered with his forces into Arezzo, making the Florentines understand that they were fools and did not understand the things of the world: that if they wanted Arezzo, they should let the King know, who was much better able to give it to them with his forces inside that City rather than [with them] outside. In Florence they did not cease abusing and censuring the said Imbault, nor did they stop until they realized that if Beaumont had been like Imbault, they would have had Pisa as [they had] Arezzo.
And so to return to the subject, irresolute Republics never take up good proceedings except by force; for their weakness never allows them to decide where there is any doubt, and if that doubt is not dispelled by some violence which pushes the, they always remain in suspense.
And it is easily recognized by those who consider present and ancient affairs that the same desires and passions exist in all Cities and people, and that they always existed. So that to whoever with diligence examines past events, it is an easy thing to foresee the future in any Republic, and to apply those remedies which had been used by the ancients, or, not finding any of those used, to think of new ones from the similarity of events. But as these considerations are neglected or not understood by those who govern, it follows that the same troubles will exist in every time.
The City of Florence, having after the year XCIV 1494 lost part of her Empire, such as Pisa and other lands, was obliged to make war against those who occupied them: and because he who occupied them was powerful, there followed that they spent much in the war without any fruit: from the great spending there resulted great taxes, from the taxes infinite complaints from the people: and as this war was managed by a Magistracy of Ten Citizens who were called the “Ten of the War”, the general public begun to hold them in aversion as those who were the cause of the war, and its expenses, and began to persuade themselves that if the said Magistracy were remoted, the path for war would be removed: so that if they had to do it [reappoint the Ten] again, they would allow their [terms] to expire without making changes and commit their functions to the Signoria. Which decision was so pernicious that it not only did not end the war as the general public had persuaded itself it would, but removed those who were managing it with prudence, and there followed so great disorders that in addition to Pisa, Arezzo, and many other places were lost: so that the people perceiving their error, [and] that the cause of the malady was the fever and not the doctor, re-established the Magistracy of the Ten.
This same mood had arisen in Rome against the [name of the] Consuls; for that people, seeing one war arise from another, and not ever being able to have any repose, where they should have believed it had arisen from the ambition of neighbors who wanted to oppress them, they thought it had arisen form the ambition of the Nobles, who, being unable to castigate the Plebs within Rome where they were defended by the power of Tribunate, wanted to lead them outside Rome [where they were] under the Consuls in order to oppress them, [and] where they would not have any aid: And because of this, they thought that it was necessary either to remove the Consuls or somehow to regulate their power, so that they should not have authority over the People either at home or abroad. The first who tried [to introduce] this law was one Terentillus, a Tribune, who proposed that there ought to be created [a Council of] five men who should examine the power of the Consuls and to limit it. This greatly excited the Nobility, as it appeared to them the majesty of the Empire would decline completely, so that no rank in that Republic would remain to the Nobility. None the less, so great was the obstinacy of the Tribunes that the dignity of the Consuls was extinguished: and after some other regulations they were finally content rather to create Tribunes with Consular power than to continue the Consuls, holding so much more in hatred their dignity than their authority. And thus they continued for a long time, until they recognized their error and returned to the Ten as the Florentines [did], [and] also re-established the Consuls.
As I want to discuss in detail the incidents that arose in Rome because of the creation of the Decemvirate, it does not appear to me superfluous to narrate first all that ensued because of such creations, and then to discuss those parts which are notable [actions] in it, which are many and [worthy] of much consideration, both by those who want to maintain a Republic free as well as by those who should plan to subjugate her. For in such a discussion will be seen the many errors made by the Senate and the Plebs prejudicial to liberty, and the many errors made by Appius, Chief of the Decemvirate, prejudicial to that Tyranny which he had intended to have established in Rome. After much discussion between the People and the Nobility concerning the adoption of new laws in Rome through which the liberty of that State should be firmly established, by agreement they sent Spurius Posthumus with two other Citizens to Athens for copies of those laws that Solon gave to that City, so as to be able to base the [new] Roman laws upon them. These men having gone and returned, they arrived at the appointing of the men who should examine and establish the said laws, and they created the Decemvir [Ten Citizens] for a year, among whom Appius Claudius, a sagacious but turbulent man, was appointed. And in order that they might create such laws without any regard [to authority], they removed all the other Magistracies from Rome, and particularly the Tribunes and the Consuls, and also took away the appeal to the people: so that this new Magistracy [of the Ten] became absolute Princes [Masters] of Rome. Next Appius took over to himself all the authority of his other colleagues because of the favor he exercised toward the Plebs; for he had made himself so popular with his demonstrations, that it seemed a wonder that he should have so readily taken on a new nature and new genius, having before that time been held to be a cruel persecutor of the Plebs. These Ten conducted themselves civilly, not having more than ten Lictors who walked before the one who had been placed in charge over them. And although they had absolute authority, none the less, having to punish a Roman Citizen for homicide, they cited him before [the sight of] the People and made them judge him.
They [The Ten] wrote the laws on ten tablet, and before confirming them exposed them to the public, so that all could read and discuss them, and so that they might know if there was any defect in order to be able to amend them before confirming them. Upon this Appius caused a rumor [to be spread] throughout Rome, that, if to these ten tablets there were to be added two others, perfection would be given to them, so that this opinion gave the People the opportunity to reappoint the Ten for another year: to which the People willingly agreed, as much so as not to reappoint the Consuls, as also because they hoped to remain without Tribunes, who were the judges of their causes, as was said above. Proceedings being taken, therefore, to re-establish it [The Ten], all the Nobility moved to seek these honors, and among the first was Appius: and he showed so much humanity toward the Plebs in asking for it, that he begun to be suspected by his companions: For they could not believe so much graciousness could exist with so much haughtiness. And being apprehensive of opposing him openly, they decided to do it by artifice: and although he was the youngest of them all, they gave him the authority to propose the future Ten to the People, believing that he would observe the limitations of the others of not proposing himself, it being an unaccustomed and ignominious thing in Rome. He in truth changed the impediment into an opportunity, and nominated himself among the first, to the astonishment and displeasure of all the Nobles. He then nominated nine others to his liking. Which new appointments made for another year, begun to show their error to the People and to the Nobility. For Appius quickly put an end to his alien character, and begun to show his innate haughtiness, and in a few days he filled his colleagues with his own spirits. And in order to frighten the people and the Senate, in place of the twelve Lictors, they created one hundred and twenty. For some days the fear was equal [on both sides], but then they begun to disregard the Senate and beat the Plebs, and if any beaten by one [Decemvir] appealed to another, he was treated worse in the appeal than he had in the first instance. So that the Plebs recognizing their error began, full of affliction, to look to the Nobles, And to capture the aura of liberty, where they had feared servitude, to which condition they had brought the Republic. And this affliction was welcome to the Nobility, That likewise weary of the present, they desired the Consuls. The days that ended the year had come: the two tables of the laws were made, but not published. From this, the Ten took the opportunity to continue their Magistracy, and begun to retain the State through violence and make satellites of the Noble youth, to whom they gave the possessions of those they had condemned: By which gifts these youths were corrupted, and preferred their license to their complete liberty.
It happened at this time that the Sabines and Volscians moved war against the Romans, from the fear of which the Ten Began to discuss the weakness of their State, for without the Senate they could not wage war, and to assemble the Senate seemed to them they would lose their State. But being compelled to they took up this last proceeding, and assembling the Senate, many of the Senators spoke against the haughtiness of the Ten, and in particular Valerius and Horatius: and their authority would have been entirely extinguished except that the Senate, because of envy of the Plebs, was unwilling to show its authority, thinking that if the Ten resigned the magistracy voluntarily, it would be possible that the Tribune of the Plebs might be re-established. Deciding on war, therefore, they sent out two armies, led in part by the said Ten. Appius remained to govern the City: whereupon it happened that he became enamorated of Virginia, and wanting to take her off by force, her father Virginius killed her in order to save her from him: whence tumults ensued in Rome and in the armies, which, having come together with the remnants of the Roman Plebs, went to Mount Sacer, where they stayed until the Ten resigned the Magistracy and the Tribunes and Consuls were re-established, and Rome restored to the form of its ancient liberty.
