Niccolò Machiavelli.

The 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

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obferve, that the people to be governed are either in
fome meafure your equals and Feiiow-citizens, or.
fuch as are abfolucely fubjedt to you. In the firfc
cafe, you cannot fecurely treat them with that feve-
rity v/hich Tacitus feems to recommend • and there-
fore, as the Roman people had an eqMal fhare with,
the Patricians in the adminiftration of the Govern-
ment, they were not to be treated in an infolent and-
cruel manner, by perfons v/ho had but a temporary;
command over them. . Accordingly, v/e fee that
thofe Roman Generals who careffed their Soldiers,
and were beloved by them, alivays performed greater
exploits than thofe who ufed them harfhly, and made
themfelves hated and feared *, except they happened
to be men of very extraordinary character, like Man-
lius Torquatus. But whoever has the conrmand over
people that are his own fubjeds (for of fuch Tacitus
fpeaks) mud of ntcefTity have recourfe to rigour and
feverity, inftead of mildnefs and humanity, in order
to prevent them from rebelling and trampling upon
him. This howevei*, ought to be pradlifed v/ith due
moderation, and in fuch a manner as nor to excite
public hatred, which is always of great prejudice to
Rulers. Now the way to avoid it, is not to make
too free with the properties of your Subjeels : for as
to their blood, few Rulers are defirous of Iheddinof
it, except it is either to poffefs themfelves^ of fome
eftate, or upon fome extraordinary emergency, v^hich
they are neceffarily obliged to comply v/nh. In the
former cafe, indeed, when they are "governed by ava-

41^ Political Discourses upon Book IIL

rice, as they mud naturally be tempted to take away
the lives of their Subjeds, fo they never want oppor-
tunities of gratifying fuch an appetite, as I have
fhewn at large elfewhere "^.

The condudl of Quintius, therefore, is more to be
commended than that of Appius-j and the opinion of
Tacitus is juft enough in other cireuoiftances, and
under proper rellridtions*


^hat one inftance of humanity and generofity had a greatef
effe5l upon the Falifci^ than all the weight of the Ro-
man arms.

V^ 7 HEN the Falifci were befieged by Camillus,
V a School-mafter, to whofe care moft of the
ISobility in that City had committed their Sons,
thinking to ingratiate himfelf with Camillus and the
Romans, took all his Pupils out of the City with
him, under pretence of exercife and recreation, and
infenfibly led them to the enemy's camp, where he
delivered them up to Camillus, telling him that he
had it then in his power to make the town furrender
upon what terms he pleafed. But Camillus abhor-
ring the bafenefs of the deed, not only refuled to re-
ceive them, but ordered him to be flripped naked,
and to have his hands tied behind him •, and having
given every one of the boys a rod, made them whip
him all the way back again into the town. An ac-
tion fo generous and humane, that the Falifci were
flruck with admiration; and inftead of making any
further defence, immediately furrendered.

Hence we may learn, that tendernefs and huma-
nity have fometimes a much greater effedl upon the
minds of men, than any fort of violence which can
pofTibly be ufed : and that Cities, and even v/hole

• See the Prince, chap. xvii. xix. and Pol. Difc. book III. chap. vi.


Chap. XXI. The First Decad of Ljvy. 417
Provinces have often been iubdued by one adt of
CompaiTion, Continence, or Generofity, when no hu-
man force could have conquered theni : of which we
have many other examples in Hillory. The Romans
were never able to drive Pyrrhus out of Italy by dint
of arms : and yet Fabricius obliged him to quit it,
by giving him notice that one of his domellics had
offered to po'iibn him. Again, Scipio Africanus did
not gain lb much reputation in Spain by taking new
Carthage, as he did by a noble example of his con-
tinence, when he immediately reflored a young and
beautiful Lady (whom he had taken prifoner) to her
hufoand ; the fame of which a6lion pained him the
eileem of all that nation, and made the people his
friends, inftead of enemies *.

We fee then hov/ greatly fuch virtues are admired
by all men, and how much they are celebrated and
recommended by hiftorians as well as philoibphers.
Xenoplion, ;n particular, takes great pains to fhevv
what honour, and how many vidlories Cyrus acquired
by his humanity, affability, freedom from pride,
cruelry, luxury, and all other vices that (lain the life
of man. Neverr.helcfs, as Hannibal acquired great
reputation and many remarkable victories by very
different methods, it may not be amifs, perhaps, to
enquire in tiie next Chapter to what caufcs that was



How it came to pafs that Hannibal acquired as much glory
in Ital)\ as Scipio did in Spain, but by quite diJfcrmS

"T may appear (Irange that feme Commanders have

performed very great things, and gained much

glory and renov/n by quite different methods from
thofe prefcribed in the lait Chapter. From whence

♦ See book II. chap.xxi- of thefe Difcourfes.

