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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" ditionibus, ip(a etiani pace inevum. Quatuor Principes ferro inter-

rempti. Tiia bella civiiia, plura externa, ac plerumque premixta.

Profperas in Orlente ; adverfe in Occidente res. Turbatum lily-

ricum, Gallia^ nutantes ; perdomita Britannia, & ilatim amiffa.
*' Coortai Sarmatarum ac Suevorum gentes, Nobiiitatus cladibus
•' mutuis Dacus. Mota etiam prope Partborum arma falfi Neronis
*' Ludibrio. Jam veio Italia novis cladibus, vel poit longam Ibecu-
*' lorum feriem repetitis, affli'5ta. HifuUx aut cbrutas urbes faecun-
** diffima Campaniae ora. Urbs incendiis vaftata, confumptis anti-
** quifTimis dciubr £, ipfo Capitolio civium manibus incenfo, Pollutac
** caerimonise, magna adulteiia, plenum exiliis mare, inie6li csedibus
** I'copuli, atrocius in urbe fssvitum. Nobilltas, opes, omifli gellique
*• honores pro crimine, Sc ob virtutes certiflimum exitium. Nee
** minus prasmia delatorum invifa quam celera ; cum alii facerdotia

& confulatus ut fpolia adepti, procurationes alii & interiorem po-

tp'v -im, nqrerenr, ferrent cunila. Odio & terrore corrupt! in do-
** minos ferri, in parronos liberti j & quibus deerat inimicus, per

amjtos opprefli." Hill, I. iii.




48 Political Discourses upon Book L

if he negledled it. Let thofe conrider, therefore^
who are blefled with fuch an opportunity, that they
have the choice of two courfes, one of which will
make them happy and fecnre whilft they live, and
crown their memory with glory ; the other will lead
them into continual troubles and dangers in tiris life^
and make them for ever infamous after their death ^.


Concerning the Religion of the Romans*

NOtwithflanding Romulus was the original Foun-
der of Rome, and that it owed its birth and
the firft rudiments of its conftitution to him ; vee
Heaven forefeeing that his laws and inftitutions alone
were not fufficient either to form or fupport fo great
an empire as that of Rome was ordained to be, in-
fpired the Senators of that City to make choice of
Numa Pompilius to fucceed Romulus in the govern-
ment of it ; that fo, what was left defective by the
former, might be completed by the latter. Nun^a,
therefore, finding the people fierce and warlike, and
being defirous to civilize and make them, obedient to
laws by peaceable meafures, had recourfe to Reli-

* Excellent was the advice which Antoniniis Plus gave his Ton
Commodus. Two days before he died, he afl'ured his friends, that
he did not deflre to live, becaufe the ill condu61 of his Ton had made
life uneafy to him. Houever, he recommended him to tlie Soldiery ; and
we have an excellent dilcourfe of his in Herodian, in which he deiired
his friends to ailift him with their advice, and diredfed him in what man-
ner he ought to govern. He further charged his friends to make him
fenfble, '* That all the riches and honours in the Univeife were not
** Infficient to fatisfy the luxury and ambition of a Tyrant, nor the
" ftrongeft guards and armies able to defend him from the hatred and
«* infults of his Subje6ts. That no tyrannical Prince ever enjoyed a
** long and peaceable reign ; but fuch only as gained the hearts oi"
**. their people by clemency. That not thofe who ferved out of con-
*• ttraint, but fuch as obeyed voluntarily, would continue faithful in
*' all trials, and free from either flattery or treachery. And laftly,
*' thrt it was exceeding difficult, and yet highly necedary, for thole
•* Princes to fct bounds to their paiiions, who had none to their
<' povi'tr." Herodian, lib, I, cap. viii,

Chap. XT. The First Decad of Livy, 49

gion, as a thing abfolutely neceffary to maintain civil
polity : and in this he fucceeded fo well, that for
many ages no (late ever fhewed a greater degree of
reverence for the Gods •, which very much facilitated
the execution of fuch undertaking's as the Senators
and chief Maaillrates had refolved upon. For who-
ever wili be at the pains of examining the many great
a6lions tliat v;ere performjed, eiiher by the people in
general, or by particular perfons, will find they were
always more afraid of violating an oath, than of dif-
obeying the laws ; as they dreaded the power of the
Gods much more than the authority of men. Of this
we have a manifell proof in the examples of Scipio
andiManlius Torquatus; for, after the great overthrow,
which Hannibal had given the Romans at Cann^,
the people were in fuch a panic, that numbers of
them aflembling together determined to quit Italy,
and tranfport themfelves into Sicily : of which Scipio
being informed, immediately v/ent to them, and
drawing his fword, obliged them all to take a folemn
oath never to abandon their country. Lucius Man-
lius, the father of Titus Manlius, afterwards fur-
named Torquatus, had an accufation lodged againft
him by Marcus Pomponius, Tribune of the People ;
but before the day appointed for hearing his caufe,
Titus went to the Tribune, and threatened to kill
him dirtdlly, if he would not take an oath to with-
draw the accufation : which he accordingly did, and
Ilridly obferved it. Here we fee Citizens, whom
neither the love of their country, nor regard of the
laws could have prevented from leaving Italy, Hill
kept firm to it by rhe fear of violating an oath,
though they had been compelled to take it : and a
Tribune laying afide the enmity he had with the
father, foroettino- the outrage received from his fon,
and difdaining the refledlions that muH be calf upon
his ovvvn honour, only to avoid breaking his oath :
all which was entirely owing to the Principles of
Religion inculcated by Numa in that City«