It is to be noted from this text, therefore, that the evil of creating this Tyranny first arose in Rome for the same reasons that give rise to the greater part of Tyrannies in Cities: and this [results] from the too great desire of the people to be free, and from the too great desire of the Nobles to dominate. And if they do not agree to make a law in favor of liberty, but one of the parties throws its [influence] in favor of one man, then a Tyranny quickly springs up. The People and the Nobles of Rome agreed to create the Ten, and create them with such authority, from the desire which each of the parties had, one to extinguish to Consular office, the other [to extinguish that of] the Tribunate. The Ten having been created, it seemed to the Plebs that Appius had come to [the side of] the People and should beat down the Nobles, [and] the People turned to favor him. And when a People is led to commit this error of giving reputation to one man because he beats down those whom he hates, and if this man is wise, it will always happen that he will become Tyrant of that City. For [together] with the favor of the People he will attend to extinguishing the Nobility, and after they are extinguished he will turn to the oppression of the People until they are also extinguished; and by the time the People recognize they have become enslaved, they will not have any place to seek refuge. This is the path all those have taken who established Tyrannies in Republics: and if Appius had taken this path, his tyranny would have taken on more vitality and would not have been overthrown so readily. But he did everything to the contrary, nor could he have governed more imprudently, that in order to hold the tyranny he made enemies of those who had given it to him and who could maintain it for him, and made friends of those who were not in accord to give it to him and could not maintain it for him; and he lost those who were his friends, and sought to have as friends those who could not be his friends; for although the Nobles desired to tyrannize, yet that part of the Nobility which finds itself outside of the Tyrancy is always hostile to the Tyrant; nor can he ever win them all over to him because of the great ambition and avarice that exists in them, the Tyrant not having riches and honors enough to be able to satisfy them all. And thus Appius in leaving the People and attaching himself to the Nobles, made a most obvious error, both for the reasons mentioned above, and because, in wanting to hold a thing [government] by force, the one who does the forcing needs to be more powerful than he who is forced. Whence it arises that those Tyrants who have the general public as friends and the Nobles as enemies, are more secure, because their violence is sustained by a greater force than that of those men who have the People as an enemy and the Nobility as a friend. For with that favor [of the people] the internal forces are enough to sustain him, as they were enough for Nabis, Tyrant of Sparta, when Greece and the Roman People assaulted him; who, making sure of a few Nobles, and having the People as a friend, he defended himself with them; which he could not do if he had them as an enemy. But the internal forces of the other rank not being enough because there are few friends within it, he must seek [aid] outside. And this may be of three kinds; the one, foreigners as satellites who would guard your person; another, to arm the countryside [and] have them perform the duty that the Plebs should do; the third, to ally oneself with powerful neighbors who would defend you. Whoever has these means and observes them well, although he has the People as his enemy, is able in some way to save himself. But Appius could not accomplish this winning of the countryside over to himself, the countryside and Rome being one and the same thing, and he did not know how to do what he might have done; so that he was ruined at the outset. The Senate and the People made very great errors in this creation of the Decemvirs; for although in that discussion made above of the Dictator, that those Magistrates that are self-constituted, not those whom the People create, are harmful to liberty; none the less the People ought, when they create the Magistrates, do it in such a way that they should have some regard to becoming bad [abusing their power]. But where they should have proposed safeguards for maintaining them good, the Romans removed them, [and] only created the Magistracy [of Ten] in Rome and annulled all the others because of the excessive desire (as we said above) that the Senate had to extinguish the Tribunes, and the Plebs to extinguish the Consuls; this blinded them so that they both contributed to such disorders. For men, as King Ferrando said, often act like certain smaller birds of prey, in whom there is so much desire to pursue their prey to which nature incites them, that they do not observe another larger bird which is above them about to kill them.
It is to be recognized through this discussion, therefore, as we proposed in the beginning, the error which the Roman people made in wanting to save their liberty, and the errors of Appius in wanting to seize the Tyrancy.
In addition to other means ill-used by Appius in order to maintain his tyranny, that of jumping from one quality to another was of no little moment. For his astuteness in deceiving the Plebs by simulating to be a man of the People was well used: those means were also well used in which he caused the Ten to be reappointed: that audacity in nominating himself against the expectation of the Nobility was also well used: the naming of colleagues suitable to him was also well used: but in doing this (according as was said above) what he did was not well used in changing his nature so quickly, and from being a friend showing himself to be the enemy of the Plebs, from being humane to being haughty, from easy [of access] to difficult; and to do this so very readily, that without any excuse everyone should know the falseness of his spirit. For whoever at one time has appeared to be good and wants for purposes of his own to become bad, ought to do it by proper means [gradually], and in a way that they should be conducive to the opportunities, so that before his changed nature takes away old favors from him, it may give him some new ones that his authority may not be diminished; otherwise, finding himself discovered and without friends, he will be ruined.
It should be noted also in the matter of the Decemvirate how easily men are corrupted and make themselves become of a contrary nature, even though [they are] good and well educated; [and], considering how those youths whom Appius had chosen to surround him begun, for the little advantages that followed from it, to be friendly to that tyranny, and that Quintus Fabius, one of the number of the second Ten, being a very good man, [but] blinded by a little ambition and persuaded by the malignity of Appius, changed his good habits into the worst, and became like, him. Which, if well examined, the Legislators of Republics or Kingdoms will more promptly restrain human appetites and take away from them the hope of being able to err with impunity.
From the above written treatise it also is to be considered what a difference there is between a contented army which combats for its own glory, and that which is ill disposed and which combats for the ambitions of others. For where the Roman armies were usually victorious under the Consuls, they always lost under the Decemvirs. From this example there can be recognized part of the reasons of the uselessness of mercenary soldiers, who have no other reason which keeps them firm but a small stipend which you give to them. Which reason is not, and can never be, enough to make them faithful, nor so much your friends that they be willing to die for you. For in those armies where there is not that affection toward the man for whom they combat which makes them become his partisans, there can never be so much virtu which would be enough to resist even an enemy of little virtu. And because this love cannot arise in any contest except from his own subjects, it is necessary in wanting to keep a State, or to want to maintain a Republic or a Kingdom, that he arm himself with his own subjects, as is seen to have been done by all those others who, with their armies, have made great advances. The Roman armies under the Ten had the same virtu as before: but because there was not in them the same disposition, they did not achieve their usual results. But as soon as the Magistracy of the Ten was extinguished and they begun to fight as free men, that same spirit returned in them, and consequently their enterprises had their happy endings according to their ancient custom.
Because of the incident of Virginia the Roman Pleb was led armed to the sacred mountain [Mons Sacer]. The Senate sent its Ambassadors to ask by what authority they had abandoned their Captains and retired to the Mountains. And so much was the authority of the Senate esteemed that, the Plebs not having their chiefs among them, no one dared to reply. And T. Livius says that they did not lack material to reply, but they did lack someone who should make the reply. Which thing demonstrates in point the uselessness of a multitude without a head. This disorder was recognized by Virginius, and by his order twenty military Tribunes were created who would be their chiefs to reply to and convene with the Senate. And having requested that [the Senators] Valerius and Horatius should be sent to them, to whom they would tell their wants, they [the Senators] would not turn to go unless the Ten first had resigned their Magistracy: and having arrived on the mountain where the Pleb was, these things were demanded of them, that they wanted the re-establishment of the Tribunes of the Plebs, [and] that an appeal to the people from every Magistracy should be allowed, and that all of the Ten should be given up to them as they wanted to burn them alive. Valerius and Horatius lauded the first of their demands: they censured the last as impious, saying; You condone cruelty, yet fall yourselves into cruelty, and counselled them to leave off making mention of the Ten, and to attend to taking from them their authority and power, and that afterwards there would not be lacking the means of satisfying them [their vengeance]. From which it is recognized openly how foolish and little prudent it is to ask for a thing, and to say at first, I want to do evil with it: for one ought not to show his mind, but to want in every way to seek to obtain that which he desires. For it is enough to ask from one his arms, without saying I want to kill you with them; for when you have the arms in your hands then you will be able to satisfy your appetite.
The accord having taken place and Rome restored to its ancient form, Virginius cited Appius before the People to defend his cause. He complied accompanied by many Nobles. Virginius commanded that he be put in prison. Appius begun to shout and appeal to the People. Virginius said that he was not worthy of having that [right of] appeal which he had destroyed, nor to have as defender that People whom he had offended. Appius replied that they [the People] had no [right] to violate that appeal which they had established with so much desire. He was incarcerated, however, and before the day of judgment [came] he killed himself. And although the wicked life of Appius should merit every punishment, none the less it was little consistent to violate the laws, and more so one recently made. For I do not believe there is a worse example in a Republic than to make a law and not to observe it, and much more when it is not observed by those who made it.