Vol. IIL E e many

4i8 Political Discourses UPON Book III.

many may be apt to conclude, that fuch virtues do
not contribute to make a Commander fortunate and
renowned, any more than the qualities that are to-
tally oppofite to them ; lince the famx degree of fame
and reputation is to be acquired one way as well as
the other. If Scipio made himfeif mafter of all
Spain by his humanity and clem.ency ; Hannibal, on
the contrary, pretty nearly effeded the fame thing in
Italy, by very different means ; that is, by every fpe-
cies of violence, cruelty, rapine, and perfidy ; for
almoft all the Cities and States in that Province fur-
rendered to him. Confidering therefore with myfelf,
how this is to be accounted for, 1 think feveral rea-
fons may be affigned for it.

In the nrfi place, all men are fo fond of novelty,
that people who live happy and free, as well as thofe
that are quite otherwife, often wilh for a change of
Government; it being the nature of mankind (as I
have faid el few here) to be fuiated with profperity, as
well as tired with adverfity. To tliis difpufition it is
owing, that upon any rebellion or invafion, the Chiefs
of it, whether foreigners or natives, never want friends
and foilov/ers to abet and alfill: them •, and the greater
the number of them is, the greater will be their pro-
grefs. There are likewife two other powerful motives
of human adions, viz. Love and fear, which operate
very ftrcngly upon fuch occafions : fo that if a Ge-
neral can make himfeif either much beloved or much
feared, he will be followed and obeyed by many, and
commonly by more in the latter cafe than in the for-
mer, Whichfoever of thefe two courfes therefore,
fuch a Commander fhall think fit to purfue, the ef-
fed will be the fame, if he is a man of great abilities
and reputation, like Hannibal or Scipio, and knows
how to remedy the inconveniencies that may proceed
from his endeavouring to make himfeif either too
much beloved, or too much feared. For each of
thefe extremes has its inconveniencies, and fuch too
as may prove fatal to him : becaufe, by taking too
much pains to gain the afFcdions of the people, he


Chap. XXL The First Decad of Livy. 419

may ftoop fo low as to make himfeU* cheap and con-
temptible ; and by too much fevericy he Vv'ill become
odious : to fleer a middle courfe is very difficult,
if not impofTible. It requires great abilities there-
fore, to remedy the inconveniencies that may arife
from exceffes of either kind, as Hannibal and Scipio
did •, for, though they both owed their faccefs and re-
putation to purfuing the different methods above-
mentioned, yet it mufl: be confefied, that they both
likewiie fuffered fome inconveniencies from them.
With regard to Scipio^ part of his army and fome of
his friends revolted from him in Spain y which was
entirely owing to want of proper fcverity, and the
little awe in wliich they flood of his perfon : for the
generality of mankind are naturally fo reillefs, that
when they fee any little opportunity of gratifying
their ambition, they prefently forget the allegiance
they owe their Governors, and the favours they have
received from them : fo that, in order to remedy this
inconvenience, Scipio was in fome meafure oblig(d to
proceed with a degree of feverity which he had not
pradlifed before. As to Hannibal, we do not cer-
tainly know of any particular inftance in which his
cruelty and perfidy was of prejudice to him : but we
may fuppofe, that the rcaion why the Neapolitans and
fonie other people continued fo firm ly attached to the
Romans, was becaufe they were afraid of him. This
we know, however, that his favage and barbarous
manner of oroceedins; made the Romans more inve-
terate againll him than any other enemy they ever
had. For though Pyrrhus was at their very doors,
and harraffing ail Italy with a powerful army, yec
they had the generofity to acquaint him with the de-
ngn which one of his domePacs had formed to poifotx
ir.m •, but they never cea fed to perfecute Hannibal,
even after he was ruined, till they procured his death.
This was the confequence of h-is extreme cruelty and
perBdy : but fuch were his abilities, and the reputa-
tion which he had Acquired,., and fo great was his au-
thority, that it is mentioned by all Hidorians as a re-

E e 2 markable

420 Political Discourses upon Book III»

markable circumftance, that though his army was
compofed of many different nations, there never was
any mutiny or diflention in it.

