Niccolò Machiavelli.

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tend their dominion as far as ever the ancient Romans
had done. But fortune beginning to frown upon
them, and their forces being worfted at the battle of
Vaila, byjthe French, they loft all their acquifuions
at once 5 for fome of the States that were fubje61: to
them revolted, and the reft they meanly ceded to the
Pope and the King of Spain : after which, they were
fo difpirited jhat they lent AmbafTadors to the Em-
peror, with an offer of becoming tributary to him ;
and wrote letters to the Pope, in the moft abje6l and
fubmiiTive terms, to move his compalTion. To this
extremity of dejeflion they were reduced in four days,
and when they had not loft one half of their army :
for after the above mentioned battle, one of their
CommifTaries retreated f:\fe to Verona with above
twenty-five thoufand horfe and foot. So that if they
had aded with any fort of fpirit, they might foon
have brought another armv into the field : and if they

Vol. III. ' G g could

450 Political Discourses upon Book IIL

could not have beat the enemy, they might perhaps
have obtained an honourable peace ♦, at leaft the lofs
of their dominions would not have been attended with
fo much diigrace. But their dejedion^ was owing
to the defed of their military inftitutions and the
confcioufnefs of their inexperience in warlike affairs 5.
which difheartened them to fuch a degree, that they
were incapable of exerting themfelves as they ought*
But this will always be the fate of fuch people: for
infolence in profperity, and dejeflion in adverlity, are
owing to mean and pitiful inftitutions. If men arc
improperly educated and difciplined, they will never
be good for any thing : if othervvife, they will know
how to behave with equanimity in all conditions, and
to make fo true an cftimate of the things of this world,
as neither to become infolent when fortune fmiles, nor
abjed when flie frowns upon them. So that what I
faid before of individuals will hold good with regard
to whole communities -, which will always adc with
fpirit or pufillanimity, according as their difcipline
and inftitutions are good and wholefome,. or mean and

Now though 1 have faid elfevvhere that good mili-
tary difcipline is the foundation ftone of all States^
and that vvithout it there can neither be good laws
nor good order of any kind ^, it may not be amifs
to repeat it here ; becaufe we fee the neceffity of
keeeping up a good army in almoft every page of
Livy*s Hiftory, and that no army can ever be good ex-
cep4: it is well difciplined and exercifed, which cannot
be done if it is not compofed of your own fubjedls^
For as no State, either is, or can be, continually at
war, it is neceffary that its forces fhould be duly ex-
. crcifed and difciplined in time of peace : but that is
impoifible if^'our artny confifts of foreign troops, on
account of the immenfc expence you muft be at in
maintaining fuch an army both in peace and war. Ca-

♦ See the Place, chap. xii. xiii. xiv. Pol. Difc. book i. chap,
xxi. book ii. chup. xx, and the Ait of War; pafTim,


Chap.XXXI. The First Decad of Livr. 451

millus, as I faid above, marched out with an army
againft the Tufcans : but when they came within
fight of the enemy, and found the Tufcan army was
much fuper'or to their own, they were not a litile dif-
mayed : but Camillus being aware of it, calmly
walked through the ranks, and without any further
directions or altering the difpoficion of his army, only
faid to his Soldiers, " Quod quifque didicit, aut con-
fuevit, faciat -, pradife what you have learnt, and I
defire no more." From whence we may conclude
that he well knew they had been fufHciently difci •
plined and exercifed before, both in peace and war, to
make them good foldiers : and that he fully confided
in them. For it is certain that no material fervice can
be expeded from an undifciplined army •, that no Ge-
neral can truft to it ; and that if Hannibal himfelf
fhould rife from the dead, and be put at the head of
fuch a body of forces, they would prefently be cut to
pieces by a v/eli difciplined army, though much infe-
rior in number ; becaufe when an army is engaged,
the General himfelf cannot be in all places at the
fame time ; and therefore it is necefldry that his fub-
ordinate officers fhould flridly obey the commands he
had given them before the battle begun ; that they
fhould enter into the fpirit of their oraers, and know
how to execute them in a proper manner : otherwife
he muft inevitably be defeated.

If then any (late will follow the example of the an-
cient Romans, in exercifing and difciplining its forces
in times of peace as well as war, and accuftom its
fubjecls not only to exert their virtues both in public
and private, but to arm themfelves againft the vicifii-
tudes of fortune ; it will always be able to maintain
'its dignity both in profperity and adverfity : but if it
negledls this, and leaves itlclf entirely to the caprice
of fortune, without any dependence upon its own
merit and endeavours, as the Venetians did, it mult
be fhaken by every blaft of wmd, and totally ruined
at laft.

