Niccolò Machiavelli.

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Chap. XIII. The First Decad of Livy. 259

no man of mean condition ever arrived at any remark-
able degree of power and dominion merely by open
and downright force j but that many have by fraud

the office of Magnanimity, openly and profefTedly to love and hate,
to judge and fpeak with all freedom ; and not to value the approba-
tion or diflike of others at the expence of truth. Apollonius faid it
was for flaves to lie, and freemen to fpeak truth. It is the chief and
fundamental part of virtue ; we miift love it for its own fake : he that
fpeaks the truth becaufe he is otherwife obliged fo to do, and becaufe
he ferves, and that is not afraid to lie, when it (ignifies notbing to any
body, is not fufficiently true. My Soul naturally abominates lying,
and hates the very thought of it: I have an inward baPiifulnefs and
fraart remorfe if ever a lie efcapes me, as fometimes it does, when I
am furprized and hurried by occafions that allow me no premeditation.
A man muft not always tell all, for that would be folly ; but what a
man fays fnould be wliat lie thinks, otherwife it is knavery. I do not
know what advantage men pretend to by eternally counterfeiting and
diffembling, except it is never to be believed, even when they Ipeak
truth. This may pnfs once or twice perhaps upon men j but to pro-
fefs concealing their thoughts, and to boaft, as fome of our Princes
have done, " that they would burn their fliirts if they thought they
knew their true intentions, (which was a faying of Metellus of Ma-
cedon) and that he who knows not how to diiTemble, knows not how
to rule 5'* is giving warning to all who have any thing to do with them,
that whatever they fay is nothing but lies and deceit. *' Qiio quis ver-
futior & callidior eft (fays Tully) hoc invifior & fufpeftior, detra6ia opi-
nione probitatis." It would be great fimpiicity in any one to confide
either in the countenance or word of a man, that has put on a refo-
lution to be always another thing without than he is within, as Tibe-
rius did : and I cannot conceive what intereft fuch can have in their
converfation with men, feeing they produce nothing that is admitted
for truth ; whoever is diHoyal to truth, is the fame to falfliood alfo.— •
Thofe of our times, who have confidered, in the eftablifhment of the
Duty of a Prince, the welfare of his affairs only, and have preferred
that to the care of his faith and confcience, might fay fomething to a
Prince, whofe affairs Fortune had put into fuch a poiture that he might
for ever eftablifh them by only once breaking his word. But it will
not go fo : they often come again to the fame market, they make more
than one peace, and enter into more than one treaty in their lives.
Gain tempts them to the firft breach of faith, and almofl always pre-
fents itfelf, as in favour of all other evil a6tions : Sacrileges, murders,
rebellions, and treafons, are undertaken for fome kind of advantage j
but the firft gain has fuch confequences as throw this Prince out of all
correfpondence and negociation by this example of his perfidy. So-
jiman of the Ottoman race (a race not very careful in keeping their
promifes and articles) when his army made a defcent on Otranto in my
infancy, being informed that Mercurino de Gratinare and the inha-
bitants of Caftro were detained prifoners, after having furrendered the
place, contrary to the articles of capitulation with his forces, fent an
order to have them fet at liberty, faying, " that as he had other great
enterprizes in hand in thofe parts, this breach of faith, though it
carried a fliew of prefent utility, would afterwards bring him into dif-
repute, and occafion a diffidence in his word that might be of infi-
nite prejudice to his affairs,"

S 2 alone j

25o Political Discourses upon Book II.

alone ; as Giovanni Galcazzo in particular, who by
that means only deprived his Uncle Bernabo of the
State of Milan '^. Now if Princes are obliged to adl
in tnis manner in order to found or increafc their Em-
pire, Republics are under an equal neceffity of doing
tbe fame, till they are become powerful enough to truft
to their ftrength : and as Rome took ail other means
(either by good fortune or defign) that were neceiTary
to eftablifh its future grandeur •, fo it did not fail to
avail ki'tlt of this alfo; nor was it pofTible to have pro-
ceeded more craftily than it did in taking the method
we have mentioned before, namely, of cajoling the
Latins and other neighbouring Siates into fuch a con-
federacy as infenfibly made them its Subjects inftead
of Allies. For in the firil place, it made ufe of their
arms to conquer the other neighbouring powers, and
had the chief fhare of honour by afTuming the name
of Principal in. that confederacy; and having thus
iubdued fome of them, it afterwards employed its
own llrength, and the authority which it had thereby
acquired to reduce all the others : for the Latins were
not aware, that in fa6l they themfelves were no better
than Slaves, till they had feen the Samnites tvvice de-
feated and forced to accept of terms from the Romans.
Thefe Vi(5lories which gained the Romans great re-
putation amongfl: the States that were further off and
rather admired their valour thin felt the vyeight of it,
likewife excited the envy and jealoufy of thofe that
were nearer home and more immediately fcnfible of
the effec^es of their arms, particularly the Latins: and
fo great was this apprehenfion, that not only the La-
tins themfelves, but the Colonies which the Romans
had fent into Latium, and the Campanians, who not '
long before had taken flielter under the protection of
Rome, conlpired againft them. In confequence of
which, the Latins provoked them to a war, (in the
manner which I have faid before is often pradiled up-
on thofe occafions) not by falling diredly upon the