I conclude, therefore, that it is not very material,
which of the two abovementioned courfes a Com-
mander takes, provided he is a man of fufncient abi-
lities to corred the inconveniencies that may flow
from any undue exertion of them'. And as Hannibal
and Scipio both gained great reputation, the one by
laudable, the other by deteilable means, it may not
feem altogether foreign to our fubjed, if we fay Ibme-
thing in the next Chapter of two Roman Citizens,
who acquired the fame degree of glory, but by very
different, though laudable means.


^hat Manlitis Tcrqualus hy his feverity^ and Valerius
Corvinus hy his gentknejs^ acq^idred the fame degree cf

THERE were in Rome at the fame time two
great Commanders, Manlius Torquatus and
Valerius Corvinus, who were equally renowned for
their prowefs and conduct againft an enemy, and
equal in their honours and the number of their tri-
umphs, but very different in their manner of treating
their Soldiers. Manlius proceeded with the utmolt
feverity, and never fpared them upon any occafion,
either in point of duty or punifhment : whilfl Vale-
rius, on the contrary, always behaved towards them
with the greatelf tendernefs, affability, and familia-
rity. Manlius, in order to keep up military difcipline
in full force, and make himlelf punctually obeyed,
put his own fon to death, though vidorious, for en-
gaging the enemy without his orders : Valerius never
punifhed any one in that manner. Neverthelefs, the
methods they took, tliough diredly contrary to each
other, had the fame effcd j for they both triumphed


Chap.XXII. The First Decad of Livr. 421

over the enemies of Rome, both contributed to ag-
grandize their country, and both acquired very great
reputation. None of their Soldiers ever declined
fighting, or mutinied, or difobeyed their commands
in any refpedl whatfoever •, though thofe of Manlius
were fometimes To harfli and rigorous, that afterwards,
when any fevere orders were ilTued out, they were
called, -" Manliana imperia, Manlian orders." It
may not be amifs therefore to enquire, in the firft
place, to what caufes it was owing that Manlius v;as
obliged to a6l with fuch a degree of feverity : in the
next, v/hat it was that enabled Valerius to proceed
with fo much lenity : thirdly, how it came to pafs,
that thefe two methods, fo different from one another,
produced the fame effedl ; and in the laft placej which
of them is moft worthy of imitation.

Whoever confiders the charafler of Manlius, from
the account which Livy gives of his condud:, will
find that he was a very brave man, a true friend to his
country, dutiful and afFedlionate to his parents, and
itriftlv obedient in all things to the commands of his
fuperiors. All this appears from variety of inftances,
particularly from his fighting and killing a gigantic
Gaul, who had challenged any man in the Roman ar-
my to a fingle combat ; from defending his father at
the peril of his own life, againft one of the Tribunes
who had accufed him ; and from what he faid to the
Conful before he went out to fight the Gaul ; *' in-
jufTu tuo adverfus hoftem nunquam pugnabo, non (i
certam vicioriam videam : Without your permiflion I
will never fight any enemy, though I was fure of a
vidory." When a man of this (lamp comes to com-
mand an army, it may naturally be expected, that he
will endeavour to make others like himfelf •, that his
courage will prompt him to give bpld orders -, and
that his regard to difcipline yvill make him take care
that they are pundually executed. For it may be
looked upon as a never-failing maxim, that in great
and arduous undertakings all orders muft be obeyed,
feem they ever fo harfh and rigorous (as they muil of

K e 2 courfe

422 Political Discourses upon Book IlL

courfe be fomecimes upon fuch ^qccafions) otherwife
the enterprize will certainly mifcarry. Hence we may
obferve, that in order to be well obeyed, it is necef-
fary in the firft place to know how to command : for
which purpofe, a man ought to compare his own con- ,
dition and abilities with thofe of others that are to
ferve under him : and if he finds himfelf in a capa-
city to rule them, he may then enforce his commands
with rigour ; if not, he muft let it alone. A certain
wife man therefore ufed to fay, that in order to go-
vern a Republic with authority, there mull be a due
proportion eftabiiihed betwixt thofe that rule and
thofe that are to be ruled ; in which cafe the power
of the Governors will be durable and fecure : but
where the governed are ftronger than their Governors,
the power of the latter will be of (liort continu-