G g 2 CHAP.

452 Political Discourses upon' Fook IIl^


IVhat methods fame people have taken to prevent a peace.

TH E Circei and Velitr^e, two Roman Colonies,
revolted from that Republic in hopes of being
proteded by the Latins : but the Latins themfelves
being foon after fubdued, and unable to give them any
afTiflance, fome of the revolrers advifed their Fellow-
citizens to return to their obedience. I'his advice
however was warmly oppofed by the authors of that
rebellion; who being afraid they fhould be more fe-
verely pumfhed-than any of the reft, endeavoured by
ail means to prevent an accommodation, and for that
purpofe perfuaded their countrymen to continue in
;irms and commence hoftilities againfb the Romans.
And indeed it muft be confelTed, that when any one
has a mind to prevent either a Prince or a Republic,
from coming to terms of agreement, there is no furer
method to obtain that end than to prevail upon them
to injure or affront the other party in fo atrocious a
manner, that the dread of the puni(hment they have
juflly deferved may deter them from making any
overtures of peace *,

At the end of the firft war in which the Carthagi-
nians were engaged with the Romans, the Soldiers
who had been employed by the former in Sicily and
Sardinia, were fent back into Africa, where they mu-
tinied for want of pay ; and taking up arms under
Matho and Spendius, whom they had made choice
of for their leaders, they plundered feveral towns that
belonged to the State. Upon which, the Carthagi-
nians being defirous to try all other means before they
proceeded to force, fent Afdrubal, one of their prin-
cipal Citizens, to treat with them, in hopes he would
have been able to reduce them to obedience by the

' * See the Speech of a Plebeian, Hift, Flor. book iii. about the mid-
dle of it,


Chap. XXXIIL The First Decab of Livy. 453

influence which they fuppofed he muft have over them*
as he had been their Commander fome time before.
But when he arrived amongft them, Matho and Spen-
dius being determined to deprive their Soldiers of all
hopes of ever coming to any terms with the Cartha-
ginians, perfuaded them that it was the bed way to
kill Afdrubal and all the refi: of the Carthaginians
whom they had taken prifoners. This advice was
accordingly followed : for they not only put them to
the moft cruel kinds of death they could devife, but
afterwards publifhed a proclamation in which they
threatened to ferve all other Carthaginian prifoners in
the fame manner that fhould fall into their hands : by
which they prevented all propofals of peace, and
made their Soldiers more obfiinate in their rebellion.


^Jhat it is of great fervice in battle^ to infpire Soldiers
with confidence both in them/elves and their General,

IT is a matter of the utmoft importance to infpire
Soldiers with fuch a degree of confidence before a
battle, as makes them think themfelves fure of Vic-
tory •, for which purpofe, it is necelTary they fliould
be well armed, well difciplined, and well acquainted
with each other; which yet cannot be effeded, ex-
cept they are your own Subjeds, and countrymen,
and have lived long together. It is aifo requifite that
they fhould have fo good an opinion of their General,
as to put great confidence in him ; which the/ will
always do, if they fee that he is vigilant, aclive,
brave, and keeps up his command v/ith dignity i
which he may eafily do, if he punifhes ofiender. in a
proper manner, and does not harrafs his men vin\\
hard duty when it is unnecefTary : befides whichj he
fhould be pun6i:ual in fulfilling his promiles, ready
at all times to encourage them, by reprefenting how
fiify it is to furmount many things which feem difE*

