It is a most true thing that all the things of the world have to have an ending to their existence. But these only run the entire course that is generally ordained by Heaven, which does not disorganize their body, but keeps it so organized that it is not changed, or if it is changed, it is for its welfare and not its injury. And as I speak here of mixed bodies, as are Republics and [Religious] Sects, I say that those changes are for the better which bring them back to their [original] principles. And, therefore, those are better organized and have a longer existence, which through their own means are able frequently to renew themselves, or which through some accident outside the said organization come to that renewal. And it is something clearer than light, that these bodies which do not renew themselves, do not endure. The means of renewing them (as has been said), is to bring them back to their [original] principles. For all the principles of Sects and Republics and of Kingdoms must have within themselves some goodness, by means of which they obtain their first reputation and first expansion. And as in the process of time that goodness becomes corrupted, of necessity it will kill the body, unless something intervenes to bring it back to the sign [normality]. And Doctors of medicine say (speaking of the bodies of men): Every day something is gathered, and when it is ill, it must be cured.
This turning back to principles (speaking of Republics) is caused either by an extrinsic accident or by an intrinsic prudence. As to the first, it is seen how necessary it was that Rome should be taken by the Gauls to want to be reborn, and being reborn should resume a new life and a new virtu, and should resume the observance of Religion and Justice, which were beginning to blemish themselves in her. This is very well known from the history of Livius, where he shows that in calling out the army against the Gauls, and in creating the Tribunes with Consular power, they did not observe any religious ceremony. Thus in the same way they not only did not deprive the Fabii [of their rank], who, contrary to the law of nations, had fought against the Gauls, but created them Tribunes. And it ought easily to be presupposed that they had begun to hold in less account those good institutions established by Romulus and those other prudent Princes, than what was reasonable and necessary to keep their liberty. This blow from the outside had to come, therefore, so that all the institutions of that City should be resumed, and that it should be shown to those people that it was not only necessary to maintain Religion and Justice, but also to esteem their good Citizens, and to take more account of their virtu than of that convenience which, because of their work, seemed to be lacking to them. Which is seen succeeded entirely, for as soon as Rome was retaken they renewed all the institutions of their ancient Religion, punished the Fabii who had fought against the law of nations, and then esteemed highly the virtu and goodness of Camillus that the Senate and the others put aside all envy, placing again on him all the burden of this Republic.
It is necessary, therefore, (as has been said) that men who live together in some kind of organization, often know each other either by these external incidents, or by internal ones. And as to these latter, it happens that they arise either from a law which often reviews the conduct of the men who are in that body, or truly by some good man who arises amongst them, who by his example and his deeds of virtu causes the same effect as that institution. This good then springs up in Republics either from the virtu of one man or from the virtu of one institution. As to the latter, the institutions that returned the Roman Republic back to its [original] principles was the Tribunes of the Plebs, and all the other laws that curbed the ambitions and insolence of men. Which institutions have need to be kept alive by the virtu of one Citizen who will courageously take part in their execution against the power of those who transgress them.
The most notable examples of such execution of the laws, before the taking of Rome by the Gauls, were the death of the sons of Brutus, the death of the ten Citizens [Decemvirs], and that of Melius, the grain dealer; and after the taking of Rome were the death of Manlius Capitolinus, the death of the son of Manlius Torquatus, the punishment inflicted by Papirius Cursor on Fabius, his Master of Cavalry, and the accusation of Scipio. As these were the extreme and most notable examples, each time one arose, it caused the people to turn back to their principles; and when they began to be more rare, they begun also to give men more latitude in becoming corrupt, and the carrying out of the laws was done with more danger and more tumults. So that from one such execution to another, no more than ten years should elapse, for beyond this time men begin to change their customs and transgress the laws; and unless something arises which recalls the punishment to their memory, and revives the fear in their minds, so many delinquents will soon come together that they cannot any longer be punished without danger.
In connection with this subject, those who governed the State of Florence, from the year one thousand four hundred thirty four 1434 until the year one thousand four hundred ninety four 1494 said that it was necessary to resume the government every five years, otherwise it would be difficult to maintain it: and they called “the resuming of the government” to put the same fear and terror in men as they had done in the assuming of it, having in that time punished those who (according to that mode of living) had conducted themselves badly. But as the memory of that punishment fades, men become bold to try new things and speak ill of it [the government], and therefore it is necessary to provide against this, by bringing [the government] back to its original principles. This return of Republics back to their principles also results from the simple virtu of one man, without depending on any law that excites him to any execution: none the less, they are of such influence and example that good men desire to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life contrary to those examples. Those particularly, who in Rome produced these good results, were Horatius Codes, Scaevola, Fabricus, the two Decii, Regulus Attilius, and some others, who by their rare examples of virtu produced almost the same effect in Rome that laws and institutions would have done. And if the above executions, together with these particular examples had been followed at least every ten years in that City, it would have followed of necessity that it would never have been corrupt: but as they caused both these things to become rare, corruption began to multiply, for, after Marcus Regulus, no similar example is seen: and although the two Cato’s had sprung up in Rome, so great was the interval between him [Regulus] and them, and between the one and the other [Cato], and they were so isolated instances, that they could not effect any good work by their good examples. And especially the later Cato, who, finding the City in good part corrupt, was not able by his example to make the Citizens become better. And this is enough as regards Republics.
But as to the Sects, such renewal is also seen to be necessary by the examples of our religion, which, if it had not been brought back to its principles by Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, would have been entirely extinguished: for by their poverty and by their example of the life of Christ, brought it back to the minds of men where it had already been extinguished; and their new orders were so powerful, that they were the reason why the dishonesty of Prelates and the Heads of the Religion did not ruin her; they yet continue to live in poverty and have so much credit with the people through confessions and preachings, that they were able to make them understand that it was evil to speak evil of the bad, and that it was good to live rendering them obedience, and if they had made errors to leave their punishment to God. And thus these bad [rulers] do as much evil as they can, because they do not fear that punishment they do not see or believe. This renewal [of Saint Francis and Saint Dominic] therefore has maintained and still maintains this Religion. Kingdoms also have need to renew themselves and bring their laws back to first principles. And it is seen how much good resulted from such a renewal in the Kingdom of France, which Kingdom exists under laws and ordinances more than any other Kingdom. The Parliaments are the maintainers of these laws and ordinances, and especially that of Paris; [and] these are renewed by them at any time by an execution against a Prince of that Kingdom, and at times even by condemning the King in some of his decisions. And up to now it has maintained itself because it has been an obstinate executor against that nobility: but if at any time they should allow some [disorder] to go on with impunity, and which would then come to be multiplied, and without doubt there would result either that the [evildoers] would be corrected with [accompanying] great disorders, or that the Kingdom itself would be dissolved.
I conclude, therefore, that there is nothing more necessary in a community of men, either as a Sect, or Kingdom, or Republic, than to restore it to that reputation that it had at its beginning, and to endeavor to obtain either good ordinances or good men to bring about such a result, and not to have an extrinsic force do it. For although some time this may be the best remedy, as it was at Rome, it is so dangerous that it is in no way desirable. But to show to anyone how much the actions of some men in particular had made Rome great and caused many good results in that City, I shall come to the narration and discussion of them, among the objects of which this third book and last part of the first Ten [Books] will be concluded. And although the actions of the Kings were great and notable, none the less, as history treats of them fully, we will leave them aside, nor otherwise speak of them, except where some of the things worked openly for their private advantage, and we shall begin with Brutus, the father of Roman liberty.
No one was ever so prudent, or was esteemed so wise for any singular deed of his, as Junius Brutus merited to be esteemed for his simulation of foolishness. And although Titus Livius did not mention but one reason that had induced him to such simulation, which was that he might be able to live in greater security and maintain his patrimony, none the less, considering his method of proceeding, it can be believed that he had simulated this also in order to be less observed and to have greater opportunity to attack the Kings, and liberate his country whenever he should be given the occasion. And that he should think of this, is seen, first, in his interpretation of the oracle of Apollo, when he simulated falling down to kiss the earth, judging by that to propitiate the Gods to his thoughts; and afterwards, when on the occasion of the death of Lucretia, in the midst of the father and husband and other relatives of hers, he was the first to draw the knife from the wound, and make all those around there swear that they should henceforth suffer no one to reign [as King] in Rome.
From this example, all who are discontent with a Prince have to learn that they first ought to weigh and measure their strength, and if they are so powerful that they can declare themselves his enemies and openly make war against him, they ought to employ this method that is less dangerous and more honorable. But if they are of a kind that their strength is not sufficient to make open war on him, they ought with all industry to seek to make him a friend, and to this purpose employ all the means they deem necessary, adopting his pleasures and taking delight in all those things that come to delight him. This intimacy will first enable you to live securely and without bringing on any danger, it makes you enjoy the good fortune of that Prince with him, and will afford you every convenience to satisfy your spirit [of resentment]. It is true that some say that one should not keep so close to Princes that their ruin should encompass you, or so distant that if they are ruined, you should not be long in rising on their ruin; which middle course would be the truest if it could be preserved: but as I. believe that is impossible, it must come to the two methods mentioned above, that is, to get away from or come closer to them: who does otherwise, and is a man notable for his quality, lives in continuous danger. Nor is it enough for him to say, I do not care for anything, I do not desire honors or profit, I want to live quietly and without trouble, for these excuses are heard and not accepted: nor can men of such quality elect their own way of living, [and] if they could elect it truly and without ambition, they would not be believed: so that if they wanted to live in that manner, they would not be allowed to do so by others.
It is advantageous, therefore, to play the fool as Brutus did, and one is made to be very foolish by praising, talking, seeing and doing things contrary to your thinking, to please the Prince. And as I have not spoken of the prudence of this man in recovering the liberty of Rome, we will now speak of his severity in maintaining it.
The severity of Brutus was no less necessary than useful in maintaining that liberty in Rome which she had acquired; which is an example rare in all the record of history to see a father to sit in judgment, and not only condemn his sons to death, but to be present at their deaths. And this will always be known by those who read ancient history, that after a change of State, either from a Republic to a Tyranny, or from a Tyranny to a Republic, a memorable execution against the enemies of the existing conditions is necessary. And whoever restores liberty to a State and does not kill Brutus, and whoever restores liberty to a State and does not kill the sons of Brutus, maintains himself only a short time. And as this has been discussed at length in another place above, I refer to what has already been said there: I will cite only one memorable example which has occurred in our times and in our country. And this is that of Piero Soderini, who believed with his patience and goodness that he would be able to overcome that same determination that was in the sons of Brutus to return to another form of government, and he was deceived: And although because of his prudence he recognized this necessity, and that chance and their ambition which drove them, gave them the opportunity to destroy themselves, none the less his courage never allowed him to do it. For he thought, in addition to his belief of being able to dispel the bad disposition with patience and goodness, and to consume some of the enmity of someone by rewards (and many times he had done so with faithful friends) that to want boldly to drive out his opposition and beat down his adversaries, it would oblige him to assume extraordinary authority and legally destroy civil equality. Which thing (even though it should not afterward be used tyrannically by him) would have so terrified the general public, that after his death they would never again agree to reelect a Gonfalonier for life: which institution he judged was good for strengthening and maintaining the government. Which respect [for the laws] was wise and good: none the less one ought never to allow an evil to run on out of regard for a good, when that good could easily be suppressed by that evil: And he ought to bear in mind that his deeds and his intentions should have to be judged by the results (if fortune and life would stay with him), that he could certify to everyone that that which he had done was for the welfare of the country, and not from him ambition; and he could have regulated things in a way that a successor of his could not be able to do by evil means that which he had done for good. But the first opinion deceived him, not knowing that malignity is not subdued by time, nor placated by any gift. So that by not knowing how to imitate Brutus, he lost at the same time his country, his State, and his reputation.
And as it is a difficult thing to save a republic, so it is difficult to save a Monarchy, as will be shown in the following chapter.
The death of Tarquinius Priscus caused by the sons of Ancus, and the death of Servius Tullus caused by Tarquinius Superbus, shows how difficult and perilous it is to despoil one of a Kingdom, and leave him alive, even though he should seek to win him over to himself by benefits. And it will be seen how Tarquinius Priscus was deceived by the seemingly legal possession of that Kingdom, it having been given to him by the people and confirmed by the Senate. Nor could he believe that the sons of Ancus could have so much resentment that they would not be content with him [as ruler], of whom all Rome was content. And Servius Tullus deceived himself believing he could win over to himself the sons of Tarquin by new benefits. So that, as to the first, every Prince can be advised that he will never live securely in his Principality so long as those live who have been despoiled [of their possessions]. As to the second, it should remind every potentate that old injuries were never cancelled by new benefits, and so much less if the new benefit is less that the injury inflicted. And without doubt Servius Tullus was little prudent to believe that the sons of Tarquinius would be content to be the sons-in-law of him, when they judged they ought to be the Kings. And this desire to reign is so great, that it not only enters the hearts of those who expect to inherit the Kingdom, but even to those who do not have such expectation: as existed in the wife of Tarquin the younger, daughter of Servius, who, moved by this rabidness, against every filial piety, set her husband against his father to take away his life and kingdom, so much more did the esteem to be a Queen than a daughter to a King. If, therefore, Tarquinius Priscus and Servius Tullus lost the kingdom by not knowing how to secure themselves from those whose [thrones] they had usurped, Tarquinius Superbus lost it by not observing the institution of the ancient Kings, as will be shown in the following chapter.
Tarquinius Superbus having killed Servius Tullus, and the latter not leaving any heirs, he [Tarquinius] came to possess the kingdom with security, not having to fear those things which had harmed his predecessors. And although the manner of his occupying the kingdom was irregular and odious, none the less had he observed the ancient institutions of the other Kings, he would have been tolerated, and the Senate and Plebs would never have arisen against him and taken the State away from him. This man, therefore, was not driven out because of his son Sextus having violated Lucretia, but for having broken the laws and governed it [his Kingdom] tyrannically; having taken away all authority from the Senate and assumed it himself, and those funds which were marked for public improvements with which the Roman Senate was satisfied, he diverted to the building of his own palace, with disgust and envy for him resulting. So that in a very short time, he despoiled Rome of all that liberty which she had maintained under the other previous Kings. And it was not enough for him to make the Fathers [Senators] his enemies, but he aroused the Plebs against himself, working them hard in mechanical labor and all unlike those which his predecessors had employed. So that by having filled Rome with such cruel and haughty examples of his, he had already disposed the minds of all the Romans to rebellion whenever they should have the opportunity. And if the incident of Lucretia had not happened, even so another would have arisen which would have produced the same result: For if Tarquin had lived like the other Kings and his son Sextus had not made that error, Brutus and Collatinus would have had recourse to Tarquin for vengeance against Sextus, and to the Roman People.
Princes should understand, therefore, that they begin to lose the State from that hour when they begin to break the laws and ancient institutions under which men have lived for a long time. And if as private citizens, having lost the State, they should ever become so prudent to see with what facility Principalities are kept by those who are counselled wisely, they would regret their loss much more, and would condemn themselves to greater punishment than that to which others have condemned them: For it is much more easy to be loved by the good than the bad, and to obey the laws then to enforce them. And in wanting to learn the course that they should have to hold to do this, they do not have to endure any other hardship than to mirror for themselves the lives of good Princes, such as Timoleon the Corinthian, Aratus the Sicyonian, and similar ones, in the lives of whom they would find as much security and satisfaction to him who ruled as to he who is ruled; so that they ought to want to imitate him, being able to do so for the reasons mentioned: For men when they are well governed, do not seek or desire any other liberty; as happened to the people governed by the above named [Princes], whom they constrained to be Princes as long as they lived, even though they often had been tempted to return to private life.
And as in this and the two preceding chapters, there has been discussed the dispositions aroused against Princes, and of the Conspiracy made by the sons of Brutus against their country, and of those made against Tarquinius Priscus and Servius Tullus, it does not appear to me to be something outside this subject to speak at length of them in the following chapter, being a matter worthy of being noted by Princes and Private Citizens.
And it does not appear proper to me to omit the discussion of Conspiracies, being a matter of so much danger to Princes and Private Citizens. For it is seen that many more Princes have lost their lives and States through them, than by open war. For it is conceded only to a few to be able to make open war against a Prince, but the ability to conspire against them is conceded to everyone. On the other hand, private citizens do not enter in an enterprise more perilous nor more foolhardy than this, as it is difficult and most dangerous in all of its parts. Whence it happens that many are attempted, and very few have the desired ending. So that, therefore, Princes may learn to guard themselves from these dangers, and that Private Citizens may less rashly engage in them, and rather may learn to live contentedly under the Rule that has been assigned to them by chance and by their state, I shall speak widely, not omitting any notable case, in documenting the one and the other. And truly that sentence of Cornelius Tacitus is golden, which says that men have to honor things past but obey the present, and ought to desire good Princes, but tolerate the ones they have. And truly, whoever does otherwise, most of the time will ruin himself and his country.
We ought, therefore, (in entering on this matter) to consider first against whom conspiracies are made, and we will find them to be made either against a country or against a Prince. It is of these two that I want us to discuss at present; for those which are made to give a town over to the enemy who besiege it, or that have some reason similar to this, have been talked about above sufficiently. And in this first part we shall treat of that against a Prince, and first we will examine the reasons for it, which are many, but there is one which is more important than all the others: and this is his being hated by the general public; for in the case of that Prince who has aroused this universal hatred, it is reasonable [to suppose] that there are some particular individuals who have been injured by him more [then others] and who desire to avenge themselves. This desire of theirs is increased by that universal ill disposition that they see is aroused against him. A Prince ought therefore to avoid these public charges, but I do not want to talk here (having treated of this elsewhere) of what he should do to avoid them. For by guarding himself against this [hatred], the simple offenses against particular individuals will make less war against him: One, because rarely is a man met who thinks so much of an injury that he will put himself in so much danger to avenge it: The other, even if they should be of a mind and power to do so, they are held back by that universal benevolence that they see the Prince to have. Injuries that happen to an individual are of Possessions [taking them from him], of Blood [physical injury], or of Honor. Of those of Blood, threats are most dangerous, and there is no peril in the execution, because he who is dead cannot think of vengeance, and those who remain alive most of the time leave such thoughts to the dead: but he who is threatened, and sees himself constrained by necessity either to act or to suffer, becomes a most dangerous man for the Prince, as we shall relate in detail in its place. Outside of this necessity, those [injuries] of Possession and Honor, are matters that harm men more than any other offense, and against which the Prince ought to guard himself, for he can never despoil one so much that he does not leave a mind obstinate to vengeance. And of [injuries] of honor, that are inflicted on men, that against their women is most important, and after that, insult to their person. This [kind of injury] armed Pausanias against Phillip of Macedonia: this has armed many others against many other Princes: and in our times, Julio Belanti would not have set in motion a conspiracy against Pandolfo, Tyrant of Siena, except that the latter had given him a daughter for his wife, and then took her away, as we will relate in its place. The major cause that made the Pazzi conspire against the Medici, was the inheritance of Giovanni Borromei, which was taken from the former by the latter.
There is another reason, and a very great one, which makes men conspire against a Prince, [and] that is the desire to liberate the country which has been occupied by him. This reason moved Brutus and Cassius against Caesar: this moved many others against the Falari, the Dionysii, and other occupiers of their countries. Nor can any Tyrant guard himself from this disposition, except by giving up the Tyrancy. And because none are found who will do this, few are found who do not come to an evil end; whence there arose this verse of Juvenal’s:
Few kings descend to the family place of Ceres
Without wounds and slaughter, and in this way tyrants die.
The dangers incurred in Conspiracies (as I said above) are great, being incurred at all times: for in such cases there is danger run in plotting it, in its execution, and after it has been executed. Those who conspire may be alone, or may be more than one. The one cannot be said to be a Conspiracy, but is a firm disposition rising in a man to kill the Prince. This alone, of the three dangers that Conspiracies run, lacks the first, because it does not carry any danger before the execution; since no others have his secret, there is no danger that his design will be carried to the ears of the Prince. Such a decision [plot] can be made by any man, of whatever sort, small or great, noble or ignoble, familiar or not, familiar with the Prince: for it is permitted to everyone at some time to talk to him, and to him who is permitted to talk it is allowed to give vent to his feelings. Pausanias, of whom was spoken at another place, killed Phillip of Macedonia who was going to the Temple surrounded by a thousand armed men, and between his son and son-in-law: but that man was a Noble and known to the Prince. A poor and abject Spaniard stabbed King Ferrando of Spain in the neck: the wound was not mortal, but from this it is seen that that man had the courage and opportunity to do it. A Turkish Dervish priest drew a scimitar on Bajazet, the father of the present Grand Turk: he did not wound him, but he too had the courage and the opportunity to have done it, if he wanted to. Of these spirits thusly constituted, I believe many could be found who would do such a thing (as there is no danger or punishment in wanting to do so) but few who do it. But of those who do, there are none or very few who are not killed in the deed.
But let us go from these plots by single individuals, and let us come to the Conspiracies formed by the many. I say that in history it is to be found that all the conspiracies were made by great men, or those most familiar with the Prince: for others, unless they are completely mad, are not able to conspire, that men of weak condition and not familiar with the Prince lack all that hope and opportunities that are needed for the execution of a conspiracy: First, weak men cannot be sure of the faith of accomplices, as no one will enter into their plot without having those hopes which cause men to expose themselves to great dangers, so that as [the conspirators] are increased to two or three persons, they find an accuser and ruin them: but even if they were so lucky that such an accuser would not be found, they are surrounded by such difficulties in the execution (from not having an easy access to the Prince) that it is impossible that they are not ruined in its execution. For if great men and those who have easy access are oppressed by those difficulties that will be described below, it will happen that to the others those difficulties will increase without end. Men, therefore, (because where life and property are at stake, they are not all insane) when they see themselves weak guard themselves from them; and when they have cause for harming a Prince, attend to vilifying him, and wait for those who are more powerful than they who will avenge them. And if it should ever be found that any such as these should have attempted such an undertaking, they should be lauded for their intentions and not their prudence.
