Niccolò Machiavelli.

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ther him or any of his forces into their City. But
Alexander difdaining to be fliut out of that City, when
all the reft in thofe parts had thrown open their gates
to receive him, would not hearken to any fuch condi-
tions, and having difmified the AmbafTadors, imme-
diately laid liege to the town ; which being furround-
ed with water, and very well furnilhed wiih all forts
of provifions and ammunition that were neceffary for
its defence, made lb vigorous a refiftance, that at the
end of four months, he found that entcrprize would
cod him more time, and add lefs to his glory than
any other of his conquefts had done : fo that he re-
folved to grant the conditions upon which they them-
felves had offered to fubmit to him. But the Tyrians,
elated with fuccefs, were then grown fo infolent, that
they not only rejeded all terms, but hanged the per-
fon whom he had lent to offer them ^ at which he was
fo incenled that he profecuted the Siege with fuch vi-
gour and application, that he took the place foon af-
ter ; and having entirely demolifhed it, put moft of
the inhabitants to the Sword, and made Slaves of
the reft.

In the year 15 12, a Spanifli army marched into
Tufcany, to re eftablifti the Medici at Florence, and
to lay the people under contribution. This was un-
dertaken at the inftigation of fome Citizens of Flo-
rence, who had promifed, that as foon as the Spani-
ards arrived in their territories, they would take up
arms in their favour : but when they had reached the
plains iiear that city, and not only perceived that no
body appeared to join them, but alio that they were


gi^ Political Discourses upon Book IL

in great v;ant of provifions, they endeavoured to ac-
commodate matters with the Florentines in an ami-
cable way : upon which the latter behaved in lb info-
lent a manner, that the Spaniards leized Frato and
all its dependencies.

A Prince therefore v/ho is attacked by an enemy
that is much more powerful than himielf, cannot be
guilty of a greater error, than refufing terms of ac-
commodation, efpecially if they are offered him : for
they can never be fo hard, but he will find fome ad-
vantage in them, or perhaps efcape utter deftruclion.
The Tyrians then ought to have accepted the con-
tritions which Alexander at fird refufed to grant them-,
but afterwards would have complied v/iih -, ilnce ic
would have been fufficient honour for them to have
obliged fo great a Conqueror by dint of arms to ac-
quiefce in their demands. The Florentines likevv'ife
ihould have been content, and looked upon it as a
fort of vidory, that the Spaniards would have taken
up with moderate terms ; as they knew the defign of
chat expedition was utterly to change the conlhtution
of Florence, to break its connections with France^
and to lay it under contribution. If the Spaniards
had fucceeded in the two laft points, and the Flo-
rentines been fecure of the firil (that is of preferving
their State) the latter might in fome meafure have
gloried in that, at leafc been fatisfied, and not givea
themfelves much trouble about the other two, fo long
as their Government continued entire and unchang-
ed : nay if they had been almofl fure of obtaining a
complete vidory., they Hiould not have wholly aban-
doned themfelves to the mercy of Fortune, by ven-
iurin!> their laft ftake-, v;hich is a rhino; that no wife
man will ever do, except he is compelled to do it by
downright neceiTity.

After Flannibal had carried on a Vv'ar for fixteen
years in Italy with great reputation, he was recalled
by the Carthaginians to defend their own country,
where he found the armies under, Syphax and Afdru-
bal entirely defeated^ the Kingdom of Numidia lofi,


Chap. XXVIII. The First Decad of Livy. 315

the Carthaginians cooped up within their own walls,
and defticute of all hope but what they placed in him.
Perceiving therefore that his country was reduced to
its lad {lake, he was determined not to hazard that
till he had tried all other means : upon which ac-
count, he was not afhamed to fue for peace, as he
knew that was the only remedy left. But that being
refufed, he refolved to fight the Romans, (though
with very little profpedl of fuccefs) that fo, if he could
not gain a vi6tory, he might at leafl; have the fatis-
fadlion of endinsi his days with honour. Now if fo
able a Commander as Hannibal, at the head of an ar-
my yet entire, endeavoured by all means to obtain
peace, before he would run the rifquc of a battle,
becaufe he faw his Country would be utterly ruined
if he loft it ; ought not his condudl to be a pattern
to others of lefs experience and abilities ? But men
who can neither keep their hopes within the bounds
of reafon, nor make a due eftimate of their own
flrength, muft of nece/T^y be led into errors that will
prove fatal in the end.


that Trine es and Republics ought to punijh fuch as have
injured either a whole people, or any particular perfon,