Florence, after ninety four 1494, having had its State [Government] reorganized with the aid of Brother Girolamo Savonarola (whose writings show the doctrine, prudence, and the virtu of his spirit) and among other provisions for the security of the Citizens having had a law enacted which enabled an appeal to the People from the verdicts which the [Council of] Eight and the Signoria should give in cases affecting the State (which passage took more time and was attained with the greatest difficulty); it happened that a little after the confirmation of this [law], five Citizens were condemned to death by the Signoria on account of [acts against] the State, and when they wanted to appeal, they were not permitted to do so and the law was not observed. Which took away from the Brother more reputation than any other incident; for if that [right of] appeal was useful, he should have had it observed: if it was not useful, he ought not to have had it passed. And so much more was this incident noted, inasmuch as the Brother, in so many preachings that he made after that law was broken, never condemned those who broke it, or excused them, as one who did not want to condemn a thing that suited his purpose, yet was not able to excuse it. This, having uncovered his ambitions and partisan spirit, took away his reputation and caused him many troubles.
A State also offends greatly when every day it renews in the minds of its Citizens new moods because of new injuries which it inflicts on this one and that one, as happened in Rome after the Decemvirate. For all of the Ten and other Citizens were accused and condemned at different times, so that a great fright existed in the Nobility, judging that there would never be an end to such condemnations until all the Nobility was destroyed. And great evils would have been generated in that City, if it had not been foreseen by the Tribune Marcus Duellius, who issued an edict that for one year it would not be licit to cite anyone or to accuse any Roman Citizen; this reassured all the Nobility. Here it is seen how harmful it is to a Republic or to a Prince to keep the minds of their subjects in a state of fear by continuing penalties and suspended offenses. And without doubt no more pernicious order can be held; for men who begin to be apprehensive of having done a capital evil, will secure themselves from perils in every way, and become more audacious and have less regard in attempting new things. It is necessary, therefore, either never to offend any one or to make the offense at a stroke, and afterwards to reassure men and give them cause to quiet and firm the spirit.
The Roman People having recovered their liberty, [and] having returned to their original rank, and having obtained even greater reputation from the many new laws made in corroboration of their power, it appeared reasonable that Rome would for some time become quiet. None the less from experience the contrary was seen, for every day new tumults and new disorders sprung up. And as Titus Livius most prudently renders the cause whence this arose, it does not appear to me outside my purpose to refer in point to his words, where he says that the People or the Nobility always increased their haughtiness when the other was humiliated; and the Plebs remaining quiet within bounds, the young Nobles began to offend them; and the Tribunes were able to make few remedies, because they too were violated. The Nobility, on the other hand, although it seemed to them that their young men were too ferocious, none the less took care to see that if [the law] should be transgressed, it should be transgressed by their own and not by the Plebs. And thus the desire of defending liberty caused each to prevail [raise itself] in proportion as they oppressed the other. And the course of such incidents is, that while men sought not to fear, they begun to make others fear, and that injury which they ward off from themselves, they inflict on another, as if it should be necessary either to offend or to be offended. From this may be seen one way among others in which Republics ruin themselves, and in what way men jump from one ambition to another, and how very true is that sentence which Sallust placed in the mouth of Caesar, That all evil examples have their origin in good beginnings. Those ambitious Citizens (as was said before) who live in a Republic seek in the first instance not to be able to be harmed, not only by private [citizens], but even by the Magistrates: in order to do this, they seek friendships, and to acquire them either by apparently honest means, or by supplying them money or defending them from the powerful: and as this seems virtuous, everyone is easily deceived and no one takes any remedy against this, until he, persevering without hindrance, becomes of a kind whom the Citizen fear, and the Magistrates treat with consideration. And when he has risen to that rank, and his greatness not having been obviated at the beginning, it finally comes to be most dangerous in attempting to pit oneself against him, for the reasons which I mentioned above concerning the dangers involved in abating an evil which has already grown much in a City; so that the matter in the end is reduced to this, that you need either to seek to extinguish it with the hazard of sudden ruin, or by allowing it to go on, enter into manifest servitude, unless death or some accident frees you from him. For when the Citizens and the Magistrates come to the above mentioned limits and become afraid to offend him and his friends, it will not take much effort afterwards to make them judge and offend according to his will. Whence a Republic, among its institutions, ought to have these, to see that its Citizens under an aura of good are not able to do evil, and that they should acquire that reputation which does good and not harm to liberty, as will be discussed by us in its proper place.
The Roman People (as was said above) having become annoyed with the Consular name, and wanting to be able either to choose as Consuls men of the Plebs, or to limit their authority, the Nobility in order not to discredit the Consular authority by either change, took the middle course, and were content that four Tribunes with Consular power be created, who could come from the Plebs as well as from the Nobles. The Plebs were content with this, as it seemed to them to destroy the Consulship and give them a part in the highest ranks. From this a notable case arose, that when it came to the creation of these Tribunes, and they could have selected all Plebs, the Roman people chose all Nobles. Whence Titus Livius says these words: The results of this election show how different minds are when in contention for liberty and for honors, differing according to certain standards when they [have to] make impartial judgments. And in examining whence this can happen, I believe it proceeds from men deceiving themselves in general matters, [and] not so much in particular matters. As a general thing, it appeared to the Roman Pleb that it merited the Consulship because they were the majority in the City, because they bore more of the danger in war, [and] because they were the ones who with their arms maintained Rome free and made it powerful: and this desire seeming to them to be reasonable (as has been said), they turned to obtain this authority by whatever means. But when they had to make a judgment of their particular men, recognized their weaknesses, and judged that none of them should merit that which all together it seemed to them they merited. So that ashamed of them [their own], they had recourse to those who merited it. Of which decision Titus Livius, deservingly admiring it, said these words: Where is there now this modesty and equity, and this loftiness of spirit, which once pervaded all the people?
In corroboration of this there can be cited another notable example which ensued in Capua after Hannibal had defeated the Romans at Cannae: while all Italy was aroused by this defeat, Capua was still in a state of tumult because of the hatred that existed between the People and the Senate: and Pacovius Calanus finding himself at that time in the supreme Magistracy, and recognizing the peril to which that City was exposed because of the tumults, endeavored through his rank to reconcile the Plebs with the Nobility: and having come to this decision, he had the Senate assemble, and narrated to them the hatred which the People had against them, and the dangers to which they were exposed of being killed by them, if the City was given up to Hannibal, as the power of the Romans was afflicted: afterwards he added that if they wanted to leave the managing of this matter to him, he would do so in a way that they would be united together; but, as he wanted to do so, he would lock them inside the palace, and by seemingly giving the people the power to castigate them he would save them. The Senate yielded to this thought, and he called the people to talk to them; and having shut up the Senate in the palace, [and] said to them that the time had come to be able to subdue the haughtiness of the Nobility and avenge themselves for the injuries received from them [the Senate], having them all shut up under his custody: but because he believed they would not want their City to remain without a government, it would be necessary (if they wanted to kill the old Senators) to create new ones. And, therefore, he had put all the names of the Senators into a bourse and would begin to draw them in their presence, and that one after another of those drawn would die after they should find his successor. And beginning to draw one, at his name, there was raised a very great noise, calling him haughty, cruel and arrogant: but when Pacovius requested that they make the exchange, the haranguing completely stopped: and after some time one of the Plebs was nominated, at whose name some begun to whistle, some to laugh, some to speak ill in one way and some in another: and thus there followed one after the other, that all those who were named were judged by them unworthy of the Senatorial rank: so that Pacovius taking this occasion said: Since you judge that this City would be badly off without a Senate, and you cannot agree to make the exchange of Senators, I think it would be well if you reconciled together, because the fear in which the Senators have been has so humbled them that you will now find in them that humanity which you seek for elsewhere. And they agreeing to this, there ensued the union of these orders, and they discovered, when they were constrained to come to the particulars, the deception.