It will be seen, therefore, that those who have conspired are all great men, or familiars of the Prince. Of the many who have conspired, as many were moved thusly by too many benefits as by too many injuries; as was that of Perennius against Commodus, Plautianus against Severus, and of Sejanus against Tiberius. All of these men were loaded by their Emperors with so many riches, honors, and dignities, that it seemed nothing was wanting to them for the perfection of their power other than the Empire, and not wanting to be lacking this, they set themselves to conspire against the Prince, but their conspiracies all had that ending which their ingratitude merited. Although one of these was seen in recent times to have had a good ending, that of Giacopo D’Appiano against Messer Piero Gambacorti, Prince of Pisa, this Giacopo had been raised and nourished and given reputation by him, afterwards took away his State. Of this kind, in our times, was that of Coppola against King Ferrando of Aragon; this Coppola had come to such greatness that it seemed he lacked nothing except the Kingdom, [and] in wanting this, however, he lost his life. And truly if any conspiracy made by great men against a Prince ought to have succeeded, it should have been this, as it was made by another King, so to speak, and one who had so great an opportunity to fulfil his desire: but that cupidity for domination which blinds them, also blinds them in the managing of their enterprise, for if they should know how to accomplish this evil with prudence, it would be impossible for them not to succeed. A Prince, therefore, who wants to guard himself from Conspiracies ought to fear more those men to whom he has given too many benefits, than those to whom he had caused too many injuries. For these latter lack the opportunity, the former abound in them; and the desire is the same, because the desire of dominating is as great or greater than is that of vengeance. They ought never, therefore, give so much authority to their friends, but that a distance should exist between them and the Principate, and that there should be something left [in the middle] for them to desire; otherwise it will be a rare occasion if it will not happen to them as to the above mentioned Princes.
But let us return to our subject. I say that they who conspire having to be great men and have easy access to the Prince, it remains to be discussed what successes there have been of their enterprises, and to see what were the causes which made them happy or unhappy. And (as I have said above) in all these conspiracies, there are to be found three dangerous periods of time; before, during, and after the fact. Few are found, however, which have had good endings, that it is almost impossible that all should have passed through [the first period] happily. And in beginning to discuss the dangers of the first period, which are the most important, I say that there is need to be very prudent and have great good fortune, that in conducting a conspiracy, it not be discovered [at this stage]. And they are discovered either by [someone] telling or by conjecture. The telling results from finding little faith or little prudence in the men to whom you have communicated it: the little faith [treachery] is so commonly found, that you cannot communicate it [the conspiracy] except to your trusted ones who, for love of you, risk their own deaths, or to those men who are discontent with the Prince. Of such trusted ones, one or two may be found, but as you extend this, it is impossible that many will be found. Moreover, there is good need that the good will they bear you is so great that the plot does not appear to them greater than the danger and fear greater than the punishment: also most of the times men are deceived by the love they judge others have for them, nor can they ever be sure of this except from experience; and to have such experience in this is most dangerous: and even if you should have had experience in some other dangerous occasion, where they had been faithful to you, you can not by that faith measure this one, as this one surpasses by far all other kinds of danger. If you measure this faith from the discontent which a man has toward the Prince, you can be easily deceived in this: because as soon as you have opened your mind to that malcontent, you give him material to content himself, and to keep him faithful, his hate [for the Prince] must be very great or your authority [over him] must be greater. From this, it has followed that many [conspiracies] have been revealed and crushed in their very beginning, and that if one has been kept secret among many men for along time, it is held to be a miraculous thing; as was that of Piso against Nero, and in our times, that of the Pazzi against Lorenzo and Giuliano De’Medici, of which more than fifty thousand were cognizant, and which waited until its execution to be discovered.
As to being discovered because of little prudence, this occurs when a conspiracy is talked about with little caution, so that a servant or other third person learns of it, as happened to the sons of Brutus, who in arranging the plot with the legates of Tarquin were overheard by a slave who accused them; or when from thoughtlessness it comes to be communicated to a woman or a child whom you love, or to some similar indiscreet person, as did Dinnus, one of the conspirators with Philotas against Alexander the Great, who communicated the conspiracy to Nicomachus, a young boy loved by him, who quickly told it to his brother Ciballinus, and Ciballinus to the King. As to being discovered by conjecture, there is for an example the conspiracy of Piso against Nero, in which Scevinus, one of the conspirators, the day before he was to kill Nero, made his testament, ordered that Melichus his freedman should sharpen an old rusty dagger of his, freed all his slaves and gave them money, and caused bandages to be ordered for tying up wounds: by means of which conjectures, Melichus ascertained the plot, and accused him to Nero. Scevinus was taken, and with him Natales, another conspirator, with whom he had been seen talking the day before in secret and for a long time; and the reasons given [by each] not being in accord, they were forced to confess the truth, so that the Conspiracy was discovered to the ruin of all the conspirators. It is impossible to guard oneself from this cause of discovery of Conspiracies, as it will be discovered by the accomplices through malice, through imprudence, or through thoughtlessness, whenever they exceed three or four in number. And as soon as more than one is taken, it is impossible for it not to be discovered, for two cannot agree together in all their statements. If only one of them is taken who is a strong man, he can with his courage and firmness remain silent on [the names of] the conspirators; but then it behooves the other conspirators not to have less firmness and courage, and not to discover it by their flight, for if courage be wanting on any side, either by he who is arrested or he who is free, the conspiracy is discovered. And a rare example is cited by Titus Livius in the conspiracy formed against Hieronymus, King of Syracuse, where Theodorus, one of the conspirators taken, concealed with great virtu all the conspirators, and accused the friends of the King; and on the other hand, all the conspirators placed so much confidence in the virtu of Theodorus, that no one left Syracuse or gave any sign of fear. The conduct of a Conspiracy, therefore, passes through all these dangers before it comes to its execution; and in wanting to avoid these, there exist these remedies. The first and most certain, rather to say it better, the only one, is not to give the conspirators time to accuse you, and therefore to communicate the plot to them just at the time you are to do it, and not sooner: those who do thusly are likely to avoid the dangers that exist in the beginning, and most of the time, the others also; actually they have all had happy endings: and any prudent man will have the opportunity of governing himself in this manner.
It should suffice for me to cite two examples. Nelematus, not being able to endure the tyranny of Aristotimus, Tyrant of Epirus, assembled in his house many relatives and friends, and exhorted them to liberate their country; several of them requested time to discuss and arrange it, whereupon Nelematus made his slaves lock the house, and to those whom he had called he said, either you swear to go now and carry out the execution of this [plot], or I will give you all as prisoners to Aristotimus: moved by these words they swore, and going out without any [further] intermission of time, successfully carried out the plot of Nelematus. A Magian having by deceit occupied the kingdom of the Persians, and when Ortanus, one of the great men of the kingdom, had learned and discovered the fraud, he conferred with six other Princes of that State seeking how they were to avenge the kingdom from the Tyranny of that Magian. And when one of them asked as to the time, Darius, one of the six called by Ortanus, arose and said: Either we go now to carry out the execution of this, or I will go and accuse you all; and so by accord, without giving time to anyone to repent of it, they arose and easily executed their designs. Similar to these two examples also is the manner that the Aetolians employed in killing Nabis, the Spartan Tyrant; they sent Alexemenes, and enjoined the others that they should obey him in every and any thing, under pain of exile. This man went to Sparta, and did not communicate his commission until he wanted to discharge it, whence he succeeded in killing him. In this manner, therefore, these men avoided those dangers that are associated with the carrying out of conspiracies, and whoever imitates them will always escape them. And that anyone can do as they did, I want to cite the example of Piso referred to above. Piso was a very great and reputed man, and a familiar of Nero who confided in him much. Nero used to go often to his garden to dine with him. Piso could then have made friends for himself some men of mind, heart, and of disposition to undertake the execution of [such a plot], which is very easy for a great man to do; and when Nero should be in his garden, to communicate the matter to them, and with appropriate words animated them to do that which they would not have had time to refuse, and which would have been impossible not to succeed.
And thus, if all the other instances are examined, few will be found in which they [the conspirators] could not have been able to proceed in the same manner. But men, ordinarily little learned in the ways of the world, often make very great errors, and so much greater in those that are extraordinary, as is this [conspiracies]. The matter ought, therefore, never to be communicated except under necessity and at its execution; and even then, if you have to communicate it, to communicate it to one man only with whom you have had a very long experience [of trust], or who is motivated by the same reason as you. To find one such is much more easy than to find many, and because of this, there is less danger: and then, even if he should deceive you, there is some remedy of defending yourself, than where there are many conspirators: for I have heard many prudent men say that it is possible to talk of everything with one man, for (if you do not let yourself be led to write in your hand) the yes of one man is worth as much as the no of another: and everyone ought to guard himself against writing as from a shoal, because there is nothing that will convict you more easily than your handwriting. Plautanias, wanting to have the Emperor Severus and his son Antoninus killed, committed the matter of the Tribune Saturninus; who wanting to accuse him and not obey him, and apprehensive that coming to the accusation, he [Plautanius] would be more believed than he [Saturninus], requested a copy in his handwriting so that he should have faith in this commission, which Plautanias, blinded by ambition, gave him: whence it ensued that he was accused by the Tribune and convicted; and without that copy and certain other countersigns, Plautanias would have won out, so boldly did he deny it. From the accusation of a single one, some remedy will be found, unless you are convicted by some writing or other countersigns, from which one ought to guard himself. In the Pisonian conspiracy there was a woman called Epicaris, who in the past had been a friend of Nero, who judged it to be advisable to place among the conspirators a Captain of some triremes whom Nero had as his guard; she committed the conspiracy to him, but not [the names of] the conspirators. Whence that the Captain breaking his faith and accusing her to Nero, but so great was the audacity of Epicaris in denying it, that Nero, remaining confused, did not condemn her.
There are two dangers, therefore, in communicating a plot to only one individual: the first, that he does not accuse you as a test: the other, that he does not accuse you, he being convicted and constrained by the punishment to do so: he being arrested because of some suspicion or some other indication on his part. But there is some remedy for both of these dangers; the first, being able to deny it, alleging the hate that the man had for you; and the other to deny it, alleging the force that had constrained him to tell lies. It is prudent, therefore, not to communicate the plot to anyone, but act according to those above mentioned examples; and even if you must communicate it, not to more than one, for while there is some danger in that, it is much less than in communicating it to many.
Next to this, there may be a necessity which constrains you to do to that Prince what you see the Prince would want to do to you, [and] which is so great that it does not give you time to think of your own safety. This necessity almost always brings the matter to the desired ending, and to prove it, I have two examples which should suffice. The Emperor Commodus had among his best friends and familiars Letus and Electus, Heads of the Praetorian soldiers, and had Marcia among his favorite concubines and friends: and as he was sometimes reproached by these [three] for the way he stained his personal [dignity] and that of the Empire, decided to have them killed, and wrote the names of Marcia, Letus and Electus, and several others on a list of those whom he wanted killed the following night, and he placed this list under the pillow of his bed: and having gone to bathe, a favorite child of his playing in the room and on the bed found this list, and going out with it in his hand met Marcia who took it from him; and when she read it and saw its contents, she quickly sent for Letus and Electus, and when all three recognized the danger they were in, they decided to forestall it, and without losing time, the following night they killed Commodus. The Emperor Antoninus Caracalla was with his armies in Mesopotamia, and had for his prefect Macrinus, a man more fit for civil than military matters: and as it happens that bad Princes always fear that others will inflict on them that [punishment] which it appears to them they merit, Antoninus wrote to Maternianus his friend in Rome that he learn from the Astrologers if there was anyone who was aspiring to the Empire and to advise him of it. Whence Maternianus wrote back to him that Macrinus was he who aspired to it, and the letter came first into the hands of Macrinus than of the Emperor; and because of this the necessity was recognized either to kill him before a new letter should arrive from Rome, or to die, he committed to his trusted friend, the Centurion Martialis, whose brother had been killed by Antoninus a few days before, that he should kill him, which was executed by him successfully. It is seen therefore, that this necessity which does not give time produces almost the same effect as the means employed by Nelematus of Epirus described by me above. That of which I spoke of almost at the beginning of this discourse is also seen, that threats injure a Prince more, and are the cause of more efficacious Conspiracies than the injury itself; from which a Prince ought to guard himself; for men have to be either caressed or made sure of, and never reduced to conditions in which they believe they need either to kill others or be killed themselves.
As to the dangers that are run in its execution, these result either from changing the orders, or from the lack of courage of those who should execute it, or from an error that the executor makes from little prudence, or from not perfecting the plot leaving some of them alive who had been planned to be killed. I say, therefore, that there is nothing that causes disturbance or impediment to all the actions of men as much as when in an instant and without having time, to have to change an order, and to change it from the one that had been ordered first: and if this change causes disorder in anything, it does so especially in matters of war and matter similar to those of which we are speaking; for in such actions there is nothing so necessary to do as much as firming the minds of men to execute the part assigned to them: and if men have their minds turned for many days to a certain matter and certain order, and that be quickly changed, it is impossible that all be not disturbed, and everything not ruined; so that it is much better to execute a plot according to the order given (even though some inconvenience is to be seen) than to want to cancel it to enter into a thousand inconveniences. This happens when one has no time to reorganize oneself, for when there is time, men can govern themselves in their own way.
The Conspiracy of the Pazzi against Lorenzo and Giuliano De’Medici is well known. The arrangement made was that they were to dine at the Cardinal of San Giorgio’s, and at that dinner to kill them [the Medici]: in which place there were distributed those who were to seize the palace, and those who were to overrun the City and call the people to liberty. It happened that while the Pazzi, the Medici, and the Cardinal were at the solemn office in the Cathedral Church in Florence, it was learned that Giuliano was not dining that morning, which caused the conspirators to gather together, and that which they had to do in the house of Medici, they decided to do in the Church: which caused the disturbance of all the arrangements, as Giovanbattista da Montesecco did not want to consent to the homicide, saying he did not want to do it in the Church: so that they had to change to new members for every action who, not having time to firm up their minds, made such errors, that they were crushed in the execution.
The spirit is sometimes lacking to those who should execute [a plot] either from reverence of from the innate goodwill of the executor. So great is the majesty and reverence which surrounds the presence of a Prince, that it is an easy matter for it either to mitigate [the will of] or terrify an executor. To Marius (having been taken by the Minturnians) was sent a slave who was to kill him, [but] who was so terrified by the presence of that man and by the memory of his fame, that he became cowardly, and lost all courage to kill him. And if this power exists in a man bound and a prisoner, and overwhelmed by bad fortune, how much more is it to be feared from a Prince free, with the majesty of ornaments, of pomp, and of his court: so that this pomp can terrify you, and that grateful welcome can humiliate you.
Some subjects conspired against Sitalces, King of Thracia; they fixed the day of its execution, they came to the appointed place where the Prince was, but none of them would move to attack him, so that they departed without having attempted anything, and without knowing what had impeded them, and they blamed one another. They fell into this error several times, so that the conspiracy was discovered, and they suffered the punishment for that evil which they could have committed, but would not.
Two brothers of Alfonso, Duke of Ferrara, conspired against him, and they employed as the executioner [of their plot] Giannes, Priest and Cantor of the Duke, who several times at their request had brought the Duke to them, so that they would have occasion to kill him: None the less, none of them ever dared to do it, so that it was discovered, and they bore the penalty of their wickedness and little prudence. This neglect of taking advantage of the opportunity resulted either from his presence dismaying them or from some humane act by the Prince humbling them. The failures that arise in such executions arise either from the error of little prudence or little courage; for when one or the other of these things invades you, and carried by that confusion of the brain, you are made to say and do that which you ought not.
And that men’s minds are thus invaded and confounded, Titus Livius cannot demonstrate better then when he writes of Alexemenes, the Aetolian, who (when he wanted to kill Nabis, the Spartan, of which we talked about above), when the time came for the execution [of his design], discovered to his men what had to be done, Titus Livius speaks these words: He collected his own spirits, which were confused seeing the greatness of the undertakings. For it is impossible that anyone (even though he be of firm spirit and accustomed to the use of the sword and the killing of men) be not confused. Hence only men experienced in such affairs ought to be selected, and none other be trusted, even though he held to be most courageous. For the certainty of anyone’s courage cannot be promised without having had experience. Such confusion, therefore, can either make the arms fall from your hand, or make you say things that will have the same result.
Lucilla, the sister of Commodus, ordered Quintianus to kill him. This man awaited Commodus at the entrance of the amphitheatre, and encountering him, with drawn dagger, shouted, The Senate sends you this: which words caused him to be seized before he had lowered his arm to wound him. Messer Antonio Da Volterra deputed (as is mentioned above) to kill Lorenzo De’Medici, in meeting him said, Ah traitor!, which word was the saving of Lorenzo and the ruin of the Conspiracy.
When the conspiracy is against only one Head, success of the affair cannot be obtained, for the reasons mentioned: but success is obtained even less easily when the conspiracy is against two Heads; actually, it is so difficult that it is almost impossible that it succeed: for to undertake the same action at the same time in different places is almost impossible, as it cannot be done at different times without one spoiling the other: so that conspiring against one Prince is a doubtful, dangerous and little prudent thing; to conspire against two is entirely vain and foolhardy. And if it were not for the respect I have of history, I would never believe that that would be possible which Herodianus says to Plautianus, when he commissioned Saturninus, the Certurian, that he alone should kill Severus and Antoninus [Caracalla] living in different places; for it is so far from reasonableness, that other than this authority would not have me believe it. Certain young Athenians conspired against Diodes and Hippias, Tyrants of Athens. They killed Diodes, but Hippias who remained avenged him. Chion and Leonidas, of Heraclea, and disciples of Plato, conspired against the Tyrants Clearchus and Satirus: they killed Clearchus, but Satirus who remained alive avenged him. The Pazzi, mentioned by us many times, did not succeed in killing anyone except Giuliano; so that everyone ought to abstain from such Conspiracies against several Heads, for they do no good to yourself, nor the country, nor anyone: rather those [tyrants] who remain become more harsh and unendurable, as Florence, Athens, and Heraclea know, as I have stated above. It is true that the conspiracy that Pelopidas made to deliver his country, Thebes, [from the Tyrants] faced all the difficulties: none the less it had a most happy ending; for Pelopidas not only conspired against two Tyrants, but against ten: not only was he not a confidant and did not have easy access to the Tyrants, but he was also a rebel: none the less he was able to come to Thebes, kill the Tyrants, and free the country. Yet, none the less, he did all with the aid of one Charon, counsellor or the Tyrants, through whom he had an easy access to the execution of his [plot]. Let no one, none the less, take this as an example; for, as that enterprise was almost impossible, and a marvelous thing to succeed, [and] so regarded by the writers, who commemorate it as something rare and unprecedented. Such execution can be interrupted by a false alarm or by an unforeseen accident that arises in its doing.
The morning that Brutus and the other conspirators wanted to kill Caesar, it happened that he [Caesar] talked at length with Gn. Popilius Lena, one of the conspirators, and the others seeing this long talk were apprehensive that the said Popilius might reveal the conspiracy to Caesar. They were tempted to kill Caesar here, and not wait until he should be in the Senate: and they would have done so except that the discussion ended, and as it was seen that Caesar did not do anything extraordinary, they were reassured. These false alarms are to be regarded and considered with prudence, and so much more as they come about easily, for he who had his conscience blemished, readily believes that [everyone] talks of him. It is possible to hear a word spoken by another so that it will make your mind disturbed, and to believe that it has reference to you, and causes you either to discover the Conspiracy by flight, or to confuse the action by accelerating it before its time. And this will happen much more readily, when there are many who know of the Conspiracy.
As to accidents (because they are unforeseen) they cannot be demonstrated except by examples which should serve to make men cautious. Julio Belanti of Siena (of whom we have made mention above), because of the anger he had against Pandolfo, who had taken his daughter from him before he had given her to him as a wife, decided to kill him, and chose the time. Almost every day Pandolfo went to visit an infirm relative, and on his way passed by the house of Julio. That man, therefore, having observed this, arranged to have his conspirators in the house so arranged as to kill Pandolfo when he passed; and putting them, armed, behind the door, and kept one at the window who should give a sign when Pandolfo was near the door. It happened that Pandolfo came, that man gave the sign, but he [Pandolfo] met a friend who stopped him, while some who were with him went on ahead, and seeing and hearing the noise of arms discovered the ambush, so that Pandolfo was saved, and Julio with his companions had to flee from Sienna. That accident of that meeting impeded that action and caused Julio’s enterprise to be ruined. Against which accidents (as they are rare) no remedy can be made. It is very necessary to examine all those things that can happen and remedy them.
It remains now only to discuss the dangers that occur after the execution [of a plot]; of which there is only one, and this is when someone is left who will avenge the slain Prince. There may remain, then, his brothers, or his sons, or other adherents who expect [to inherit] the Principality; and they can be left either because of your negligence, or for the reasons mentioned above, and who would undertake this vengeance; as happened to Giovan Andrea Da Lampognano, who, together with his conspirators, had killed the Duke of Milan, who left a son and two brothers, who in time avenged the dead man. And truly in these cases, the conspirators are to be excused, for they had no remedy: but when some are left alive because of little prudence or from negligence, they [the conspirators] do not merit to be excused. Some conspirators from Furli killed the Count Girolamo, their Lord, and took his wife and children, who were little: and as it appeared to them they could not live securely unless they had made themselves lords of the fortress; but as the castellan did not want to give it up to them, Madonna Caterina (as the Countess was called) promised the conspirators that, if they allowed her to enter it, she would have it consigned to them, and that they might retain her children with them as hostages. Under this pledge, these men allowed her to enter, but she, as soon as she was inside the walls, reproached them for the death of her husband, and threatened them with every kind of vengeance: and to show that she did not care for her children, she showed them her genital member, saying that she had the means of making more. Thus those men [conspirators], short of counsel and having too late seen their error, suffered the penalty of their too little prudence by a perpetual exile. But of all the perils that can happen after the execution [of a plot], there is none more certain and which is to be feared more than when the people are friends of the Prince whom you have killed; for against this the conspirators do not have any remedy and against which they can never be secure. As an example, there is Caesar, who, by having the people or Rome friendly, was avenged by them; for having driven the conspirators out of Rome, they were the cause that they were all killed at various times and in various places.