But to refume my fubjedl. I fay, that harfh and
fpirited commands proceed from a rigorous and bold
dilpofition -, and that v^hoever gives fuch orders, muft
be very ftrid in feeing them punctually executed,
otherwife they will not be regarded. A perfon how-
ever, who is not of this cafb, lliould not give fuch or-
ders, but content himfelf with others of a milder na-
ture : for, if ordinary commands only are difobeyed,
he m>ay u6l with clen:iency and gentlenefs, as the pu-
nirnment ufual upon thofe occafions will be fsjfiicient,
which, being imputed to the common edablilLed lavv^s,
brings no particular odium upon himfelf. We may
conclude then, that Manlius was obliged to ad: as he
did by the extraordinary commands he gave, which
were owing to the natural turn and bias of his own .
mind, and fuch indeed, as are often of great advan-
tage to a Commonwealth, becaufe they ferve to re-
duce it to its firll; principles and original virtue. For,
if a Commonweakh could be fo fortunate as to have
a number of great and virtuous men fucceeding each
other at reafonable intervals, to reform their Fellow-
citizens by their example, to reflore tlie vigour of the
lav;s, and to corredl every thing that tended to cor-

chap. XXII. The First Decad of Livv. 423

ruption, that State would be immortal, as I have faid
before ■^. Such a one v/as Manlius, who by the ri-
gour of his commands kept up the ancient militar/
difcipline amongfc the Remans, prompted thereto, la
the firft place, by his own narural difpofition, and in
the next, by the defire he had that the commands
which he didated fnould be pundually obeyed.

Valerius, on the other hand, had an opportunity of
indulging the clemency and gentlenefs of his nature,
merely by retaining the orders and rules that had
ufuaily been obferved in the Roman armies ; v/hich
being good and wholefome in themfelves, gained him
fufiicitrnc reputation, and were neither hard to be ob-
ferved, nor laid him under a necefiity of punilhing
delinquents with extreme feverity, becaufe there were
but few fuch in his army, and thofe meeting only
with ordinary punilliment, imputed it to the common
courfe of the lav/s, and not to any rigour or fe verity
in their General. So that he was at liberty to trear
his Soldiers with all manner of tendernefs and huma-
nity that could gain their affections and fupport his
authority : and thus it came to pals, that thefe two
Comm.anders were equally well obeyed, and each of
them attained the fame end, though by very differenc
means. Thofe however, that are delirous to imitate
either of them, fnould take care of falling into ex-
tremes that may occafion hatred on one fide, or con-
tempt on the other; (as I faid before with regard to
Hannibal and Scipio) which is very difficult either to
be avoided or remedied, except a Commander is pof-
fefied of extraordinary abilities.

It now remains to confider, which of thefe two
methods is m.oll praife-worthy •, and this feems to be
a difputabie point ; becaufe feme writers recommend
one, and fome the other. Thofe however who treac
of the education of Princes, feem rather to prefer the
conduct of Valerius to that of Manlius : and Xeno-
phon in particular, extolling the virtues of Cyrus, fays

* See chap. i. of this book,

E e 4, almoft

4.24 Political Discourses upon Book III.

aimed the fame things of him that Livy does of Va-
lerius, when he was appointed Conful in an expedition
againft the Samnites. For that General havino- ha-
rangued his Soldiers with his iifual aftabilicy, as they
were going to engage the enemy, the Hiilorian gives
us the following charader of him. " Non alias militi
faniiiiarior duxfuit, inter infimos militum omnia haud
gravate munia obeundo. In ludo prsterea militari,
cum velocitatis viriumque inter fe 2?quales certamina
ineunr, comiter facilis vincere ac vinci, vultu eodcm ;
nee quemquam afpernari parem qui fe o&crret •, fadis
benignus pro re ; didis, haud minus libertatis alienae,
quam fus dignitatis memor ; & (quo nihil popula-
rius eft) quibus artibus petierat magiftratum, iifdem
gerebat. No Commander was ever more familiar with
his Soldiers. For he never refufed to lliare any toil
or duty with the meaneft of them. He would often
mingle with them in their military exercifes and re-
creations, and ufed to run and wreftle amongft thenri ;
putting himfelf upon a level v/ith any man that had
a mind to contend with him, and never changing his
countenance, or to be in the leafc altered in
any refpeft, whether he got the better or not. In his
behaviour he was courteous and bountiful, as occa-
fion required j in his converfation he knew how to
fupport his own dignity, without reftraining the free-
dom of others; and (which made him uili more dear
to them) he exercifed his authority with the fame
goodnefs and moderation by which he had obtain-
ed it.'*

Livy fpeaks much in favour of Manlius alfo -, ac-
knowledging that the Severity he exercifed upon his
own Son, had fuch an effecl upon his whole army,
and made the Soldiers fo obedient to his commands,
that the vidory which he gained over the Latins was
entirely owing to it : and having given a circumftantial
account of the battle, the difficulties which the Ro-
mans laboured under, and the dangers they were ex-
pofed to that day, he fays it was the condud of Man-
lius alone that gained the vidory. Nay he goes ftill


Chap. XXII. The First Decad of Livy. 425

further, and after comparing the ftrength of the two
armies, makes no fcruple to affirm that v/hichfoever of
them had been commanded by Manlius, would cer-
tainly have got the day.

