Discourses on Livy/Second Book/Chapters I-XI

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Many (authors), among whom is that most serious writer Plutarch, have had the opinion that the Roman people in acquiring the Empire were favored more by Fortune than by Virtu. And among other reasons which he cities, he says that, by the admission of that people, it can be shown that they ascribed all their victories to Fortune, as they had built more temples to Fortune than to any other God. And it seems that Livius joined in this opinion, for he rarely makes any Roman speak where he recounts (of) Virtu, without adding Fortune. Which thing I do not in any way agree with, nor do I believe also that it can be sustained. For if no other Republic will ever be found which has made the progress that Rome had, then I note that no Republic will ever be found which has been organized to be able to make such conquests as Rome. For it was the virtu of the armies that enabled her to acquire that Empire; and the order of proceeding and her own institutions founded by her first Legislator that enabled her to maintain the acquisitions, as will be narrated below in further discussion.

These (authors) also say that the fact of not ever engaging in two most important wars at the same time was due to the fortune and not the virtu of the Roman people; for they did riot engage in war with the Latins until they had so beaten the Samnites that the Romans had to engage in a war in defense of them: They did not combat with the Tuscans until they first subjugated the Latins, and had by frequent defeats almost completely enervated the Samnites: So that if these two powers had joined together ((while they were fresh)), without doubt it can easily be conjectured that the ruin of the Roman Republic would have ensued.

But however this thing may have been, it never did happen that they engaged in two most powerful wars at the same time; rather it appeared always that at the beginning of one the other would be extinguished, or in extinguishing one another would arise. Which is easily seen from the succession of wars engaged in by them; for, leaving aside the one they were engaged in before Rome was taken by the French (Gauls), it is seen that while they fought against the Equii and the Volscians, no other people ((while these people were powerful)) rose up against them. When these were subdued there arose the war against the Samnites, and although before that war was ended the Latin people rebelled against the Romans with their armies in subduing the insolence of the Latins. When these were subdued, the war against the Samnites sprung up again. When the Samnites were beaten through the many defeats inflicted on their forces, there arose the war against the Tuscans; which being composed, the Samnites again rose up when Pyrrhus crossed over into Italy, and as soon as he was beaten and driven back to Greece, the first war with the Carthaginians was kindled: and that war was hardly finished when all the Gauls from all sides of the Alps conspired against the Romans, but they were defeated with the greatest massacre between Popolonia and Pisa where the tower of San Vincenti stands today. After this war was finished, they did not have any war of much importance for a space of twenty years, for they did not fight with any others except the Ligurians and the remnants of the Gauls who were in Lombardy. And thus they remained until there arose the second Carthaginian war, which kept Italy occupied for sixteen years. When this war ended with the greatest glory, there arose the Macedonian war; (and) after this was finished there came that of Antiochus and Asia. After this victory, there did not remain in all the world either a Prince or a Republic that could, by itself or all together, oppose the Roman forces.

But whoever examines the succession of these wars, prior to that last victory, and the manner in which they were conducted, will see mixed with Fortune a very great Virtu and Prudence. So that if one should examine the cause of that (good) fortune, he will easily find it, for it is a most certain thing that as a Prince or a People arrives at so great a reputation, that any neighboring Princes or Peoples by themselves are afraid to assault him, and he has no fear of them, it will always happen that none of them will ever assault him except from necessity; so that it will almost be at the election of that powerful one to make war upon any of those neighbors as appears (advantageous) to him, and to quiet the others by his industry. These are quieted easily in part because they have respect for his power, and in part because they are deceived by those means which he used to put them to sleep: and other powerful ones who are distant and have no commerce with him, will look upon this as a remote thing which does not pertain to them. In which error they remain until the conflagration arrives next to them, for which, when it comes, they have no remedy to extinguish it except with their own forces, which then will not be enough as he has become most powerful.

I will leave to one side how the Samnites remained to see the Volscians and the Equii conquered by the Romans, and so as not to be too prolix I will make use of the Carthaginians who were of great power and of great reputation when the Romans were fighting with the Samnites and Tuscans; for they already held all Africa, Sardinia and Sicily, and had dominion in part of Spain. Which power of theirs, together with their being distant from the confines of the Roman people, caused them never to think of assaulting them, nor of succoring the Samnites and Tuscans; rather it made them do as is done in any power that grows, allying themselves with them (the Romans) in their favor and seeking their friendship. Nor did they see before this error was made, that the Romans having subdued all the peoples (placed) between them and the Carthaginians, begun to combat them for the Empire of Sicily and Spain. The same thing happened to the Gauls as to the Carthaginians, and also to Philip King of Macedonia and to Antiochus; and everyone of them believed ((while the Roman people were occupied with others)) that the others would overcome them, and then it would be time either by peace or war to defend themselves from (the Romans). So that I believe that the (good) Fortune which the Romans had in these parts would be had by all those Princes who would proceed as the Romans and who would have that same Virtu as they had.

It would be well here in connection with this subject to show the course held by Roman people in entering the Provinces of others, of which we have talked about at length in our treatment of Principalities (Treatise on the Prince), for there we have debated this matter widely. I will only say this briefly, that they have always endeavored to have some friend in these new provinces who should be as a ladder or door to let them climb in, both to let them enter and as a means of keeping it; as was seen, that by means of the Capuans they entered Samnium, by means of the Camertines into Tuscany, by the Mamertines into Sicily, by the Saguntines into Spain, by Massinissa into Africa, by the Aetolians into Greece, by Eumences and other Princes into Asia, and by the Massilians and the Aeduans into Gaul. And thus they never lacked similar supports, both in order to be able to facilitate their enterprises of their acquiring provinces and in holding them. Which those people who observed them saw that they had less need of Fortune, than those people who do not make good observers. And so as to enable everyone to know better how much more Virtu enabled them to acquire that Empire than did Fortune, in the following chapter we will discuss the kind of people they had to combat and how obstinate they were in defending their liberty.