Conspiracies that are made against the Country are less perilous for those who plan them, than are those made against Princes; for in plotting them there are less dangers than in the other, in the execution of them they [dangers] are the same, and after the execution there is none. In plotting it there are not many dangers, for a citizen can aspire to power without manifesting his mind and designs to anyone: and if those aspirations of his are not interfered with, his enterprise will turn out happily; or if they are interfered with by some law, he can wait a time and attempt it by another way. This is understood in a Republic which is partly corrupted; for in an uncorrupted one (there not being any bad principles there) these thoughts cannot occur in its citizens. The citizens, therefore, through many ways and means can aspire to the Principality where they do not run the dangers of being crushed: as much because Republics are slower than a Prince, and are less apprehensive, and because of this are less cautious; as well as because they have more respect for their Great citizens, and because of this are more audacious and courageous in conspiracy against them.
Everyone has read of the Conspiracy of Cataline written by Sallust, and knows that after the Conspiracy was discovered Cataline not only stayed in Rome, but came into the Senate, and mouthed villainies at the Senate and the Consul, so great was the respect which that City had for its citizens. And when he had departed from Rome, and was already with the army, Lentulus and the others would not have been taken, except that they had letters in their handwriting which accused them manifestly. Hanno, a very great citizen in Carthage, aspiring to the Tyrancy, had arranged to poison all the Senate during the nuptials of a daughter, and afterwards make himself Prince. When this was learned, nothing was done in the Senate than to pass a law which placed a limit to the expenses of banquets and nuptials, so great was the respect they had for his kind.
It is indeed true that in the execution of a Conspiracy against one’s Country there are more difficulties and greater perils; for it is rare that your own forces of the conspiracy are sufficient against so many, and not everyone is Prince of an army, as were Caesar, or Agathocies, or Cleomenes, and the like, who, through force, quickly occupied their Country; for to such men the way is sure and easy, but others who do not have the support of force must accomplish their purpose either through deceit and cunning, or by foreign forces.
As to deceit and cunning, Pisistratus, the Athenian, having overcome the Megarians and, because of this, had acquired good will among the people [of Athens]; one morning he went outside wounded, saying that the Nobility had injured him from envy, and demanded that he be able to keep armed men with him as his guard. From this authority, he easily rose to such power, that he became Tyrant of Athens. Pandolfo Petrucci returned with other exiles to Sienna, and he was assigned the guard of the government plaza, as a mechanical [secondary] matter and which others had refused: none the less those armed men in time gave him such reputation, that in a little time he became Prince. Many others have employed other means and perseverance, and in a [short] space of time and without peril have succeeded. Those who have conspired to occupy their country with their own forces or with foreign armies, have had various success, according to their fortune. Cataline, mentioned before above, was ruined. Hanno (of whom we made mention above) not having succeeded with poison, armed many thousand [persons] of his partisans, and both he and they were killed. Some of the first citizens of Thebes, in order to make themselves Tyrants, called a Spartan army to their aid, and seized the Tyrancy of that City. So that examining all the Conspiracies against the Country, none or few will be found, which were crushed in their plotting; but all either met with success or failure in their execution. Once they are executed, they do not bring other dangers than those which the nature of the Principality in itself bring: for once one has become a Tyrant, he has his natural and ordinary perils which befall a Tyranny, against which there are no other remedies than those which have been discussed above.
This is as much as has occurred to me to write of Conspiracies, and if I have discussed those only where the sword was used and not poison, it is because both result in the same effect. It is true that those using poison are more dangerous because they are more uncertain; for everyone does not have the opportunity [of employing this means], and it must be reserved for the one who does have, and this necessity of reserving it for some makes it dangerous. Further, for many reasons, a drink of poison need not be fatal, as happened with those who killed Commodus; here, he having thrown up the poison which they had given him, they were forced to strangle him in order to kill him.
Princes, therefore, have no greater enemy than a conspiracy; for, once a conspiracy is made against him, it either kills or defames him. For if the conspiracy succeeds, he dies; if it is discovered and he kills the conspirators, it will always be believed that it was an invention of that Prince to give vent to his cruelty and avarice against the blood and possessions of those whom he has killed. I do not want, therefore, to omit advising that Prince or that Republic against whom there had been conspiracies, that, when they have knowledge that there is a conspiracy manifest against them, before they engage in an enterprise to avenge it, to seek to learn very well its nature, and to measure well the conditions of both themselves and the conspirators; and if they find it [the conspiracy] to be big and powerful, they must never discover it until they are prepared with sufficient force to crush it, otherwise by doing so they will discover their own ruin: therefore they ought with every industry conceal it, for the conspirators, seeing themselves discovered, driven by necessity, will act without consideration. As an example, there are the Romans, who had left two legions of soldiers to guard the Capuans from the Samnites (as we said elsewhere); the Heads of those legions conspired together to oppress the Capuans: when this was learned at Rome, they commissioned Rutilius, the new Consul, that this be prevented; who, to lull the conspirators to sleep, had published that the Senate had reaffirmed the quartering of the legions in Capua. Which, being believed by those soldiers, and it appearing to them to have time to execute their design, did not seek to accelerate the matter, and thus they remained until they begun to see that the Consul was separating them from each other; which thing generating suspicion in them, caused them to be discovered and to go on with their desire to execute the plot. Nor could there be a better example for both parties; for through this, it is seen how much men are dilatory in things when they believe they have time, and how ready they are when necessity drives them. Nor can a Prince or a Republic who want, for their own advantage, to defer the discovery [of a conspiracy] use better means than to hold out another opportunity to the conspirators through slyness, so that they expecting it, or it appearing to them to have time, the [Prince] or [Republic] will have time to castigate them. Whoever has done otherwise has accelerated his ruin, as did the Duke of Athens and Guglieimo De Pazzi. The Duke, having become Tyrant of Florence, and learning that he was being conspired against, caused (without otherwise examining the matter) one of the conspirators to be taken, which quickly made the others take up arms, and take the State away from him. Guglieimo being commissioner in the Val Di Chiano in MDI 1501, and having learned that there was a conspiracy in Arezzo in favor of the Vitelli, to take that town away from the Florentines, quickly went to that City, and without taking into consideration the strength of the conspirators, or of his own, and without preparing any force for himself, by the counsel of his son, the Bishop, caused one of the conspirators to be taken; after which seizure the others took up arms and took the town away from the Florentines and Guglieimo from being Commissioner became a prisoner.
But when Conspiracies are weak they can and ought to be crushed without regard. However, the two methods used, although almost the contrary of each other, are not in any way to be imitated: The one is that of the above named Duke of Athens, who, to show his belief in having the good will of the Citizens of Florence, put to death one who had discovered the Conspiracy to him: the other is that of Dion, the Syracusan, who, to test the loyalty of anyone of whom he had suspicion, ordered Callipus in whom he confided, that he should pretend to make a Conspiracy against him, and both of these fared badly: for the one took away courage from the accusers and gave it to whoever wanted to conspire; the other made the way easy for his own death, but actually was his own Head of a Conspiracy against himself, as was proved by experience, for Callipus (being able to plot against Dion without regard) plotted so well, that he took away from him the State and his life.
Some may doubt whence it arises that many changes that are made from liberty to tyranny, and contrarywise, some are done with bloodshed, some without. For (as is learned from history) in such changes, some times an infinite number of men have been killed, some times no one has even been injured, as happened in the change that Rome made from Kings to Consuls, where only the Tarquins were driven out and no one else suffered injury. Which depends on this, whether that State that is changed does so with violence, or not: for when it is effected with violence, it does so with injury to many; then in its ruin, it is natural that the injured ones would want to avenge themselves, and from this desire for vengeance results bloodshed and the death of men. But when that change of State is made by common consent of the general public who had made it great, then there is no reason when it is overthrown, for the said general public to harm anyone but the Head. And the State of Rome was of this kind, and so was the expulsion of the Tarquins, as also was the State of De’ Medici in Florence, when in the year one thousand four hundred ninety four 1494 no one was harmed but themselves. And such changes do not come to be very dangerous; but those are indeed very dangerous that are made by those who have to avenge themselves, which were always of a sort to make those who read (and others) to become terrified: but because history is full of these examples, I shall omit them.
And if there has already been discussed above how a bad Citizen cannot work evil in a Republic which is not corrupt, this conclusion is fortified (in addition to the reasons that have already been given) by the example of Spurius Cassius and Manlius Capitolinus; this Spurius being an ambitious man, and wanting to assume extraordinary authority in Rome, and to gain over to himself the plebs by giving them many benefits such as selling them those fields which the Romans had taken from the Hernicians; this ambition of his was discovered by the Fathers [Senate], and he was held in so great suspicion, that in talking to the people and offering to give them that money which they had received for the grain that the public had caused to be sent from Sicily, they [the people] refused it entirely, as it appeared to them that Spurius was wanting to give them the price of their liberty. But if this people had been corrupt, it would not have refused the said price, but would have opened the road to that Tyranny which they had closed to him.
The example of this Manlius Capitolinus is even a better one, for, through this man, it is seen how much virtu of the mind and body, and how much good works done in favor of the Country are afterward cancelled by the evil ambition to rule; which (as is seen) sprung up in this man because of the envy he had for the honors given to Camillus, and he came to such a blindness of the mind, that without considering the customs of the City, nor examining its condition, which was not yet prepared to accept a bad form of Government, he set himself to create tumults in Rome against the Senate and against the laws of the country. Here we see the perfection of that City, and the excellence of its people; for in his case, no one of the Nobility (although they were ardent defenders of each other) moved to favor him, none of his relatives made any enterprise to aid him: and where in the case of the other accused [their families] were accustomed to appear downcast, dressed in black, all sadness, in order to obtain mercy in favor of the accused, with Manlius not one was seen. The Tribunes of the plebs who were accustomed always to favor the things that seemed to them to benefit the people, and especially when they were against the nobles, in this case they united with the Nobles to suppress a common pestilence. The people of Rome, most desirous of preserving its own interests, and lovers of things brought against the Nobility, had at first shown many favors toward Manlius; none the less, the Tribunes cited him and brought his cause to the judgment of the people; [and] that people from being defenders became judges, without any regard condemned him to death. I do not believe, therefore, that there is an example in history more suitable to show the excellence of all the Institutions of this Republic as much as this, seeing that no one of that City moved to defend a Citizen full of every virtu, and who publicly and privately had performed many laudable deeds. For the love of country had more power over all of them than any other consideration; and they considered much more the present dangers to which they were exposed than his past merits, so that they liberated themselves by his death. And Titus Livius said; Thus ended the career of this man, who would have been memorable had he not been born in a free society.
Here two things are to be considered: the one, that glory is to be sought by other means in a corrupt City than in one which still lives with its institutions: the other, (which is almost the same as the first) that men in their dealings, and so much more in their greatest actions, ought to consider the times and accommodate themselves to them: and those who from a bad choice or from a natural inclination are not in accord with the times, most of the times live unhappily and their actions have bad endings; and, on the contrary, those live happily who are in accord with the times. And without doubt, from the words mentioned by the historian, it can be concluded, that if Manlius had been born in the times of Marius and Sulla, when the people were corrupt, and when he could have shaped them according to his ambition, he would have obtained those same results and successes as Marius and Sulla, and the others who after them aspired to the Tyranny. Thus, in the same way, if Sulla and Marius had lived in the times of Manlius, they would have been crushed in their first enterprise. For a man can well by his methods and evil ways begin to corrupt the people of a City, but it is impossible that the life of one is [long] enough to corrupt them so that they, through it, can enjoy its fruit; and even if it were possible by the length of time that he should do so, it would be impossible from the manner in which men proceed, who, being impatient, cannot delay a passion of theirs for a long time, so that they deceive themselves in their own affairs, and especially in those which they desire very much. So that either from little patience, or from deceiving themselves, they attempt an enterprise at the wrong time, and would end badly.
To want to assume authority in a Republic, and install there a bad form of a Government, therefore, there is need to find the people corrupted by the times and that, little by little, from generation to generation, it is led to this corruption; these are led by necessity to this, unless they are (as has been discussed above) reinvigorated frequently by good examples or brought back by good laws to their principles. Manlius, therefore, would have been a rare and memorable man if he had been born in a corrupt City. And therefore the Citizens in a Republic who attempt an enterprise either in favor of Liberty or in favor of Tyranny, ought to consider the condition of things, and judge the difficulty of the enterprise; for it is as difficult and dangerous to want to make a people free who want to live in servitude, as to want to make a people slave who want to live free. And as it has been said above that men in their actions ought to consider the kind of times and proceed according to them, we will discuss this at length in the following chapter.
I have many times considered that the causes of the good and bad fortunes of men depend on the manner of their proceeding with the times. For it is seen that some men in their actions proceed with drive, others with consideration and caution. And as in the one and the other of these suitable limits are exceeded, not being able to observe the true course in either, errors are made: but he who comes to err less and have good fortune, is he who suits the times (as I have said) with his methods, and always proceeds according to the impulses of his nature. Everybody knows that Fabius Maximus proceeded with his army with consideration and caution, far removed from all impetuosity and all Roman audacity, and his good fortune was that his method well suited the times. For Hannibal having come into Italy a young man and with his fortunes fresh, and having already twice overcome the Roman People, and that Republic being almost deprived of her good troops and discouraged, could not have experienced better fortune than to have a Captain who, with his slowness and caution, had kept the enemy at bay. Nor could Fabius also have found times more suitable to his methods, from which his glory resulted. And that Fabius had done this from his nature, and not by choice, is seen when Scipio wanting to pass into Africa with those armies to put an end to the war, Fabius contradicted this so greatly, as one who could not break away from his methods and his customs. So that, if he had been [master], Hannibal would still be in Italy, as he [Fabius] could not see that the times had changed. But being born in a Republic where Citizens and dispositions were different, as was Fabius, who was excellent in the times needed to protract the war, and as was Scipio in the times suited to win it. From this it happens that a Republic has a greater vitality and a longer good fortune than a Principality, for it can accommodate itself better to the differences of the times, because of the diversity of its Citizens, than can a Principality. For a man who is accustomed to proceed in one manner, will never change, as has been said, and it happens of necessity that, when times change in a way not in accordance with his manner, he is ruined. Piero Soderini, mentioned previously several times, proceeded in all his affairs with patience and humanity. He and his country prospered while the times were in conformity with his manner of proceeding: but afterwards when the times came when it was necessary to break that patience and humility, he did not know how to do it; so that, together with his country, he was ruined. Pope Julius II proceeded during all the time of his Pontificate with impetuosity and with fury, and because the times well accorded with him, all his enterprises turned out successfully for him. But if other times had existed requiring other counsel, of necessity he would have been ruined, for he would not have changed his manner nor his conduct.
And there are two reasons that we cannot thus change; The one, that we cannot resist that to which nature inclines us: The other, that having prospered greatly by one method of procedure, it is not possible to persuade them they can do well to proceed otherwise: whence it happens that fortune varies in a man, as it varies with the times, but he does not change his methods. The ruin of Cities also happens from the institutions of the Republic not changing with the times, as we discussed at length above. But they [changes] arrive later [in a Republic] because they suffer more in changing, for times will come when the whole Republic will be unsettled, so that the changing in method of procedure by one man will not suffice.
And as we have made mention of Fabius Maximus, who held Hannibal at bay, it appears to me proper to discuss in the following chapter, how a Captain (wanting in any way to come to an engagement with the enemy) can be impeded by the [enemy] from doing so.
Gneius Sulpitius, appointed Dictator in the war against the Gauls, not wanting to commit his fortunes against the host, whose [position] was daily deteriorating from the disadvantage of the place. When an error is followed in which all or a greater part of men deceive themselves, I do not believe it is bad sometimes to refute it. Therefore, although I have many times before shown how much the actions concerning great things are different from those of ancient times, none the less, it does not appear to me superfluous at present to repeat it. For, if we deviate in any part from the institutions of the ancients, we deviate especially in military actions, where at present none of those things greatly esteemed by the ancients are observed. And this defect arises because Republics and Princes have imposed this charge on others, and to avoid the dangers have far removed themselves from this practice: and even if a King of our times is sometimes seen to go in person, it is not to be believed therefore that methods meriting greater praise will arise; for even if he does follow that practice, he does it for pomp only, and not from any other laudable reason. Yet these make less error in showing themselves with their armies while retaining for themselves the title of Commander, than do the Republics; and especially the Italian ones, which, trusting in others, do not understand anything of what pertains to war, and on the other hand wanting (in order to appear as a Prince to them) to decide things, make a thousand errors in such decisions. And although I have elsewhere discussed some, I do not now want to be silent on one of the most important.
When these indolent Princes, or effeminate Republics, sent out their Captain, the wisest commission that it appears to them to give him is this, when they impose on him that he does not come to an engagement under any circumstance, but rather above everything to guard against coming to battle: and in this, they appear to imitate the prudence of Fabius Maximus, who be delaying the fighting saved the state for the Romans; but they did not understand that the greater part of the time such a commission is null or harmful; for this conclusion ought to be made, that a Captain who wants to stay in the field, cannot avoid an engagement any time the enemy wants to do so in any way. And this commission is nothing else, but to say — make the engagement at the convenience of the enemy, and not at your own. For to want to stay in the field and not undertake an engagement, there is no more secure remedy than to keep oneself and at least fifty thousand men a good distance from the enemy and then to keep good spies who, when they see him coming toward you, give you time to distance yourself. Another procedure is this, to shut yourself up in a City; and both of these proceedings are harmful. In the first, one leaves his country prey to the enemy, and a valiant Prince would rather try the fortune of battle than to lengthen the war with so much harm to his subjects. In the second proceeding defeat is manifest; for it will happen if you bring yourself with the army into a City, you will come to be besieged, and in a short time suffer hunger and you will come to surrender. So that to avoid an engagement by these two methods ins most injurious. The method employed by Fabius Maximus of staying in a strong place is good when you have an army of so much virtu that the enemy does not dare to come to meet you inside your advantageous position. Nor can it be said that Fabius avoided an engagement, but rather that he wanted to do it at his advantage. For, if Hannibal had gone to meet him, Fabius would have awaited him and fought an engagement with him: but Hannibal never dared to combat with him in the manner of his [Fabius]. So that an engagement was avoided as much by Hannibal as by Fabius: but if one of them had wanted to in any way, the other would have had three remedies, that is, the two mentioned above, or flight.
That what I say is true is clearly seen from a thousand examples, and especially in the war the Romans carried on with Philip of Macedonia, father of Perseus; for Philip being assaulted by the Romans, decided not to come to battle, and in order not to wanted to do first as Fabius Maximus had done in Italy, posting himself with his army on the summit of a mountain, where he greatly fortified himself, judging that the Romans would not dare to go to meet him. But they did go and combat him, and drove him from the mountain, and no longer being able to resist, fled with the greater part of his forces. And what saved him from being entirely destroyed was the irregularity of the country, which prevented the Romans from pursuing him. Philip, therefore, not wanting to come to battle, but being posted with his camp adjacent to the Romans, was forced to flee; and having learned from this experience that keeping on the mountains was not enough in wanting to avoid a battle, and not wanting to shut himself up in towns, decided to take the other method of staying many miles distant from the Roman camp. Whence, if the Romans were in one province, he would go into another: and thus whenever the Romans left one place, he would enter it. And seeing in the end that in prolonging the war by this means only worsened his condition, and that his subjects were oppressed now by him, now by the enemy, he decided to try the fortune of battle, and thus came to a regular engagement with the Romans.
It is useful, therefore, not to combat when the armies have such conditions as the army of Fabius had, and which that of C. Sulpicius did not have, that is, to have an army so good that the enemy will not dare to come to meet you within your strongholds; or that he is in your territory without having taken many footholds, so that he suffers from lack of supplies. And in this case the procedure is useful, for the reasons that Titus Livius says; No one should commit his fortune against a host, which time and the disadvantage of the place makes to deteriorate daily. But in any other case, the engagement cannot be avoided without danger and dishonor to you. For to flee (as Philip did) is as being routed, and with more disgrace when less proof is given of your virtu. And if he [Philip] had succeeded in saving himself, another would not have succeeded who was not aided by the country, as he was. No one will ever say that Hannibal was not a master of war; and if, when he was at the encounter with Scipio in Africa, he should have seen advantage in prolonging the war, he would have done so: and for the future (he being a good Captain and having a good army) he would have been able to do as Fabius did in Italy, but not having done so, it ought to be believed that some important reason had persuaded him. For a Prince who has an army put together, and sees that from a want of money or of friends he cannot maintain such an army for any length of time, is completely mad if he does not try the fortune [of battle] before such an army would be dissolved, because by waiting he loses for certain, but by trying he may be able to win. There is something else to be esteemed greatly, which is, that in losing one ought also to want to acquire glory: and there is more glory in being overcome by force, than by some other evil which causes you to lose. So must Hannibal also have been constrained by this necessity. And on the other hand Scipio, when Hannibal had delayed the engagement and lacked sufficient courage to go to meet him in his strongholds, did not suffer, for he had already defeated Syphax and acquired so much territory in Africa that he was able to remain there as secure and with convenience as in Italy. This did not happen to Hannibal when he was encountering Fabius, nor to those Gauls who were at the encounter with Sulpicius. So much less also can that man avoid an engagement who with the army assaults the country of others; for if he wants to enter the country of the enemy, he must (if the enemy comes to an encounter with him) come to battle with him; and if he besieges a town, he is so much more obliged to come to battle; as happened in our times to Duke Charles of Burgundy, who being in camp before Moratto, a town of the Swiss, was assaulted and routed by them; and as happened to the French army, while encamping before Novara, was routed by the Swiss in the same way.