* Thefe two Princes were of tlie houfe of Vifcontj, and Dukes of
JVlihn before the Sfozi's. See Hift. Flor.


Chap. XIV. The First Dec ad of Livt. i6x

Romans themfclves, but by fupporting the Sidicinrs
againft the Samnites, who had made war upon them,
by permifljon from the Romans. Nor was there any
other reafon for this confpiracy, but becaufe the con-
federates beo;an to be aware how much thev had been
impofed upon under the fpecious name of Allies : acr
cordingly Livy makes Annius Setinus, a Latin Praetor^
fay in a fpeech which he made in their Council : " Nam
fi etiam nunc fub umbra aequi foederis, fervitutem
pati pofTumus, quid obeft quin proditis Sidicinis, non
Romanorum Solum, fed Samnitium didis pareamus ?
For if we can even nov/ endure fervitude, under the
pretence of an equal confederacy ; might we not as
well give up the Sidicines, and fubmit not only to the
Ronians, but to the Samnites alfo ?"

We fee then, that even the Romans, in the infancy
of their State, availed themfelves of that artifice and
deceit to extend their dominion, which every one muft
of neceffity have recourfe to, that is ambitious of raif-
jng himfelf from a low eftate to any confiderable height
■of s^randcur : and the more cunningly it is difguifed
and concealed, the Icfs diflionourable it will feem, as
appears from the example of that people.


"Thai people are often mijlaksn, who think io work upon the
proud and arrogant by moderation and courtefy,

T frequently happens that mildnefs and condefcen-
fion, inilead of being of advantage, are of 2,'cczt
diflervice to people •, efpecially when thofe that have
conceived any prejudice againft them, either out of
envy or any other motive, are of a haughty and info-
lent difpoficion : of which we have a remarkable proof
in what Livy tells us concerning the occafion of the
v^ar betwixt the Romans and the Latins. For the
Samnites complaining to the Romans that the Latins
had invaded them, the Romans, being unwilling co

S 3 exaf-

262 Political Dscourses upon Bookll.

cxafperate the latter ftill more, did not offer to put a
Hop to their hoftilities : which behaviour however was
fo far from foothing the jealoufy of the Latins, that
it only lerved to encourage them, and made them de-
clare their enmity the fooner, as appears from the fame
fpeech of the above-mentioned Annius Setinus, in
which he further tells the Council : '* Tentaftis pa-
tientiam ncgando militem. Quis dubitat exarfilTe eos?
Pertulerunt tamen hunc dolorem. Exercitus nos pa-
rare adverfus Samnites foederatos fuos audierunt, nee
moverunt fe ab urbe. Unde haec illis modeftia, nifi
a confcientia virium & noftrarum & fuarum ? You
have already feen how much they will bear, by refuf-
ing to fupply them with your contingent of forces.
There is no doubt but they were fufficiently nettled
at it ; yet they fwallowed the affront. They knew of
our preparations againft their allies the Samnites : yet
they never ftirred a foot to fupport them. Whence
proceeds this wonderful moderation think you, but
from a confcioufnefs of their own weaknefs and our
ilrength .?" It appears plainly then, from this exam-
ple, how much this moderation in the Romans increaf-
cd the arrogance of the Latins.