Nothing caused so much hard work for the Romans as the overcoming of the surrounding people and part of the distant Provinces, as the love many people in those times had for liberty; which they so obstinately defended but they would never have been subjugated except for the excessive virtu (of the Romans). For, from many examples, it is known into what dangers they placed themselves in order to maintain or recover (their liberty), and what vengeance they practiced against those who had deprived them of it. It is also to be learned from the lessons of history what injury the people and the City received from such servitude. And, while in these times there is only one Province of which it can be said has in it free Cities, in ancient times in all the Provinces there existed many free people. It will be seen that in those times of which we speak at present, there were in Italy, from the Alps ((which now divide Tuscany from Lombardy)) up to the furthest (part) in Italy, many free peoples, such as were the Tuscans, the Romans, the Samnites, and many other people, who inhabited the remaining part of Italy. Nor is there ever any discussion whether there was any King outside those who reigned in Rome, and Porsenna, King of Tuscany, whose line was extinguished in a manner of which history does not speak. But it is indeed seen that in those times when the Romans went to besiege Veii, Tuscany was free, and so much did it enjoy its liberty and so hated the title of Prince, that when the Veientians created a King for the defense of Veii, and requested aid of the Tuscans against the Romans, they decided, after much consultation, not to give aid to the Veientians as long as they lived under the King, judging it not to be good to defend the country of those who already had subjected themselves to others. And it is easy to understand whence this affection arises in a people to live free, for it is seen from experience that Cities never increased either in dominion or wealth except while they had been free. And truly it is a marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Athens had arrived in the space of a hundred years after she had freed herself from the tyranny of Pisistratus. But above all, it is a more marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Rome arrived after it liberated itself from its Kings. The cause is easy to understand, for not the individual good, but the common good is what makes Cities great. And, without doubt, this common good is not observed except in Republics, because everything is done which makes for their benefit, and if it should turn to harm this or that individual, those for whom the said good is done are so many, that they can carry on against the interests of those few who should be harmed. The contrary happens when there is a Prince, where much of the time what he does for himself harms the City, and what is done for the City harms him. So that soon there arises a Tyranny over a free society, the least evil which results to that City is for it not to progress further, nor to grow further in power or wealth, but most of the times it rather happens that it turns backward. And if chance should cause that a Tyrant of virtu should spring up, who by his courage and virtu at arms expands his dominion, no usefulness would result to the Republic but only to be himself; for he cannot honor any of those citizens who are valiant and good over whom he tyrannizes, as he does not want to have to suspect them. Nor also can he subject those Cities which he acquires or make them tributary to the City of which he is the Tyrant, because he does not help himself in making them powerful, but it will help him greatly in keeping the State disunited, so that each town and each province should recognize him. So that he alone, and not his country, profits from his acquisitions. And whoever should want to confirm this opinion with infinite other arguments, let him read Xenophon's treatise which he wrote on Tyranny.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the ancient people should have persecuted the Tyrants with so much hatred and should have loved living in freedom, and the name of Liberty so much esteemed by them; as happened when Hieronymus, nephew of Hiero the Syracusan, was killed in Syracuse; that when the news of his death came to his army, which was not very far from Syracuse, they at first begun to raise a tumult and take up arms against his killers; but when they heard that there was shouting of liberty in Syracuse, attracted by the name everyone became quiet, their ire against the Tyrannicides was quelled, and they thought of how a free government could be established in that City. It is also no wonder that the people took extraordinary vengeance against those who deprived them of liberty. Of which there have been many examples, but I intend to refer only to one which happened in Corcyra, a City of Greece, in the times of the Peloponnesian war, where, the Province being divided into two factions, of which the Athenians followed one, the Spartans the other, there arose then among the many other Cities a division among themselves, some following (the friendship of) Sparta, the the others (of) Athens: and it happened in the said City (Corcyra) that the nobles had prevailed and had taken away the liberty from the people; the populari (popular party) with the aid of the Athenians recovered its power, and, having laid hands on the nobility, put them into a prison capable of holding all of them; from which they took out eight or ten at one time under a pretext of sending them into exile in different places, but put them to death with (examples of) extreme cruelties. When the remainder became aware of this, they resolved if possible to escape that ignominious death, and arming themselves as (best) as they could, they fought with those who attempted to enter and defended the entrance to the prison; but when the people came together at this noise, they pulled down the upper part of that place, and suffocated them in the ruins. Many other similar notable and horrible cases occurred in the said Province, so that it is seen to be true that liberty is avenged with great energy when it is taken away than when it is only threatened (to be taken).

In thinking, therefore, of whence it should happen that in those ancient times the people were greater lovers of Liberty than in these times, I believe it results from the same reason which makes men presently less strong, which I believe is the difference between our education and that of the ancients, founded on the difference between our Religion and the ancients. For, as our Religion shows the truth and the true way (of life), it causes us to esteem less the honors of the world: while the Gentiles (Pagans) esteeming them greatly, and having placed the highest good in them, were more ferocious in their actions. Which can be observed from many of their institutions, beginning with the magnificence of their sacrifices (as compared) to the humility of ours, in which there is some pomp more delicate than magnificent, but no ferocious or energetic actions. Theirs did not lack pomp and magnificence of ceremony, but there was added the action of sacrifice full of blood and ferocity, the killing of many animals, which sight being terrible it rendered the men like unto it. In addition to this, the ancient Religion did not beatify men except those full of worldly glory, such as were the Captains of armies and Princes of Republics. Our Religion has glorified more humble and contemplative men rather than men of action. It also places the highest good in humility, lowliness, and contempt of human things: the other places it in the greatness of soul, the strength of body, and all the other things which make men very brave. And, if our Religion requires that there be strength (of soul) in you, it desires that you be more adept at suffering than in achieving great deeds.