The power of the Tribunes of the plebs in the City of Rome was great and necessary, as has been discussed by us many times, because otherwise it would not have been able to place a restraint on the ambitions of the Nobles, who would have a long time before corrupted that Republic which was not corrupted. None the less, as in all human things (as has been said at other times) there is some inherent evil hidden which causes new accidents to spring up, it is necessary to provide against these by new institutions. The authority of the Tribunes had become insolent and formidable to the Nobility and to all Rome, and some evil would have arisen harmful to Roman liberty if the means had not been shown by Appius Claudius with which they could protect themselves against the ambitions of the Tribunes; this was that there was always to be found among themselves some one who was either afraid, or corruptible, or a lover of the common good, whom they would dispose to be opposed to the decisions of those others who should act contrary to the wishes of the Senate. Which remedy was a great tempering force against so much authority, and for a long time benefited Rome. Which thing has made me consider that whenever there are many powerful ones united against another powerful one, even though they all together may be more powerful than he, none the less hope ought always to be placed more in that one by itself and less strong than in the greater number of them even though stronger. For (taking into account all those things of which one can take advantage better than the many, which may be infinite) this will always occur, that by using a little industry he will be able to disunite the many and make weak that body which was strong. I do not want here to cite ancient examples, of which there are many, but I want those happening in our times to suffice me. In the year one thousand four hundred eighty four 1484 all Italy conspired against the Venetians, and then when they had lost everything and could no longer keep an army in the field, they corrupted Signor Lodovico who was governing Milan, and by this corruption made an accord in which they not only recovered the lost territories, but they usurped part of the State of Ferrara. And thus, those who had lost in war, remained superior in peace. A few years ago all the world conspired against France, none the less before the end of the war had been seen, Spain rebelled from its confederates and made an accord with them [France], so that the other confederates were constrained a little later also to make an accord with them. So that without doubt, judgment ought always to be made when one sees a war fought by many against one, that the one will remain superior, if he is of such virtu that he can resist the first shock and await events by temporizing; for, if he cannot do this, he is faced with a thousand dangers, as happened to the Venetians in eight 1508, who, if they could have temporized with French the army, and have had time to win over to themselves some of those colleagued against them, would have escaped that ruin; but not having armed men of such virtu able to temporize with the enemy, and because of this not having time to separate anyone, they were ruined: For it is seen that the Pope, after having recovered his possessions, made friends with them; and so did Spain: and both of these two Princes very willingly would have saved the State of Lombardy for the Venetians against the French, in order not to make them so powerful in Italy, if they had been able. The Venetians, therefore, were able to give up part in order to save the rest, which, if that had been done it in time before it appeared to have been a necessity, and before the war was begun, would have been a most wise proceeding; but once the was set in motion, it would have been disgraceful, and perhaps of little profit. But before the war began, a few of the Citizens of Venice were able to see the danger, very few to see the remedy, and none advised it. But to return to the beginning of this discourse, I conclude that just as the Roman Senate had a remedy for saving the country from the ambitions of the Tribunes, who were many, so also any Prince will have a remedy, who is assaulted by many, any time he knew how to use with prudence the means suitable to disunite them.
At another time we have discussed how useful necessity is to human actions, and to what glory they have been led by it; and it has been written by some moral Philosophers that the hands and the tongue of men, two most noble instruments to ennoble him, would not have operated perfectly, nor brought human works to the heights to which it has been seen they were conducted, unless they had been pushed by necessity. The ancient Captains having recognized the virtu of such necessity, therefore, and how much it caused the spirits of the soldiers to become obstinate in the fighting, did everything they could to see that the soldiers were constrained by it. And on the other hand they used all industry so that the enemy be freed [from fighting]; and because of this they often opened to the enemy that road which they could have closed, and closed to their own soldiers that which they could have left open. Whoever, therefore, desires that a City be defended obstinately, or that an army in the field should fight, ought above every other thing to endeavor to put such necessity into the hearts of those who have to fight. Whence a prudent Captain who has to go to destroy a City, ought to measure the ease or difficulty of the siege by finding out and considering what necessity constrains its inhabitants to defend themselves; and when much necessity is found which constrains them to the defense, he judges the siege will be difficult, if otherwise, he judges it to be easy. From this it follows that towns, after a rebellion, are more difficult to acquire than they were in the original acquisition; for in the beginning, not having cause to fear punishment because they had not given offense, they surrender easily: but if it appears to them (they having rebelled) to have given offense, and because of this fearing punishment, they become difficult under siege.
Such obstinacy also arises from the natural hatred the neighboring Princes and Republics have for one another, which proceeds from the ambition to dominate and the jealousy of their State; especially if they are Republics, as happened in Tuscany: which rivalry and contention has made, and always will make, difficult the destruction of one by the other. Whoever, therefore, considers well the neighbors of the City of Florence and the neighbors of the City of Venice, will not marvel (as many do) that Florence has expended more in war and acquired less than Venice; for it arises from the fact that the Venetians did not have neighbors as obstinate in their defense as had Florence, and the neighboring Cities of Venice being accustomed to live under a Prince and not free; and those which are accustomed to servitude often esteem less a change of masters, and rather many times they desire it. So that Venice (although she had neighbors more powerful than did Florence), because of having found these [neighboring] lands more obstinate, was able rather to overcome them than that other [Florence], since it is surrounded entirely by free States.
A Captain ought, therefore, (to return to the beginning of this discourse) when he assaults a town, to endeavor with all diligence to deprive the defenders of such necessity, and thus also its obstinacy; promising them pardon if they have fear of punishment, and if they have fear of losing their liberty, to assure them he is not contriving against the common good, but against the few ambitious ones in the City. This has often facilitated the enterprise and the capture of towns. And although similar [artifices] are easily recognized, and especially by prudent men, none the less the people are often deceived; they, in their intense desire for present peace, close their eyes to any other snare that may be hidden under these large promises, and in this way, an infinite number of Cities have fallen into servitude; as happened to Florence in recent times, and to Crassus and his army [in ancient times] who, although he recognized the vain promises of the Parthians which were made to deprive the soldiers of the necessity to defend themselves, none the less, being blinded by the offer of peace which was made to them by their enemies, he could not keep them obstinate [in their resistance], as is observed reading of the life of [Crassus] in detail.
I say, therefore, that the Samnites, because of the ambitions of a few and outside the conventions of the accord, overran and pillaged the fields of the confederate Romans; and then sent Ambassadors to Rome to ask for peace, offering to restore the things pillaged and to give up as prisoners the authors of the tumults and the pillaging, but were rebuffed by the Romans: and [the Ambassadors] having returned to Samnium without hope for any accord, Claudius Pontius, then Captain of the Army of the Samnites, pointed out in a notable oration that the Romans wanted war in any event, and even though they themselves should desire peace, necessity made them pursue the war, saying these words: War is just, where it is from necessity, and where there is no hope but in arms; upon which necessity he based his hope of victory with his soldiers.
And in order not to return to this subject further, it appears proper to me to cite those Roman examples which are more worthy of annotation. C. Manlius was with his army encountering the Veientes, and a part of the Veientan army having entered into the entrenchments of Manlius, Manlius ran with a band to their succor, and so that the Veientans would not be able to save themselves, occupied all the entrances to the camp: whence the Veienti, seeing themselves shut in, began to fight with such fury that they killed Manlius, and would have attacked all the rest of the Romans, if one of the Tribunes by his prudence had not opened a way for them to get out. Whence it is seen that when necessity constrained the Veienti to fight, they fought most ferociously: but when they saw the way open, they thought more of flight than of fighting. The Volscians and Equeans had entered with their armies into the confines of Rome. They [the Romans] sent Consuls against them. So that the army of the Volscians, of which Vettius Messius was Head, in the heat of battle found itself shut in between its own entrenchments which were occupied by the Romans and the other Roman army; and seeing that they needs much die or save themselves by the sword, he [Messius] said these words to his soldiers; Follow me, neither walls nor ditches block you, but only men armed as you are: of equal virtu, you have the superiority of necessity, that last but best weapon. So that this necessity is called by T. Livius THE LAST AND BEST WEAPON. Camillus, the most prudent among all the Roman Captains, having already entered the City of the Veienti with his army, to facilitate its taking and to deprive the enemy of the last necessity of defending themselves, commanded, in a way that the Veienti heard, that no one was to be harmed of those who should be disarmed. So that they threw down their arms and the City was taken almost without bloodshed. Which method was afterwards observed by many Captains.
Coriolanus, having become an exile from Rome, went to the Volscians, where he raised an army with which he went to Rome in order to avenge himself against his Countrymen; but he left there more because of his affection for his mother than of the power of the Romans. On which occasion T. Livius says it was because of this that it was recognized that the Roman Republic grew more from the virtu of the Captains than of its soldiers, seeing that the Volscians had in the past been defeated, and that they only won because Coriolanus was their Captain. And although Livius holds such an opinion, none the less it is seen in many instances in history where soldiers without a Captain have given marvelous proof of their virtu, and to have been better ordered and more ferocious after the death of their Consuls, than before they died; as occurred with the army that the Romans had in Spain under the Scipio’s which, after the death of its two Captains was able through its own virtu not only to save itself, but to defeat the enemy and preserve that province for the Republic. So that, everything considered, many examples will be found where only the virtu of the soldiers won the day, and other examples where only the virtu of the Captains produced the same result; so that it can be judged that they both have need for each other.
And it may be well here to consider first, which is more to be feared, a good army badly captained, or a good Captain accompanied by a bad army. And following the opinion of Caesar in this, both the one and the other ought to be little esteemed. For when he went into Spain against Afranius and Petreius who had a [good] army, he said he cared little of that: He was here going against an army without a leader, indicating the weakness of the Captains. On the other hand, when he went into Thessaly against Pompey, he said, I go against a leader without an army. Another thing to be considered is whether it is easier for a good Captain to create a good army, or a good army to create a good Captain. Upon this I say that the question appears to be decided, for it is much easier for the many good to find or instruct one so that he becomes good, than the one to from the many. Lucullus, when he was sent against Mithradates, was completely inexpert in war: none the less, that good army in which there were very many good Heads, soon made him a good Captain. The Romans, because of a lack of men, armed many slaves and gave them to Sempronius Gracchus to be trained, who in a brief time made a good army of them. After Pelopidas and Epaminondas (as we said elsewhere) had delivered Thebes, their country, from the servitude of the Spartans, in a short time made very good soldiers of the Theban peasants, who were able not only to sustain the attack of the Spartan troops, but to overcome them. So the matter is equal; for one good finds another. None the less, a good army without a good Captain often becomes insolent and dangerous, as was the case with the army of Macedonia after the death of Alexander, and with the veteran soldiers in the civil wars [of Rome]. So that I believe that more reliance can be had in a Captain who has time to instruct his men and the facilities for arming them, than in an insolent army with a Head tumultuously made by them. The glory and praise of those Captains, therefore, is to be doubled, who not only had to defeat the enemy, but, before they met them hand to hand, were obliged to train their army and make them good. For in this is shown that double virtu that is so rare, that if the same task was given to many [Captains], they would not have been esteemed and reputed as much as they are.
Of what importance is some new incident which arises from something new that is seen or heard in conflicts and battles, is shown in many instances, and especially in the example that occurred in the battle which the Romans fought with the Volscians, where Quintus seeing one wing of his army give way, began to shout strongly that they should hold firm, as the other wing of the army was victorious. With which words he gave new courage to his soldiers and dismayed the enemy, so that he won. And if such voices have such great effects in a well organized army, they have even greater effect in a tumultuous and badly organized one, for all are moved by a similar impulse. And I want to cite a notable example which occurred in our own times. A few years ago the City of Perugia was divided into two parties, the Oddi and the Baglioni. The latter ruled and the former were exiles: who, having gathered an army through their friends, and established themselves in several towns adjacent to Perugia; one night, with the aid of their partisans, they entered that City, and without being discovered they succeeded in taking the piazza. And as that City had the streets in all of its parts barred by chains, the Oddi forces had one man in front, who broke the fastenings of the chains with an iron club, so that horses could pass; and only the one which opened on the plaza remained to be broken, and the cry to arms already had been raised; and he who was breaking [the chains] being pressed by the disturbance of those who came behind, could not, because of this, raise his arms to break the chain, in order to manage this called to them to fall back; which cry passing from rank to rank, saying “fall back”, began to make the last [rank] flee, and one by one the others followed with such fury, that they were routed by themselves: and thus the designs of the Oddi were in vain because of so slight an accident. Which shows the necessity of discipline in an army is not only necessary for them to be able to combat with order, but also to keep every slight accident from disorganizing them. Because not for any other reason are the undisciplined multitudes useless in war, as every noise, every voice, every uproar confuses them, and makes them flee. And therefore a good Captain, among his other orders, ought to arrange who those should be who have to take up his voice [commands] and transmit them to others, and he should accustom his soldiers not to believe anything except those of his Heads, and those Heads of his to say nothing except what he commissions them to; it has often been seen that the nonobservance of this rule has caused the greatest misfortunes.
As to seeing new things, every Captain ought to endeavor to make some appear while the armies are engaged, which will give courage to his men and take it away from the enemy, because among incidents which will give you the victory, this is most efficacious. For which, the testimony of C. Sulpicius, the Roman Dictator, can be cited, who, coming to battle with the Gauls, armed all the teamsters and camp followers, and making them mount mule’s and other beasts of burden, and with arms and ensigns made them appear as mounted forces; he placed them behind a hill, and commanded that at a given signal at the time the battle was hottest, they should discover and show themselves to the enemy. Which thing thus organized and carried out, gave the Gauls so much terror, that they lost the day. And, therefore, a good Captain ought to do two things: the one, to see that with some of these new inventions to dismay the enemy; the other, to be prepared, if these things are done against him by the enemy, to be able to discover them and make them turn useless; as did the King of India against Semiramis, who [the Queen] seeing that the King had a good number of elephants, to frighten him and to show him that hers were also plentiful, formed many with the hides of buffaloes and cows, and these she placed on camels and sent them forward; but the deceit being recognized by the King, that design turned out not only useless but damaging to her. The Dictator Mamercus was waging war against the Fidenati, who, in order to dismay the Roman army, arranged that, in the ardor of battle there should issue forth from Fidene, a number of soldiers with fire on their lances, so that the Romans, occupied by the novelty of the thing, would break ranks [and create confusion] among themselves. Here it is to be noted, that when such inventions contain more of reality than fiction, they can be shown to men, because as they appear strong, their weakness will not be readily discovered; as did C. Sulpicius with the muleteers. For where there is intrinsic weakness, if they come too near, they are soon discovered, and cause you more harm than good, as did the elephants to Semiramis, and the fire to the Fidentes; which, although they did in the beginning disturb the army a little, none the less, when the Dictator saw through them, and, begun to shout to them, saying they should be ashamed to flee the smoke like insects, and shouted to them that they should return to the fight. [And] With their torches destroy Fidenes, which your benefits could not placate, he turned that artifice used by the Fidenati useless, and caused them to be the losers of the fight.
The Fidenati having revolted, and having killed the Colony that the Romans had sent to Filene, the Roman, in order to remedy this insult, created four Tribunes with Consular power, one of whom they left to guard Rome, and the other three were sent against the Fidenati and the Veienti; who [the Tribunes], because they were divided among themselves and disunited, gained dishonor but experienced no injury. For this dishonor they themselves were the cause, the virtu of the soldiers was the cause of their not receiving injury. Whence the Romans, seeing this disaster, had recourse to the creation of a Dictator, so that one alone would restore that which three had destroyed. Whence the uselessness of many commanders in an army, or in a town that has to be defended is recognized: and Titus Livius could not more clearly state it with these forcible words: Three Tribunes with Consular power, proved how useless it was to give the conduct of the war to any; for each having his own counsel, each different from the others, they afforded the enemy [hosts] an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. And although this is a good example to prove the disorder which a plurality of commanders create in a war, I want to cite some others, both modern and ancient, to clarify this further. In the year one thousand five hundred 1500, after King Louis XII of France had retaken Milan, he sent his forces to Pisa to restore her to the Florentines; where [Florence] sent as Commissioners Giovanbattista Ridolfi and Luca Antonio Degli Albizzi. And as Giovanbattista was a man of reputation and the older [of the two], Luca left the management of everything to him: and although he did not show his ambition by opposing him, he showed it by his silence and by the indifference and contempt toward everything, so that he did not aid him in the actions in the field either with deeds or counsel, as if he had been a man of no importance. But then the very opposite was seen when Giovanbattista, because of certain incidents that occurred, had to return to Florence; then Luca remaining alone showed how much he was worth by his courage, industry, and counsel, all of which were lost as long as there was a colleague. I want again to cite in confirmation of this the words of Titus Livius, who, referring to the Romans sending of Quintus and Agrippa, his colleague, against the Equeans, tells of how Agrippa wanted the entire administration of the war be given to Quintius, and said: For the success of the administration of great things, the principal authority is to exist in one man. Which is contrary to that which is done by our Republics and Princes today, who sent more than one Commissioner or more than one Head to [different] places in order to administer them better, which created an inestimable confusion. And if the causes of the ruin of the Italian and French armies of our times should be sought, this would be found to have been the most powerful of [all the] causes. And it may be truly concluded that it is better to send only one man of prudence on an expedition, than two most valiant men together with the same authority.
It has always been, and always will be, that rare and great men are neglected in a Republic in times of peace; for through envy of their reputation which that virtu has given them, there are in such times many other citizens, who want to be, not only their equals, but their superiors. And of this, there is a good account by Thucydides, the Greek historian, who shows that the Athenian Republic having become superior in the Peloponnesian war, and having checked the pride of the Spartans, and almost subjected all of Greece, arose in reputation so much that she designed to occupy Sicily. This enterprise came to be debated in Athens. Alcibiades and some other Citizens counselled that it be done, as they thought more of honor and little of the public good, and planning to be heads of such an enterprise. But Nicias, who was first among men of reputation in Athens, dissuaded her, and the major reason he cited in addressing the people (as they had faith in him) was this, that in counselling her not to undertake this war, he was counselling something that was not being done for his interest, for as long as Athens was at peace he knew there were an infinite number of men who wanted to take precedence over him, but in making war he knew no citizen would be his equal or superior. It is seen, therefore, that in Republics there is this evil of having little esteem for men of valor in tranquil times. Which thing causes them to be indignant in two ways: the one, to see themselves deprived of their rank; the other, to see unworthy men [and] of less capacity than they become their colleagues and superiors. This defect in Republics has caused much ruin, for those Citizens who see themselves deprecated undeservedly, and knowing that the reasons for it are the easy and unperilous times, endeavor to disturb the Republic by setting new wars in motion to its detriment.
And in thinking of what those remedies could be, there are two to be found: the one, to keep the Citizens poor so that their wealth and lack of virtu should not enable them to corrupt either themselves or others; the other, to organize themselves for war in a way that war may always be undertaken and that there would always be undertaken and that their would always be need for Citizens of reputation, as did Rome in her early times. For as that City always kept armies [outside] in the field, there was always a place for men of virtu; nor could rank be taken away from one who merited it, and given to one who did not merit it. For, even if this was done some time either by mistake or by way of trial, so many disorders and dangers would occur to it that they quickly returned to the true course. But other Republics, which are not organized as she [Rome] was, and who wage war only when necessity constrains them to, cannot defend themselves from such inconvenience, but rather always run into them; and disorders will always arise when that virtuous but neglected Citizen is vindictive, and has reputation and adherents in that City. And if the City of Rome was defended from this [evil] for a time, and (after she had overcome Carthage and Antioch, as was said elsewhere) no longer fearing war, she seemed to be able to commit [the conduct of] the armies to whoever wanted it, not regarding virtu as much as the other qualities which would obtain for him the good will of the people. For it is seen that Paulus Emilius was refused the Consulship many times, nor was he made Consul until the Macedonian war had sprung up, which being thought perilous, [the command of the army] was committed to him by the consent of all the City.
Many wars having occurred in our City of Florence after [the year] one thousand four hundred ninety four 1494, and the Florentine Citizens all having given bad proof [of their ability], by chance there was found in the City one who showed in what manner the army should be commanded; this was Antonio Giacomini: and as long as they had dangerous wars to wage, all the ambition of her citizens ceased, and he had no one as competition in the choice as Commissary and Head of the armies: but when a war was to be waged where there was no doubt [of the outcome], and where there were to be only honors and rank [obtained], many competitors were to be found; so that having to select three Commissaries to besiege Pisa, he [Antonio] was left out. And although the evil that should ensue to the public for not having sent Antonio was not evident, none the less a conjecture of it could be made most easily; for the Pisans not having provisions with which to defend themselves, would have been in such straits that they quickly would have given themselves up to the
discretion of the Florentines, if Antonio had not been there [in command]. But being besieged by Heads who did not know either how to press them or force them, they were so long delayed, that the City of Florence purchased it [Pisa]. Such an indignity might well have had an effect on Antonio and it was necessary that he should have been good and very patient not to have desired to avenge himself either by the ruin of the City (he being able to) or by the injury of some particular citizen. From which a Republic ought to guard itself, as will be discussed in the ensuing chapter.
A Republic ought to take great care not to promote anyone to any important administration who has been done a notable injury by someone. Claudius Nero (who had left the army which he had confronting Hannibal, and with a part of it went into the Marca to meet the other Consul in order to combat Hasdrubal before he could join up with Hannibal) found himself in Spain in front of Hasdrubal, and having locked him with his army in a place where he had to fight Hasdrubal at a disadvantage to himself, or to die of hunger; but he was so astutely detained by Hasdrubal with certain proposals of an accord, that he escaped and took away his [Nero’s] opportunity of crushing him. Which thing being known in Rome, the Senate and the People became greatly saddened, and he was discussed in shame throughout the entire City, not without great dishonor and indignity to him. But after having been made Consul and sent to encounter Hannibal, he took the above mentioned proceeding, which was most dangerous: so that all Rome remained troubled and in doubt until there came the news of the rout of Hasdrubal. And Claudius, afterwards being asked what the reason was why he had taken so dangerous a proceeding, in which without any extreme necessity he had almost gambled away the liberty of Rome, he answered that he had done so because he knew that if it succeeded, he would reacquire that glory that he had lost in Spain; and if he did not succeed, and their proceeding had had a contrary ending, he knew he would be avenged against that City and those Citizens who had so ungratefully and indiscreetly offended him. And if these passions could so exist in a Roman Citizen, and in those times when Rome was yet incorrupt, one ought to think how much they could exist in a Citizen of a City that was not like she was. And as similar disorders which arise in Republics cannot be given a certain [adequate] remedy, if follows that it is impossible to establish a perpetual Republic, because in a thousand unforeseen ways its ruin may be caused.