G ^ i cuk

454 Political Discourses upon Book III^

cult only at a diitance, and by either concealing or
extenuating all dangers : for this is a certain way to
fecure their confidence, and contributes much to vic-
tory ^. The Romans ufcd to infpire their troops with
this confidence by- Religious means, and always had
recourfe to Auguries and Aufpices when they created
Confuls, railtd armies, or were going to engage an
enemy : in fhort, without fome ceremony of this
kind, their wifell and bed Generals never went upon
any enterprize or undertook any thing of moment 5
im.agining that it would contribute greatly to their
liiccefs to have it thought the Gods were on their
fide : and if any of their Confuls or Generals pre-
iumed to engage an enemy in contcmpc of the Au-
fpices, they always punifhed them for it, as they did
Claudius Pukher. Appius Claudius, accordingly,
complaining to the people of the infolence of the
Tribunes, by vvhofe means the Aufpices and other
Religious rites had been corrupted, fays as follows -,
*' Eludant nunc licet Religionem. : quid enim intereft
fi pulli non pafcentur, fi ex cavea tardius exierint, fi
occinuerit avis P Parva funt hsec \ fed parva ifta non
contemnendo majores noftri maximam hanc Rempub-
licam fecerunt. Thty may laugh at Religion if they
pleafe, and fay what fignifies it whether the poultry
eat their meat or not, whether they come quickly or
llowly out of their pens, and whether fuch or fuch a
bird lings ? Thefe matters may feem trifling indeed ;
but trifling as they are, our Anceltors exalted this
Republic to the glory we now fee it in by a Religious
obiervation of them." For fuch things ferve to keep
Soldiers in good fpirits and united, which conduces
not a little to the fuccefs of any undertaking : but
they mufl: be feconded by valour and good conduft,
otherwife they will not be fufficient of themfelves
alone, as may appear from the following inilance.
The Piaencftines having taken the field againfh the
Romans, encamped upon the banks of the Allia, in

• Sec the Art of War, book IV, towards the end, & alibi paflimi


Cliap. XXXIII. The First Decad of Ltvy. 455

the very place where the Romans had once been de-
feated by the Gauls : which they did to infpire their
own army with courage, and to (trike a damp into
that of the enemy, when they remembered how un-
fortunate they had been in that place before *. Now
though there was fome policy in this ftep, yet the
event fhewed that true valour is not to be moved by
fuch triding circumftances ; for the Roman Didlator
having reconnoitred the enemy, laid to his General of
horfe, *' Vides tu fortuna illos frctos, ad Alliam con-
fedilTe; at tu, fretus armis animifque, invade mediam
aciem : you fee that the enemy have fat down here,
trufting to the fortune of the place ; but truft you to
your own aims and courage, and fall on." True va-
lour therefore, good discipline, and a confidence arif-
ing from many victories, cannot be difconcerted by
trivial accidents and little dilbrders. The two Manlii
being at the head of an army which the Romans fent
out againft the Volfci, and having detached part of
their forces to forage, it happened that both thofe
who went upon that errand, and thofe that remained
in their camp, were attacked by the enem^y at. the
fame time; out of which danger however, the Sol-
diers extricated themfelves by their own courage, ra-
ther than by any good condudl in the Conluls, as
Livy tells us, *' militum etiam fine reclore itabilis
yirtus tutata eli."

1 fhould not conclude this Chapter without taking
fome notice of an expedient made ufe of by Fabius
to encourage his Soldiers : for being fent with ^n
army againll the Tufcans, and knowing how necef-
fary it was to infpire them with confidence of fucceis,
efpecially as they were m a flrange country, and had
a new enemy to deal with, he told them in an ha-
rangue when they were going to engage, thar they
had many realons to hope tor vidlory, but he could
give them another, why they might depend upon it
with certainty, if it was not of fuch a nature, that it

• See book I. chap. Ivi. note 78, of thefe Difcourfes, towards the
latter end of itt

G g 4 would

456 Political Discourses UPON Book I|I,

would be dangerous to difclofe it. An admjrable
piece of Generallhip, and well worthy of imitation.



What fori cf reputatiGn, or chara^ier^ or opmon it is^
that firfi inclines the people to favour fame particular-
Citizen : and whether a People^ or a Prince difprfes of
their honours and employments with greater judgment
and prudence,

E have (hewn before that Titus Manlius, (af-
terwards called Torquatus) defended his father
in an accufation that was brought againll him by
Marcus Pomponius, one of the Tribunes of th?
people. And though the method he took to do it
was fomething extraordinary, and favoured of viq-
ience, yet the remarkable afFecflion which he fhewed
to his father was fo pleafing to the people, that iq-
ftead of calling him to any account for what he had
done, they fhewed their approbation of it by chufing
him fecond Tribune of the Legions, at the nejjt
election of thofe officers ^. It may not be amiis
therefore, to confider the motives upon which the
people commonly a6l in the difpofal of their honour? :
from whence we fhall fee, that they proceed with
more prudence and judgment than Princes ufually do
in fuch diftributions, as I have aflerted elfewhere -f-.

I fay then, that the people are determined in their
phoijze upon thefe occafions, either by the public cha-
radler apd reputation of a man, when his condu6l and
adions are not qtherwife known to them *, qr by fome
particular prepofleflion or opinion of their own ; both
^hich motives are fometimes owing to a man's ex-
fradion, (for when his anceftprs have been good and
>yorthy mer;, jt is generally thought he will be fo too,
fliicept he behaves himfelf in fuch a manner as to

% Spc book I. chap, xj. -f See book I. cliap. Iviii.