Vol. 111. ' E Ic

50 Political Discourses upon Book I.

It likewife appears, in the courfe of the Roman
Hiftory, of what admirable fervice Religion was in
governing armies, re-uniting the people, fupporting
virtue, and difcouraging vice. So that if it lliould
be difputed, whether Rome was more obliged to
Romulus or Numa, I fnould think Numa was the
greater Benefadlor to it -, for where a due regard is
had to Religion, it will be an eafy matter to intro-
duce military virtue and good diicipline ; but with-
out that, it will be found very difficult to introduce
it, and much more fo to bring it to any degree of
perfedlion. It is further obfervable, that, in form-
ing a Senate, and eitablifhing certain other inflitu-
tions both civil and military, Romulus did not avail
himjfelf of Divine authority ; but Numa, finding it
abfolutely necefTary, pretended to have private con-
ferences with the Nymph Egeria, who didated to
him what he was to prefcribe to the people. This he
did, becaufe he wanted to introduce forre new laws
and cudoms, and was afraid his own authority alone
would not be fufficient for that purpofe. And in-
deed, no man could ever fucceed in getting new and
extraordinary laws admitted amongft a people with-
out the fanclion of Religion ; for though a fagacious
and provident Legiflator m.ay forefee their falutary
efFe6LS, yet, if they do not appear obvious to the
vulgar, he will not otherwife be able to convince
them, either of the utility or necefHty of them : upon
which account, wife Law-givers always have recourfe
to Religion, in order to remove that difficulty. Ly-
curgus, Solon, and many others, afled in this man-
ner, and for thefe reafons ; and thus the Roman
people revering the piety and wifdom of Numa, fub-
mitted in all things to his inflitutions ~^-. It is true,

♦ ** Religion/' fays Bllhop Fleetwood, in his Charge delivered to
the Clergy of the Diocefe of Ely, at Cambridge, Aug. 7, 1716,
** is fo ufeful and fo necefTary to the well-being of the world, and fo
** perfeftive of human nature, that it commands the elteem of all
•* men, and obtains it of all that are reafonable. There never was a
** country in any manner civilized without Religion j nor have any
** of our Traveller in their difcoveries, cither of the old or new


Chap. XI. The First Decad of Livv. 51

the devotion of thofe times was fuch, and the Isfno*
ranee of the people he had to deal with To great,
thaft they contributed very much to facilitate his
defigns, and <:ave him an opportunity of making any
new imprcfilon upon them he pleafed ; and, without
doubt, any pcrfon that fhould undertake to focnd a
State at prefent, would find a parcel of mountaineers,
and illiterate uncivilized men, more tradable and
obedient than others, who had been ufed to live in
communities, and had their morals and principles
corrupted : as a rough unhewn block of marbk- may
more eafily be wrought into a good Statue, than one
that has been already fpoiled by fome bungling

All thefe things being confidered, I conclude, that
the introduction of Religion at Rome by Numa, was
one of the caufes that chiefly contributed to its
grandeur and felicity: for Religion produced good
order, and good order is generally attended with
good fortune and fuccefs in any undertaking. And,
as a (Iridt obfervation of Divine worfiiip and religious
duties, alvvays tends to the aggrandizement of a
State ; fo a neglcd and contempt of them may be
reckoned amongd the firft caufes of its ruin. For,
where there is no fear of God, it mufl either fall to
deflrudlion, or be fupported by the reverence fhewa
to a good Prince; which indeed m>ay fuftain it for a
while, and fupply the want of Religion in his Sub-
jetfts. But as human life is fliort, the Government
muft of courfe link into decay, when the virtue that
upheld and informed it is extindl. Hence it comes
to pafs, that States which depend upon the fpirit of
one man alone, are generally (hort-lived : for whea
he dies, his virtues dies with him, and feldom revives
in his fuccefifor, as Dante has juftly obferved.

«« world, found and populous town or City without a Temple or
** place of public worfhip." — !n (hort, human Society could not fub-
fift without it, as might eafily be (hewn, if it was neceflary at this
time of day. See alfo a Book written not long ago by Wortlcy
Mountague, Efq. upon this bubjcft.