Epaminondas the Theban said nothing was more necessary and more useful for a Captain, than to know the decisions and proceedings of the enemy. And as such knowledge is difficult [to obtain], so much more praise does he merit who acts in a way that he conjectures it. And it is not so difficult to learn the designs of the enemy as it is sometimes difficult to understand his actions, and not as much his actions that he does at a distance, as those he does at the moment and near by. For it has happened many times that (the battle having lasted until nightfall) he who had won believed he had lost, and he who had lost believed he had won. Such an error had made men decide things contrary to the welfare of the one who made the decision; as happened to Brutus and Cassius, who by such an error lost the war, for Brutus having won on his wing, Cassius thought it had lost, and that the whole army had been routed, and despairing of his safety because of this error, killed himself. And in our times in the engagement which Francis, King of France, made in Lombardy at Santa Cecilia against the Swiss, night having fallen, that part of the Swiss who had not been broken believed themselves to have won, not knowing that the others had been routed and killed: which error caused them not to save themselves, for they awaited the morning to fight at such a disadvantage to them, that they also made another error; and this same error came near ruining the army of the Pope and of Spain, which, on the false news of victory, crossed the Po, and, if it had advanced any further, would have become prisoners of the French, who were victorious.
Such a similar error occurred in the camps of the Romans and those of the Equeans, where Sempronius the Consul with his army having come to an encounter with the enemy, and the battle having been enkindled, they fought all day until night with varying fortunes for the one and the other: the one went with the Consul, the other with one Tempanius, a Centurion, through whose virtu that day the Roman army was not entirely routed. When morning had come, the Roman Consul (without knowing anything more of the enemy) withdrew himself toward Rome, and the army of the Equeans did similarly; for each of these believed that the enemy had won, and therefore each one retreated without regard to leaving their encampment a prey [to the other]. It happened that Tempanius, who was with the rest of the army and also retreating, learned from certain wounded of the Equeans that their Captains had departed and had abandoned their encampments; whence he, on this news, returned to the Roman encampments, and saved them, and afterwards sacked those of the Equeans, and returned to Rome victorious. Which victory (as is seen) consisted only in which of them first learned of the disorder of the enemy. Here it ought to be noted that it can often occur that two armies confronting themselves, are in the same disorder, and suffering from the same necessity; and he will become the victor who is the first to learn of the necessity of the other.
I want to give a domestic and modern example of this. In the year one thousand four hundred ninety eight 1498, when the Florentines had a big army before Pisa and pressed that city strongly; the Venetians having undertaken its protection and seeing no other way of saving her, decided to make a diversion from that war by assaulting from another side the dominion of the Florentines, and raising a powerful army, they entered it by was of the Val Di Lamona, and occupied the Borgo Di Marradi, and besieged the Rock [Fort] of Castiglione, which is on the top of the hill. The Florentines hearing of this, decided to succor Marradi, without diminishing the force they had before Pisa: and raising new infantry and organizing new cavalry forces, they sent them there, of which the heads were Jacopo Quarto D’Appian, Lord of Piombino, and the Count Rinuccio Da Marciano, When these forces were brought to the hill above Marradi, the enemy [Venetians] withdrew from around Castiglione and retired into the Borgo: and both of these armies having been facing each other for several days, both suffered from [lack of] provision and every other necessary thing; and one not daring to face the other, nor one knowing of the disorganization of the other, both decided to raise their camp the following morning and withdraw, the Venetians toward Berzighelli and Faenza, the Florentines toward Casaglia and the Mugello. When morning came, therefore, and each of the camps had commenced to send away its baggage, by chance a woman departed from the Borgo Da Marradi, and came toward the Florentine camp, being secure because of her old age and poverty, and desired to see certain of her people who were in the camp: from whom the Captains of the Florentine forces learning that the Venetian camp was departing, they were encouraged by this news, and changing their counsel, went after them, as if they had dislodged the enemy; and wrote to Florence that they had repulsed [the Venetians] and won the war. Which victory did not result from anything else other than to have learned before the enemy that they were departing, which news, if it had first gone to the other side, it would have had the same result against us.
The Roman Republic was disturbed by the enmity between the Nobles and the Plebs: none the less, when a war occurred [to them], they sent out Quintius and Appius Claudius with the armies. Appius, because he was cruel and rude in commanding, was ill obeyed by his soldiers, so that being almost overcome he fled from his province. Quintius, because he was if a benign and humane disposition, had his soldiers obedient to him, and brought back the victory. Whence it appears that it is better to be humane than haughty, gentle than cruel, when governing a multitude. None the less, Cornelius Tacitus (with whom many other writers are in agreement) in one of his opinions concludes the contrary, when he says: In governing the multitude Punishment is worth more than Obsequies. And in considering if it is possible to reconcile both of these opinions, I say that you have to rule men who ordinarily are colleagues, or men who are always your subjects. If they are your colleagues, punishment cannot entirely be used, nor that severity which Cornelius recommends: and as the Roman Pleb had equal sovereignty with the Nobility in Rome, anyone who had temporarily become a Prince could not manage them with cruelty and rudeness. And many times it is seen that better results were achieved by the Roman Captains who made themselves beloved by the armies, and who managed them with obsequies, than those who made themselves extraordinarily feared, unless they were already accompanied by an excessive virtu, as was Manlius Torquatus: But he who commands subjects (of whom Cornelius talks about), ought to turn rather to punishment than to gentleness, so that they should not become insolent and trample on you, because of your too great easiness. But this also ought to be moderate so that hatred is avoided, as making himself hated never returns good to a Prince. And the way of avoiding [hatred] is to let the property of the subjects alone; as to blood (when one is not under the desire of rapine), no Prince desires it unless it is necessary, and this necessity rarely arises; when it is mixed with rapine, it always arise, nor will there ever be reasons and the desire for shedding it lacking, as has been discussed at length in another treatise on this matter. Quintius, therefore, merits more praise than Appius; and the opinion of Cornelius within his own limitations, and not in the cases observed by Appius, merits to be approved. And as we have spoken of punishment and obsequies, it does not appear to me superfluous to show that an example of humanity can influence the Faliscians more than arms.
When Camillus was with his army around the City of The Faliscians, and besieging it, a [school] teacher of the more noble children of that City, thinking to ingratiate himself with Camillus and the Roman people, under pretext of exercising them, went with them outside the City and led them all to the camp before Camillus, and presenting them to him said, that by means of them [the children] that town would be given into his hands: Which offer was not only not accepted by Camillus, but having had the teacher stripped and his hands bound behind his back, put a rod into the hands of each of the children, made him be beaten by them back to the town. When this was learned by those citizens, they liked the humanity and integrity of Camillus so much, that they decided to give up the town to him without wanting to defend themselves further. Whence it is to be observed by this true example how some times an act of humanity and full of charity can have more influence on the minds of men, than a ferocious and violent act; and that many times that province and that City, which, with arms, instruments of war, and every other human power, could not be conquered, was conquered by an example of humanity, of mercy, of chastity, or of generosity. Of which there are many other examples in the histories (in addition to this). And it is seen that Roman arms could not drive Pyrrhus out of Italy, but the generosity of Fabricus in making known to him the offer which his familiar [servant] had made to the Romans of poisoning him, did drive him out. It is also seen that the capture of New Carthage in Spain did not give Scipio Africanus so much reputation, as that example of chastity gave him, of having restored the young beautiful wife untarnished to her husband, the fame of which action made all Spain friendly to him. It is also to be seen how much people desired this virtu in great men, and how much it is praised by writers, and by the biographers of Princes, and by those who describe how they should live. Among whom Xenophon makes a great effort to show how many honors, how many victories, how much fame came to Cyrus by his being humane and affable, and by his not giving example of himself either of cruelty or haughtiness, or of luxuriousness, or of any other vice which stains the lives of men. Yet, none the less, seeing that Hannibal had acquired great victories and fame by contrary means, it appears proper to me to discuss in the following chapter whence this happens.
I think that some can marvel to see some Captains, not withstanding that they have employed contrary methods, to have none the less achieved the same results as those who have employed the methods described above; so that it appears the cause for victories does not depend on the aforesaid reason, rather it appears that those methods do not render you more powerful or more fortunate, as you are able by contrary methods to acquire glory and reputation. And so that I do not leave the above mentioned men, and to clarify more what I have wanted to show, I say that it is seen that as soon as Scipio entered Spain, he quickly made himself a friend of that province, and with that humanity and goodness of his, was adored and admired by the People. The contrary is seen when Hannibal entered Italy, and with every contrary method, that is, with violence, cruelty, rapine, and every kind of perfidy, obtained the same result that Scipio did in Spain; for all the Cities of Italy rebelled in favor of Hannibal, and all the people followed him. And in considering why this should result, many reasons are seen. The first is, that men are desirous of new things, which most of the times are desired as much by those who are well off as by those who are badly off; for (as had been said another time, and is true) men get tired of the good, and afflict themselves with the bad. This desire, therefore, opens the door to anyone in a province, who is the head of an innovation; and if he is a foreigner they run after him, if he is a provincial they surround him, favoring him and increasing his influence. So that in whatever way he proceeds, he will succeed in making great progress in those areas. In addition to this, men are pushed by two main things, either by love or by fear; so that he who makes himself loved commands as well as he who makes himself feared, although most of the times he who makes himself feared, although most of the times he who makes himself feared will be followed and obeyed [more readily] than he who makes himself loved. It matters little, therefore, to any Captain by which of these ways he proceeds, as long as he is a man of virtu, and that that virtu makes him reputed among men. For when this is great, as it was with Hannibal and Scipio, it cancels all those errors which are made either from making oneself loved too much or from making oneself feared too much. For from both of these two methods great evils may arise and apt to cause a Prince to be ruined. For he who desires too much to be loved becomes condemned every little he departs from the true path: the other who desires too much to be feared, becomes hated every little that he goes too far in that manner. And holding to the middle path cannot be done, because our nature does not permit this. But it is necessary to mitigate these extremes by an excessive virtu, as did Hannibal and Scipio. None the less it is seen that both of them were both hurt as well as exalted by this method of proceeding of theirs.
The exaltation of these two has been mentioned. The harm concerning Scipio, was that his soldiers in Spain rebelled with part of his friends, which resulted from nothing else other than they did not fear him: for men are so restless that with every little opening of the door to their ambitions, they quickly forget all the love that they had for the Prince because of his humanity, as the aforesaid soldiers and friends did; so that Scipio in order to remedy this evil was constrained to employ some of that cruelty which he had avoided. As to Hannibal, there is no particular example where his cruelty and perfidy caused him to be harmed. But it can indeed he presumed that Naples and many other towns which remained faithful to the Roman people, remained so because of fear of them [his cruelty and perfidy]. This much is seen, that that method of his of acting unmercifully made him more odious to the Roman people than any other enemy which that Republic ever had. So that while they informed Pyrrhus (while he was with the army in Italy) of he who wanted to poison him, yet they never forgave Hannibal (though disarmed and a fugitive), so much so that they caused him to kill himself. This disaster happened to Hannibal, therefore, because of his being held unmerciful, cruel, and a breaker of the faith; but, on the other hand, he derived a great advantage from it, which is admired by all the writer, that in his army (even though composed of various races of men) there never arose any dissension, either among themselves, or against him. This could not derive from anything else other than from that terror which arose from his person, which was so great, and combined with that reputation which his virtu gave him, that he kept his soldiers quiet and united.
I conclude, therefore, that it does not matter much in what way a Captain proceeds, as long as there is in him such great virtu that it permits him to succeed with either method: for (as has been said) there are dangers and defects in both these methods, unless corrected by an extraordinary virtu. And if Scipio and Hannibal, one by praiseworthy means, the other by detestable ones, obtained the same results, it does not appear proper to me to omit the discussion also of two Roman Citizens who acquired the same glory by different methods, though both praiseworthy.
There were in Rome at the same time two excellent Captains, Manlius Torquatus and Valerius Corvinus, who, of equal virtu and of equal triumphs and glory, were living in Rome; and each of them, as far as pertained to the enemy, acquired them by equal virtu, but, as far as pertained to the armies and their treatment of soldiers, they proceeded most differently; for Manlius commanded his with every kind of severity, [subjecting them] without intermission to hard work and punishment; Valerius, on the other hand, treated them with every kind and degree of humanity, and full of affability. Thus it is seen that in order to obtain the obedience of his soldiers, one put to death even his own son, and the other never harmed anyone. None the less, in such difference of procedure, each reaped the same fruit, both against the enemy and in favor of the Republic, as well as in their own interests. For no soldier refused to fight, or rebelled against them, or was in any way opposed to their will; although the commands of Manlius were so harsh that all other decrees which exceeded the ordinary were called Manlian Decrees. Here it is to be considered, first, whence it came that Manlius was constrained to proceed so rigidly; next, whence it happened that Valerius was able to proceed so humanely; another, what was the reason that these different methods obtain the same result; and lastly, which of them is it better and more useful to imitate.
If anyone well considers the nature of Manlius, from when T. Livius began to make mention of him, he will see him a very strong man, gentle toward his father and his country, and most respectful to his elders. These things we know from the defense of his father against a Tribune, and from the slaying of that Gaul, and how before he went to fight the Gaul he went to the Consul with these words: I will never fight the enemy without your order, not even if certain victory is in view. When a man thus constituted comes to the rank of command, he desires to find all men like himself, and his strong spirit makes his commands as strong, and these same (once they are commanded) he wants observed. And it is a true ruler, that when harsh things are commanded, they must be made to be observed with harshness, otherwise you will find yourself deceived. Here it is to be noted that in wanting to be obeyed, it is necessary to know how to command, and those who know how to command are those who make a comparison of their strength with that of those who have to obey; and when they are seen to be in proper proportion, then they command, when out of proper proportion, they abstain. And, therefore, it was said by a prudent man, that to hold a Republic by violence it must be necessary that there be a proper proportion between he who forces and he who is forced. And anytime this proportion exists, it can be believed that that violent [regime] will endure. But when the oppressed is stronger than the oppressor, it can be feared that the violent [regime] should cease any day.
But returning to our discussion, I say that to give vigorous orders, one must be strong, and he who is of this strength and commands them, cannot then make them to be observed by gentle means: But he who is not of this strength of mind ought to guard himself from extraordinary decrees; but in the ordinary ones he can use his humanity, for ordinary punishments are not imputed to a Prince, but to laws and institutions. It ought therefore, to be believed that Manlius was constrained to proceed so rigorously by the extraordinary decrees of his, to which his nature inclined him, and which are useful in a Republic as it brings her back to her ancient virtu. And if one Republic should be so fortunate as to have often (as we said above) men who by their example restore the laws, and not only retain those which should not incur her ruin, but carry her in the opposite direction and perpetuate her existence. So that Manlius was one of those who by the harshness of his decrees retained the military discipline in Rome, constrained first by his nature, then by the desire he had for the observance of those [orders] which his natural temperament had made ordinary for him. On the other hand, Valerius was able to proceed humanely, as one to whom it sufficed that those things be observed which customarily were observed in the Roman armies. Which custom (because it was good) was enough to have him honored, and was not hard to be observed, and did not necessitate Valerius punishing the transgressors, as much because there weren’t any, as also, if there were any, they imputed (as was said) their punishment to the ordinances and not to the cruelty of the Prince. So that Valerius was able to arouse in himself every humaneness, from which he acquired the good will of his soldiers and their contentment. Whence it happens that both obtaining the same obedience, they were able to act differently and obtain the same results. Those who may want to imitate these men can be exposed to those vices of contempt and hatred, which as I have said above of Scipio and Hannibal, can be avoided by an excessive virtu which is in you, and not otherwise.
It remains now to be considered which of these methods of proceeding is more laudable, and this I believe is disputable, as writers praise both methods. None the less, those who write about how a Prince has to govern approach more toward Valerius than to Manlius, and Xenophon whom I have quoted before, in giving many examples of the humaneness of Cyrus, greatly conforms to what T. Livius says of Valerius. For when he was made Consul against the Samnites, and the day arriving when he was to do battle, he spoke to his soldiers with that humanity with which he governed them, and after relating this speech T. Livius says these words. No other leader was so familiar with his soldiers, sharing all burdens cheerfully, amongst even the lowest soldiers. In military exercises, he contested equally with his men, in tests of speed, and whether he won or was defeated, it was the same to him; nor did he ever object to any one who offered; in his actions he was benign in all things; in speech, he was no less concerned with the liberty of others, as of his own dignity; and in the arts of the magistrate, he acted as if he was their petitioner (even though not of the people). T. Livius similarly speaks honorably of Manlius, showing that the severity in putting his son to death made the army so obey the Consul, that it was the cause of the Roman people obtaining the victory over the Latins; and in fact he goes on to praise him, that after such a victory, he describes all the orders of battle and shows all the dangers to which the Roman people were exposed, and the difficulties that were encountered in the winning, and makes this conclusion, that only the virtu of Manlius gave the victory to the Romans: And making a comparison of the strengths of both armies, he affirms that the portion which had Manlius as Consul had gained the victory. So that considering everything that the writers have said, it is difficult to judge. None the less, so as not to leave this part undecided, I say, that in a citizen who lives under the laws of a Republic, I believe the procedure of Manlius is more praiseworthy and less dangerous, because this method is all in favor of the public, and does not regard in any part private ambitions; for by such a method, partisans cannot be acquired; showing himself harsh to everyone and loving only the common good, a [commander] does not acquire particular friends (as we said above), such as we call partisans, So that such methods of procedure cannot be more useful or of more value in a Republic, as it does not lack usefulness to the public, and there not being able to be any suspicion of private power. But in the method of procedure of Valerius the contrary is the case; for although the same effects are produced as far as the public is concerned, none the less, many apprehensions spring up because of the particular [individual] good will which he acquires with the soldiers having, in a long rule, had effects against [public] liberty. And if these bad effects did not happen with [Valerius] Publicola, the reason was that the minds of the Romans were not yet corrupt, and he had not been long and continuously governing them.
But if we have to consider a Prince, as Xenophon considers it, we must come near to Valerius in everything, and leave Manlius; for a Prince ought to seek obedience and love in his soldiers and subjects. Obedience will obtain for him their observance of the ordinances, and his being held a man of virtu: love will give him that affability, humanity, mercy, and all those other qualities which existed in Valerius, and which Xenophon writes also existed in Cyrus. For, a Prince being individually greatly desired, and having the army as his partisan, conforms with the other interests of the State. But in a citizen who has the army as his partisan, this part does not conform to the other institutions, which cause him to live under the laws and obey the Magistrates. Among the other ancient history of the Venetian Republic, it is to be read that when the Venetian galleys returned to Venice, a certain difference arose between the men of the galleys and the people, whereupon it came to tumults and arms; and the matter not being able to be quelled, either by the power of the ministers, or by the respect for the [principal] citizens, or by fear of the Magistrates, but as soon as a Gentleman who had been their captain the previous year appeared before the sailors, because of their love for him, they departed and left the fight. Which obedience excited the suspicions of the Senate so much, that soon afterwards the Venetians assured themselves of him by imprisonment and putting him to death.
I conclude, therefore, that the procedure of Valerius is useful in a Prince, but pernicious in a citizen, not only towards the country, but towards himself: to the country because these methods prepare the way for Tyranny: to himself, because his city becoming suspicious of the method of his proceeding, is constrained to assure itself with injury to him. And, on the other hand, I affirm the procedure of Manlius to be harmful in a Prince, but useful in a citizen and especially to the country; and although it rarely harms him, unless this hatred which it engenders be made more severe by the suspicions which your other virtues and great reputation inspire, as we will discuss below [speaking] of Camillus.
We have concluded above that proceeding as Valerius did is harmful to the country and to oneself, and proceeding as Manlius did is beneficial to the country, but sometimes harmful to oneself. This is very well proved by the example of Camillus, who in his proceedings resembled Manlius rather than Valerius. Whence T. Livius, speaking of him, says that He was hated by the soldiers, but was admired for his virtues, what kept him admired was the solicitude, the prudence, the greatness of mind, that good organization he observed in the operation and the command of the armies. What made him admired was his being more severe in castigating them than liberal in rewarding them. And T. Livius cites these reasons for the hatred: the first, that the money which was brought in from the goods of the Veienti which were sold, he applied to the public [treasury] and did not divide it with the plunder: the other, that in the triumph he had his triumphal carriage drawn by four white horses, where they said that from pride he had wanted to rival the sun: the third, that he made a vow to give Apollo the tenth part of the plunder from the Veienti, and which (wanting to satisfy the vow) he had to take from the hands of the soldiers who had already appropriated it.
Here those things can surely and easily be noted which make a Prince odious to his people, the principal one of which is to deprive them of something useful to them: which thing is of the greatest importance, because when a man is deprived of those things which are useful in themselves, he never forgets it, and every least necessity makes him remember; and because necessities happen every day, they remind you of them every day. The other thing is to appear haughty and presumptuous, which cannot be more odious to a people, and especially to a free people. And although this pomp and pride may not give rise to any inconvenience to them, none the less, it makes those who use them to be hated. From which a Prince ought to guard against as from a rock; for to draw hatred upon himself without profit to him, is entirely reckless and imprudent.
If the proceedings of the Roman Republic is considered well, two things will be seen to have been the causes of the dissolution of that Republic: the one was the contentions that arose from the Agrarian law, the other the prolongation of the [military] Commands; if these matters had been well understood from the beginning, and proper remedies taken she would have existed free longer, and perhaps more tranquil. And although it is seen that the prolongation of Commands never caused any tumult to arise, none the less facts show how much that authority which the citizens took because of such decisions was harmful to the City. And if the other citizens for whom the Magistracy was prolonged had been wise and good, as was L. Quintius, this inconvenience would not have incurred. His goodness is a notable example; for when the terms of an accord were completed between the Plebs and the Senate, and the Plebs having prolonged the Commands of the Tribunes for a year, because they judged it would help to enable them to resist the ambitions of the Nobles, the Senate wanted, in competition with the Plebs not to appear less [powerful] than they, to prolong the Consulship of L. Quintius; but he completely negated this decision, saying that they should seek to destroy the evil example not to increase their number with other worse examples, and he desired they create new Consuls. If this goodness and prudence had existed in all the Roman citizens, they would never have allowed that custom of prolonging the Magistracies to be introduced, which in time ruined that Republic.