Chap. XXXIV. The First Decad of Livy. 457

convince them of the contrary) and fometimes to his
own converfation and way of life : that is, when he
afTociates himfclf with virtuous and honourable men,
and luch as are in high efteem for their prudence : for
fince there is no furer way of judging of a man than
by the company he keeps, a peiibn who afTociates
with good men will juftly be thought fo himfelf -, be-
caufe when people are intimate, and much conver-r
fant together, there mufl: of neceflity be a fmiilitude
in their manners. But there is another way of gain-
ing credit amongft the people ; which is by great and
honourable a6lions, either of a public or private na-
ture. This is the beft and mod (table foundation
that any man can build his reputation upon : for that
which depends upon the merit of our Anceftors foon
fades and perifhes, except it is revived and renewed
by a man's own virtues. The prepoflelTion which
arifes from your ordinary manner of life and affociat-
ing with good men, is a better foundation than this ;
though not fo good a one as the other; for as it arifes
from opinion and expectation only, it is likewife ape
to wear off, if not fupported and confirm.ed, in fome
reafonable time, by great and laudable adions : but
the reputation which depends upon a man's own me-
fit, takes fo deep a root, and Itapds fo firm, that he
rnuft behave very ill indeed to forfeit it afterwards.

Thofe that live in a Commonwealth ought there-
fore to purfue this courfe, and endeavour by all
means to begin their career with fome great and ex-
traordinary adion, which may ferve as a foundation
to build their future reputation upon 5 as the young
Romans did, who always fet out either with promot-
ing fome law for the good of the public, or impeach-
ing fome great and powerful Citizen, who had tranf-
grefied the laws, or doing fome other remarkable
thing that made him the fubjed of popular applaufe.
This manner of proceeding is no lefs neceffary ta
maintain and increafe a good reputation, than to ac-
quire it at firft : for v/hich purpofe it fhould often be
repeated 5 as it was by Titus Manlius through the



^^|8 . Political Discourses upon Book IIL

whole courfe of his life. For after he harl defended
his father in fo ftrenuous and extraordinary a manner,
and thereby laid the foundation of his reputation, he
fome years after fought the Champion of the Gauls,
as we have faid before, and having killed him in a
fmgle combat, took a gold collar ironi nis neck and
put it upon his own ; by which he gained the name
of Torquatus. Thefe things he did when he was
young : and afterwards, when he grew up to years of
maturity, he put his own Son to death for having en-
gaged the enemy without orders ; though he had
gained a viflory. Such examples of perfmal cou-
rage, and (Iridl regard to difcipline and judice, gave
him much more reputation, both in his own times,
and the ages that have fince pafled, than all the bat-
tles he had won, and the triumphs he had obtained^
though he had been as fuccefsful in that refpecl as
any other qf his countrymen : and not without rea-
fon ; for in one cafe he had many equals, but in the
other, very few, or none at all. Scipio the elder did
not gain fo much glory by his triumphs, as by faving
his father's life in battle, when he was but a youth ;
and by drawing his fvvord- and forcing feveral young
Romans to take an oath that they would never deferc
their country, which they had defigned to do after the
battle of Cannae * : for thefe two actions were the
foundation of his fame, and ferved as iteps to the
triumphs which were afterwards decreed him by the
Senate for his victories in Africa and Spain : and this
reputation (great as it was before) he prodigioufly in-
creafed, by fending back a beautiful young Lady,
whom he had taken prifoner in Spain, fafe and invio-
late to her friends. Now if fuch a conduct muft be
obferved by thofe that would advance themfelves to
honour and preferment in a Commonwealth, it is
equally neceffary that Princes fhould do the fame, in
order to acquire and preferve the efteem of their Sub-
jedts : for nothing recommends a Prince fo much to

♦ See book I, chap, xi^


Chap. XXXIV. The First Decad of Livv. 459

his People, as either faying or doing fomeching ex-
traordinary in his youth : efpecially if it feems to pro-
ceed from a regard to their welfare, and has fuch aa
appearance of magnanimity, juilice, or liberality, as
rnakes it much talked of -f-.