E z Rade

52 Political Discourses upon Book I,

Rade volte difcende per li rami
L'umana probicate, e quefto vuole
Quel che la da, perche da lui fi chiami.

The virtue of the Sire,
Seldom to heirs defcends.
With him it oft begins.
And with him often ends;
Though wonderful to us.
Such is the will of Heaven,
That we may afk of him.
By whom alone 'tis given.

It is not fufficient, therefore, for the firm eflab-
lifhment either of a Kingdom or Republic, that it is
wifely governed by a prince whilft he lives : it is
further neceflary, that he fhould lay the foundations
in fuch a rhanner, that it may be able to fupport itfelf
after he is dead. And though ignorant and unpo-
lifhed people are more fufceptible of new dodlrines
and laws, than thofe that think themfclves already
fufficiently polite and civilized, yet it is not an im-
pofTible thing to make an impreflion upon the latter.
The Florentines do not look upon themfelves as either
rude or ignorant people-, and yet they were prevailed
npon by Girolamo Savonarola to believe, that he
converfed with God *, For my own part, I will not
pretend to determine, whether that was true or not;
becaufe fo great a man ought not to be fpoken ofy
but with the utmoft reverence : this, however, I will
take upon me to fay, that many thoufands believed
it, who never faw him perform any thing miraculous,
that might be a good foundation for fuch an opinion:
his life, dodtrine, and manner of converfation, being
fufficient, as they thought, to convince them. Let
no one defoair then, of beinor able to do what has
been done by others : for mankind (as I have ob-
ferved before, in my introdudlion to thefe difcourfes)
are born, live and die, in the fame manner as

* See Chap. VI. of the Prince,

: C H A P^

Chap. XII. The First Decad of Livy. 53

C tt A P. XII.

Cf what importance it is for the prefer v alien of a Stnte^
to pay a due veneration to Religion-, and how much the
neglect cf it, cccafoned by the Church of Rome^ has
contributed to the ruin of Italy.

TH E rulers of all States, whether Kingdoms or
Common-wealths, who would preferve their
governments firm and entire, ought above all things
to take care that Relio:ion is held in the highefb ve-
neration, and its ceremonies at all times uncorrupted
and inviolable ; for there is no furer prognoftic of
impending ruin in any State, than to fee Divine
worfhip negleded or defpifed. 1 his may eafily be
demoniirated, by examining the foundation upon
v/hich the Religion of any Country is built; for the
Religion of all nations is founded upon fome princi-
]:les. That of the Gentiles was founded chiefly upon
the anfwers of Oracles, Divination, and Auguries ; all
the refl of their Rites, Ceremonies, and Sacrifices,
depending wholly upon thefe : for they thought the
fame Being that could foretell things to come, could
alfo confer them if good, or avert them if evil ; for
which reafon they ereded Temples, offered up Sa-
crifices and Prayers, and inftituted other ceremonies
for the vvorfliip of that Supreme power : and thus
the Oracle at Delphos, the 1 empie of Jupiter Am-
mon, and other celebrated fhrines, kept the world
in admiration and devotion. But when the Priefls
of thefe Temples began to give anfwers accordingly
as they were influenced by great men, the fallacy
was detected, and the people growing incredulous,
became at laft rebellious, and difpoled to throv/ ofr
all civil government and reftrainr.

All rulers of Kingdoms and Common-wealths
therefore, ought to have a fpecial regard to the
fundamental principles of the religion of their

E 3 country:

54- Political Discourses upon Book I.

country : for whilft they are kept facred and inviolate,
it will be an eafy matter to maintain devotion, and
confequently good order and union, amongft their
fubjeds. For which purpofe, they muft carefully
attend to all circumflances and events (how falfe or
frivolous foever they may appear to themfelves) that
feem in any wife conducive to this end ; and the
wifer and better acquainted they are with the natural
courfe of things, the more they will avail thenifelvt^s
of fuch aOiftances *. This method being taken by
prudent Governors, produced the opinion of mira-
cles ; many of which have been pretended to be
wrought even in nations under the influence of falfe
religion : for fuch Governors always endeavour to
confirm the people in the belief of them, to whac
caufes foever they may have been owing j and the
authority of the Prince never fails to llrengthen the
faith of the people. Many of thefe Miracles might