The first to whom the Command was extended was P. Philo, who being at the siege of the City of Paleopolis, and the end of his Consulship having arrived, and as it appeared to the Senate that he had the victory in hand, they did not send him a successor but made him Proconsul. So that he was the first Proconsul. Which thing (although it was moved by the Senate as being useful to the public) was what in time brought Rome to servitude. For the further away the Romans sent their armies [from Rome], so much more did such prolongations appear necessary, and the more they employed them. This caused two evils. The one, that a smaller number of men were given experience in the Command [of armies], and, because of this, reputation [authority] came to be restricted to a few: the other, that a citizen being a command of an army for a long time, he gained it over to himself and made it his partisan, for that army in time forgot the Senate and recognized him as chief. Because of this Sulla and Marius were able to find soldiers willing to follow them against the public good. Because of this Caesar was able to seize the country. Thus, if the Romans had not prolonged the Magistracies and Commands, although she would not have come to so great power, and her conquests would have been slower, she would also have come to her servitude more slowly.
We have argued elsewhere that the most useful thing which is established in a republic is that its Citizens are to be kept poor. And although there did not appear to be those ordinances in Rome which would have that effect (the Agrarian law especially having had so much opposition) none the less, from experience, it is seen that even after four hundred years after Rome had been founded, there still existed a very great poverty; nor can it be believed that any other great institution caused this effect than to observe that poverty did not impede the way [to you] to any rank or honor, and that merit and virtu could be found in any house they lived in. Which manner of living made riches less desirable. This is manifestly seen when the Consul Minitius with his army was besieged by the Equeans, Rome was full of apprehension that the army should be lost, so that they had recourse to the creation of a Dictator, their last remedy in times of affliction. And they created L. Quintius Cincinnatus [Dictator], who was then to be found on his little farm, which he worked with his own hands. Which event is celebrated in words of gold by T. Livius, saying, Let everyone not listen to those who prefer riches to everything else in the world and who think there is neither honor nor virtu where wealth does not flow. Cincinnatus was working on his little farm, which did not exceed beyond four jugeri, when the Legate came from Rome to announce to him his election to the Dictatorship, and to show him in what peril the Roman Republic found itself. He put on his toga, went to Rome and gathered an army, and went to liberate Minitius; and having routed and despoiled the army, and freed that man [Minitius], he did not want the besieged army to share in the booty, saying these words to them: I do not want you to share in the booty of those to whom you had been about to become prey; and he deprived Minitius of the Consulship, and made him Legate, saying to him: You will remain in this grade until you have learned to be Consul.
He [Cincinnatus] had made L. Tarquinius master of his cavalry, who because of his poverty fought on foot. It is to be noted here (as has been said) the honor which was given to poverty in Rome, and how to a good and valiant man, as was Cincinnatus, four jugeri of land was enough to support him. Which poverty was also seen [to be honored] in the times of Marcus Regulus, for when he was in Africa with the armies, he asked permission of the Senate to be able to return to look after his farm, which was being spoiled by his laborers. Here two notable things are to be observed: one, how they were content to remain in such poverty, and that it was enough for those citizens to obtain honors from war, and to leave all the useful things to the public; for if they thought of enriching themselves from the war, they would have given little concern to their fields being spoiled. The other is to consider the generosity of spirit of those citizens who, when placed in charge of an army, rose above every Prince through the greatness of their souls; they not esteeming Kings or Republics, nor did anything dismay or frighten them, and afterwards when they returned to private life, they became frugal, humble, carers of their small facilities, obedient to the Magistrates, reverent to their elders, so that it appears almost impossible that the same mind should be able to bear such changes. This poverty lasted even up to the times of Paulus Emilius, which were about the last of the happy times of that Republic, when a citizen who had enriched Rome with his triumph, none the less kept himself poor. And so much was this poverty still esteemed, that Paulus in honoring those who conducted themselves well in the war, presented his son-in-law with a silver cup, which was the first [piece of] silver that came into his house.
And I could demonstrate with a long discussion how many better fruits are produced by poverty than are by riches; and that the first has honored Cities, Provinces, Sects, while the other has ruined them, — if this matter had not been many times illustrated by other men.
A difference arose in the City of Ardea between the Patricians and the Plebians, because of a marriage contract, in which an heiress about to be married, was asked for at the same time by a Plebeian and a Noble; and as she did not have a father, her guardians wanted to unite her to the Plebeian, her mother to the Noble: and such a tumult arose from this that they came to arms; in which all the Nobility armed themselves in favor of the Noble, and all the Plebeians in favor of the Plebeian. So that the Plebs being overcome, they went out from Ardea and sent to the Volscians for aid, while the Nobles sent to Rome. The Volscians arriving first, surrounded Ardea and besieged it. When the Romans arrived, they shut in the Volscians between the town and themselves, so that they constrained them (being pressed by hunger) to surrender themselves at discretion. And when the Roman entered the City, they put to death all the heads of the sedition, and restored order in that City. There are several things to note in this text. First it is seen that Women have been the cause of many ruinations, and have done great damage to those who govern a City, and have caused many divisions in them: and (as has been seen in our history) the excess committed against Lucretia deprived the Tarquins of their State; and the other committed against Virginia deprived the Ten [Decemvirs] of their authority. And Aristotle, among the first causes of the ruin of the Tyrants, places the injury they committed on Women, either by seduction, by violence, or corruption of marriages, as we have discussed this subject at length in the Chapter in which we treated of Conspiracies.
I say, therefore, that absolute Princes and governors of Republics do not have to take little account of this subject, but ought to consider the disorders which may arise from such incidents, and remedy them in time that it does not injure and disgrace their State or Republic; as happened to the Ardeans, who, for allowing the rivalry to increase among their citizens, were led to become divided among themselves, and wanting to reunite, had to send for outside succor, which is a great beginning to a sure servitude. But let us come to another notable way of reuniting a City, of which we will treat in the next chapter.
From the example of the Roman Consuls who reconciled together the Ardeans, the method is to be noted of how a divided City ought to have its order restored, which is none other than to kill the leaders of the tumults, and it is not otherwise to be cured, and it is necessary to take one of three ways: either to kill them as the Romans did, or to remove them from the City, or for them to make peace together under an obligation not to offend each other again. Of these three methods this last is the most harmful, less certain, and more useless; for it is impossible where much blood has run or other similar injuries inflicted that a peace made by force should endure; for seeing themselves together face to face each day, it is difficult that they should abstain from injuring each other, as new causes for quarrel can arise among themselves because of their intercourse every day. A better example of this cannot be given than that of the City of Pistoia.
Fifteen years before, that City was divided (as it is now) into the Panciatichi and Cancellieri, but at that time they were under arms, and today they have laid them down. And after many disputes among themselves they came to bloodshed, to the razing of houses, at plundering possessions, and to every other kind of enmity. And the Florentines who had to restore order to them, always employed this third method, and always there arose serious tumults and troubles: so that, becoming weary they came to employ the second method of removing the Leaders of the parties, of whom some they imprisoned and others they exiled to various places, in order that accord could exist, and has existed to this day. But without doubt, the most secure would have been the first method. But as this has need of power and courage, a weak Republic does not know how to accomplish it, and they go so far afield, that the effort required induces them to the second method.
And these are some of those errors, of which I spoke in the beginning, that the Princes of our time make, who, when they have to judge serious matters, ought to want to see how the ancients governed who had to judge in similar cases. But the weakness of present day men, caused by their feeble education and little knowledge of affairs, makes them regard the ancient judgments as partly inhuman, partly impossible of application. And certainly their modem opinions are very far from the truth, as those which the wise men of our City said at one time, that is, That it was necessary to hold Pistoia by parties, and Pisa by fortresses: and they do not see how useless are both of these methods. I want to omit talking of fortresses, as we have talked of them above at length, but I want to discuss the uselessness that results from the holding of towns by having a divided government. First it is impossible for a Prince or a Republic to maintain both old parties. For, by nature it is given to men to take sides in any difference of opinion, and for them to prefer the one more than the other. So that, having one party of the town discontented, the first occasion of war will cause you to lose it, for it is impossible to guard a City that has enemies outside and inside. If it is a government of a Republic, there is no better way to make your citizens bad, and to make your City divided, than to have a division of parties in the City; for each side seeks to obtain aid, and by corruption of every king to make friends for themselves. So that two very great evils arise. The one, that you do not make friends of them because you are not able to govern well, often changing the government, now with one humor, now with another. The other, that such favoring of parties of necessity keeps your Republic divided. And Biondo [the historian] speaking of the Florentines and Pistoians gives testimony when he says, While the Florentines were endeavoring to reunite Pistoia, they divided themselves. The evils that arise from such division, therefore, can easily be seen. In the year one thousand five hundred and one 1501 when Arezzo was lost, and all the Val Di Tevere and Val Di Chiana were occupied by the Vitelli and the Duke Valentino, there came a Monsignor Di Lante sent by the King of France to cause a restitution to be made of all the towns they had lost; and Lante finding in the castles only men who, in visiting them, said they were of the party of Marzocco4, censured this division most severely, saying that, if in France any one of the subjects should say he was of the King’s party, he would be castigated, because such a remark would signify nothing else other than there should be forces hostile to the King in that town, and that the King wanted all the towns to be friendly, united, and without parties. But all these methods and opinions that differ from the truth, arise from the weakness of those who are the Lords, who, seeing they are unable to hold the State by force and virtu, turn to similar expedients, which some times in times of tranquillity may be of some benefit, but with the advent of hard times, their fallacy is demonsrated.
4 Marzocco is the name Florentines gave a marble lion [attributed to Donatello] with the coat of arms, at the gate of the Palazzo Vecchio; hence, the party supporting the government was called the party of Marzocco.
The City of Rome was afflicted by a famine, and as the public provisions were not enough to end it, one Spurius Melius, who was very rich according to those times, had the mind of privately making a provision of grain and feed the plebs at his expense. For which thing a great assembly of people gave him their favor, that the Senate thinking of the evil that could arise from that liberality of his, and in order to suppress it before it should gather greater strength, created a Dictator against him, who had him put to death. Here it is to be noted that many times actions that appear merciful, and which cannot be reasonably condemned, may become cruel, and very dangerous to a Republic if not corrected at the proper time. And to discuss this matter in more detail, I say that a Republic cannot exist without Citizens of repute, nor govern itself well in any way. On the other hand, the reputation of such Citizens is the cause of tyranny in Republics. And in order to regulate this thing, it [the Republic] needs to be so organized, that the reputation of Citizens be based on the benefits it gives to the City and not on any harm to it and its liberty. And, therefore, the methods with which they assume reputation ought to be examined, and these, in effect, are two, either public or private. The public methods are when one acquires reputation by counselling well and acting well for the common benefit. The way to such honors ought to be opened to every Citizen, and rewards proposed for their good counsels and good works, so that they may obtain honors and be satisfied: and when such reputation is obtained through these pure and simple ways, it will never be dangerous: but when it is obtained through a private way (which is the other method mentioned) it is most dangerous and wholly harmful. The private ways are by doing good to this and that private individual by lending them money, marrying their daughters, defending them in front of Magistrates, and doing them similar private favors, which make men partisans, and give encouragement to whoever is thus favored to be able to corrupt the public and break the laws. A well organized Republic ought, therefore, to open the ways (as has been said) to whoever seeks favors through public means, and close them to whoever seeks them through public means, as was seen that Rome did; for as a reward to whoever acts well for the public she ordered triumphs and all the other honors which she gave to its Citizens; and she ordered accusations be brought against whoever, under various pretexts of theirs, by private means sought to make themselves powerful: and when these did not suffice because of the people being blinded by a species of false benefits, they ordered [the creation of] a Dictator, who, [armed] with Regal power made those who had gone astray to return within the fold, as she did in punishing Spurius Melius. And if one of these is allowed impunity, it is apt to ruin a Republic, as, with that as an example, it will be difficult to return later to the true path.
Princes should not complain of any fault that is committed by the People who are under their authority, for such faults result either from their negligence or because they are stained by similar faults. And whoever discusses those people who in our time have been given to robberies and similar faults, will see that these arise entirely from those who govern them, who were of a similar nature. The Romagna, before those Lords who ruled her were crushed by Pope Alexander VI, was an example of all the most criminal life, as here a great many killings and robberies were seen to happen for any slight reason. Which resulted from the wickedness of the Princes, and not from the wicked nature of men, as was said. For those Princes being poor, but wanting to live as rich men, were forced to turn themselves to many robberies and employ various methods in doing them. And among the other dishonest means they employed, they made laws and prohibited some activities, then they were the first who give cause for their non-observance, and they never punished the non-observers except when they saw there were many others guilty of the same, and then they turned to punishing them, not from any zeal for the law which was enacted, but from the cupidity [for money] expected from commuting the penalty. Whence many evils arose; and, above all of them, that the people were impoverished without being corrected, and those who were impoverished endeavored to make good [their losses] from those less powerful. Whence all those evils sprung up that were mentioned above, of which the Prince was the cause. And that this is true, T. Livius shows when he narrates, how, when the Roman legates brought the gift of the booty of the Veienti to Apollo, they were seized by the corsairs of Lipari in Sicily, and carried to that land. And Timastheus, their Prince, learning what gift this was, where it was going, and who was sending it, conducted himself (although born in Lipari) as a Roman, and showed his people how impious it was to seize such a gift. So that by general consent, he allowed the Legates to go with all their things. And the words of the historians are these: Timasitheus implanted religion in the multitude, who always imitate their rulers. And Lorenzo De’Medici in confirmation of this opinion says:
And that which the Lord does, many then do,
Whose eyes are always turned on their Lord.
The Roman Senate learning that Tuscany had made new levies to come to attack Rome, and that the Latins and the Hemicians, who had been in the past friends of the Roman people, had allied themselves with the Volscians, the perpetual enemies of Rome, judged that this war would be a dangerous one. And Camillus, finding himself Tribune with consular power, thought he would be able to do without creating a Dictator, if the other Tribunes, his colleagues, would yield the supreme Command to him. Which the other Tribunes did voluntarily. Believing (says Livius) that this would not detract from their authority, conceded that authority to him. Whence Camillus taking this consent at its word, commanded that three armies should be raised. The first he wanted to Head and go against the Tuscans: the second, of which he made Quintus Servilius Head, he wanted kept near Rome to restrain the Latins and Hemicians if they should make a move. The third, he placed Lucius Quintus at its Head, and was to serve to keep the City guarded, [and] to defend the gates and the Curia [Senate] in any event that might arise. In addition to this, he ordered that Horatius, one of his colleagues, should provide arms and grain and all the other things requested in times of war. He placed Cornelius, also a colleague of his, in charge of the Senate and the public council, so that he should be able to counsel what actions were to be taken and executed daily. Thus were the Tribunes in those times disposed to command and obey where the safety of the country was involved. It is to be noted from this test what a good and wise man does, and of what good he is the cause, and how much usefulness he can accomplish for his country, when, by his goodness and virtu, he has extinguished envy; this, many times, is the reason that men are not able to act well, the said envy not permitting them to have that authority which is necessary to have in important events.
This envy can be extinguished in two ways: either by some extraordinary and difficult incident, where everyone seeing himself about to perish, lays aside every ambition and runs voluntarily to obey him who he believes can, by his virtu, liberate him; as happened to Camillus, who, having given many proofs [of himself] of being a most excellent man, hand having been made Dictator three times, and having always employed that rank for public usefulness and not for his own advantage, had caused men not to fear his power; and as he was as powerful as he was reputed to be, they did not esteem it a disgrace to be inferior to him. And therefore Titus Livius wisely spoke those words, Believing that this, etc. The other way of extinguishing envy is, when either by violence or by natural orders, those men die who have been your rivals in arriving at some reputation and power, and who on seeing you reputed more than they, find it impossible ever to acquiesce and remain patient. And, if there are men accustomed to live in a corrupt City, where education has not resulted in any goodness in them, it is impossible that they should be restrained by any accident: but so as to obtain their desires and satisfy their perversity of mind, they would be content to see the ruin of their country. To overcome such envy, there is no other remedy than the death of those who have it: and when fortune is so propitious to that man of virtu as to make them die naturally, he becomes glorious without trouble, and may then display his virtu without any obstacle and without offense to anyone. But when he does not have such good fortune, he must think of every way to cut them off beforehand, and before he does anything he needs to overcome this difficulty. And whoever reads the Bible attentively, will see Moses, in wanting that his laws and his orders be observed, was forced to kill an infinite number of men who opposed his designs, moved by nothing else other than envy. Brother Girolamo Savonarola recognized this very well: Pietro Soderini, Gonfalonier of Florence also recognized it. The one would not overcome it because he did not have the authority to be able to do it, and this was the Brother; but because he was not well understood by those who followed him, he did not have the authority. None the less, he did all he could, and his preachings are full of accusations and invective against the wise of the world, for he thus called the envious and those who opposed his doctrines. The other [Soderini] believed that with time, with goodness, with his good fortune, and by benefiting some, to be able to extinguish this envy; seeing himself young and with so many new favors that his method of proceeding were adding to him, he believed he could overcome the many who opposed him from envy, without any trouble, violence, and tumult: but he did not know that time cannot wait, goodness is not enough, fortune changes, and malignity does not find gifts which placate it. So that both of these men were ruined, and their ruin was caused by their not having known how or having been able to overcome this envy.
The other thing to be noted is the orders given by Camillus, both inside and outside the City, for the safety of Rome. Truly and not without reason good historians (as is our T. Livius) wrote distinctly and in detail of certain cases, so that future people may learn how they have to defend themselves in similar incidents. And it ought to be noted from this text that there is no more dangerous or more useless defense than that which is done tumultuously and without order. And this is shown by that third army which Camillus had raised to have in Rome to guard that City; for many had judged and still would judge this part to be superfluous, since that people were warlike and ordinarily armed, and therefore it was not necessary to raise it as it was enough to have the citizens armed when the need should arise. But Camillus, and whoever was as wise as he was, judged otherwise; for he never permitted a multitude to take up arms except with certain orders and in a certain way. And, therefore, based on this example, one in charge of guarding a City ought to avoid as a dangerous rock the arming of men tumultuously, but ought first to have enrolled and chosen those he wants armed, and whom they must obey, where are the places of assembly, and where they are to go; and to command those who are not enrolled to remain in their homes to guard them. Those who follow these orders in a City under attack, are able easily to defend themselves: those who do otherwise do not imitate Camillus, and will not be able to defend themselves.
Among the other admirable things that our historian has Camillus say in order to show how an excellent man ought to be constituted, he puts these words in his mouth: My Dictatorship neither gave me courage, nor did my exile diminish it. By which words it is seen how great men are always the same in any fortune; and if it should change, exalting him now, oppressing him then, he does not change but always keeps his courage, and this is joined with his way of living so that everyone easily knows that fortune does not have power over him. Weak men conduct themselves otherwise; for becoming vain and inebriated by good fortune, they attribute all the good that they obtained to that virtu which they will never know: Whence it arises that they become unbearable and odious to all those who are around them. And when there is a sudden change of fortune, as soon as they come face to face with the cause, they come quickly into that other defect, and become vile and abject. From which it happens that Princes thus constituted, in adversity, think more of fleeing than of defending themselves, like those who, for having ill used that good fortune, are unprepared for any defense [against a reverse]. This virtu and this vice which I say are found in an individual, are also found in a Republic, and in example there are the Romans and the Venetians.
No ill fortune ever made the Romans become abject, nor did good fortune ever make them become insolent, as was manifestly seen after the defeat they experienced at Cannae, and after the victory they obtained against Antiochus: for this defeat, although it was most grave for having been the third one, never made them cowardly, but sent out new armies: they did not want to go against their institutions by ransoming their prisoners, nor did they send to Hannibal or Carthage to seek peace: but keeping out all these abject thoughts, they thought always of [continuing] the war, arming old men and slaves for want of men. When this thing became known to Hanno, the Carthaginian, (as was said above) he pointed out to that Senate how little account they [the Romans] took of the defeat at Cannae. And thus it is seen that times of difficulty did not dismay them or render them humble. On the other hand, prosperous times did not make them insolent; for when Antiochus, before they had come to the battle with them, and in which he had been defeated, sent ambassadors to Scipio seeking an accord, [and] Scipio gave him certain conditions for peace, which were that he should retire inside Syria, and leave the rest [of the country] to the control of the Romans: Which accord Antiochus refused, and coming to battle, and losing it, he again sent ambassadors to Scipio with the commission that they should accept all those conditions which were given them by the victor: to whom he [Scipio] did not propose other terms than those which he had offered before he he had won, adding these words: The Romans do not lose their courage when defeated, nor become insolent when they win.
The opposite of this was seen to be done by the Venetians, who, in good fortune (which they seemed to think they gained by that virtu which they did not have), had come to such insolence that they called the King of France a son of Saint Mark, they did not respect the Church, nor recognize any other [power] in Italy, and had presupposed in their minds the creation of an empire similar to the Roman one. Afterwards, when good fortune abandoned them, and they suffered a partial defeat at Vaila at the hands of the King of France, they not only lost all their State by rebellion, but, through cowardice and abjection of spirit, gave a good part [of their territory] to both the Pope and the King of Spain, and were so demoralized that they sent ambassadors and made themselves tributary to him, and wrote letters full of humility and submission to the Pope in order to move him to compassion. To which infelicity they came in four days, and after only a partial defeat; for their army, after having fought, in the retreat about half of it was attacked and beaten, so that only one of the Proveditori who saved himself, arrived in Verona with more than twenty five thousand soldiers, both horse and foot. So that if there had been any kind of virtu in Venice and in their institutions, they could easily have reorganized and shown a new face to their fortune, and would have been in time either to have won or lost more gloriously, or to have obtained a more honorable accord. But the baseness of their spirit, caused by the bad quality of their military organization, made them lose at a single blow their courage and their State. And thus it will always happen to whoever is governed as they were; for this becoming insolent in good fortune, and abject in bad, arises from your mode of procedure and from the education in which you are raised, which, when they are weak and vain makes you likewise, but when it has been otherwise, makes you also otherwise; it will make you know the world better, less joyful in good fortune, and less depressed in bad [fortune]. And that which is said of an individual, is said also of the many who live in a Republic, and who will perfect themselves according to the manner in which they live there.