Confiderins therefore what is faid on both fides of
the queflion, it feems hard to decide it. However,
not to leave the matter wholly undetermined, I fay>
that it is fafer and better for a perfon who lives under
a Republican Government to adl like Manlius -, be-
caufe fuch a manner of proceeding is for the advan-
tage of the public, and cannot feem calculated to ferve
any private inteied or ambition; fince by treating
every one with rigour and aullerity, and regarding the
good of the commonwealth alone, a man cannot hope
to gain friends and partizans fufficient to carry on any
particular defign to the prejudice of his country. But
the contrary may be faid of fuch a conduct as that of
Valerius under the like circumftances: for though in-
deed, with refpeci to the public fervice, the advantage
would be the fame, yet fo popular and affable a beha-
viour to the Soldiery, is apt to excite jealoufies, and
the people will naturally grow fufpicious (efpecially if
a General is continued long in command) that fuch
a degree of favour may be employed to deprive
them of their liberties : and that fuch an event did
not acStually happen in the Roman Republic under the
adminiflration of Publicoia, was becaufe the people
were not then become corrupt, and he did not conti-
nue long enough in power to debauch them..

But if we are to confider thefe two different me-
thods of proceeding as relative to a Prince, (v/hich
Xenophon does) vv^e certainly mud prefer the condu6t
of Valerius to that of Manlius : becaufe a Prince muft
above all things fecure the obedience and affedlion of
his Soldiers and Subjefts by gentle and benevolent
meafures. They will obey him if he appears vir-
tuous, and oblerves the laws ; they will love him, if
he is affable, humane, merciful, and endowed with
fuch other good qualities as Livy afcribes to Valerius,
and Xenophon to Cyrus ; and to fee a Prince beloved

^i6 Political Discourses upon Book ML

by his people, with an army at his devotion, fuics well
with the nature of a Monarchy. But the fame can-
not be affirmed v/ith regard to a perfon who is only
a Subjefl in a Republic, and upon a civil equality
with the reft of his Fellow-Citizens. We read in the
Annals of Venice, that the Venetian Gallies returninoc
from fome Expedition, and lying at anchor near the
fhore, there happened a difference betwixt the Sailors
and the Townfmen, v^hich occafioned a fray that was
" very bloody, and which was carried on with fuch
pbftinacy on both fides, that neither the power of
their officers, nor reverence to any particular Citizen,
nor the authority of the Magiftrates, was fufficient
to compofe it : but a certain Noble Venetian, who
had been their Commander the year before, coming
amongft them, they laid down their arms and difperfed
out of refpedl to him : a circumflance which occa-
fioned fuch jealoufy in the Senate, that they fooa
after had him difpatched.

I conclude then, that a Prince will find it for his
advantage to imitate Valerius ; but that it would be
dangerous for a Subjedl of a Republic, both with re-
gard to his country and himfelf : for in the firfl: place,
it would be paving the way to Tyranny -, and in the
next, the Government would grow fo jealous of his
proceedings, that they would not fail to take fome
courfe to rid themfelves of him. On the other hand,
I affirm that the condud obferved by Manlius would
be prejudicial to a Prince; but advantageous to the
Subject of a Commonwealth, and moftofall to his
country ; for it feldom can do him any hurt, except
the hatred which is occafioned by his feverity (llouid
be encreafed by a jealoufy of his great reputation and
abilities, as it happened to Camillus ••,

• Compare this Chapter with the latter end oF the 23d, and all
\ the 24th Chapter of Montaigne's Effays, book ii. entitled, " Cbler-
vations on Julius Ccefar's method of making War."

c n A p.

Chap. XXIII. The First Decad of LivyJ 427


Upon what account Camillus was han'Jhed from Rome,

WE have faid, in the laft Chapter, that the Subjefb
of a Commonwealth, who imitates the condudl
oi: Valerius, may injure both himfclf and his country:
and that adting like Manlius may be of great fervice
to his country, though fometimes prejudicial to him-
felf ; which is evident from the example of Camillus,
whofe manner of proceeding v/as more like that of
Manlius than Valerius. Livy therefore, fpeaking of
him, fays, "Ejus virtutem milites oderant & mira-
bantur : the Soldiers both hated and admired him for
his virtues." They admired him on account of his
vigilance^ prudence, magnanimity, and the good dif-
cipline he caufed to be oblerved in his army ; they
hated him becaufe he was more fevere in punifhing,

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