After one thousand four hundred fourteen 1414 when the Princes of the City had been driven from Florence, and no other government having been instituted, but rather a certain ambitious license, and public affairs going from bad to worse, many of the populari seeing the ruin of the City and not understanding the cause, they blamed the ambitions of some powerful one who would feed the disorders in order to be able to make a State to his own liking and take away their liberty: and there were those who went through the loggias and the plazas speaking ill of many Citizens, and threatening them that if they should ever find themselves [members] of the Signoria, they would uncover this deceit of theirs and would castigate them. It often happened that ones like these did ascend to the supreme Magistracy, and when they had risen to that position and saw things more closely, they recognized whence disorders arose, and the dangers that hung over them, and the difficulty of remedying them. And seeing that the times and not the men were causing the disorders, they quickly were of another mind and acted otherwise, because the knowledge of things in particular had taken away that deception which, in the general consideration, they had presupposed. So that those who at first (when he was a private citizen) heard him speak, and afterwards saw them remain quiet in the supreme Magistracy, believed that this resulted not by the more real knowledge of things, but from their having been perverted and corrupted by the Nobles. And as this happened to many men and many times, there arose among them a proverb, which said: These men have one mind in the plaza and another in the palace. Considering, therefore, all that has been discussed, it is seen that the quickest possible way to open the eyes of the People, is by finding a way (seeing that a generality deceives them) in which they should have to descend to particulars, as did Pacovius in Capua and the Senate in Rome. I believe also that it can be concluded that no prudent man ought ever to disregard popular judgment in particular matters, [such as] the distribution of dignities and honors, for in this only the People do not deceive themselves, and if they do some times, it will be rare when they deceive themselves more often than do the few men who have to make such distributions. Nor does it seem to me to be superfluous to show in the following chapter the order which the Senate held in order to deceive the People in its distributions.
When the [Roman] Senate became apprehensive that the Tribunes with Consular power should be created from plebeian men, they took one of two courses: either they caused the more reputable men of Rome to be designated, or by suitable means they [surely] corrupted some sordid and most ignoble Plebeians, who mixed with the plebeians of better quality who usually asked for these offices, so that even they should ask for them. This latter course caused the Plebs to be ashamed of themselves to give it to the latter, and the first [course] made them ashamed to take it away from the former. All of which confirms the proposition of the preceding discussion, where it is shown that the people deceive themselves in general matters, but they do not deceive themselves in particular matters.
How difficult it is in establishing a Republic to provide all those laws that should maintain her free, is very well shown by the progress of the Roman Republic, which notwithstanding that it was established with many laws, first by Romulus, and afterwards by Numa, by Tullus Hostilius, and by Servius, and lastly by the Ten Citizens created for such a purpose, none the less in managing that City new needs were always discovered and it was necessary to create new ordinances; as happened when they created the Censors, who were one of those provisions that aided in keeping Rome free during the time she existed in liberty. For having become arbiters of the customs of Rome, they were the most potent cause why the Romans had retarded the further corruption of themselves. In the creation of this Magistracy they indeed made one error at the start, creating them for five years: but a short time later it was corrected by the prudence of the Dictator Mamercus, who, through new laws, reduced the said Magistracy to eighteen months: which the Censors who were then [aging] in office took so badly, that they deprived Mamercus from [treating with] the Senate: which thing was greatly censured both by the Plebs and the Fathers: and as history does not show whether Mamercus was able to defend himself against this, it must be assumed either that history is defective, or that the institutions of Rome in this part were good; for it is not well that a Republic should be so constituted that a Citizen in order to promulgate a law conforming to a free society could be oppressed without any remedy.
But returning to the beginning of this discussion I say, that for creating such a new Magistracy it ought to be considered that, if those Cities which had their beginnings in liberty but become corrupt by themselves, like Rome, have great difficulty in finding good laws for maintaining themselves free, it is not to be wondered at if those which had their beginnings in servitude find it, not difficult, but impossible ever to organize themselves so that they are able to live securely and quietly; this, as is seen, happened to the City of Florence which, for having had its beginnings subject to the Roman Empire, and having always existed under the government of others, remained subject for a long time and without any thought to [freeing] itself: afterward when the opportunity arrived for her to breathe free, she began to make her institutions, which being mixed with ancient ones that were bad, could not be good: and thus she had gone on managing herself for two hundred years of which there exists a true record, without ever having a State [Government] by which she could truly be called a Republic. And these difficulties which existed in her, have always existed in those Cities that have had beginnings similar to hers. And although many times ample authority was given by public and free suffrage to a few Citizens to be able to reform her, yet they have never organized her for the common good, but always in favor of their own party: which made not for order, but for major disorders in that City. And to come to some particular example I say, that among other things that have to be considered by an establisher of a Republic is to examine into whose hands he places the authority of blood [death] over its own Citizens. This was well constituted in Rome, for there one could ordinarily appeal to the People; and even if an important event should occur where the deferring of an execution through the medium of an appeal should be dangerous, they had recourse to the Dictator, who executed it immediately: to which refuge they never had recourse except in necessity. But Florence and other Cities born as she was (in servitude) had this authority placed in a foreigner, who, sent by a Prince performed such an office. When they afterwards came into liberty, they kept this authority in a foreigner, whom they called Captain. Which (because he was able easily to be corrupted by powerful Citizens) was a pernicious thing. But afterwards changing itself through the changes of governments which they organized, they created the Eight Citizens who should perform the office of that Captain. Which arrangement from bad became worse, for the reasons mentioned at other times, that the few were always ministers of the few and more powerful [citizens].
The City of Venice is guarded from that [abuse], which has [a Council] of Ten Citizens who are able to punish any Citizen without appeal. And as this was not enough to punish the powerful even though they had the authority, they established [the Council] of Forty: And in addition the Council of the Pregadi (which is the highest council) had the power to castigate them. So that lacking an accuser, there was not lacking a judge to keep powerful men in check. It is no wonder, therefore, seeing that in Rome [laws] were made by herself with many prudent men, new causes sprung up every day for which she had to make new laws to maintain her free existence, which, if, in other Cities which had disordered beginnings, such difficulties sprung up, they could never reorganize themselves.
When T. Quintus Cincinnatus and Gnaius Julius Mentus were Consuls in Rome, being disunited, they stopped all the activities of that Republic. When the Senate saw this, they advised the creation of a Dictator, in order that he do that which, because of their [Consuls] discords, they could not do. But the Consuls disagreeing on every other thing, were in accord only on this: not to want to create a Dictator. So that the Senate not having any other remedy had recourse to the aid of the Tribunes, who, with the authority of the Senate, forced the Consuls to obey. Here first is to be noted the usefulness of the Tribunes, who were not only useful in restraining the ambitions which the powerful had against the Plebs, but also that which they employed among themselves. The other, that there ought never to be established in a City the ability of a few to interrupt any of its decisions which are ordinarily necessary in maintaining the Republic. For instance, if you give authority to a Council to make a distribution of honors and offices, or to a Magistracy the administration of a business, it is proper either to impose on them the necessity that they must do it in any case, or to arrange that if they did not want to do it themselves, that another can and ought to do it: otherwise this constitution would be defective and dangerous, as was seen it was in Rome, if the authority of the Tribunes could not have been opposed to the obstinacy of those Consuls.
In the Venetian Republic, the grand Council distributes the honors and offices. It sometimes happened that the general public, either from contempt or from some false suggestions, did not create the successors to the Magistrates of the City and to those who administered their outside Empire. This resulted in a very great disorder, because suddenly both the subject lands and the City itself lacked their legitimate judges, nor could they obtain anything if the majority of that council were not satisfied or deceived. And this inconvenience would have brought that City to a bad end if it had not been foreseen by the prudent Citizens, who taking a convenient opportunity made a law that all the Magistrates who are or should be inside or outside the City should never vacate their offices until exchanges with their successors were made. And thus was removed from that council the evil of being able with peril to the Republic to stop public activities.
Prudent men always make the best of things in their actions, although necessity should constrain them to do them in any case. This prudence was well employed by the Roman Senate when they decided that a public stipend be given to the fighting men, it having been the military custom of they maintaining their own selves. But the Senate seeing that war could not be made for any length of time in this manner, and, because of this, they could neither besiege towns nor lead armies to a distance, and judging it to be necessary to be able to do the one and the other, decided that the said stipends be given: but they did it in such a way that they made the best of that which necessity constrained them to do; and this present was so accepted by the Plebs, that Rome went upside down with joy; for it seemed to them to be a great benefit which they never hoped to have, and which they would never have sought by themselves. And although the Tribunes endeavored to cancel this decree, showing that it was something that aggravated and not lightened the burden (it being necessary to impose tributes to pay this stipend), none the less they could not do much to keep the Plebs from accepting it: which was further increased by the Senate by the method by which they assigned the tributes, for those that were imposed on the Nobles were more serious and larger, and the first [required] to be paid.