But to refume our fubjefl. I fay that when the
people begin to have a good opinion of any particu-
lar perfon, and are moved to confer their honours and
employments upon him, by one or other of the above-
mentioned reafons, their judgment is not ill founded :
but certainly they judge befl, when they do it after
he has giv^n fome proofs of his merit ; becaufe, in
that cafe, they feldom or never can be deceived. I
fpeak only of that good opinion which they conceive
of a man at firft, before he has either fufficiently di-
ftinguKhed himfelf, and eftablilhed hih reputation by
repeated inftances of his worth, or cancelled the m,e-
rit of his good a6lions by others of a different na-
ture : in both which cafes they are not fo apt to err as
a Prince. For fince it is poflible that the people may
be deceived by report, or opinion, or even by the ac-
tions of a man, and think better of him than he de-
ferves, (which is an error that a Prince cannot well
fall into, becaufe he has counfellors to advife and in-
form him better) wife LegiQators have always taken
care to obviate this inconvenience, by providing, that
when any great office fhould become vacant, and the
people fhould be fo far miftaken in their judgment as
to make choice of an improper o*kunworthy perion
to fill it, any Citizen fhould not only be at liberty to
publifh his incapacity or demerit, but have the thanks
of his Fellow citizens for fo doing ; that the peopi- ,'
better informed, might correal their error. Fur
a proof of this, we may appeal to an harangue which
Fabius Maximus made to the people, in the time of
the fecond Punic war, when thty were inclined to have
created T. Ottacilius, one of their Confuls : but Fa-
bius thinking him by no means e^jual to luch a charge

t See the Prince, chap, xxi,


4^50 Political Discourses UPON Book III,

ac that junfture, openly declared againft him, and
reprefented his infufiiciency in fuch a light that he
was fct afide, and another perfon eleded of more
worth and greater abilities. The people therefore,
in the ele6lion of Magiftrates, found their opinion of
men upon fuch circumftances as are lead apt to de-
ceive one : and when they hav€ Counfellors to advife
them, they are guilty of fewer errors than Princes :
fo that a Citizen who would gain their favour and
good opinion, trjuft firfl diftinguifh himfelf by fome
great and remarkable adion, as Titus Manlius did ^.


fhat it is dangerous to he the chief promoter and advifer
of an Enter frize : and that the more important the
Enterprize is, the greater is the danger,

IT would be too tedious a tafk to fhew at large
how dangerous it is for one man to take upon
tiimfelf to prefide and dire<5l in any new and extraor-

* " The moft painful and difficult employment in the world, (fays
Jvlontaigne, book III. chap, vii) in ray opinion, is worthily to dif-
charge the ofRce of a King. I excufe more of their failings than men
commonly do, in confideration of the vaft weight of their funflion,
.which really a(toni/lies me. It is difficult for fuch boundlefs power to
obferve any decorum. Yet fo it is, that even to thofe who are not of
the moft happy difpofition, it is a fingular incitement to virtue, to be
ftationed in fuch a place, that whatever good you do is recorded and
placed to account, and the lead Benefaftion extends to numbers of
people ; aud where your talent, like that of Preachers, chiefly adr
drefles itfelf to the people, who are not very nice judges, eafily deceiv-
ed, and eafily fatisfied. There are few things in which we can give a
fmcere judgment j becaufe there are few wherein we have not in fome
fort a particular intereft. Superiority and inferiority, command and
fubje6iion, are naturally liable to envy and cavil, and mult neceffarily
be continually encroaching upon one another. 1 believe neither one
nor the other, touching its refpe6tive rights : let rcafon therefore,which
is inflexible and difpalfjonate, when it can be found, determine the
cafe. It is ("carcely a month ago fince I turned over two Scotch Au-
thors v^'ho contended with each other upon this point. He who takes
the part pf the People, jnake^ the cor»dition of a King worfe than tjiat
of a Carter ; and the writer for the Monarch, lifts him up fome de-
grees above Almighty God in Sovereignty and Power." See alfo booL
I. chap. xxix. xliv, and Iviii. of thefe Difcourfes,


Chap. XXX. The First Dec ad of Livy.^ 461

dinary enterprize, wherein the concurrent advice and
afUftance of many are required, how difficult it is to
condudl fuch an undertaking, and how much more
fo, to bring it to a happy concluHon. I iliall there-
fore referve what I have to fay upon one part of this
matter for a more convenient place -, and fpeak only
at prefent of the dangers to v^hich a man is expofed
who prefumes to give a Prince fuch advice in any
great and important enterprize, that the fuccefs of it,
whether good or bad, mufl be imputed wholly to
himfelf. For as mankind commonly judge of thmgs
by the event, if an enterprize mifcarries, all the blame
is laid upon him that advifed it ; and if it fucceeds
he may gain feme little applaufe ; but the reward m

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 41 of 44)