This mode of living appears to me, therefore, to have rendered the world weak and a prey to wicked men, who can manage it securely, seeing that the great body of men, in order to go to Paradise, think more of enduring their beatings than in avenging them. And although it appears that the World has become effeminate and Heaven disarmed, yet this arises without doubt more from the baseness of men who have interpreted our Religion in accordance with Indolence and not in accordance with Virtu. For if they were to consider that it (our Religion) permits the exaltation and defense of the country, they would see that it desires that we love and honor her (our country), and that we prepare ourselves so that we can be able to defend her. This education and false interpretations, therefore, are the cause that in the world as many Republics are not seen in them that the people have as much love for liberty now as at that time. I believe, however, the reason for this rather to be, that the Roman Empire with its arms and greatness destroyed all the Republics and all civil institutions. And although that Empire was later dissolved, yet these Cities could not reunite themselves, nor reorganize their civil institutions, except in a very few places in that Empire.

But however it was, the Romans found a conspiracy in every smallest part of the world of Republics very well armed and most obstinate in the defense of their liberty. Which shows that the Roman people could never have overcome them without that rare and extreme virtu. And to give an example of one instance, the example of the Samnites suffices for me, which seems to be a marvelous one. And T. Livius admits that these (people) were so powerful and their arms so valiant, that, up to the time of the Consul Papirus Cursor, son of the first Papirus, for a period of forty six years, they were able to resist the Romans, despite the many defeats, destruction of Towns, and massacres suffered by their country. Especially as it is now seen that that country where there were so many Cities and so many men, is now almost uninhabited: and yet it was so well established and so powerful, that it was unconquerable except by Roman virtu. And it is an easy thing whence that order and disorder proceeded, for it all comes from their then living in freedom and now living in servitude. For all the towns and provinces which are free in every way ((as was said above)) make the greatest advances. For here greater populations are seen because marriages are more free and more desired by men, because everyone willingly procreates those children that he believes he is able to raise without being apprehensive that their patrimony will be taken away, and to know that they are not only born free and not slaves, but are also able through their own virtu to become Princes. They will see wealth multiplied more rapidly, both that which comes from the culture (of the soil) and that which comes from the arts, for everyone willingly multiplies those things and seek to acquire those goods whose acquisition he believes he can enjoy. Whence it results that men competing for both private and public betterment, both come to increase in a wondrous manner. The contrary of all these things happens in those countries which live in servitude, and the more the good customs are lacking, the more rigorous is the servitude. And the hardest of all servitudes is that of being subject to a Republic: the one, because it is more enduring and the possibility of escaping from it is missing: the other, because the final aim of a Republic is to enervate and weaken ((in order to increase its own power)) all the other states. Which a Prince who subjugates you does not do unless that Prince is some barbarous Prince, a destroyer of countries and dissipater of all human civilization, such as are oriental Princes: But if he has ordinary human feelings in him, most of the times he will love equally the Cities subject to him, and will leave them (enjoy) all their arts, and almost all their ancient institutions. So that if they cannot grow as if they were free, they will not be ruined even in servitude; servitude being understood as that in which Cities serve a foreigner, for of that to one of their own Citizens, we have spoken above.

Whoever considers, therefore, all that which has been said, will not marvel at the power which the Samnites had while they were free, and at the weakness to which they came afterwards under servitude: and T. Livius gives testimony of this in many places, and mainly in the war with Hannibal, where he shows that when the Samnites were pressed by a legion of (Romans) who were at Nola, they sent Orators (Ambassadors) to Hannibal to beg him to succor them. Who in their speech said to him. that for a hundred years they had combatted the Romans with their own soldiers and their own Captains, and many times had sustained (battle against) two consular armies and two Consuls; but now they had arrived at such baseness that they were hardly able to defend themselves against the small Roman legion which was at Nola.



Crescit interea Roma Albae ruinis. (Rome grew on the ruins of Alba) Those who plan for a City to achieve great Empire ought with all industry to endeavor to make it full of inhabitants, for without this abundance of men, one can never succeed in making a City great. This is done in two ways, by love and by force. Through love, by keeping the ways open and secure for foreigners who should plan to come to live there. Through force, by destroying the neighboring Cities and sending their inhabitants to live in your City. Which was so greatly observed by Rome, that in the time of the sixth King of Rome, that there lived there eighty thousand men capable of bearing arms. For the Romans wanted to act according to the custom of the good cultivator, who, in order to make a plant grow and able to produce and mature its fruits, cuts off the first branches that it puts out, so that by retaining that virtu in the roots of that plant, they can in time grow more green and more fruitful. And that this method of aggrandizing and creating an Empire was necessary and good, is shown by the example of Sparta and Athens; which two Republics although well armed and regulated by excellent laws, none the less did not attain to the greatness of the Roman Empire, and Rome appeared more tumultuous and not as well regulated as those others. No other reason can be adduced for this than that mentioned above; for Rome, from having enlarged the population of the City in both those two ways, was enabled to put two hundred thousand men under arms, while Sparta and Athens were never able (to raise) twenty thousand each. Which resulted not from the site of Rome being more favorable than those of the other, but solely from the different mode of procedure. For Lycurgus, founder of the Spartan Republic, thinking that nothing could more easily dissolve its laws than the admixture of new inhabitants, did everything (he could) so that foreigners would not come to them; and in addition to not receiving them into their citizenship by marriage, and other commerce that makes men come together, ordered that in that Republic of his only leather money should be spent, in order to take away from everyone the desire to come there in order to bring in merchandise or some arts: of a kind so that the City could never increase its inhabitants. And because all our actions imitate nature, it is neither possible nor natural that a slender trunk should sustain a big branch. A small Republic, therefore, cannot conquer Cities or Republics which are larger and more valiant than it; and if it does conquer them, it happens then to them as to that tree that has its branches bigger than its trunk, which sustains it only with great effort with every little breeze that blows; such as is seen happened in Sparta, which had conquered all the Cities of Greece, but as soon as Thebes rebelled, all the others rebelled, and the trunk remained alone without branches. Which could not have happened to Rome, as it had its trunk so big that it could sustain any branch. This mode of proceeding therefore, together with others which will be mentioned below, made Rome great and most powerful. Which T. Livius points out in two (few) words, when he said: Rome grew while Alba was ruined.



