Discourses on Livy/Third Book/Chapters VIII-XIV

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Discourses on Livy by Niccolò Machiavelli
Third Book (Chapters VIII-XIV)

CHAPTER VIII[edit]

HE WHO WANTS TO ALTER A REPUBLIC OUGHT TO CONSIDER ITS CONDITION

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.

CHAPTER IX[edit]

HOW ONE MUST CHANGE WITH THE TIMES, IF HE WANTS TO HAVE GOOD FORTUNE ALWAYS

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.

CHAPTER X[edit]

THAT A CAPTAIN CANNOT AVOID AN ENGAGEMENT IF THE ADVERSARY WANTS TO DO SO IN EVERY WAY

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.

CHAPTER XI[edit]

THAT HE WHO HAS TO DO WITH MANY, EVEN THOUGH HE IS INFERIOR, AS LONG AS HE RESISTS THE FIRST ATTACK, WINS

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.

CHAPTER XII[edit]

HOW A PRUDENT CAPTAIN OUGHT TO IMPOSE EVERY NECESSITY FOR FIGHTING ON HIS SOLDIERS, AND TAKE THEM AWAY FROM THE ENEMY

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.

CHAPTER XIII[edit]

WHERE ONE SHOULD HAVE MORE CONFIDENCE, EITHER IN A GOOD CAPTAIN WHO HAS A WEAK ARMY, OR IN A GOOD ARMY WHICH HAS A WEAK CAPTAIN

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.

CHAPTER XIV[edit]

WHAT EFFECTS THE NEW INVENTION AND NEW VOICES HAVE THAT APPEAR IN THE MIDST OF BATTLE

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.