It will be seen from the above written discourse, how much credit the Nobility had acquired with the Plebs because of the demonstrations made to their benefit, both by the stipends ordered, as well also as the method of imposing the tributes. If the Nobility had maintained themselves in this order they would have removed every cause for tumult in that City, and this would have taken away from the Tribunes that credit which they had with the Plebs, and consequently their authority. And, truly, there cannot exist in a Republic, and especially in those that are corrupt, a better method, less troublesome and more easily opposed to the ambitions of any Citizen, than to forestall him those ways by which he observes to be the paths to attain the rank he designates. Which method, if it had been employed against Cosimo De’Medici, would have been a much better procedure for his adversaries than to have driven him out of Florence: for if those Citizens who were competing against him had taken his style of favoring the People, they would have succeeded without tumult and without violence in drawing from his hands the arms which he availed himself of most.
Piero Soderini had made a reputation for himself in the City of Florence alone by favoring the General Public; this among the People gave him the reputation as a lover of liberty in the City. And certainly it would have been an easier and more honest thing for those Citizens who envied him for his greatness, [and] less dangerous and less harmful to the Republic, for them to have forestalled him in the ways by which he made himself great, than to want to oppose him in such a way that with his ruin, all the rest of the Republic should be ruined; for if they had taken away from his hands those arms which made him strong (which they could have done easily) they could have opposed him in all the councils and all the public deliberations boldly and without suspicion. And if anyone should reply that if those Citizens who hated Piero made an error in not forestalling him the ways with which he gained reputation for himself among the People, Piero also made an error in not forestalling him those ways by which his adversaries made him be feared: for which Piero merits to be excused, as much because it was difficult for him to have done so, as also because it was not honest for him: For the means with which he was attacked were to favor the Medici, with which favors they beat him and, in the end, ruined him. Piero, therefore, could not honestly take up this part in order that he could destroy that liberty by his good name, to which he had been put in charge to guard: Moreover, these favors not being able to be done suddenly and secretly, would have been most dangerous for Piero; for whenever he should be discovered to be a friend of the Medici, he would have become suspect and hated by the People: whence there arose more opportunities to his enemies to attack him than they had before.
In every proceeding, therefore, men ought to consider the defects and perils which it [presents], and not to undertake it if it should be more dangerous than useful, notwithstanding the result should conform to their decision: for to do otherwise in this case it would happen to them as it happened to Tullius [Cicero], who, wanting to take away the favors from Marcantonio, increased them for him: for Marcantonio having been judged an enemy of the Senate, and having gathered together that great army in good part from the soldiers who had been followers of Caesar’s party, Tullius, in order to deprive him of those soldiers advised the Senate to give authority to Octavian and send him with the army and the Consuls against him [Antony] and join the latter [Octavian], and thus Marcantonio remaining bereft of favor, would easily be destroyed. Which [thing] turned out to the contrary, for Marcantonio won over Octavian to himself, who, leaving Tullius and the Senate, joined him. Which [thing] brought about the complete destruction of the party of the Aristocracy [Patricians]. Which was easy to foresee, and that which Tullius advised should not have been believed, but should have kept account always that name which, with so much glory, had destroyed his enemies and acquired for him the Principality of Rome, and they ought never to have believed they could expect anything from his supporters favorable to liberty.
After conquering the City of the Veienti, there entered into the Roman People the idea that it would be a useful thing for the City of Rome if one half of the Romans should go and live at Veii, arguing that because that City was rich in countryside, full of buildings, and near to Rome, it could enrich the half of the Roman Citizens and not disturb any civil activities because of the nearness of the location. Which thing appeared to the Senate and the wiser Romans so useless and so harmful, that they said freely they would rather suffer death than consent to such a decision. So that this subject coming up for debate, the Plebs were so excited against the Senate that it would have come to arms and bloodshed if the Senate had not made itself a shield of some old and esteemed Citizens, reverence for whom restrained the Plebs so that they did not proceed any further with their insolence. Here, two things are to be noted. The first, that many times, deceived by a false illusion of good, the People desire their own ruin, and unless they are made aware of what is bad and what is good by someone in whom they have faith, the Republic is subjected to infinite dangers and damage. And if chance causes People not to have faith in anyone (as occurs sometimes, having been deceived before either by events or by men), their ruin comes of necessity. And Dante says of his proposition in the discussion he makes in De Monarchia [On Monarchy], that the People many times shout, Life to their death and death to their life. From this unbelief it sometimes happens in Republics that good proceedings are not undertaken, as was said above of the Venetians who, when assaulted by so many enemies could not undertake a procedure of gaining some of them over to themselves by giving to them things taken from others; because of this war was moved against them and a conspiracy of [other] Princes made against them, before their ruin had come.
Considering therefore what is easy and what is difficult to persuade a People to, this distinction can be made: either that which you have to persuade them to represents at first sight a gain or a loss, or truly it appears a courageous or cowardly proceeding: and if, in the things that are placed in front of the people, there is seen a gain even though it is concealed under a loss, and if it appears courageous even though it is hidden beneath the ruin of the Republic, it will always be easy to persuade the multitude to it: and thus it will always be difficult to persuade them of those proceedings where either some usefulness or loss is apparent, even though the welfare and benefit [of the Republic] were hidden under it. This that I have said is confirmed by infinite examples, Roman and foreign, modern and ancient.
For, from this, there arose the evil opinion that sprung up in Rome of Fabius Maximus, who could not persuade the Roman people that it was useless to that Republic to proceed slowly in that war, and to sustain the attack of Hannibal without engaging in battle, because that people judged this proceeding cowardly, and did not see what usefulness there should be in that, and Fabius did not have sufficient cause to demonstrate it to them: and the People are so blinded on these ideas of bravery, that although the Roman People had made that error of giving authority to the Master of the horse of Fabius to enable him to engage in battle, even though Fabius did not want to, and that because of this authority the Roman camp would have been broken up except for the prudence of Fabius which remedied it; this experience was not enough for them, for they afterwards made Varro Consul, not for any of his merits but for having promised throughout all the plazas and public places of Rome to rout Hannibal anytime he should be given the authority. From this came the battle and defeat of Cannae, and almost caused the ruin of Rome. I want to cite on this proposition another Roman example. Hannibal had been in Italy eight or ten years, had filled this province with killings of Romans, when M. Centenius Penula came to the Senate, a very base man (none the less he had some rank in the military), and offered them that if they gave him authority to be able to raise an army of volunteers in any place in Italy he wished, he would in a very short time give them Hannibal, either taken or dead. The demands of this man appeared foolish to the Senate: none the less thinking that if they should deny him this, his request would be later known by the People, that there might arise some tumult, envy, and ill will against the Senatorial order, they conceded it to him; desiring rather to put in danger all those who followed him than to cause new indignation to spring up among the People, knowing how much a like proceeding would be accepted and how difficult it would be to dissuade them. This man, therefore, with an unorganized and undisciplined multitude went to meet Hannibal, and he no sooner had come to the encounter than he, with all his followers, were routed and killed.
In Greece in the City of Athens, Nicias, a most serious and prudent man, never could persuade that people that it would not be good to go and assault Sicily, so that this decision taken against the will of the wise caused the complete ruin of Athens. When Scipio was made Consul and desired the province of Africa, he promised to everyone the ruin of Carthage; when the Senate did not agree to this because of the verdict of Fabius Maximus, he threatened to bring it before the People, as he very well knew that such decisions were liked by the People.
On this proposition an example can be given of our own City, as it was when Messer Ercole Bentivogli, commander of the Florentine forces, together with Antonio Giacomini, after having defeated Bartolomeo D’Alvino at San Vincenti, went to besiege Pisa: which enterprise was decided upon by the People on the brave promises of Messer Ercole, although many of the wise Citizens censured it: none the less there was no remedy, being pushed by that desire of the general public which was based on the brave promises of the commander.