Whoever has studied the ancient histories finds that Republics had three ways of expanding. One has been that which the ancient Tuscans observed, of being one league of many united Republics, where there is not any one before the other either in authority or in rank. And in acquiring other Cities they made them associates of themselves, as in a similar way the Swiss do in these times, and as the Achaens and Aetolians did in ancient times in Greece. And as the Romans had many wars with the Tuscans ((in order to illustrate better the first method)) I will extend myself in giving a particular account of them. Before the Roman Empire, the Tuscans were the most powerful people in Italy, both on land and on the sea, and although there is no particular history of their affairs, yet there is some small record and some signs of their greatness; and it is known that they sent a colony to the sea, above (north of) them, which they called Adria, which was so noble that it gave a name to that sea which the Latins also called the Adriatic. It is also known that their arms (authority) was obeyed from the Tiber up to the foot of the Alps which now encircle the greater part of Italy; notwithstanding that two hundred years before the Romans became so powerful that the said Tuscans lost the Dominion of that country which today is called Lombardy: which province had been seized by the Gauls, who, moved either by necessity or the sweetness of the fruits, and especially of the wine, came into Italy under their leader Bellovesus, and having defeated and driven out the inhabitants of the province, they settled there where they built many Cities, and they called that Province Gallia from the name they themselves had, which they kept until they were subjugated by the Romans. The Tuscans, then, lived in that equality and proceeded in their expansion through the first method which was mentioned above: and there were twelve Cities, among which were Clusium, Veii, Fiesole, Arezzo, Volterra, and others like them, which through a league governed their Empire; nor could they go outside of Italy with their acquisitions, a great part of which still remained intact (independent), for the reasons which will be mentioned below.

The other method is to make them associates; not so closely, however, that the position of commanding the seat of the Empire and the right of sovereignty should not remain with you; which method was observed by the Romans. The third method is to make subjects of them immediately and not associates, as did the Spartans and Athenians. Of which three methods this last is entirely useless as is seen was the case in the above mentioned two Republics, which were ruined for no other reason than from having acquired that dominion which they were unable to maintain. For to undertake the governing of Cities by violence, especially those which were accustomed to living in freedom, is a difficult and wearisome thing. And unless you are armed, and powerfully armed, you cannot either command or rule them. And to want to be thus established, it is necessary to make associates of them who would help in increasing the population of your City. And as these two Cities (Sparta and Athens) did not do either the one or the other, their method of procedure was useless. And because Rome, which is an example of the second method, did both things, she therefore rose to such exceeding power. And as she had been the only one to act thusly, so too she had been the only one to become so powerful; for she had created many associates throughout all Italy, who lived with them in many respects equally under the law, but on the other hand ((as I said above)) she always reserved for herself the seat of Empire and the right of command, so that these associates of hers came ((without their being aware of it)) through their own efforts and blood to subjugate themselves. For as soon as they begun to go beyond Italy with their armies to reduce other Kingdoms to Provinces, and to make for themselves subjects of those who, having been accustomed to live under Kings, did not care to be subjects, and from having Roman governors, and having been conquered by armies under Roman command, they recognized no one to be superior other than the Romans. So that those associates of Rome (who were) in Italy found themselves suddenly surrounded by Roman subjects and pressed by a very large City like Rome: and when they understood the deceit under which they had lived they were not in time to remedy it, for Rome had achieved so much authority with the (acquisition) of the external provinces, and so much power was to be found within themselves, the City having become greatly populated and well armed. And although these associates of hers conspired against her in order to avenge the injuries inflicted on them, they were defeated (in war) in a short time, worsening their condition; for from being associates they too became their subjects. This method of proceeding ((as has been said)) had been observed only by the Romans; and a Republic which wants to aggrandize itself cannot have any other method, for experience has not shown anything else more certain and more true.

The fore-mentioned method of creating Leagues, such as were the Tuscans, Achaians, and the Aetolians, and as are the Swiss today, is, after that of the Romans, the better method; for with it, it is not possible to expand greatly, but two benefits ensue: the one, that they are not easily drawn into war: the other, that that which you take you can easily hold. The reason they are not able to expand is that Republics are not united and have their seats in several places, which makes it difficult for them to consult and decide. It also makes them undesirous of dominating, for, as many Communities participating in that dominion, they do not value much such acquisitions as does a single Republic which hopes to enjoy it entirely by itself. In addition to this they are governed by a council, and it follows that they are tardier in every decision than those which come from those who live in the same circle. It is also seen from experience that such methods of procedure have a fixed limit, of which there is no example which indicates it has ever been transgressed; and this (limit) is the addition of twelve or fourteen communities, beyond which they cannot go, and as their defending themselves appears to them to be difficult they do not seek greater dominion, as much because necessity does not constrain them to have more power, as well as for not recognizing any usefulness in further acquisitions for the reason mentioned above: for they have to do one of two things: either to continue making additional associates for themselves, as this multitude would cause confusion, or they would have to make them subjects to themselves. And as they see the difficulty of this, and little usefulness in maintaining it, they see no value in it. When, therefore, they are come to such a great number that it appears to them they can live securely, they turn to two things: the one, to take up the protection of others who seek it, and by this means obtain money from each one, and which they can readily distribute among themselves: the other, is to become soldiers for others and accept a stipend from this Prince or that, who hires them for undertaking his enterprises, as is seen the Swiss do these days, and as one reads was done by the above mentioned ones. Of which Titus Livius gives testimony, where he tells of Philip, King of Macedon, coming to negotiate with Titus Quintus Flaminius, and discussing the accord in the presence of a Praetor of the Aetolians, the said Praetor in coming to talk with him, was by him reprimanded for avarice and infidelity, saying that the Aetolians were not ashamed to enlist in the military service for one, and then also send their men into the service of the enemy, so that many times the Aetolian ensigns were seen among the two opposing armies. We see, therefore, that this method of proceeding through leagues has always been the same, and has had the same results. It is also seen that the method of making (them) subjects has always been ineffective and to have produced little profit: and when they had carried this method too far, they were soon ruined. And if this method of making subjects is useless in armed Republics, it is even more useless in those which are unarmed, as the Republics of Italy have been in our times.