WE have a remarkable example how far men
may be tranfported by their refentment, in
what happened to the Romans v^^hen they fent the
three Fabii AmbafTadors to the Gauls, who had
marched into Tufcany and laid fiege to Clufium.
For' the Clufians having follicited the aid of the Ro-
mans, the latter difpatched thefe Ambafiadors to re-
quire the Gauls, in the name of the Roman Repub-
lic, to withdraw their forces out of Tufcany : but the
Fabii having delivered their EmbafTy more like Sol-
diers than Orators, and feeing the Gauls and Tufcans
juft going to engage, put thcmfelves at the head of

• the

320 Political Discourses upon Book If.

the latter, and fought againfl: the enemy, who was ib
provoked at this behaviour, that they turned their
enmity from the Tufcans upon the Romans. But
what dill added to their refentment, was, that after
they had complained of this ufage to the Roman Se-
nate, and demanded that the Fabii (houkl be deliver-
ed up to them, they were fo far from either comply-
ing with their requeft or puni{hing them in any other
manner, that at the next eleclion of Magiilrates,
they made them Tribunes with Confular power. The
Gauls therefore feeing them honoured and advanced,
inllead of being punifhed, took it as a wilful affront,
and were fo enraged, that they immediately marched
to Rome, and not only took, but facked the whole
City, except the Capitol : all which the Romans
brought upon themleives, by rewarding their Am-
baffadors, when they ought to have difcountenanced
them for violating: the law of nations.

It behoves all Princes and Republics therefore to
be very cautious how they offend either a whole peo-
ple, or any private perfon in the like manner : for in
cafe a man is grievoufly injured, either by a whole
Community, or by any individual, and meets with no
redrefs when he complains of it ; if he lives in a
Commonwealth he will certainly endeavour to re-
venge himfelf, though it fnould ruin the State : or if
h-e lives under a Prince, and has the leaft fpark of
generofity in him, he will never reft till he thinks he
has righted himfelf, though he be fure to fuffer the
fevered punifliment for it. A remarkable proof of
this we have in the cafe of Philip of Macedon, (fa-
ther of Alexander the Great) in whofc Court there
was a handfome young Nobleman, named Paufanias,
who was ardently importuned by Attalus, (one of
Philip's chief favourites) to fubmit to his luft : but
the youth conftantly refufing it, he determined to
force him, fince other means were in vain. For this
purpofe, having made a great entertainment, to which
Paufanias and many others of the Nobility were in-
vited, he took an opportunity when they had all drank


Chap. XXIX. The First Dxcad of Livy. 521

-pretty freely, of having him carried by violence into
another aparrment, Vv'here he not only gratified his
own bnual defires, but fuffered feveral others to do
the fame : at which he was fo outrageouily provoked,
that he complained of it frequently to Philip in the
moft bitter terms •, who, though he always promifed
to bring the other to juftice for the enormity he had
been guilty of, was i'o far from performing it, thac
he m^ade him Governor of a Province. Paufanias
therefore feeing him exalted in this manner, inftead
of being puniflied, grev/ cooler with regard to At-
tains who had injured him, and turned all his rage
upon Philip who had refufed him juftice : in revenge
for which, he took an opportunity of ftabbing him
one m.orning, upon a rejoicing day, as he was going
to the Temple, attended by his Son and Son-in-
law, to celebrate the marriage of his daughter with
Alexander of Epirus. An example v;hich much re-
fembles that juft now quoted from the Roman Hiilo-
rv, and deferves to be carefully attended to by all
Princes, who ought never fo far to defpife any man
as to think a repetition of injuries will not oblige
him fome time or other to revenge himfelf^ though ic
^oR" him ever fo dear.


fbaS Fortune throws a mlft before peopk^s eyes^ when Shs
would 7iot have tbrtU objlriiul her dejlgns,

yTFIOEVER attentively confiders the courfe of
^ human affairs, may fee, that many accidents
and misfortunes happen to mankind, againft which
Heaven v;ill not fuffer us to make any fort of pro-
vifion : and as there v;ere many inftances of this a-
mongft the Romans, who were fo much diftinguilhed
for their piety, valour, difcipline, and good condudt;
it is no wonder if Rich things happen more frequently
amongft people that are much lefs eminent for their
Vol. III. y virtues.