A Prince therefore ought never to defcend from his
dignity, nor voluntarily give up any point, (if he has
a mind to fupport his reputation) except when he ei-
ther knows or thinks he is able to maintain it. For
when a prince cannot give up a thing with a good
grace and in an honourable manner, it is almoR al-
ways better to fuffer it to be extorted by force, than
tamely fubmit to thelofs, without any ilruggle to pre-
ferve it ^ becaufe if he parts with it in that pufillani-
mous manner, he does it to prevent a war ; in which
the odds are great that his expectation is difappointed,
for thofe to whom he has fo meanly fubmitted, per-
ceiving his weaknefs and apprehenfions, will be fo
far from being fatisfied wirh his concefTion, that they
will conftantly be making frelh demands, and grow
bolder and more unreafonable every time, as they fee
he is the lefs to be feared : bcfides which, he will find


Chap. XV.' The First Decad of Livy. 263

his friends cooler and more backward in aOiflirig him,
as they mud naturally be induced to think he^is either
very weak or very daftardly. But if, on the contrary,
he immediately begins to raife forces, and take all
other necefiary meafures to face the enemy, as loon as
he difcovers his defigns, they will not be fo forward to
attack him, even though they find him inferior to them :
and thofe friends will not only honour him for it, buG
come in with alacrity to his afiiftance, when they fee
him fo refolute in his defence, who would not have
made the lead effort to fuccour him if he had been
wanting to himfelf. This is to be underflood how-
ever, when he has but one enemy to deal with : but
if he (hould chance to have feveral upon his hands ac
the fame time, it will always be the bell way to give
up fomething to one of them ; by which he may pro-
bably either make him his friend, even after war is
commenced, or at leafl: detach him from the reft: thac
are confederated againll him.


^hat weak Siates are generally doubtfid in their rcfch-
tions i a7id that flow determinaiiom are alwii)j ptrniaous.

FROiVI thefe caufes and beginnings of the war be-
twixt the Latins and the Romans, we may ob-
icrve, (hat in all confultations it is the bell way to
come to fome fpeedy refolution in the matter delibe-
rated upon, and to avoid fufpence and delay as much
as poiTible. According to v^hich maxim the Latins
proceeded in the Council they held when they delign-
cd to revolt from the Romans. For the latter fuf-
pe<5ling their fidelity, and being defarous, not only to
fatisfy themfelves, but to regain that people v/ithouc
coming to an open rupture, gave them to underftand
thac they willied they would lend eight Deputies to
Rome, as they wanted to confulc with them upon cer-
tain affairs of importance. In consequence of this

S 4 mefTage,

264. Political Discourses UPON Book II.

meflage, the Latins being confcious to themfelves,
that they had done feveral things that muft have dii-
gufted the Ronnans, prefently called a Council to con-
fider who (hould be fenc to Rome, and what they
Ihonld lay upon that occafion, when they came thi-
ther. Whilft the matter therefore was in debate, the
aforementioned Pr^ror Annius Setinus told the Coun-
cil, *' Ad fummam rerum noftrarum pertinere arbi-
tror, ut cogitetis magis, quid agendum nobis, quam
quid loquendum fit: facile enmi erit explicatis con-
ciliis accommodare rebus verba : That he thought
it highly concerned their welfare, to confider what was
to be done, rather than v^hat was to be faid : for when
once they were come to any refolution, it would be an
eafy marter to accommodate their words to their ac-
tions :" a piece of advice that certainly has much
truth and reafon in it, and ought to be well remem-
bered by all Princes and Commonwealths. For whilft
people are doubtful and uncertain what to do, they
muft likewife be at a lofs what to fay for their con-
duct in fuch cafes : but when they have determined
how to ad:, there is no difficulty in the matter. This
I thought fit to- inculcate the more earneftly, becaufe
I myfelf have often known an irrefolute manner of
proceeding, not only very prejudicial to the public
affairs, but alfo very fcandalous and difgraceful to
our own Commonvvealth in particular : and indeed
there v/ill always be great doubts and uncertainty
whenever-things of a nice and delicate nature, and in
which the utmoft refolution is required, come to be
difcufiTed by a Council compofed of weak and pufil-
ianimous members.

Delays and tardy deliberations are likewife no lefs
prejudicial ; efpecialiy when a friend or Ally is to be
fuccoured : for they hurt one's Cdf, and do no body
elfe any good. Such deliberations proceed from the
want either of courage or ftrength, or the malevo-
lence of fome of the Counfellors, who, in order to
gratify their own private paffions, chufe rather to ruin
the State, than not accomplifh fome favourite point :