I say, therefore, that there is no easier way to ruin a Republic where the People have authority, than to involve them in a brave enterprise: because where the People are of any importance, they will always accept them, nor will there be anyone of contrary opinion who will know any remedy. But if the ruin of the City results from this, there also and more often results the ruin of the particular Citizens who are in charge of such enterprises: for the People having expected victory, if defeat comes, they do not blame fortune or the impotence of those who commanded, but their wickedness and ignorance, but most of the times they either kill or imprison them, or exile them, as happened to infinite Carthaginian Captains and to many Athenians. Nor do any victories that they might have had in the past benefit them, because they are all cancelled by the present defeat, as happened to our Antonio Giacomini, who, not having conquered Pisa as he promised and the People expected, fell into such popular disgrace that, notwithstanding his past infinite good works, he [was allowed to] live more because of the humanity of those who had authority who defended him from the People than for any other reason.
The second notable item mentioned in the text of the above chapter is, that nothing is so apt to restrain an excited multitude [mob] as the reverence [inspired] by some man of gravity and authority who encounters them; and not without reason Virgil says:
When they saw a man of grave aspect and strong with merit
They became silent, and stood with eager ears.
Therefore, he who is in charge of an army, or he who finds himself in a City where a tumult has arisen, ought to present himself there with as much grace and as honorably as he can, attiring himself with the insignia of his rank which he holds in order to make himself more revered. A few years ago Florence was divided into two factions, who called themselves, thusly, the Frateschi [Brotherly] and Arrabiati [Angered]; and coming to arms, the Frateschi were defeated, among whom was Pagolantonio Soderini, a Citizen greatly reputed in those times; and during those tumults the People went armed to his house to sack it, Messer Francesco, his brother, then Bishop of Volterra and today Cardinal, by chance found himself in the house; who, as soon as he heard the noise and saw the disturbance, dressed himself in his most dignified clothes and over them put on his Episcopal surplice, and went to meet those armed ones, and with his person and his words stopped them: which [thing] was talked about and celebrated throughout the City for many days.
I conclude, therefore, that there is no sounder or more necessary remedy to restrain an excited multitude than the presence of a man who by his presence appears and is revered. It is seen, therefore, (to return to the preceding text) with how much obstinacy the Roman Plebs accepted that proceeding of going to Veii because they judged it useful, but did not recognize the danger that existed underneath this; and that the many tumults which arose there would cause troubles, if the Senate with serious men [and] full of reverence had not restrained their fury.
Although above there has been much discussed that which is to be feared or to be hoped for in corrupt Cities, none the less it does not seem to me outside this subject to consider a decision of the Senate concerning the vow that Camillus had made to give the tenth part of the plunder of the Veienti to Apollo: which plunder having come into the hands of the Roman Pleb, and being unable otherwise to review the account of it, the Senate made and edict that everyone should present to the Republic the tenth part of that which they had plundered. And although such a decision was not put into effect, the Senate afterwards having taken other ways and means for satisfying Apollo in fulfillment for the Pleb, none the less from such decisions it is seen how much the Senate confided in them [the People], and how they judged that no one would not present exactly all that which was commanded of them by the edict. And on the other hand, it is seen how the Pleb did not think of evading the edict in any part by giving less than they ought, but to relieve themselves of this by showing open indignation. This example, together with many others that have been recited above, show how much goodness and religion there was in that People, and how much good there was to be hoped for from them. And, truly, when this goodness does not exist, no good is to be hoped for, as can be hoped for in those provinces which, in these times, are seen to be corrupt, as is Italy above all others, even though France and Spain have their part of such corruption. And, if in those provinces, there are not seen as many disorders as arise in Italy every day, it derives not so much from the goodness of the people (which in good part is lacking) as from having a King who keeps them united, not only by his virtu, but by the institutions of those Kingdoms which are yet unspoiled.
In the province of Germany this goodness and this religion is seen to exist in great [measure] in those People, which makes for the existence of many Republics in freedom, and they so observe the laws that no one from inside or outside dares to attack them. And that this is true that in their kingdom there yet exists a good part of that ancient goodness, I would like to give an example similar to that given above of the Senate and the Roman Pleb. When it occurred in those Republics that they had to spend any quantity of money for public account, those Magistrates or Councils who had the authority imposed on all the inhabitants of the City [a tax] of one or two percent of what each one had of value. And such decision being made in accordance with the laws of the land everyone presented himself before the collectors of this impost, and first taking an oath to pay the right sum, he threw into a box provided for that purpose that which it appeared to him according to his conscience he ought to pay: to which payment there was no witness other than he who paid. From which it can be conjectured how much goodness and how much religion still exists in those people. And it ought to be noted that every one paid the true amount, for if it had not been paid, the impost would not have yielded that amount which they had planned in accordance with previous ones that had been taken, and if they had not yielded [this amount], the fraud would be recognized, and if it had been recognized other means than this would have been taken. Which goodness is much more to be admired in these times as it is very rare; rather, it is seen to be remaining only in that province: which result from two things; the one, that they do not have great commerce with their neighbors, for others have not come to their homes nor have they gone to the homes of others, but have been content with those goods, live on those foods, clothe themselves with the wool which the country provides, which has taken away any reason for intercourse and [consequently] the beginning of any corruption: hence they have not been able to take up the customs of the French, of the Spanish, or of the Italians, which nations all together are the corrupters of the world. The other cause, is that that Republic, whose political existence is maintained uncorrupted, does not permit that any of its Citizens to be or live in the manner of a Gentleman, instead maintain among themselves a perfect equality, and are the greatest enemies of those Lords and Gentlemen who are in that province: and if, by chance, any should come into their hands, they kill them as being Princes of corruption and the cause of every trouble.
And to clarify what is [meant by] this name of Gentleman, I say that those are called Gentlemen who live idly on the provisions of their abundant possessions, without having any care either to cultivate or to do any other work in order to live. Such as these are pernicious to every Republic and to every Province: but more pernicious are those who, in addition to the above mentioned fortune, also command castles, and have subjects who obey them. Of these two sorts of men, the Kingdom of Naples, the Lands of Rome, the Romagna, and Lombardy, are full. From which it happens that there never has been a Republic in those provinces, nor any political existence [system], because such kinds of men are all enemies of every civil society. And in provinces so constituted, to want to introduce a Republic would be impossible. But only an arbiter [monarch] would recognize it, and he would have no other means but to establish a Kingdom: the reason is this, that when the body of people is so corrupted that the laws are not sufficient to restrain it, there needs to be established there that superior force, which is the Royal hand that, with absolute and full power, places a restraint to the excessive ambitions and corruption of the Powerful. This [cause] is verified by the example of Tuscany, where one sees in a small extent of land there have existed for a long time three Republics, Florence, Siena, and Lucca; and although the other Cities of that Province are in a way subject to these, yet, by their spirit and their institutions, it is seen that they maintain, or attempt to maintain, their liberty: all of which arises from there not being any lords of castles in that province, and few or no Gentlemen: but there exists so much equality, that it would be easy for a prudent man who had knowledge of ancient civilizations, to introduce a civil government there. But its misfortunes have been so great, that up to these times not any one has come forth who has been able to or known how to do it.
From this discussion, therefore, this conclusion is drawn, that he who would want to establish a Republic where there are many Gentlemen, cannot do so unless first he extinguishes them all; and that he who would want to establish a Kingdom or a Principality where there is great equality, will never be able to do so unless he withdraws from that equality many of the ambitious and unquiet spirits, and makes them Gentlemen in fact and not in name, giving them castles and possessions, as well as giving them aid of men and money, so that surrounded by these he can through them maintain his power, and they through his support can maintain their ambitions, and the others constrained to endure that yoke which force and nothing else could make them endure. And, because of this, there being a proportion of those who force and those who are forced, each man will remain firm in his rank. And as the establishing of a Republic in a province better adapted to being a Kingdom, or to establishing a Kingdom in one better adapted to being a Republic, is a matter for one who in brains and authority is rare, there have been many who have wanted to do so, but few only who have known how to bring it about. For the greatness of the undertaking in part frightens them and in part stops them, so that they fail in the very beginning. I believe that this opinion of mine, that a Republic cannot be established where there are Gentlemen, appears contrary to the experience of the Venetian Republic, in which none could have any rank except those who were Gentlemen. To which it is answered that this example does not oppose it, for the Gentlemen in that Republic are more so in name than in fact, as they do not have great incomes from possessions, their riches being founded on commerce and movable property: and, in addition, none of them have castles or any jurisdiction over men; but in them that name of Gentleman is a name of dignity and reputation, without being based on those things on which men are called Gentlemen in other Cities. And as other Republics have all their divisions [of classes] under various names, so Venice is divided into Gentlemen and Popolari, and wants that the former can have all the honors, from which all others are entirely excluded. This does not cause disorders in those towns for the reasons mentioned at other times. Republics, therefore, can be established where a great equality exists or can be established, and, on the contrary, a Principality can be established where a great inequality exists; otherwise they will lack proportion and have little durability.