522 Political Discourses upon Book IL

virtues. Now fince it may be necefTary here to fhew
what influence Heaven has over the affairs of this
world, 1 fliall take fome notice of a remarkable paf-
fage in Livy, where he fays, that Heaven, in order
to make the Romans fen (ible of its power for fome
great purpofe, fini made the Fabii fall into that error
when they went Ambafladors to the Gauls, which ex-
cited the latter to make war upon Rome, and after-
wards would not fuifer the Romans to perform any
thing worthy of their former valour, to extricate
themfelves out of that war; but had incited them tp
banifli Camillus to Ardea -, who was the only
that could effedually have oppofed fuch an enemy ,
that when the Gauls were upon their march tov/ards
Kome, they did not create a Dictator to make head
againll them, as they had often done before, when
they v/ere invaded by the Volfci and others : that
they were fo carelefs in the choice of their mjen, and
fo tardy in raifrng and furnifning them v^ith arms,
that they hardly had time to face the enemy with
v/hat force they could muiler, upon the banks of
the Allia, about ten miles from Rome ; where the
Tribunes encamped v^ithout their ufual precaution of
making choice of an advantageous fnuation, or fur-
rounding it with entrenchments or palifades, or hav-
ing recourfe to any other means proper upon fuch an
occafion, either humaan or Divine : that when they
drew up in order of battle, their lines were thin and
weak, and neither the Oiiicers nor private m.en be-
haved themfelves like Romans: fo that the battle was
neither obftinate nor bloody -, for being routed at the
firfb onfet, the greater part of their army fled to Veii,
and the reft to Kome, where they retired into the Ca-
pitol, even before they had feen their wives and chil-
dren ; upon which, lome of the Senators (without
rr^-aking any provifion for the defence of the City, or
fo much as (hutting the Gates) ran away, and others
took flicker in the Capitol. However they flievved
fome flgns of good order and difcipline in preparing
for the defence of that place : for ihey turned out all


Cliap. XXIX. The F-kst Dec ad of Livy. 323

the ufeleis people, got together what provifions they
could to fupport the Siege, and fent moft of the old
men, women, and children into the neighbouring
towns, leaving the reft to the mercy of the enemy :
fo that if any one fnould confider the great exploits
which the Romans had performed before, and com-
pare them with their behaviour upon this occaCion^
he could hardly believe that they were the fame peo-
ple. Livy therefore having given an account of this
event, fays, '* adeo obcjecat animos fortuna, cum vim
fuam ino;ruentem refrino;i non vult : to fuch a deo;ree
does fortune blind the underftandings of men, when
fiie has not a mind to be diflurbed in her career.'^
Which is a very juft rcfledion.

The Profperity or Adverficy therefore, which ft)
remarkably diftinguifh the lives of particular men, is
not to be wholly imputed either to their own merit
•or demerit •, (ince we often fee fome hurried on to de-
ll rudlion, and others puflied up to the higheil pitch of
worldly greatnefs by the impulfe of their deftiny ;
Heaven diTpofing things in fuch a manner as to fa-
vour one man with opportunities of exerting his abi-
lities, whilft it denies them to another. 1 hus when
it is pleafed to exalt a man to great profperity, it
makes choice of fuch a one as knov/s how to avail
himfelf of thofe occafions and opportunities : on ths
contrary, when fome remarkable ruin is to be effect-
ed, fuch men are pitched upon as mufl: naturally con-
tribute to further and promote it ; and if any ons
•dares to oppofe it, he is either taken olf by death, or
orherwife incapacitated to do it vjlth any fuccefs. Ic
plainly appears from the pafiTage in Livy juft men-
tioned, that Fortune, in order to ag:arandize the Ro-
man Republic, thought proper to humble it in the
firfl: place, but not to reduce it to utter ruin, as we
fhall ihew more particularly in the beginning of the
next book : for w'hich purpofe fhe fuffered' the Ro-
mans to banilli Camillus, but not to put him to
death ; and the City to be taken, but not the Capi-
tol J preventing them from ufing any proper mea-

Y 2 fure?

524 Political Discourses upon Book IL

fures to defend the one, but leaving them fenfe enough
to fecure the other : and that Rome might be taken^
jQie caufed the greater part of the arnriy that v/as rout-
ed upon the banks of the Allia, to fly to Veii, by
which the City was left dellitute of fufiicient defence.
This however paved a way for the recovery of it %
for as many of the forces had retired to Veii near Ar-
dea where Camilius then was, (a General of great abi-
lities, whofe reputation had never been flained with
the ignominy of a defeat) he put himfelf at the head
of them, and drove the enemy from Rome. I might
bring feveral other inOances of more modern date to
confirm the truth of what I have laid down : but as
this is fufiicient, they are altogether unnecefTary, and
therefore I fhall podpone them. To conclude, it
appears from all Hiftory, that men may fecond their
fortune, but cannot refift it •, and follow thd order of
her defigns, but not defeat them. Hov/ever, they
ought never to abandon themfelves to defpair, be-
caufe they cannot fathom her defigns : for as her
ways are dark and intricate, there is always room left
for hope ; and whilfc there is hope, they fiiould not
be wanting to themfelves in any change or vicifficude
of their affairs.