It is to be recognized, therefore, that the Romans had the certain method, which is so much more admirable as there was no example before Rome, and there has been no one who has imitated them since Rome. And as to leagues, only the Swiss and the league of Swabia are found to be the only ones which imitated them. And finally of this matter it will be said, so many institutions observed by Rome, pertinent to the events both internal as well as external, have not only not been imitated in our times, but have not been taken into account, being judged by some not to be true, by some impossible, by some not applicable and useless. So that by remaining in this ignorance we (Italy) are prey to anyone who has wanted to rule this province. But if the imitation of the Romans appeared difficult, that the ancient Tuscans ought not to appear so, especially by the present Tuscans. For if they could not acquire that power in Italy, which that method of procedure would have given them, they lived in security for a long time, with very much glory of Dominion and arms, and especially praise for their customs and Religion. Which power and glory was first diminished by the Gauls, and afterwards extinguished by the Romans: and was so completely extinguished, that, although two thousand years ago the power of the Tuscans was great, at present there is almost no memory. Which thing has made me think whence this oblivion of things arises, as will be discussed in the following chapter.



To those Philosophers who hold that the World has existed from eternity, I believe it is possible to reply, that, if such great antiquity was true, it would be reasonable that there should be some record of more than five thousand years, except it is seen that the records of those times have been destroyed from diverse causes: of which some were acts of men, some of Heaven. Those that are acts of men are the changes of the sects (religion) and of languages. Because, when a new sect springs up, that is, a new Religion, the first effort is ((in order to give itself reputation)) to extinguish the old; and if it happens that the establishers of the new sect are of different languages, they extinguish it (the old) easily. Which thing is known by observing the method which the Christian Religion employed against the Gentile (heathen) sect, which has cancelled all its institutions, all of its ceremonies, and extinguished every record of that ancient Theology. It is true that they did not succeed in entirely extinguishing the records of the things done by their excellent men, which has resulted from their having maintained the Latin language, which was done by force, having to write this new law in it. For if they could have written it in a new language, considering the other persecutions they suffered, none of the past events would have been recorded. And whoever reads the methods used by Saint Gregory and the other Heads of the Christian Religion, will see with what obstinacy they persecuted all the ancient memorials, burning the works of the Poets and Historians, ruining statues, and despoiling every thing else that gave any sign of antiquity. So that, if to this persecution they had added a new language, it would have been seen that in a very brief time everything (previous) would have been forgotten.

It is to be believed, therefore, that that which the Christian Religion wanted to do against the Gentile sect, the Gentiles did against that which preceded them. And as these sects changed two or three times in five or six thousand years, all memory of things done before that time are lost. And if, however, some signs of it were left, it would be considered a fabulous thing, and not to be given credence: as happened with the history of Diodorus Siculus, who although he gives account of forty or fifty thousand years, none the less it is reputed ((as I believe it is )) a mendacious thing.

As to the causes that come from Heaven, they are those that extinguish the human race and reduce the inhabitants of parts of the world to a very few. And this results either from pestilence, or famine, or from an inundation of water; and the last is the most important, as much because it is the most universal, as because those who are saved are men of the mountains and rugged, who, not having any knowledge of antiquity, cannot leave it to posterity. And if among them there should be saved one who should have this knowledge, he would hide it or pervert it in his own way in order to create a reputation and name for himself; so that there remains to his successors only what he wanted to write, and nothing else. And that these inundations, pestilences, and famines, occur, I do not believe there is any doubt, not only because all histories are full of them, but also because the effects of these oblivious things are seen, and because it appears reasonable they should be; For in nature as in simple bodies, when there is an accumulation of much superfluous matter, it very often moves by itself and makes a purgation which is healthy to that body; and so it happens in this compound body of the human race, that when all the provinces are full of inhabitants so that they cannot live or go elsewhere in order to occupy and fill up all places, and when human astuteness and malignity has gone as far as they can go, it happens of necessity that the world purges itself in one of the three ways, so that men having been chastised and reduced in number, live more commodiously and become better. Tuscany, then, was once powerful, as was said above, full of Religion and Virtu had its own customs and its own national language; all of which was extinguished by the Roman power. So that ((as was said)) nothing remained of it but the memory of its name.