And although at another time it has been said that the foundation of all States is a good military organization, and that where this does not exist there cannot be any good laws or any other good thing, it does not appear superfluous to me to repeat it; for the necessity of this is seen to appear at every point in the reading of this history; and it is seen that the military organization cannot be good unless it is disciplined, and that it cannot be done unless it is composed of your subjects. For a State is not always at war, or can be: therefore it must be able to train troops in times of peace, and this cannot be done with others except subjects on account of the expense. Camillus had gone out with the army (as we said above) against the Tuscans, and his soldiers, having seen the size of the enemy army, were all dismayed, as they deemed themselves inferior and unable to sustain their [enemy’s] attack. And this bad disposition of the troops coming to the ears of Camillus, he showed himself outside, and going about the camp, he spoke to this soldier and that one, and then without making any change in arrangements, he said: What every man has learned and is accustomed to do, let him do it. And whoever considers these circumstances well, and the words he said to reanimate them to go against the enemy, will realize that he could neither say nor do any of those things to the army, unless it had first been organized and trained both in peace and in war. For a Captain cannot trust those soldiers who have not learned to do anything or believe that they will do anything well. And if a new Hannibal were to command them, he yet would be ruined; for a Captain (while the engagement is going on) cannot be in every place, and unless he has first disciplined them to have the same spirit as himself, and trained them well in his method of proceeding, of necessity it must happen that he be ruined. If, therefore, a City would be armed and organized as Rome, and its citizens every day both privately and publicly are required to make a test of their virtu and the power of fortune, it will always happen that they will maintain the same courage and dignity as the Romans under similar conditions. But if they are disarmed and rely only on the vagaries of fortune, and not on their own virtu, they will change with changes of fortune, and will give of themselves the same example as the Venetians had given.
Circea and Velitrae, two of her [Roman] colonies, having rebelled from the Roman people, under the hope of being defended by the Latins, and the Latins afterwards having been defeated, they were deprived of that hope, many citizens counselled that Ambassadors be sent to Rome to submit themselves to the Senate; which proceeding was disturbed by those who had been the authors of the rebellion, who feared that all the punishment would fall on their heads. And to take away all discussion of peace, they incited the multitude to arm themselves and make incursions into the confines of Rome. And truly, if anyone sees a People or a Prince abandon all idea of an accord, there is no other more sure or more effective way, than to make them commit some grave wickedness against those with whom you do not want the accord made. For the fear of that punishment which seems to them to be merited because of the error they committed will always keep them apart. After the first war that the Carthaginians fought with the Romans, those soldiers who had been employed by the Carthaginians in that war in Sicily and Sardinia, as soon as peace was made, went to Africa; where, not being satisfied with their stipend, turned their arms against the Carthaginians, and creating two chiefs for themselves, Mathus and Spendius, they occupied many towns of the Carthaginians, and sacked many of them. The Carthaginians, in order to try every other means than battle, sent their citizen Hasdrubal as an ambassador to them, thinking he should have some influence with them as he had been their Captain in the past. And when he arrived, Mathus and Spendius wanting to oblige all those soldiers never to have peace again with the Carthaginians and therefore to oblige them to make war, persuaded them it was better to kill him together with all the other Carthaginians who were their prisoners. Whereupon they not only killed them, but first tore them to pieces with a thousand torments, adding to this wickedness and edict that all Carthaginians who might be taken in the future, should be killed in similar fashion. Which decision and execution made that contest against the Carthaginians cruel and obstinate.
In wanting an army to win an engagement, it is necessary to make it confident so that it believes it ought to win in any circumstance. The things that make it confident are, that it be well armed and organized, and each man should know the other. Nor can this confidence or discipline result unless those soldiers are natives and live together. It is necessary also that the Captain be esteemed in a way that they have confidence in his prudence, and will always consider him so when they see him orderly, watchful, and courageous, and maintains the majesty of his rank by a good reputation: and he will always maintain it when he punishes their errors, does not fatigue then in vain, observes his promises to them, and shows them that the path to victory is easy, and conceals and makes light of those dangers which he is able to discern from afar. Which things well observed are good reasons why the army becomes confident, and being confident, wins. The Romans used to make their armies assume this confidence by way of Religion, whence it happened that they created Consuls, levied troops, sent out the armies, and came to the engagement, by the use of auguries and auspices: and without doing these things a good and wise Captain would never hazard any action, thinking he could easily lose it if his soldiers should not first have learned that the Gods were on their side. And if any Consul or other Captain had fought contrary to the auspices, they would have punished him as they punished Claudius Pulcher. And although this part is observed in all Roman histories, none the less it is most certainly proved by the words Livius put in the mouth of Appius Claudius, who, complaining to the people of the insolence of the Tribunes of the plebs, points out how, by their means, the auspices and other things pertinent to Religion were corrupted, says thusly: It pleases them now to deride religion; Do they not care if the fowl are fed, or if they come out of their cages slowly? These things are small; but small things are not to be condemned. By them our ancestors made this Republic great. For in these little things is the strength to hold the soldiers united and confident, which are the principal causes of every victory. None the less it is necessary that these things be accompanied by virtu, otherwise they are of no value.
The Praenestines, having taken the field against the Roman army, they went to encamp on the river Allia, the place where the Romans had been overcome by the Gauls. They did this in order to put confidence in their soldiers, and to frighten the Romans because of the fortune of the place. And although this proceeding of theirs was probable for those reasons that have been discovered above, none the less the way the event turned out showed that true virtu does not fear every least incident. The historian expresses this well with the words placed in the mouth of the Dictator, who speaks thusly to his Master of the horse: You see the enemy, trusting to fortune, placed on the Allia; and you, trusting to arms and valor, attack the center of their battle line. For a real virtu, a good organization, a sureness derived from so many victories, cannot be extinguished in a moment; nor does a vain thing make them fear, or a disorder injure them; as is certainly seen where the two Consuls Manlius, when they were going against the Volscians, foolishly sent part of their camp to pillage the country, it happened that at the same time, both those who had gone out and those who remained found themselves besieged; from which danger, it was not the prudence of the Consuls, but the virtu of the soldiers themselves which freed them. Whence Titus Livius says these words: The soldiers, even without a leader, were saved by their own virtu. I do not want to omit an expedient employed by Fabius, when he first entered into Tuscany with his army in order to make them confident, as he judged such confidence more necessary in leading them into a new country and against new enemies, he addressed his soldiers before the battle, and after giving them many reasons through which they could hope for victory, he said he could also tell them other good things which would make their victory certain, except that it would be dangerous to reveal them. This method so wisely used, also merits to be imitated.
At another time we have spoken of how Titus Manlius, who was afterwards called Torquatus, saved L. Manlius, his father, from an accusation that had been made against him by Marcus Pomponius, Tribune of the Plebs. And although the manner of saving him was somewhat violent and extraordinary, none the less, that filial piety toward the father was so agreeable to the general public, that not only was he not censured, but when they had to create Tribunes of the legions, T. Manlius was named to the second place. This success, I believe, should make the manner to be considered well, in which the people have to judge men in their distribution of offices, and because of this we see whether what had been concluded above is true, that the people are better distributors of offices than a Prince. I say, therefore, that the people in their distribution are guided by what is said of one by the public voice and fame, even if by his noted deeds he appears different; or by the preconceptions or opinion which are had of him. Which two things are caused either by the fathers of such men who had been great and valiant men in the City and so it was believed that the sons ought to be like them, until the contrary is found out by their deeds; or by the opinion that the speaker holds. The better means that can be employed is to have as companions serious men, of good habits, and reputed wise by everyone. And because no better index can be had of a man than the companion with whom he keeps company, and meritedly one who keeps company with honest companions acquires a good name, for it is impossible that he does not have some similitude with them. Or truly this public fame is acquired by some extraordinary and notable act, even though it may be a private matter, which has turned out honorably. And of all these three things, which in the beginning give a good reputation to one, none gives it best than this last; for the first is based on relatives and fathers, and is so fallacious, that it comes to men so slowly and in a little while is consumed if the individual virtu of that man who is to be judged does not accompany him. The second, which makes you known by way of your practices, is better then the first, but is much inferior to the third; for until some sign arising from you is seen, your reputation is founded on opinion, which is most easy to stamp out. But that third, being begun and founded on your actions, gives you such a name in the beginning that it will be necessary that you many times do contrary deeds if you want to destroy it. Men who are born in a Republic ought, therefore, to adopt this last course and endeavor to begin to elevate themselves by some extraordinary action.
This is what many of the young men did in Rome, either by promulgating a law that served some common usefulness, or by accusing some prominent citizen as a transgressor of the laws, or by doing some similar new and notable things for which he is talked about. Not only are such things necessary in order to begin to give oneself reputation, but they are also necessary to maintain and increase it. And to want to do this, it is necessary to repeat them, as Titus Manlius did in his entire lifetime; for, having defended his father so extraordinarily and with so much virtu, and because of this act acquired this original reputation, and after a few years he fought that Gaul and, killing him, took from his that chain of gold which gave him the name of Torquatus. This was not enough for him, for afterwards when he was already of mature age, he killed his own son for having fought without permission, even though he had defeated the enemy. Which three acts gave him fame at that time, and will make him more celebrated for all the centuries to come, than all the victories and all the triumphs with which he was honored, as much as any other Roman, gave him. And the reason is, that in that victory Manlius had very many rivals, but in these particular acts he did not have any or only a very few. The elder Scipio did not gain as much glory with all his triumphs as was given him by his having defended his father on the Ticino while a youth, and be having, after the defeat at Cannae, animatedly with bloody sword made many young Romans swear that they would not abandon their country, as they had already decided; which two acts were the beginning of his reputation, and made for him the ladder for the triumphs of Spain and Africa. Which opinion was also increased by him when, in Spain, he sent back a daughter to her father and a wife to her husband. Such conduct is necessary not only for those Citizens who want to acquire fame in order to obtain honors in their Republic, but is also necessary for Princes to enable them to maintain their reputation in their Principality; for nothing makes itself so esteemed as his giving some example of some rare deed or saying concerning the common good, which show the lord to be magnanimous, liberal, or just, and which is such that it becomes as a proverb among his subjects, But to return whence we begun this discussion, I say, that when the people begin to bestow a rank upon one of its Citizens, if founded on those three reasons mentioned above, it is not badly founded: but when, however, the many examples of his good conduct make him more noted, it is better founded; for in such a case they are almost never deceived. I speak only of those ranks that are given to men in the beginning, and before they are known from firm experience, and before they pass from one act to another dissimilar one. Here, both as to false opinion and corruption, the people always make smaller errors that do Princes. Although it could happen that the people might be deceived by the fame, opinions, and acts of a man, esteeming them greater than, in truth, they are; which does not happen to a Prince, for he would be told and advised of it by those who counsel him; for although the people do not lack these counsels, yet the good organizers of Republic have arranged that, when appointments have to be made to the highest offices of the City, where it would be dangerous to place inadequate men, and where it is seen that the popular will is directed toward naming some that might be inadequate, it be allowed to every citizen, and it should be imputed to his glory, to make public in the assemblies to defects of that one [named for public office], so that the people (lacking knowledge of him) can better judge. And that such was the custom in Rome is witnessed by the speech of Fabius Maximus which he made to the people in the second Punic war, when in the creation of consuls their favors turned to the creation of T. Otacilius: and Fabius judging him inadequate to govern in the Consulship in those times, spoke against him and turned the favor of the people to one who merited it more than he. The people, therefore, in the election of Magistrates judge according to the best evidence that they can obtain, and err less than Princes: and the Citizen who desires to begin to obtain the favor of the people ought to gain it for himself (as T. Manlius did) by some notable deed.
It would be too lengthy and important a matter to discuss here what a dangerous thing it is to make oneself Head of a new thing which relates to many people, and how difficult it is to direct and achieve it, and having achieved it to maintain it: reserving it to a more convenient place, therefore, I will speak only of those dangers that Citizens are exposed to in counselling a Prince to make himself head of a grave and important decision in such a manner that the entire counsel given him is imputed to him. For as men judge a matter by its result, all the evil that may result is imputed to the author of the counsel, but if the result is good he is commended, but the reward does not counterbalance by far the punishment. The present Sultan Selim, called the Grand Turk, having prepared himself (according to what was reported by some who came from his country) to make an enterprise against Syria and Egypt, was advised by one of his Pashas whom he had stationed at the borders of Persia, to go against the Sofi [Shah]: motivated by this counsel, he went on that enterprise with a very large army, and having arrived in that very large country where there are great deserts and rivers are rare, and finding those same difficulties that had already caused the ruin of many Roman armies, was so overwhelmed by them that (even though he had been superior in the war) he lost a great part of his forces by famine and pestilence. So that angered against the author of the counsel, he killed him. You will read of many Citizens having been advisors [in favor] of an enterprise, and because that resulted badly, they were sent into exile. Some Roman Citizens advised that in creating Chiefs, that Plebs should be made Consuls in Rome. It happened that the first who went in the field with an army was defeated, whence harm would have come to those counsellors if that party, in whose honor that particular decision had been made, had not been so powerful. It is a most certain thing, therefore, that those who counsel a Republic and those who counsel a Prince, are placed between these two hazards; that if they do not counsel the things which appear to them useful either to the Prince or to the City [Republic] without regard [to the consequences to themselves], they fail in their office: if they do counsel it, they do so at the peril of their lives and their States; for all men are blind in these things, and are accustomed to judge the good or evil of a counsel by its result.
And in thinking of how they may be able to avoid this infamy or danger, no other way is seen than to take things moderately, and not to undertake any as one’s own enterprise, and to give an opinion without passion, and without passion to defend it modestly: so that if the Princes or the City follows it, they do so voluntarily and does not appear as though they were drawn into it by your importunity. When you act thusly, it is not reasonable that a Prince or a People will wish you ill because of your counsel, as it was not followed against the wishes of the many. For here the danger arises when it is contradicted by many, who then, when the result is unhappy, come “together in causing your ruin. And, if in such a case that glory is lacking which is acquired in being alone against the many in counselling a thing which chances to have good ending, yet there are two benefits which result: The first, danger is avoided: The second, that if you counsel a thing modestly, and because of contradiction your counsel is not taken, but ruin results from the counsel of others, you will obtain a very great glory. And although you cannot enjoy the glory that is acquired from the misfortune that happens to your City or your Prince, none the less it is to be held of some account.
I do not believe other advice can be given to men in this case, for in counselling them to remain silent and not speak their opinion, would be a useless thing to the Republic or to their Princes, and they would not avoid danger as in a little while they would become suspect: and it could happen to them as to those friends of Perseus, King of the Macedonians, who, when he was defeated by Paulus Emilius, having fled with a few friends, it happened that, in discussing the past events, one of them begun to tell Perseus of the many errors committed by him which had been the cause of his ruin; to which Perseus, turning to him, said: Traitor, you have waited to tell me this until now when I no longer have a remedy; and upon these words he killed him with his own hands: and thus this man suffered the punishment for having been silent when he should have spoken, and to have spoken when he should have been silent, and he did not avoid the danger by not having given his counsel. I believe, therefore, that the course mentioned above is the one to be held and observed.
The boldness of that Gaul who defied any Roman at the river Arno to combat [singly] with him, and the subsequent fight he had with T. Manlius, makes me remember what T. Livius often says, that the Gauls at the beginning of a fight are more than men, and in the course of the fight they turn out then to be less than women. And in thinking whence this arises, it is believed by many that it is because of their nature, and which I believe it true: but it is not because of this that this nature of theirs which makes them ferocious in the beginning, cannot be so disciplined that they might maintain that ferocity until the end. And in wanting to prove this I say that there are three kinds of armies: the one, where there is ardor and discipline, for from discipline there arises ardor and virtu, like that of the Romans: For it is seen in all histories that there was discipline in those armies, such military discipline had prevailed for a long time: for in a well-ordered army no one ought to perform any action except by regulation: and therefore it will be found that in the Roman army (which having conquered the world, all other armies ought to take as an example) no one ate, slept, traded, or did any other military or domestic act, without an order from the Consul. For those armies which do otherwise are not truly armies, and if they sometimes give some proof of it, they do this by their ardor and impulse, not because of virtu. But where virtu is disciplined, it employs its ardor with moderation and at the right time; and no difficulty debases it, or makes it lose courage, because good order renews this courage and ardor, nourished by the hope of victory, which is never missing while discipline is preserved. The contrary happens in those armies where there is ardor but no discipline; as were the Gauls, who were completely lacking in this while combatting, for if they did not succeed in winning with the first onset, in which they hoped, and not being sustained by a well regulated virtu, and not having anything outside of their fury in which to confide, they failed when that [first ardor] cooled. The Romans were the opposite; they were less apprehensive of danger because of their good discipline, were not mistrusting of victory, fought with the same courage and virtu at the end as at the beginning [of a battle], the heat of battle actually inflaming them. The third kind of armies is where there is no natural ardor or chance discipline; as are our Italian armies of our time, which are all useless, and unless they fall upon an army that by some accident is fleeing, they never win. And without citing other examples, it is seen every day that they give proof of not having any virtu. And as everyone knows from the testimony of T. Livius how good military organizations are created and how bad ones are made, I want to cite the words of Papirius Cursor when he wanted to punish Fabius, his Master of cavalry, when he said: Let no one have fear of men or Gods; but let them observe neither the Imperial edicts nor the auspices: let the soldiers, without provisions, roam in packs when going in the territory of the enemy; forgetting their oaths, from which they absolve themselves as they wish; let them desert their ensigns in large numbers, nor follow the edicts for assembling: let them indiscriminately fight by day and by night, in favorable and unfavorable positions, with or without the orders of the Commanders; and let them observe neither the ensigns nor discipline, blind and confused like robbers — than being like a sacred and solemn army.
From this text, therefore, it can be easily seen whether the military of our times are blind and confused, or sacred and solemn, and how much they lack in being like that which can be called military, and how far they are from being arduous and disciplined like the Romans, or furious only as the Gauls.
It appears that in the actions of men (as we discussed at other times) there is found, in addition to the other difficulties when it is desired to conclude something successfully, that good is always accompanied by some evil, which so easily arises with that good, that it appears impossible to do without the one when desiring the other; and this is seen in all the things that men do. And, therefore, good is acquired with difficulty, unless you are aided by fortune in a way that she, with her power, overcomes the ordinary and natural difficulties.
The combat between Manlius Torquatus and the Gaul makes me remember this, of which Titus Livius says: So much influence did the momentous outcome of that fight have on the whole war, that the army of the Gauls, having precipituously retreated from their camps, fled across the Tiber, and then into the fields of Campania. For, on the one hand I consider that a good Captain ought to avoid entirely doing anything of little importance which can have a bad effect on his army; for to begin a battle where he cannot employ all his strength and where he risks his entire fortune, is a completely foolhardy thing, as I said above when I condemned the guarding of passes. On the other hand. I consider that a wise Captain, when he comes to encounter a new enemy which has reputation, finds it necessary before coming to an engagement for his soldiers to probe such enemies by skirmishes, so that they begin to know him and how to handle him and lose any terror which their fame and reputation may have given them. And this part [of his duties] in a Captain is most important, for he feels almost a necessity in himself which constrains him to do it, as it appears to him he would be going to a certain defeat unless by these light experiences he first removes that terror which the reputation of the enemy may have placed in their hearts. When Valerius Corvinus was sent by the Romans with the armies against the Samnites, who were new enemies, and in the past had never had a test of arms against each other, he made the Romans engage the Samnites in some skirmishes, where as Titus Livius says: Neither a new war or a new enemy should make them fear. None the less, there is a very great danger that if your soldiers are defeated in those slight battles, their fear and apprehension will increase, and that the opposite effects will ensue from what you designed, that is, you may have discouraged them where you had planned to reassure them. So that this is one of those things which has evil so near the good, and are so joined together, that it is an easy thing to adopt one [course] believing to have taken the other.
Upon this I say, that a good Captain ought to see to it with all diligence, that nothing springs up which, by some accident, can discourage his army. And that which can begin to discourage is to begin to lose, and, therefore, he should guard against small combats and not permit them unless he can engage in them with the greatest advantages and certain hope of victory: he ought not to engage in guarding passes where he cannot employ all his army: he ought not to engage in guarding towns except those which, if lost, would of necessity cause his own ruin, and in those that he does guard so organize himself that if faced with the possibility of siege, he can with the guards and the army employ all his strength, and ought to leave the other places undefended: For whenever something is lost which is abandoned but the army remains intact, he neither loses reputation in the war nor the hope of winning it. But when something is lost which you had planned to defend, and everyone believed you would defend it, then there is damage as well as defeat, and you have almost, like the Gauls, lost the war through a matter of little moment. Philip of Macedonia, father of Perseus, a military man and of great renown in his times, having been assaulted by the Romans, abandoned and laid waste many of his territories which he judged he could not defend; for in his prudence he judged it would be more pernicious to lose his reputation by not being able to defend that which he set himself to defend, than by leaving it a prey to the enemy lose it as something neglected [and of no value]. The Romans, after the defeat at Cannae, when their affairs were afflicted, refused aid to many of their allies and subjects, advising them to defend themselves as best they could. Which proceedings are much better than to undertake their defense and then not defending them: for in such a proceeding both friends and strength are lost, while in the other they lose only friends.