Princes and RepuhUcs that are truly magnanimous and
pov:)erfuU never make leagues and Alliances hy dint of
money •, their friendjhip and prcte^icn being courted hy
others on account of their valour^ reputation, and

/'Y*^ HOUGH the Romans had fome expectation of
X Relief from Cam/illus, and their forces at Veii,
when they v^ere befieged in the Capitol by the Gauls j
yet, being diftrefled by famine, they were at laft ob-
liged to capitulate, and agreed to pay a certain fum
of money for their ranfom. But whilil they were


Chap. XXX. The First Dec ad of Livy. 321

weighing the money that was to be paid upon that
occafion, Camillus fell upon the enemy with the forces
under his command, and drove them away from Rome.
Such was the will of Fortune, fays Livy, *' Ut Ro-
mani auro redempti non viverent; that the Romans
might not ov/e their redemption to money." -And it
is very remarkable, that in the v/hole progrefs of
their affairs, as well as upon this occaHon, they ne-
ver made themfelves mailers of any State, nor pro-
cured a peace by dint of money, but folely by their
own valour and conduct : which is a circumilance
that I believe no other Republic in the world could
ever boaft of.

Amongft other marks which ferve to difcover the
flreng-h or weaknefs of a State, it mud be obferved
upon what terms it is with its neighbours ; for if
they put themfelves under its protection, and pay
handfomely for ir, it is a fign that it is ilrong and
powerful : bur, if they draw fums of money from it
(though they may poffibly be inferior States) it is a
certain fign of its vs^eaknefs. Whoever reads the Ro»
man I-Iidory, v/ill find that the MafTilians, the Edui,
the Rhodians, as v;cll as Hiero of Syracufe, Eu-
menes, and Mafilniffj, who all lived near the con-
fines of the Roman Em.pire, were tributaries to that
Republic, and furniflied it with m.oney in its occa-
fions, merely for the fake of protedion. But it is
otherwife in weak States, as Vv-e may fee particularly
in the pradice of Florence, which formerly, v;hen ic
was in its mod flourifhing condition, paid fbipends to
mofl: of the little Governments in Romagna, befides
the Perucrians, Caftellans, and manv other neio-hbour-
in<i States : which would not have been the cafe ot
the Florentines, had they been powerful and well
armed : for then all their neighbours would have paid
them tribute for their protedion, and have purchafed
their friendfliip indead of felling their own. But the
Florentines, are not the only people that have been
forced to do this; for the Venetians, and even the
King of France (though fo great a mo.narch) are tri-

y Q butarics

322 Political Discourses upon Book I!,

butaries to the Svvifs, and the King of England : all
which proceeds from having difarmed and weakened
their own people, in order to opprtrfs them at their
pleafure, and to avoid an imaginary, rather than a
real danger ; inllead of making fuch provifions for
their fecuriry, as v^ould effeftucilly have made both
themfelves and their bubjeds powerful and happy for
ever. This fhameful manner of proceeding may in-
deed procure a little temporary repofe ^ bur in the
end, mud be attended with troubles, loiTes, and in-
evitable ruin. It would be tedious to recount how
often the Florentines, Venetians, and French, have
bought off their wars, and fubmittcd to fuch igno-
minious termiS as the Romans could never be in-
duced to think of but once : nor would it be lefs
difagreeable to relate how many towns the Florentines
and Venetians have purchafed with money \ which
have proved the occafion of great difaflers, and fully
proved that they were not able to protect with the
Sword thofe pofTcITions they purchafed with their

The Romans, on the contrary, dlfdained thefe
mean arts of acquiring dominion, and owed the main-
tenance of their conquefts folely to their arms : from
which manner of proceeding they never deviated v^hilft
they continued free -, but when they fell under the
yoke of Emperors, and thofe En'iperors grew bad,
and preferred eafe and indolence to glory and mili-
tary toil, that brave people began likewife to dege-
nerate, and ufed to ward off the attacks of the Par-
thians, Germans, and other nations by pecuniary
means, which foon proved the deftrudion of thei/*
Empire. This evil was occafioned by difarming the
people, and the negledl of military difcipline, v/hich
is always attended with a ftiil greater misfortune,
namely, that the nearer an enemy approaches, the
more he difcovers your weaknefs ; for, whoever is
guilty of thefe errors, muft be obliged to opprefs his
Subjedls, by extorting money from them, to hire
4>ther people to keep an enemy at a diflancej that is.