Having discussed how the Romans proceeded in their expansion, we will now discuss how they proceeded in making war, and it will be seen with how much prudence they deviated in all the actions from the universal methods of others, in order to make their road to supreme greatness easy. The intention of whoever makes war, whether by election or from ambition, is to acquire and maintain the acquisition, and to proceed in such a way so as to enrich themselves and not to impoverish the (conquered) country and his own country. It is necessary, therefore, both in the acquisition and in the maintenance, to take care not to spend (too much), rather to do every thing for the usefulness of his people. Whoever wants to do all these things must hold to the Roman conduct and method, which was first to make the war short and sharp, as the French say, for corning into the field with large armies, they dispatched all the wars they had with the Latins, Samnites, and Tuscans, in the briefest time. And if all those things they did from the beginning of Rome up to the siege of the Veienti were to be noted, it will be seen that they were all dispatched some in six, some in ten, some in twenty days; for this was their usage. As soon as war broke out, they went out with the armies to meet the enemy and quickly came to the engagement. Which, when they won it, the enemy ((so that their countryside should not be completely laid waste)) came to terms, and the Romans condemned them (to turn over) lands, which lands they converted into private possessions or consigned them to a colony, which, placed on the confines of those people, served as a guard to the Roman frontiers, with usefulness as well to those colonists who received those fields as to the people of Rome, who, without expense, maintained that guard. Nor could this method be more secure, more effectual, or more useful. For, as long as the enemy were not in the fields, that guard was enough; but as soon as they went out in force to oppress that Colony, the Romans also came out in force and came to an engagement with them, and having waged and won the battle, (and), having imposed heavier conditions on them, they returned home. Thus, little by little, they came to acquire reputation over them and strength within themselves (their state). And they kept to this method up to the time of war when they changed the method of proceeding; which was after the siege of the Veienti, where, in order to be able to wage a long war, they ordered them to pay their soldiers, (and) which at first ((since it was not necessary as the wars were short)) they did not pay. And although the Romans gave them the money, and by virtue of which they were able to wage longer wars, and to keep them at a greater distance if necessity should keep them in the field longer, none the less they never varied from the original system of finishing them quickly, according to the place and time: nor did they ever vary from sending out of colonies. For, in the first system, the ambition of the Consuls contributed in making the wars short ((in addition to the natural custom)), who, being elected for one year, and six months of that year in quarters, wanted to finish the war in order to (have a) triumph. In the sending of colonies there was usefulness to them and resultant great convenience. They (the Romans) made a good distribution of booty, with which they were not as liberal as they were at first, as much because it did not appear to them to be so necessary ((the soldiers receiving a stipend)), as also because the booty being larger, they planned to enrich themselves of it so that the public should not be constrained to undertake the enterprises with the tributes from the City. Which system in a short time made their Treasury very rich. These two methods, therefore, of distributing the booty and of sending of colonies, caused Rome to be enriched by the wars while other unwise Princes and Republics were impoverished (by theirs). And these were brought to such limits that a Consul did not think he could obtain a triumph unless, with his triumph, he could bring much gold and silver, and every other kind of booty into the Treasury.

Thus the Romans with the above described conditions and by finishing wars quickly, being satisfied by the length (of the wars) to massacre the enemy, and by defeating (their armies) and overrunning (their lands), and (making) accords to their advantage, always became richer and more powerful.



I believe it is very difficult to find out the truth as to how much land the Romans distributed per colonist. I believe they gave them more or less, according to the places where they sent the colonies. And I would judge that in any instance and in all places the distribution was small. First, in order to send a greater number of men assigned to guard that country: then, as they lived poorly at home it would not have been reasonable that they should desire that their men should live too abundantly outside.

And T. Livius says that, after taking Veii, they sent a colony there and distributed to each three and seven-twelfths (3 7/12) Jugeri of land, which in our measures are ... (2 2/3 acres). For, in addition to the above written things, they judged it was not the amount of land, but its good cultivation, that should suffice. It is necessary also that all the colonies have public fields where everyone could pasture their beasts, and forests where they could get wood to burn, without which things a colony cannot organize itself.



Since there has been discussed above the method of proceeding in war observed by the Romans and how the Tuscans were assaulted by the Gauls, it does not appear to me alien to the subject to discuss how two kinds of war are made. One is waged because of the ambitions of Princes or of a Republic that seek to extend their Empire, such as were the wars that Alexander the Great waged, and those that the Romans waged, and those which one power wages against another. While these wars are dangerous, they never drive all the inhabitants out of a province, but the obedience of the people is enough for the conqueror, and most of the times he leaves them to live with their laws, and always with their homes and possessions: The other kind of war is when an entire people with all their families are taken away from a place, necessitated either by famine or by war, and goes to seek a new seat in a new province, not in order to seek dominion over them as those others above, but to possess it absolutely; and to drive out or kill its old inhabitants. This kind of war is most cruel and most frightful. And of these wars Sallust discusses at the end of (the history) of Jugurtha, when he says that, after Jugurtha was defeated, movements of the Gauls coming into Italy were heard: where he (also) says that the Roman People had combatted with all the other peoples only as to who should dominate, but that with the Gauls they combatted for the (very) existence of each. For to a Prince or a Republic that assaults a province, it is enough to extinguish only those who command, but to these entire populations, it behooves them to extinguish everyone because they want to live on that which the others lived.

The Romans had three of these most perilous wars. The first was when Rome was taken, which was occupied by those Gauls who had detached Lombardy ((as was mentioned above)) from the Tuscans and made it their seat: for which Titus Livius assigns two causes: The first, as was said above, that they were attracted by the sweetness of the fruits and wines of Italy, which were lacking in France: The second, that in that Kingdom of Gaul, men multiplied so fast that they were no longer able to feed them, (and) the Princes decided it should be necessary that a part of them should go some place to seek a new country. And having made such a decision, they elected as captains over those who should depart Bellovesus and Sicovesus, two Kings of the Gauls, of whom Bellovesus went into Italy and Sicovesus passed into Spain. From the passage of this Bellovesus there resulted the occupation of Lombardy, and hence the first war that the Gauls made against Rome. After this came that which they made after the first Carthaginian war, where they (the Romans) killed over two hundred thousand Gauls between Piombino and Pisa. The third was when the Teutons and Cimbrians came into Italy, who having overcome several Roman armies, were defeated by Marius. The Romans, therefore, won these three most perilous wars. And no little virtu was necessary to win them; for it is seen that when that Roman virtu was lost (and), those arms lost their ancient valor, that Empire was destroyed by similar people, such as were the Goths, Vandals, and the like, who occupied all the western Empire.