Chap. XV. The First Decao of Livy. 26^

for which purpofe, they not only oppofe and thwart
the necelTary meafures that are propofed, but ufe all
other means to enibarrafs and defeat them : whereas
good Citizens never endeavour to traverfe fuch deli-
berations, efpecially in affairs where difpatch is requi-
fite, even though the cry of the populace fhould be
againfl them. After the death of Hieronymus, the
Tyrant of Syracufe, a (harp war being carried on be-
twixt the Romans and Carthaginians, the Syracufans
were divided amongll themfelves, whether they fliould
take part with the former or the latter: and ihefe di-
vifions grew to fuch a height, that all public bufinefs
was at a (land, and nothing could be determined up-
on ; till Apollonides, one of the principal Citizens,
reprefented to them in a grave and weighty fpeech,
that though neither thofe that were inclined to adhere
to the Romans, nor thoie that thought it better to
fide with the Carthaginians, were to be blamed ; yet,
their ilow and irrefolute manner of proceeding was
very imprudent, and would certainly be the ruin of
their State : but that if they would come to a refo-
lution, which fide foever they took, fome good or other
might be expedred from it. Indeed Livy could not
have given us a more remarkable document of the
evils that attend fuch a tardy and undetermined man-
ner of deliberating ; which he likewife confirms by
the example of the Latins, whofe affiftance being de-
manded by the Lavinians againft the Romans, was fo
long deferred by their tedious deliberations, whether
they (liould grant them any or not, that at laft when
they had relolved upon it, and their fuccours were
juft got out of the gates of the City, they received
news that their Confederates were routed: which gave
Milonius their. Prascor occafion to fay, *' It is well if
the Romans do not make us pay dear for this fhort
march." For if they could fpeedily have refoived
either to affiii: the Lavinians, or not to afllft them; in
the latter cafe, they would not have drawn upon
themfelves the refentment of the Romans ; and in the
former, their Allies might probably have been vido-

rious :

266 Political Discourses upon Book II.

rious : but, as they could not determine to do either,
they were fure to fmart for it, which fide foevcr got
the better, as indeed they did.

If the Florentines had duly confidered this matter,
they would not have fuffered lb much as they did when
Charles XII. of France marched into Italy, againft
Lewis Sforza, Duke of Milan : for, when he had
partly refolved upon that Expedition, he would have
entered into a Treaty with the Florentine Ambafla-
dors, who were then at his Court : the terms of which
were, that provided thek* Republic would iland neu-
ter in that quarrel, he would take them into his pro-
tedtion, and fupport them againft all enemies. For the
ratification of this Treaty a month was allowed : but
being imprudently deferred, by the management of
fome who favoured the Duke's intereft, till the King
had fucceeded in his defigns, and the Florentines then
offering to ratify it, his majefty paid no regard to them,
as he faw it proceeded from fear, and not from any
good will or friendfhip to him. This delay coil the
Florentines a very large fum of money, and brought
them almoft to the brink of ruin ; as the fame manner
of proceeding did afterwards upon another occafjon.
Moreover this behaviour was the more weak and dan-
gerous, as it was of no fervice to the Duke, who, if
he had got the better of the French, would have han-
dled them in a ftill rougher manner than the King did.
Now^ though I have laid fomething in a former dif-
courfe, concerning the evils that are incident to Com-
monwealths from fuch flow and irrefolute delibera-
tions; yet as frefh matter occurred, I thought it might
not be amifs to make this addition to it ; efpecially
as it is a Subjedl that ought to be well confidered by
fuch Republics as that of Florence '^.

• Compare thefe two laft Cliapters with Cbap, xxxviii. Book I.


Chap. XVI. The First Decad of Livy. 267


How much our Military DifcipUne in thefe times differs

from that of the Ancients^

THE moft important battle the Romans ever
fought with any other nation, was that in which
they defeated the Latins, in the Confulihip of Man-
lius Torquatus and Decius : for as it is certain, that
the Latins loft their liberty by that overthrow •, fo the
Romans muft inevitably have become fubjedl to them,
if they had not gained the vidlory. Livy himfelf was
of this opinion : for he tells us, that the two armies
were equal in difcipline, valour, refolution, and num-
bers ; and that the only difference betwixt them was,
that the Romans had the more determined and coura-
geous Generals. In this battle, there were two cir-
cumftances very remarkable ; of which there was no
example before, and but very few fmce : for one of
the Confuls facrificed himfelf, in order to keep his
Soldiers firm in their obedience and difcipline ; and
the other put his own Son to death for difobeying his
orders *. The equality which Livy fays was betwixt
thefe two armies, was occafioned by the Soldiers in
both having long ferved together under the fame co-
lours, fpeaking the fame tongue, obferving the fame
difcipline, and fighting with the fame arms : for, in
their order of battle they both followed one method,
and there was no difference in the titles of their ref-
pedlive ofBcers, or the names by which the feveral di-
vifions of their armies were called. Since both fides
therefore were thus equal in courage and ftrength,
there was a necefTity for the exertion of fome great
and extraordinary quality on one fide, in order to in-
fpire the Soldiers with fuch a degree of firmnefs and
obftinacy^ as might give it a fuperiority over the otherj

* See Livy, lib. VIII, chap, vii. viii. ix.x.