Chap. XXX. The First Decad of Livy. ^27

he muH: give ftipends and penfions to all the neigh-
bouring States. Hence it comes to pafs, that the
lumoll a State is able to do in fuch circumilances, is
to make fome feeble refiflance upon the confines ;
but when an enemy has once pafTed them, all is over
and it is ruined without remedy. Such Governors
therefore feem not to be aware, that this method of
proceeding is contrary not only to all good policy,
but the common pradice of mankind : for when a
man is going to battle, he takes more care to guard
the heart and vital parts, than his hands and feet ;
becaufe, a wound in the latter may probably not be
mortal, but in the others it is certain death : now
thefe Governors fortify the extremities of their States,
and negled the heart. How fatal fuch a condutfl
has often been to the Florentines, every one knows :
for, whenever an enemy has palled their confines^
and advanced tov/ards the Capital, he has met with
no further refiftance. The fame happened to the Ve-
netians not many years ago ; and if their City had
not been furrounded with water, it mud infalliblv
have been deftroyed. With regard to France, this
has not often been the cafe there, becaufe it is fo pow-
erful a Kingdom, and has but few enemies that are
fuperior to it : neverthelefs, when the Englifli in-
vaded if, in the year 15 13, the French were in great
confternation -, and the King, as well as every body
clfe was of opinion, that the lofs of one battle, would
be the lofs of France. Very different was the cafe of
the Romans. The nearer an enemy approached their
Ciry, the Wronger he found them : for after they had
been three times routed, and lofb fo many brave offi-
cers and Soldiers in their wars with Hannibal in Italy,
they v/erc ftill able not only to ftand their ground
againft the enemy, but to fubdue him at lad : all
which was owing to their having fortified the heart of
their country fo well, that there was no occafion to
be in much pain about the extremities : for the vitals
of their Stare were their own Citizens, the Latins, the
neighbouring people that were confederated with

Y 4 them.

9'28 Political Disco URS:ES UPON Book I L

them, and their Colonies, from which they had fuch-
continual fupplies as enabled them to conquer the
whole world, and to keep it in obedience. The truth-
of this may appear from what Hanno faid to the Am-
bafifadors that were fent to Carthage with news of the
vidory at Canns : who, having given an account of
HannibaPs great exploits in Italy, were allied by
Hanno, " Whether any of the Roman Cities, or
Confederates, or Colonies, had either fued to hmi
for peace, or revolced from the Romans:*' but being
anfwered in the negative, he replied, '' the war then
is jull as frefh a&^^it^ v/as at firfl."

It is plain therefore, from what I have faid in this-
Chapter, and in many other places, that the Repub-
lics of thefc times a6t in a- very dilrerent manner from
what the Romans did : in confequence of which, we
daily fee fuch furprizing acquifnions made by fome
nations, and no lefs wonderful loiTes fuftained by
others : for where men have but little valour and
conduct, fortune will have an opportunity of exert-
ino- her influence fo much the more : and as fhe is
chan2;eable5 Republics and other States alio mufh-
and always will fiu6i:uate, till fome great Spirit fhall
arife to reftore the ancient difcipline, reflrain her ca-
price, and prevent her from giving fuch hcuri]^
proofs of her wantonnefs and power.


7 hilt it Is dapgerous to fut ccnfidcnce in Exiks.

T may not be amifs, perhaps, to fay fomethin^;'
here, concerning the danger of trufting to thofe
that have been baniflied their own country •, fmce it
is a matter of great importance- to the governors of
States, who often have to do with fuch people. Of
this, Livy introduces the following remarkable ex*
ample in his Hiftory, though fomething foreign to
the purpofe he is treating of. \¥lien' Alexander the


Chap. XXXI. The First Decad of Lrvy. 329
Great marched with his forces into Afia, Aiej:-ander
of Epirus, his near relation, invaded Italy at the in-
fligation of fome Lucanian Exiles, who perfuaded
him that he might make himfelf mafcer of all that
Province by their affiftance. But when he arrived
there in confequence of the ftrongeil afTurances, they
perfidionny murdered him, upon a promife of being
reftored to their country on that condition.

We may obferve therefore, how litde confidence is
to be repofcd in the fidelity and promifes of Exiles ;
as to their fidelity, you may afTure yourfelf that
whenever they have an opportunity of returning to
their own country without your affiflance,- they will'

Online LibraryNiccolò MachiavelliThe works of Nicholas Machiavel ... : translated from the originals : illustrated with notes, annotations, dissertations, and several new plans on the Art of war (Volume 3) → online text (page 30 of 44)