These people go out from their countries ((as was said above)) driven by necessity; and the necessity arises from famine, or war, and oppression, which in their own country is experienced by them, so that they are constrained to seek new land. And these such are sometimes of a great number, and then enter into the countries of others with violence, killing the inhabitants, taking possession of their goods, create a new Kingdom, and change the name of the province, as Moses did, and those people who occupied the Roman Empire. For these new names that exist in Italy and in the provinces, do not come from anything else than of having been thus named by the new occupiers, such as is Lombardy which was called Cisalpine Gaul, France which was called Transalpine Gaul, and now is called after the Franks, as those people were called who had occupied it; Slavonia was called Illyria, Hungary Pannonia, England Brittania, and many other provinces which have changed names, to recount which would be tedious. Moses also called that part of Syria occupied by him Judea. And as I have said above that sometimes such people are driven from their own seats because of war, whence they are constrained to seek new lands, I want to cite the example of the Maurusians, a most ancient people of Syria, who, hearing of the coming of the Hebrew people and judging not to be able to resist them, thought it better to save themselves and leave their own country, than to attempt to save it and lose themselves; and taking up their families, they went to Africa where they established themselves after driving out those inhabitants whom they found in that place. And thus those who were unable to defend their own country, were able to occupy that of others. And Procopius, who wrote of the war that Belisarius made against the Vandals, occupiers of Africa, refers to having read letters written on certain columns in the places that were inhabited by these Maurusians, which said: We Maurusians here fled from before Jesus the robber, son of Narva. Whence appeared the reason of their departure from Syria. These people, therefore, who have been driven out by an extreme necessity are most formidable, and if they are not confronted by good arms, will never be checked. But when those who are constrained to abandon their own country are not many, they are not as dangerous as those people who were discussed, for they are unable to use as much violence but must employ cunning in occupying some place, and having occupied it, to maintain themselves by way of friends and confederates: as is seen was done by Aeneas, and Dido, and the Massalians, and the like, all of whom were able to maintain themselves, with the consent of their neighbors.

The great numbers of people that went out, and are going out, are almost all from the country of Scythia, a cold and poor place, where, because there were a great number of men and the country of a kind which was unable to feed them, they are forced to go out, having many things which drive them out and none to retain them. And if in the past five hundred years it has not occurred that some of these people have not inundated any country, it arises from several reasons. The first, the great evacuation which that country made during the decline of the Empire, when more than thirty tribes left (Scythia). The second is, that Germany and Hungary, whence also such people went out, have now improved their country so that they are able to live comfortably, that they are not necessitated to change places. On the other hand, their men being very warlike are a bastion in holding back the Scythians, who have the same boundary with them, from presuming to overcome or pass through them. And often times there occurred very great movements of Tartars, who were later checked by the Hungarians and the Poles, and they often boast that if it had not been for their arms, Italy and the Church would have many times felt the weight of the Tartar armies. And this I want to be enough concerning the people mentioned.



The cause which made war arise between the Romans and the Samnites who were in league for a long time, is a common cause which arises among all powerful Principalities. Which cause either arises by chance or is made to arise by those who desire to set a war in motion. That which arose between the Romans and the Samnites was by chance, for it was not the intention of the Samnites, in setting the war in motion against the Sidicians, and afterwards against the Campanians, to set it in motion against the Romans. But the Campanians being hard pressed and having recourse to Rome, beyond the thoughts of the Romans and the Samnites, the Campanians forced the Romans to take them to themselves as subjects of theirs, so that it appeared to them (the Romans) they could not honorably evade (the obligation) of defending them, and (hence) take up that war. For it indeed appeared reasonable to the Romans not to defend the Campanians as friends against the Samnites, who were their friends, but it seemed to them disgraceful not to defend them as subjects, even though voluntary ones, judging that if they did not undertake such defense, it would alienate all those who should plan to come under their dominion. And as the aim of Rome was Empire and Glory, and not Quiet, she could not refuse this enterprise.

This same cause gave beginning to the first war against the Carthaginians because of the defense of the Messenians in Sicily which the Romans undertook, which was also by chance. But the second war which afterwards arose between them was not by chance, for Hannibal the Carthaginian Captain assaulted the Saguntines friends of the Romans in Spain, not to injure them, but to move the Romans to arms, and to have occasion to combat them and pass into Italy. This method of kindling new wars has always been customary among Powers, and who have some respect for the faith (treaties) with others. For if I want to make war against a Prince, and have between us a signed treaty observed for a long time, I would assault a friend of his very own with some other pretext and justification, especially knowing that in assaulting his friend either he would resent it and I would obtain my intention of making war against him, or if he did not resent it, his weakness and unfaithfulness in not defending his ally will take away reputation from him, and to execute my designs more easily.

It ought to be noted, therefore, because of the dedication of the Campanians in setting the war in motion in the way mentioned above, that the best remedy which a City has, that is unable to defend itself, but wants to defend itself in whatever manner against anyone who should assault them: which is to give itself freely to whomever they design to defend them, as the Campanians did to the Romans, and the Florentines to King Robert of Naples, who, unwilling to defend them as friends, defended them afterwards as subjects against the forces of Castruccio of Lucca who was pressing them hard.



Because anyone can commence a war at his pleasure, but cannot so finish it, a Prince ought before he undertakes an enterprise to measure his forces, and govern himself in accordance with them. But he ought to have so much prudence as not to deceive himself of the two forces: and he will deceive himself every time when he measures it either by his money, or by the location (of his country), or by good will of his people, while on the other hand he lacks his own arms. For although the above things will increase his strength, (but) they will not give it to him, and of themselves are nothing, and will not be of benefit without trustworthy arms. For without them, great amounts of money will not suffice you, the strength of the country will not benefit you, and the faith and good will of men will not endure, as these cannot remain faithful to you if you are not able to defend them. Every mountain, every lake, every inaccessible place becomes a plain where strong defenders are lacking. Money alone, also, will not defend you, but causes you to be plundered more readily. Nor can that common opinion be more false which says that money is the sinew of war. Which sentence was said by Quintus Curtius in the war which existed between Antipater the Macedonian and the King of Sparta, where he narrates that because of a want of money the King of Sparta was obliged to come to battle and was routed, that if he had deferred the fight a few days the news of the death of Alexander in Greece would have arrived, whence he would have remained victor without fighting. But lacking money, and being apprehensive that, for the want of which, his army would abandon him, was constrained to try the fortune of battle. So that for this reason Quintus Curtius affirms money to be the sinew of war. Which opinion is alleged every day, and acted on by not so prudent Princes to whom it is enough to follow it: For relying on it, they believe it is enough to have much treasure to defend themselves, and do not think that if treasure should be enough to win, that Darius would have vanquished Alexander, the Greeks would have vanquished the Romans, and in our times Duke Charles would have vanquished the Swiss, and a few days ago the Pope and the Florentine together would not have had difficulty in defeating Francesco Maria, nephew of Julius II, in the war at Urbino. But all the above named were vanquished by those who esteemed not money, but good soldiers, as the sinew of war.