268 Political Discourses :uPON Book IL

to which kind of obftinacy, a vidlory is generally ow-
ing : for whilfl: that lads they will never turn their
backs. And as it was lb necelTary to encourage and
keep up this refolution in the breafts of the Romans,
to a pitch beyond that of the Latins, it happened part-.
ly through chaace, and partly through the bravery
and rigour of the Confuls, that Torquaius put his fon
to death, and Decius facrificed himfelf.

To give us a clearer notion of the equality betwixt
thefe two armies, Livy defcribes the order which the
Romans obferved in drawing up their forces, and in
time of battle : but as he has done, it at large, I fhall
only feled what feems mod remarkable •, and which,
if it had been imitated by the Generals of thefe times,
would have prevented much confufion and many dif-
orders in their armies and engagements. According
to him, there were three grand Divifions or Lines in
their Armies ; the firft confifted of Haftati or Pikemen-,
the fecond, of the Principes ; and the third, of the
Triariii each of which had its cavalry. When they
fet their Battle in array, they placed the Haftati in
the firft line, the Principes in the fecond, behind the
Haftati, and the Triarii in the third. On the right
and left of each of thefe lines, was pofted a body'of
Horft •, which from their form and ftation v/ere call-
ed ^/^, bccaufe they refcm.bled fFings. The Haftati,
or firft line, were drawn up very ciofe together, the
better to fuftain the firft fhoek of the enemy. The
fecond line, confifting of the Principes, who were
not to engage fo immediately, but rather to fupporc
the front line if it was broken or gave way, was not
drawn up fo clofe, but had a fmail interval betwixt
every man, that io it might receive the Haftati into
thofe fpaces without being put into diforder, if they
fhould chance to be fo hard prefied by the enemy as
to be obliged to fall back. The Triarii, or third
line, were drawn up with ftill larger intervals, in or-
der to receive the two other lines upon occafion. Be-
ing formed in this manner, the Haftati began the at-
tack, and if they were repulied, they retired into the
~^ ' void

Chap. XV[. The First Decad of Livy. 269

void fpaces left for them by the Principes, and joint-
ly renewed the battle j but if the fecond line thus
filled up, likevvife happened to be thrown into confa-
fion, the men fell back into the intervals amongft the
Triarii, and they all advanced together once more to
the tight. But as this was their lafl: effort (becaufe
there was no other fupport or rei'erve left) if they
chanced to be worded again, the battle was loft. And,
as matters were thought to be in a defperate fituation,
whenever the Triarii came to be engaged, the Pro-
verb " res redu(fta eft ad Tri.arios," took its rife from
hence, i. e. " the laft ftake is upon the board, cr, we
are reduced to the utmoft extremity*."

Now, as the Generals of our times have utterly laid
afide ail other parts of ancient military difcipline, this
method of drawing up armies is at prefenc like wife
altosecher neg^ledled, and become obfolete ; tlioug-h
indeed ic is an excellent one, and worthy of the ftridi-
eft attention : for a body of forces that is formed ia
this ip.anncr, may fuftain three vigorous attacks, and
muft be beaten three different times before the day is
loft : whereas, another that can ftand but one (hock
(which is the cafe of all Chriftian armies at this day)
is liable to be foon routed -, fince every little diforder,
or any common degree of impetuofity in the firft on-
let, is fufficient to gain a vi(^t-ory over it. 7 he rea-
fon that our armiies cannot rally and return to the
charge fo often as the Rom^an troops ufed to do, is
becaufe the method of receivine one line into another
IS now entirely lod ; for, according to the prefent me-
thod of ranging an army in order of baetle, the Ge-
nerals form their lines clofe upon the back of eiach
other, and extend them to fo great a length, that they
cannot poiTibly be of any confiderable depth, which
mull make them very vveak : or, if they draw them
up deeper, after the manner of the Romans, in or-
der to ftrcngthcn them, yet, if the firft line is broken,
it cannoc be received into the fecond, and conlequent-

* -Ste the Art of War, Book III. in the beginning.

270 Political Discourses upon Book II,

ly when it falls back upon it, mull occafion great con-
fufion and diforder; in which cafe, the firil line can
neither retreat, nor the fecond advance, if it Ihould
be neceflary : fo that the firft recoiling upon the fe-
cond, and both upon the third, they become fo em-
barrafled and entangled one amongft another, that

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