Whence it arises I do not know, but from ancient and modern examples it is seen that no great event ever takes place in a City or a Province that has not been predicted either by fortune tellers, by revelations, by prodigies, or by other celestial signs. And in order for me not to go distant from home in proving this, everyone knows how the coming of King Charles VIII of France into Italy was predicted by Brother Girolamo Savonarola, and how in addition to this it was said throughout Italy that at Arezzo there had been seen in the air men-at-arms battling together. In addition to this, everyone knows how, before the death of Lorenzo De’Medici the elder, the Duomo was hit in its highest part by a bolt from the skies which very greatly damaged that edifice. Also everyone knows how, a little while before Piero Soderini, who had been made Gonfalonier for life by the Florentine people, had been driven out and deprived of his rank, the palace was struck in the same manner by a [lightning] stroke. I could cite other examples in addition to these, which I will omit to avoid tedium. I shall narrate only that which T. Livius tells of before the coming of the French [Gauls] to Rome, that is, how one Marcus Creditus, a Pleb, reported to the Senate that, passing at midnight through the Via Nova [New Road], he had heard a voice louder than human which admonished him that he should report to the Magistrates that the Gauls were coming to Rome. The cause of this I believe should be discussed and interpreted by a man who has knowledge of natural and supernatural things, which I have not. But it could be, as some Philosophers hold, that this air being so full of spirits, having an intelligence which by natural virtu foresee future events, and having compassion for men, so that they can warn them by such signs to prepare for defense. But, however it may be, such is the truth, [and] that always after such incidents there follows things extraordinary and new in the provinces.
There were many Romans (after the ruin of their country had ensued because of the passage of the Gauls) who had gone to live at Veii contrary to the constitution and orders of the Senate, which, in order to remedy this disorder, commanded through its public edicts that everyone within a certain time and under certain penalties should return to inhabit Rome. Which edict at first was made light of by those against whom it was made, but afterwards when the time came for obeying it, they all obeyed. And Titus Livius said these words, From being ferocious when together, fear made them individually obedient. And truly this part of the nature of the multitude cannot be better shown than by this sentence. For the multitude many times is audacious in speaking against the decision of their Prince: but afterwards, when they see the penalty in sight, not trusting one another, they run to obey. So that it is certainly to be seen that whatever may be said of a People about their good or bad disposition, ought not to be held of great account, if you are well prepared to be able to maintain your authority if they are well disposed, and if they are ill-disposed, to be able to provide that they do not attack you. This refers to those evil dispositions which the People have from causes other than their having lost either their liberty or their Prince much loved by them, but who is still living: for the evil dispositions that arise from these causes are formidable above every thing, and have need of great remedies to restrain them: their indispositions from other [causes] are easily managed if they do not have Chiefs to whom they have recourse, for, on the one hand, there is nothing more formidable than a multitude loose and without a Head, and on the other hand, there is nothing weaker, because whenever they have arms in their hands it is easy to subdue them, if you have a shelter which enables you to avoid their first attack: for when their spirits are cooled down a little, and each one sees that he has to return to his house, they begin to be distrustful of themselves, and to think of their individual safety either by fleeing or surrendering themselves. A multitude so excited, therefore, in wanting to escape these perils, has promptly to make a Head among themselves, who would control it, keep it united, and think of its defense, as the Roman plebs did when, after the death of Virginius, they departed from Rome, and to save themselves created twenty Tribunes from among themselves: and if they do not do this, it will always happen as T. Livius said in the above written words, that all together they are strong, but when each one then begins to think of his own peril, they become vile and weak.
Nothing is more vain and more inconstant than the multitude, so our T. Livius and all other Historians affirm. For it often occurs in narrating the actions of men to observe the multitude to have condemned some one to death, and that same [multitude] afterwards weeping and very much wishing him back; as is seen the Roman people did in the case of Manlius Capitolinus, who, having condemned him to death, afterwards most earnestly desired him back. And the words of the author are these: As soon as they knew there was no peril from, they desired to have him back. And elsewhere, where he tells of the incidents which arose in Syracuse after the death of Hieronymus, nephew of Hiero, says: It is the nature of multitude, either to serve humbly, or to dominate haughtily. I do not know, in wanting to defend a thing which (as I have said) is accused by all writers, if I were to undertake a cause so hard and full of difficulty, that I would have either to abandon it in shame, or to go on with it burdensomely. But however it may be, I do not judge, or will ever judge, it to be a defect to defend any opinion with arguments, without wanting to employ either authority or force.
I say, therefore, the individual men, and especially Princes, can be accused of that defect which the writers accuse the multitudes; for anyone who is not controlled by the laws, will make the same errors as a loose multitude. And this can be easily observed, for there are and there have been many Princes, but of the good and wise ones there have been only a few, I say, of those Princes who have been able to break that restraint which could control them; among whom are not those Kings who arose in Egypt in that ancient period when that province was governed by laws, nor those who arose in Sparta, nor those who have risen in France in our times, which Kingdom is more regulated by laws than any other Kingdom of our times of which there is knowledge. And these Kingdoms which arise under such constitutions are not to be placed in that number whence the nature of each man individually has to be considered, and to see if he is like the multitude; for alongside them there ought to be placed a multitude controlled by laws in the same way as they [the Kings] were, and the same goodness will be found in them as we see in [the Kings], and we will see that they serve neither haughtily nor humbly; as was the Roman People, who while the Republic remained incorrupt, never served humbly or ruled insolently, but rather with its institutions and Magistracies held its rank honorably. And when it was necessary to spring up against a powerful one who was harming them, they did so, as was seen with Manlius and the Ten, and others who sought to oppress them; and so also when it was necessary for the public safety to obey the Dictators and Consuls. And if the Roman People desired Manlius Capitolinus after his death, it is not to be wondered at, for they desired his virtu, which had been such that the memory of them brought compassion to everyone, and would have had the power to cause that same result in any Prince, for it is the verdict of all writers that virtu is lauded and admired even in ones enemies: and if so much desire could have restored him, the Roman people would have given him the same judgment as they did when they took him from prison, a little before they condemned him to death: and as was also seen of Princes held to be wise, who have had some persons put to death and then greatly regretted it, as Alexander with Clitus and his other friends, and Herod with Mariamne: But that which our Historian says of the nature of the multitude, he does not say of those who were regulated by laws, such as were the Romans, but of an unbridled multitude, as was that of Syracuse, which made those errors which infuriated and unbridled men make, and as Alexander and Herod did in the abovementioned cases.
The nature of the multitude, therefore, is not to be blamed any more than that of Princes, for they all err equally when they all are able to err without control. Of which, in addition to what I have said, there are many examples, both from among the Roman Emperors and from among other Tyrants and Princes, where so much inconstancy and recklessness of life is observed, as is ever found in any multitude. I conclude therefore, contrary to the common opinion which says that the People, when they are Princes, are changeable and ungrateful, affirming that there are no more of these defects in them than there are in particular Princes: And to accuse the People and the Princes together can be the truth; but to except the Princes would be a deception: For a People that commands and is well organized will be stable, prudent, grateful, and not otherwise than a Prince, or even better than a Prince, although he be esteemed wise. And on the other hand, a Prince loosened from the [control] of the laws, will be ungrateful, inconstant, and more imprudent than a people. And that difference in their proceedings arises, not from the different nature, (for it is the same in everyone, and if there is an advantage for good, it is in the People) but from the more or less respect they have for the laws under which one and the other live. And whoever considers the Roman people will see that for four hundred years they have been enemies of the name of Royalty and lovers of glory and of the common good of their country: He will see so many examples employed by them which testify to the one thing and the other. And if anyone should allege to me the ingratitude that they [the Roman people] showed against Scipio, I will reply that which was discussed above at length on this subject, where it has been shown that people are less ungrateful than Princes. But as to prudence and stability, I say, that a people is more prudent, more stable, and of better judgment than a Prince: And not without reason is the voice of the people like that of God, for a universal opinion is seen causes marvelous effects in its prognostication, so that it would seem that by some hidden virtu, evil or good is foreseen. As to the judging of things, it is rarely seen that when they hear two speakers who hold opposite views, if they are of equal virtu, they do not take up the the better opinion, and they are capable of seeing the truth in what they hear. And if (as has been said above) they err in things concerning bravery, or which appear useful, a Prince also errs many times in his own passions, which are much greater than those of the people. It will also be seen that in the election of their magistrates, they make by far a better selection than a Prince, but a people will never be persuaded that it is better to bring to that dignity a man of infamous and corrupt habits: to which a Prince may be persuaded easily and in a thousand ways. It will be seen that when a people begin to hold a thing in horror, they remain in that opinion for many centuries, which is not seen in a Prince. And on both of these two things, the testimony of the Roman people will suffice for me, who, in so many hundreds of years, in so many elections of Consuls and Tribunes, they did not make four elections of which they had to repent. And (as I have said) they held the name of Royalty in so much hatred, that no obligation to any of its Citizens who should seize that title would enable him to escape the merited penalty. In addition to this, it will be seen that the Cities where the people are Princes, make the greatest progress in the shortest time and much greater than those who have always been under a Prince, as Rome did after the driving out of the Kings, and Athens did after they were free of Pisistratus. Which cannot arise except that those governments of the people are better than those of the Princes.