Among other things that Croesus, King of Lydia, showed to Solon the Athenian was a countless treasure: and asking what he thought his power to be, Solon answered that he did not judge him more powerful because of that, because war was made with iron and not gold, and that someone might come who had more iron than he and would take it away from him. In addition to this, when, after the death of Alexander the Great, a great multitude of Gauls passed into Greece and then into Asia, and the Gauls sent Ambassadors to the King of Macedonia to treat of certain accords, that King to show his power and to dismay them showed them much gold and silver: whence those Gauls who had already as good as signed the peace broke it, so much did the desire grow in them to take away that gold. And thus was that King despoiled by the very thing that he had accumulated for defense. The Venetians a few years ago also, having their Treasury full of treasure, lost the State without being able to be defended by it.

I say, therefore, that gold ((as common opinion shouts)) is not the sinew of war, but good soldiers; because gold is not sufficient to find good soldiers, but good soldiers are indeed sufficient to find gold. To the Romans ((if they had wanted to make war more with money instead of with iron)) it would not have been enough to have all the treasure of the world, considering the great enterprises that they made and the difficulties that they had to encounter. But making their wars with iron, they never suffered from want of gold, because it was brought, even up to their camps, by those who feared them. And if that King of Sparta, because of a dearth of money, had to try the fortune of battle, that which happened to him on account of money many times would have happened for other causes; for it has been seen that any army lacking provisions, and being obliged either to die of hunger or to engage in battle, will always take the side of fighting as being more honorable, and where fortune can in some way favor you. It has also happened many times that a Captain, seeing succor come to the army of his enemy, has preferred to come to an engagement with him at once and try the fortune of battle, rather than wait until he is reinforced and then have to fight him in any case under a thousand disadvantages. It has also been seen, how it happened to Hasdrubal when he was assaulted in the Marca (Metaurus River) by Claudius Nero, together with the other Roman Consul, that a Captain obliged either to fight or flee, always elects to fight, it seeming to him in this way, even if most doubtful, to be able to win, but in the other to lose in any case.

There are many necessities, therefore, which make a Captain choose the side of coming to battle against his will, among which sometimes it can be the dearth of money, but not for this ought money to be judged the sinew of war more than other things which induce men to a similar necessity. Repeating again, therefore, the sinew of war is not gold, but good soldiers. Money is indeed necessary in a secondary place, but it is a necessity that good soldiers by themselves will overcome; for it is impossible that good soldiers will lack money, as it is for money by itself to find good soldiers. Every history in a thousand places shows that which we say to be true, notwithstanding that Pericles had counselled the Athenians to make war with all the Peloponnesus, showing that they could win that war with perseverance and by the power of money. And although in that war the Athenians at times had prospered, in the end they lost, and the good counsels and good soldiers of Sparta were of more value than the perseverance and the money of Athens. But the testimony of Titus Livius is more direct than any other, where, discussing if Alexander the Great should have come into Italy, if he would have vanquished the Romans, he showed three things to be necessary for war, many and good soldiers, prudent Captains, and good fortune: where examining whether the Romans or Alexander should have prevailed in these things, afterwards makes his conclusion without ever mentioning money. The Campanians had, when they were requested by the Sidicians to take up arms of them against the Samnites, to measure their power by money and not by soldiers; for having undertaken the proceeding to aid them, after two defeats were constrained to make themselves tributaries of the Romans if they wanted to save themselves.



Titus Livius, wanting to show the error of the Sidicians in trusting to the aid of the Campanians, and the error of the Campanians in believing themselves able to defend them, could not say it with more forceful words, saying, The Campanians brought a greater name in aid of the Sidicians, than they did men for protecting them. Where it ought to be noted that leagues made with Princes who have neither the convenience of aiding you because of the remoteness of their location nor the strength to do so because of disorganization or other reasons of theirs, bring more notoriety than aid to those who trust in them: as happened in our times to the Florentines, when in one thousand four hundred seventy nine (1479) the Pope and the King of Naples assaulted them, that being friends of the King of France derived from that friendship more notoriety than protection; as also would happen to that Prince who should undertake some enterprise trusting himself to the Emperor Maximilian, because this is one of those friendships that would bring to whoever made it more notoriety than protection, as is said in this treatise of what that of the Campanians brought to the Sidicians.

¶ The Campanians, therefore, erred in this part by imagining themselves to have more strength than they had. And thus little prudence sometimes does to men, who not knowing how nor being able to defend themselves, want to undertake enterprises to defend others; as also the Tarentines did, who, when the Roman armies encountered the Samnites, sent ambassadors to the Roman Consul to make him understand that they wanted peace between those two people, and that they were ready to make war against the one that should refuse peace. So that the Consul, laughing at this proposition, in the presence of the ambassadors, had the (bugle) sound for battle and commanded his army to go and meet the enemy, showing the Tarentines by acts and not words of what a reply they were worthy.

¶ And having in the present chapter discussed the wrong proceedings which Princes undertake for the defense of others, in the following one I want to talk of those means they should undertake for their own defense.