But to return to skirmishes, I say, that even if the Captain is constrained to engage in some because of the newness of the enemy, he ought to do so only with so much advantage on his side that there is no danger of losing; or certainly do as did Marius (which is the better proceeding) when going against the Cimbrians, a most ferocious people who came to plunder Italy; and their coming spread fear because of their numbers and ferocity and because of having already overcome one Roman army; and Marius judged it necessary, before coming to battle, to do something by which his army might lose that terror which fear of the enemy may have given them; and as a most prudent Captain, he placed his army several times in positions whence the Cimbri with their army should have to pass. And thus, he wanted his soldiers, from within the strongholds of his camp, to see and accustom their eyes to the sight of that enemy, so that seeing a disorganized multitude, encumbered with impediments, partly armed with useless weapons and partly without arms, they would be reassured and become desirous of the battle. Which proceeding, as it was wisely taken by Marius, so also should it be diligently imitated by others, so as not to incur those dangers which I have mentioned above, and not to have to do as the Gauls: who in fear from some small thing, retreated to the lands behind the Tiber and into Campania. And as we have cited Valerius Corvinus in this discourse, I want (through the medium of his words) in the following chapter to show how a Captain ought to be constituted.
Valerius Corvinus (as I have mentioned above) was sent with his army against the Samnites, new enemies of the Roman people, whence, in order to reassure his soldiers and to make them recognize the enemy, had them engage in some skirmishes; nor was this enough for him, as he wanted to speak to them before the engagement; and with great efficacy he showed them how little they should esteem such enemies, recalling to them the virtu of his soldiers and his own. Here it can be noted, from the words which Livius makes him say, how a Captain ought to be constituted in whom an army has to confide: Which words are these: Think of him under whose lead and auspices you are going to fight: whether he you are hearing is only a magnificent exhorter, ferocious only in words, or expert in military matters, and himself a thrower of weapons, to lead before the ensigns, and to combat in the thickest of the fight. Follow my actions, I do not want to say to you soldiers my words, and not only my orders, but the example of him who by his right arm has fought for the consulship and the highest glory. Which words, well considered, teach anyone how he ought to proceed in wanting to hold the rank of Captain: and he who acts otherwise will find in time that rank (to which he may have been led by ambition or fortune) to have been taken away and not have given him reputation; for titles do not honor men, but men titles. It ought also to be considered from the beginning of this discourse, that, if great” Captains have employed extraordinary means to firm up the courage of a veteran army, how much more he has to use that industry with those unaccustomed to face the enemy in a new army that has never seen the enemy face to face. For if an unaccustomed enemy creates terror in an old army, how much more ought any enemy create it in a new army. Yet all these difficulties have many times been seen to have been overcome by the prudent acts of a good Captain; as were Gracchus, the Roman, and Epaminondas, the Theban, of whom we have spoken another time, who with new armies overcame the veteran and best disciplined armies. The methods they employed were to exercise their troops in sham battles for several months, accustom them to obedience and order, and afterwards with maximum confidence lead them into the real battle. Any military man, therefore, ought not to despair of being able to create a good army as long as he does not lack men; for that Prince who abounds in men but lacks soldiers, ought not to complain of the baseness of men, but only of his indolence and little prudence.
Among the other things that are necessary to a Captain of armies is the knowledge of sites [localities] in the countries, for without this general and particular knowledge, a Captain of armies cannot do anything well. And although wanting to possess successfully every science requires practice, yet this one requires more than others. This practice, or rather this particular knowledge, is acquired more by means of the chase, than by any other exercise. For the ancient writers say that those Heroes who governed the world in their time, were brought up in forests and in the chase: for, in addition to this knowledge, the chase teaches infinite things that are necessary in war. And Xenophon, in his life of Cyrus, shows that, when Cyrus was going to assault the King of Armenia, in dividing the army [among the commanders] recalled to his men that this was nothing more than one of those chases which they had many times made with him. And he recalled to those whom he sent in ambush in the mountains, that they were very similar to those who went to rouse the game from their den, so that they would drive them into the nets. This is said to show how the chase, according to its proof by Xenophon, is an image of a war. And because of this such exercise is honorable and necessary to great men. This knowledge of countries cannot be learned in any other convenient manner than by way of the chase, for the chase makes those who indulge in it to know in detail the character of the country where the army is. And when one has become familiar with a region afterwards he easily knows the character of all new countries, for every country and every part of them have together some conformity, so that the knowledge of one facilitates the knowledge of others. But he who has not experienced one, with difficulty or never learns [of another country] except after a long time. And whoever has had that experience will in a glance know how the plain lies, how that mountain rises, where that valley leads to, and all other such things of which in the past he has made a firm study.
And that this is true Titus Livius shows us with the example of Publius Decius, who was Tribune of the Soldiers in the army which the Consul Cornelius led against the Samnites, and the Consul having come to a valley where the army of the Romans could be closed in by the Samnites, and [Publius Decius] seeing it in so great danger, said to the Consul: Do you see that point above the enemy, Aulus Cornelius? That strong point is our hope and our safety, if we (as the Samnites blindly have left it) seize it quickly. And before these words were spoken by Decius, T. Livius says: Publius Decius, the Tribune of the army, had observed a hill immediately above the camp of the enemy, difficult to get on [by an army] with its impediments, but expeditiously by light armed [soldiers]. Whence being sent by the Consul to take it with three thousand soldiers, he saved the Roman army; and designing with the coming of night to depart and save his soldiers as well as himself, [T. Livius] has him say these words: Come with me, and while daylight remains, let us explore where the enemy strong points are placed, and how we can exit from here. And lest the enemy about should note him from among his soldiers, he changed his clothing. He who considers all this text, therefore, will see how useful and necessary it is for a Captain to know the nature of countries; for if Decius had not known and recognized them, he could not have judged how useful the taking of that hill was to the Roman army, nor would he have been able to recognize from a distance if that hill was accessible or not, and having then brought himself to it, and having the enemy around him, he would not have been able from a distance to reconnoiter the path of his departure, nor the places guarded by the enemy. So that of necessity it behooved Decius to have such perfect knowledge [of the country] which enabled him, by the taking of that hill, to save the Roman army, and afterwards (being besieged) knowing how to find the way to save himself and those who he had with him.
Although to use deceit in every action is detestable, none the less in the managing of a war it is a laudable and glorious thing; and that man is equally lauded who overcomes the enemy by deceit, as is he who overcomes them by force. And this is seen by the judgment which those men make who write biographies of great men, and who praise Hannibal and others who have been very notable in such ways of proceeding. Of which so many examples have been cited that I will not repeat any. I mention only this, that I do intend that that deceit is glorious which makes you break your trust and treaties that you made; for although it sometimes acquires a State and a Kingdom for you, as has been discussed above, will never acquire them for you gloriously. But I speak of that deceit which is employed against that enemy who distrusts you, and in which properly consists the managing of a war; as was that of Hannibal when he feigned flight on the lake of Perugia in order to close in the Consul and the Roman army; and when to escape from the hands of Fabius Maximus he fired [the fagots on] the horns of his cattle. A similar deceit was also employed by Pontius, the Captain of the Samnites, in order to close in the Roman army within the Caudine forks, who, having placed his army behind a mountain, sent some of his soldiers under the dress of shepherds with a large herd upon the plain; who, being taken by the Romans and asked where the army of the Samnites was, all agreed according to the orders given by Pontius to say that it was at the siege of Nocera. Which was believed by the Consuls, and caused them to be enclosed within the defiles [of Claudium], where [having entered] they were quickly besieged by the Samnites. And this victory obtained by deceit would have been most glorious to Pontius, if he had followed the counsels of his father, who wanted the Romans either to be liberally set free, or all put to death, and would not take the middle way: Never make a friend or remove an enemy. Which way was always pernicious in the affairs of a State, as has been discussed above in another place.
The Consul and the Roman army (as mentioned above) were besieged by the Samnites, who had proposed the most ignominious conditions to the Romans, which were to put them under the yoke, and to send them back to Rome disarmed; the Consuls were astonished and the entire army was in despair because of this; but L. Lentulus, the Roman legate said, that it did not appear he should avoid any procedure in order to save the country, for as the life of Rome depended on the life of that army, it appeared to him it should be saved in whatever way, and that the country is well defended in whatever way it is defended, either with ignominy or with glory; for by saving that army, Rome would in time wipe out that ignominy; but by not saving it, even though they should die most gloriously, Rome and its liberty would be lost. Which thing merits to be noted and observed by any citizen who finds himself counselling his country; for where the entire safety of the country is to be decided, there ought not to exist any consideration of what is just or unjust, nor what is merciful or cruel, nor what is praiseworthy or ignominious; rather, ahead of every other consideration, that proceeding ought to be followed which will save the life of the country and maintain its liberty. Which counsel is imitated by the words and deeds of the French in defending the majesty of their King and the power of the Kingdom, for they listen to no voice more impatiently than that which says: Such a proceeding is ignominious to the King; for they say that their King cannot suffer disgrace in any of his decisions either in good or adverse fortune, because, whether he wins or loses, they all say it is a matter that only concerns the King.
When the Consuls returned to Rome with the disarmed army and the ignominies received, the first who said that the peace made at Claudium [the Caudine Forks] ought not to be observed was the Consul Sp. Posthumius; he said that the Roman people were under no obligation, but only he and the others who had promised the peace were obligated: and, therefore, if the People wanted to free themselves from every obligation, they had only to give him and the others who had promised it as prisoners into the hands of the Samnites. And he held this conclusion with such obstinacy that the Senate agreed to it, and sent him and the others as prisoners to Samnium, protesting to the Samnites that the peace was of no value. And so favorable was fortune to Posthumius in this case, that the Samnites did not keep him, and when he returned to Rome, Posthumius was received by the Romans more gloriously for having lost, than was Pontius by the Samnites for having won. Here two things are to be noted: the one, that glory can be acquired in any action; for it is ordinarily acquired in victory and in defeat it is acquired either by showing that this defeat was not due to your fault, or by quickly doing some act of virtu which counteracts it: the other, that it is not a disgrace not to observe those promises which were made by force: and always forced promises regarding public affairs, will be disregarded when that force is removed, and he who disregards them is without shame. Many examples of this are to be read in all histories. And, not only are forced promises not observed among Princes when that force is removed, but also other promises are not observed when the causes for making those promises are removed. Whether this is praiseworthy or not, and whether or not a Prince ought to observe them in a similar manner, has been discussed at length by use in the treatise on the Prince: therefore we will be silent for the present.
Prudent men usually say (and not by chance or without merit) that whoever wants to see what is to be, considers what has been; for all the things of the world in every time have had the very resemblance as those of ancient times. This arises because they are done by men who have been, and will always have, the same passions, and of necessity they must result in the same effects. It is true that men in their actions are more virtuous in this province than in another, according to the nature of the education by which those people have formed their way of living. It also facilitates the knowledge of future events from the past, to observe a nation hold their same customs for a long time, being either continuously avaricious, or continuously fraudulent, or have any other similar vice or virtu. And whoever reads of past events of our City of Florence, and takes in consideration also those which have occurred in recent times, will find the French and German people full of avarice, haughtiness, ferocity, and infidelity, because all of these result in things at different times; which have greatly harmed our City. And as to bad faith, everyone knows how many times money was given to King Charles VIII on his promise to restore to them the fortresses of Pisa, but he never restored them: in which the King showed the bad faith and great avarice of his. But let us come to more recent events. Everyone may have heard of what ensued in the war which the Florentine people carried on against the Visconti, Dukes of Milan, and how Florence, deprived of other expedients, decided to call the Emperor into Italy, who, with his reputation and strength, would assault Lombardy. The Emperor promised to come with a large force, and to undertake the war against the Visconti, and to defend Florence against their power if the Florentines would give him a hundred thousand ducats when starting, and a hundred thousand more when they would enter Italy. The Florentines consented to these terms, and paid them the first moneys, and later the second, but when he arrived at Verona, he turned back without doing anything, alleging as a reason for leaving, that they had not observed the conventions that existed between them.
So that, if Florence had not been constrained by necessity or carried away by passion, and having studied and known the ancient customs of the barbarians, she would not have been deceived by them on this and other occasions; for they [the Gauls] have always been the same and conducted themselves on every occasion and towards everyone, as is seen they did in ancient times to the Tuscans; who, having been hard pressed by the Romans, having been routed and put to flight by them many many times, and seeing that they could not by their own forces be able to resist the assaults [of the Romans], came together with the Gauls who lived in Italy on this side of the Alps, to give them a sum of money, for which they should be obliged to join their armies with theirs [Tuscans], and go against the Romans. Whence it happened that the Gauls, having taken the money, did not then want to take up arms for them, saying that they had received it, not for making war against the enemy, but for abstaining from plundering the Tuscan country. And thus the Tuscan people were, because of the avarice and bad faith of the Gauls, suddenly deprived of their money and the aid they had hoped to obtain from them. So that it is seen from the example of the ancient Tuscans and from that of the Florentines, that the Gauls [and French] have employed the same means; and from this, it can be easily conjectured how much Princes can have confidence in them.
The Samnites being assaulted by the Roman army, and being unable to stay abreast of the Romans in the field, decided, (having placed guards in the town of Samnium) to pass with all their army into Tuscany, during a time of truce with the Romans, to see whether, by such a passage and the presence of their army, they could induce the Tuscans to take up arms again, which they had refused to their Ambassadors. And in the talks which the Samnites had with the Tuscans (especially in showing them the reason which induced them to take up arms) they used a notable term, where they said: They had rebelled, for peace was more of a burden to slaves than war is to free men. And thus, partly by persuasion, parly by the presence of their army, they induced them to take up arms. Here it is to be noted that when a Prince desires to obtain something from another, he ought not (if the occasion permits him) to give him time to deliberate, but to act so as to make the other see the necessity for quick decision, who, when it is demanded of him, will see that to refuse or delay it, a sudden and dangerous indignation may arise.
This method has been seen to be well employed in our times by Pope Julian against the French, and by Monsignor De Foix, Captain of the King of France against the Marquis of Mantua; for Pope Julius, wanting to drive the Bentivogli from Bologna, and judging therefore to have need of the French forces and for the Venetians to remain neutral, and having sought the one and the other and obtaining dubious and various replies, decided that, by not giving them time, to make both come to terms with him; and departing from Rome with as much of a force as he could gather, went toward Bologna, and sent to tell the Venetians to remain neutral and to the King of France to send his forces to him. So that, as they were both pressed by the short space of time and seeing that an open indignation would arise in the Pope if they were refused or delayed, they yielded to his desires, and the King sent him aid and the Venetians remained neutral. The Monsignor De Foix was still with his army at Bologna, and having learned of the rebellion at Brescia, and wanting to go to recover it, had two paths [available]: the one, long and tedious, through the dominion of the King, and the other, short, through the dominion of that Marquis; but he had to enter there over certain dikes between the swamps and the lakes of which that region is full, and which are closed and guarded by him by fortresses and other means. Whence that De Foix decided to go by the shorter route and to overcome every difficulty, and not give the Marquis time to decide, he at once moved his forces by that road, and signified to the Marquis to send him the keys to [the fortress which guarded] that pass. So that the Marquis, occupied by this quick decision, sent him the keys, which he would never have sent if De Foix had conducted himself more lukewarmly; for the Marquis, being in league with the Pope and the Venetians, and having one of his sons in the hands of the Pope, had reasons which could have given him an honest excuse to refuse them to him. But assaulted by the quick proceeding (for the reasons given above) he yielded them. The Tuscans also acted likewise toward the Samnites, being forced by the presence of the army of the Samnites to take up those arms which they had refused to take up at other times.
The Roman Consuls, Decius and Fabius, were with their two armies at the encounter with the armies of the Samnites and Tuscans, and both coming to battle on the same day, it is to be noted which of the two different methods of proceeding adopted by the two Consuls was better. Decius assaulted the enemy with all his strength and all impetuosity: Fabius only sustained [his attack], judging a slow assault to be more useful, reserving his fury for the last when the enemy should have lost his first ardor for combat, and (as we said before) his vehemence. Here it is seen that the success resulting from the plan of Fabius turned out much better than that of Decius, who, weary from the first shocks and seeing his band disposed rather to flee than otherwise, to acquire that glory by death which he was unable to gain by victory, in imitation of his father, sacrificed himself for the Roman legions. When this was heard by Fabius, so as not to acquire less honor by living than his colleague had acquired by dying, he rushed to the front all those forces which he had reserved for such a necessity, whence it gained him a most happy victory. From this it is seen that the method of proceeding of Fabius is more certain and worthy of imitation.
It appears that one City not only has certain ways and institutions different from another, and produces men who are either more harsh or effeminate, but within one City such differences are seen between one family and another. This is proved in every City, and many examples are seen in the City of Rome; for there are seen that the Manlii were hard and obstinate, the Publicoli benign and lovers of the people, the Appii ambitious and enemies of the plebs, and thusly many other families, each having its own qualities apart from the others. This cannot only result from blood (for it must be that it changes from the diversity of marriages) but must result from the different education that one family has from another. For it is very important that a young man of tender years begins to hear the good and bad of a thing, as it must of necessity make an impression on him, and from that afterwards regulate the method of proceeding all the rest of his life. And if this were not so it would be impossible that all the Appii should have had the same desires, and should have been stirred by the same passions, as Titus Livius has observed in many of them, and [especially] in that last one who was made Censor; and when his colleague at the end of eighteen months (as the law called for) laid down the magistracy, Appius did not want to lay down his, saying he could hold it five years according to the original laws ordained by the Censors. And although many public meetings were held on this question, and many tumults were generated, yet no remedy was ever found to depose him [from the office which he held] against the wishes of the people and the greater part of the Senate. And whoever reads the oration he made against P. Sempronius, the Tribune of the plebs, wfll note all the insolence of Appius, and all the good will and humanity shown by infinite Citizens in obeying the laws and auspices of their country.
Manlius, the Consul, was with his army against the Samnites when he was wounded in a battle, and as this was bringing danger to his forces, the Senate judged it necessary to send Papirus Cursor as Dictator to supply the place of the Consul. But as it was necessary that the Dictator should be named by Fabius, who was then with the armies in Tuscany, and being apprehensive that as he was hostile he would not want to name him, the Senators sent two Ambassadors to entreat him that he lay aside his personal hatred and name him for the public benefit: which Fabius did, moved by his concern for the Country, although he showed by his silence and in many other ways that this nomination was pressed on him; for which, all those who seek to be regarded as good citizens ought to take an example.
Fulvius, having been left as Legate in the army that the Romans had in Tuscany, while the Consul had gone to Rome for some ceremonies, the Tuscans to see if they could trap him, placed an ambush near the Roman camp; and they sent some soldiers dressed as shepherds with a large flock, and had them come in the sight of the Roman army, and thus dressed approached the entrenchments of the camp: whence the legate wondering at this presumption of theirs, and as it did not appear reasonable, took means to discover the deceit, and thus defeated the designs of the Tuscans. Here it can be conveniently noted that a Captain of armies ought not to trust in an error which he sees done by the enemy, as it always is done under deception, for it is unreasonable that men are so incautious. But often, the desire for victory blinds the minds of men who do not see anything else other then that which favors them. After the Gauls had overcome the Romans on the Allia, they came to Rome, and finding the gates open and unguarded, remained all that day and night without entering in fear of a deception, unable to believe that there should be so much baseness and so little counsel in the hearts of the Romans that they should abandon their country. When the Florentines in the year one thousand five hundred eight 1508 went to besiege Pisa. Alfonso Del Mutolo, a Pisan citizen, was [found to be] a prisoner of the Florentines, and promised that if they should free him, he would deliver a gate of Pisa to the Florentine army. He was set free. Afterward, to carry out the promise, he often came to talk with those sent by the commissioners, but never came concealed, but openly and accompanied by Pisans, whom he left to one side when he talked with the Florentines. Hence his duplicity could have been conjectured, for it was not reasonable that he should treat the proceeding so openly if he had been acting faithfully. But the desire they had to obtain Pisa so blinded the Florentines that, being led through his arrangement to the gate at Lucca, where, by the double treachery of the said Alfonso, they lost many of their Leaders and other forces in a dishonorable manner.
Of necessity (as we mentioned other times) it happens that in a great City incidents arise every day which have need of a doctor, and according as they are more important, a wiser doctor must be found. And if such strange and unforeseen incidents ever arose in such a City, they arose in Rome; as was that where it seemed that all the Roman women had conspired against their husbands to kill them, so that many were found who had [actually] poisoned them, and many who had prepared the poison to poison them; and as also was the conspiracy of the Bacchanals which was discovered at the time of the Macedonian war, where many thousands of men and women were implicated; and if it had not been discovered, it would have been dangerous for that City, and if the Romans had not been accustomed to punish the great number of guilty men. For, if the greatness of this Republic and its power of execution had not been seen from infinite other signs, it is seen from the kind of penalty imposed on those who erred. It did not hesitate through a judicial decision to put to death an entire legion at one time, or [to destroy] an entire City, and to exile eight or ten thousand men with such extraordinary conditions as could be observed, not by one man alone, but by many; as happened to those soldiers who fought unhappily at Cannae, who it exiled in Sicily, and imposing on them that they not live in towns and should eat standing. But the most terrible of all other executions was the decimation of the army, where by lot, one out of ten in the army was put to death. Nor in punishing a multitude could a more frightening punishment than this be found, for when a multitude errs, and where the author is not certain, everyone cannot be punished because they are too many: to punish a part and leave a part unpunished, would be wrong to those who would be punished, and the unpunished would have a mind to en another time. But to put to death part by lot when all merited it, those who are to be punished will complain of their lot, those who are not punished fear that another time the lot might fall to them, and will guard themselves from error. The Poisoners and the Bacchanals, therefore, were punished according as their crimes merited.
And although these maladies in a Republic have a bad effect, they are not fatal, for there is always time to correct them; but there is no time for those that affect the State, which, if they are not corrected by a prudent man, ruin the City. Because of the liberality which the Romans showed in giving their civil privileges to foreigners, many new people sprung up in Rome, and these begun to have a part in the elections; so that the government began to change and depart from those institutions and principles of those men who had been accustomed to direct it. When Quintus Fabius, who was Censor, became aware of this, he put all the new people, from whom this disorder derived, into four Tribes, so that they should be unable (reduced to such small a space) to corrupt all Rome. This was well recognized by Fabius, and put into effect a suitable remedy, which without change, was so well accepted by the Society [Republic], that he merited being called Maximus.
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