Nor do I want that there should be opposed to my opinion all that which our Historian has said in the aforementioned text and in any other; for if there should be discussed all the disorders of the People, all the disorders of the Princes, all the glories of the People, all those of the Princes, it will be seen that the People are far superior in goodness and in glory. And if Princes are superior to the people in instituting laws, forming civil governments, make new statutes and ordinances, the People are so much superior in maintaining the institutions which will add to the glory of those who established them.
And in sum to epilogue this material, I say that the States of the Princes have lasted a long time, the States of the Republics have lasted a long time, and both have had need to be regulated by laws; for a Prince who can do what he wants is a madman, and a People which can do as it wants to is not wise. If, therefore, discussion is to be had of a Prince obligated by laws, and of a People unobligated by them, more virtu will be observed in the People than in Princes: if the discussion is to be had of both loosened [from such control], fewer errors will be observed in the People than in the Princes, and those that are fewer have the greater remedies: For a licentious and tumultuous People can be talked to by a good man, and can easily be returned to the good path: [but] there is no one who can talk to a Prince, nor is there any other remedy but steel [sword]. From which the conjecture can be made of the maladies of the one and the other: that if words are enough to cure the malady of the People, and that of the Prince needs the sword, there will never be anyone who will not judge that where the greater cure is required, they are where the greater errors exist. When a People is indeed unbridled, the foolishness that they do is not to be feared, nor is fear to be had of the present malady, but of that which can arise, a Tyrant being able to rise up amidst so much confusion. But the contrary happens in the case of bad Princes, where the present evil is feared, and there is hope for the future, men persuading themselves that the [termination] of their lives can make liberty spring up. Thus the difference between the one and the other is seen, that one concerns things that are, the other of things that will be. The cruelties of the multitude are [directed] against those whom they fear will oppose the common good, those of a Prince are [directed] against those whom he fears will oppose his own good. But the opinion against the People arises because everyone speaks evil of the people freely and without fear even while they reign; of the Princes they talk with a thousand fears and a thousand apprehensions. And it does not appear to me to be outside this subject (for this matter draws me there) to discuss in the following chapter whether alliances made with a Republic, or those made with a Prince, can be trusted.
As there occurs every day that Princes or Republics make leagues and friendships between themselves, and also similarly alliances and accords are drawn between a Republic and a Prince, it appears to me proper to examine whose faith is more stable, and which ought to be held more in account, that of a Republic or that of a Prince. In examining everything, I believe that in many cases they are the same, and in some there is a difference. I believe, therefore, that accords made by force will not be observed either by a Prince or by a Republic: I believe that when fear of [losing] the State comes to pass, both will break the faith in order not to lose it, and will serve you ingratitude. Demetrius, who was called Conqueror of Cities, had given infinite benefits to the Athenians: it happened that later, having been routed by his enemies and taking refuge in Athens as a City friendly and obligated to him, was not received by her: which saddened him much more than had the loss of his forces and his army; Pompey, having been routed by Caesar in Thessaly, took refuge in Egypt with Ptolemy, who, in the past he had reinstated in his Kingdom, but was put to death by him. Which instances, it is seen, have the same reasons; none the less it was more humanely employed by a Republic and with less injury, than by the Prince. Where there is fear, therefore, there will be found in each the same [loss of] faith. And if in either a Republic or a Prince it is found that they observe the faith even if ruin may be expected, this also may arise from similar reasons. For it can very well occur that a Prince, who is a friend of a powerful Prince [and] who may not then have the opportunity to defend him, can hope that with time he [the latter] will restore his Principality to him; or believe he will find either faith or accords with his enemies. Of this kind have been the Princes of the Kingdom of Naples who have followed the French side. And as for Republics, Saguntum in Spain was of this kind, which hazarded her own ruin in order to follow the Roman side, and with Florence in MDXII 1512 in order to follow the French side. And I believe, taking everything into account, that in such cases where danger is imminent, there will be found greater stability in the Republics than in Princes: For even if the Republics had the same spirit and the same wants as Princes, their movements being slower will always make them take longer to form resolutions than Princes, and because of this they will be less prompt in breaking their faith.
Alliances are broken for usefulness. In this, Republics are more careful in the observance of accords than Princes. And it is possible to cite examples where a minimum of usefulness has caused a Prince to break his faith, and where a great usefulness has not caused faith to be broken by a Republic; as was that proceeding which Themosticles proposed to the Athenians, to whom in his speech he said he had a counsel that would be of great usefulness to their country, but could not tell it so as not to disclose it for discovering it would take away the opportunity of doing it. Whence the people of Athens elected Aristedes to whom he should confide the matter, and according to which they would later decide as it might appear to them: whereupon Themosticles showed that the fleet of all Greece, although they were under their faith, was in such a position that they could easily win it for themselves or destroy it, which would make the Athenians the arbiters of that Province. Whence Aristedes reported back to the people that the proposal of Themosticles was most useful, but most dishonest: for which reason the people rejected it entirely, which would not have been done by Philip the Macedonian and the other Princes who had looked for more usefulness, and who had gained more by breaking the faith than by any other means.
Of the breaking of pacts because of some cause for non-observance, I will not speak, as it is an ordinary thing: but I will talk of those that are broken for extraordinary reasons, where I believe, from the things said, that the people make fewer errors than Princes, and because of this, they can be trusted more than Princes.
And it is to be seen from the course of History that the Roman Republic, after the Consulship came to the Pleb, admitted all its Citizens [to this dignity] without regard to age or blood [birth], even though the regard to age never existed in Rome as they always went to find virtu, whether it was in young men or old. This is seen from the testimony of Valerius Corvinus who was made Consul at twenty three years [of age]; and Valerius said, talking to his soldiers, that the Consulship was the reward of virtu, not of blood. Which thing can be much discussed, whether or not it is well considered. As to blood [birth], this was conceded because of necessity, and this same necessity which existed in Rome would also be found in every City that wanted to have the same success as Rome had, as has been said at another time; for hardships cannot be given to men without reward, nor can the hope of obtaining the reward be taken away without peril. And it was proper, therefore, that the plebs should have the hope of obtaining the Consulship, and that they should nourish this hope for a time, without attaining it: When afterward the hope was not enough, they had to arrive at that result [the Consulship]. The City that does not admit its Plebs to any of its glory, can treat them in their own way, as has been discussed elsewhere; but that City which wants to accomplish that which Rome did, cannot make this distinction.
And given that it is so [as regards birth], the question of age needs no reply, rather it is necessarily disposed of; for in electing a young man to a rank which has need of the prudence of an old man, it happens (the multitude having to elect him) that he should come to that rank through some noble action that he should make. And when a young man is of such great virtu as to have made himself known by some notable thing, it would be a very harmful thing if that City should not then be able to avail itself of him, and that it should have to wait until he should have aged [and] that age deprive him of that vigor of spirit and activity of which [at that age] his country should avail itself, as Rome availed itself of Valerius Corvinus, of Scipio, of Pompey, and of many other who triumphed when very young.
Last updated Monday, December 22, 2014 at 10:52