* ** Nothing," fays M. Brueys, Hif>orie du Fanatldfme, p. 230,
** has a greater afcendant over the rnind of man than Religion; all
** things appear lawful to thofe that firmly believe God is on their
** fide, and that they only execute his orders. Tliofe who know the
" ufe which the artful Greeks and Romans made of their Oiacles,
their Soothfayers, their Augurs, their Arufpices and Feciales,
whofe employment it was to foretel the v.'iil of the Gods, whenever
any important affair was debated ; fome in viewing the entrails of
Vi61ims, the harmony, the flight, or various mo(ions of certain
birds: thofe I fay, who know of what ufe thefe things were former-
ly, know likewife that perlbns of good lenfe gave no nianner of
" credit to them, nor made any other ufe of them, than to infpire
" Nations and Soldiers with defigns (as if dictated by the Gods)
•* which were nothing but what they had rtfolved upon tiiemf-lves
•* before they had confulred their Oracles." — —Old Dacres lays upon
this paflage as follows : " Ammiratus here taxes Machiavtl, faying,
** This was the opinion of a cunning arid crafty man, than of
** one that had either any Religion or Morality in him, whoTe plaia
** and fimple conditions ought to be ivcc from all fraud anci falfnoodj
" and however the Romans were deceived here, which cannot be
" denied, yet without doubt they never did this, thinking to deceive
** themfelves, or with intention to deceive others." Thus Ammira-
tus. And indeed it favours of Atheifm to bring the Miftrefs to lerve
the Handmaid, Religion to ferve Policy, as if the Seafons of the year
ought to accommodate themfelves to men, ratlier men accom-
snodate themfelves to the Seafons; not confidering that Religion
propounds to men a further end than Policy points at. A Prince
therefore fliould be well aware of fuch evil devices, believing con-
ftantly that Religion hath no need of help from falfhood, nor can
g*in any Ibength by lies.

7 t?


Chap. XII. The First Decad of Livy. 55

be inftanced from the Roman Hiftory, but we fhall
produce only one. When the Romans facked the
City of Veil, a party of Soldiers went into a Temple
there, dedicated to Juno, and addreffing themfeives
to an image of that Goddefs, afked her if fhe would
go to Rome; to which fonie of them faid, the gave her
affent by a nod, and others affirmed, that fhe adually
fpoke, and faid Ihe would. Now thtfe men being
more religious than Soldiers commonly are (as Livy
infers from the filence, refpe^^l, and veneration, with
which they entered the Temple) eafily perfuaded
themfeives they had an anfwer given them, which
very likely they fully expeded before they afked the
qutftion. Hov/ever that might be, this opinion was
induflriouHy propagated, and encouraged byCamillus,
and other leading men in the Common-wealth, who
endeavoured by all means to foment the credulity
of the people.

If Chriftian Princes then had taken care to maintain
their Religion in the purity it was delivered by its
Author; it is certain Chriftendom would have been
much more happy and united than it is at prefent :
but it is the fureft fign of its dcclenfion, to fee that
thole who live nearell to the Church of Rome, which
is the Head of our Religion, have the lead devotion:
for, whoever will examine iis lirll: principles, and
cotDpare them with the pradice of thefe times, will
will find it no difficult matter to pcrfuade himfelf^
th^t either feme dreadful Icourge, or perhaps utter
deftrudtion is hanu:incr over our heads '^, But fince
there are iocuf^ who maintain, that the welfare of
Italy depends upon the Church of Rome, I fhall
.endeavour to evmce the contrary by fome arguments,
which, in my opinion, are unanivverable. In the firfl
place, then, the corrupt example of the Romifh
Court has extinguifhed all fenfe of Religion and
Piety in that province j and confequently been the

* Machiavel feems herc to bave had the Spirit of prrphecy upon
him, and to have foretold the Retormation wliich happened not long
aftei- in Chriftendom.

E 4 caufe

5^ Political Discourses UPON Book I.

caufe of numberlefs evils : for as all things go well
where Religion is duly fupported, fo where that is
negledled and trampled npon, every thing runs into
confufion and diforder. We Italians, therefore, are
certainly under great obligations to this Church and
its Priefls, for aboiifhing all Religion and polluting
our morals ; but under greater ftill upon another ac-
count, which has been our utter ruin ; and that is,
for fomenting endlefs difcords and divifions amongft
lis. For certainly no nation can ever expefl to' be
happy, that is not united in obedience to fome one
Prince or Common-wealth, as France and Spain are
at this time : and it is wholly owing to the Church
of Rome, that Italy, at prefent, is neither entirely
under a Republican, nor a Monarchical government.
For though the Popes fixed their refidence there, and
obtained a temporal as well as fpiritual jurifdidlion,
yet they never were able to pofTefs themfelves of all
Italy : and, on the other hand, they were never re-
duced to fo low an ebb, but upon any apprehenfion
of lofing their temporal dominion, they could call
in fome foreign potentate to defend them againd
other States that were grown too ftrong for them ; of
which there occur many examples in the hillory of
former times •, particularly, when by the afilllance
of Charlemagne they drove out the Lombards, who
bad made themfelves mailers of almoft all Italy ; and
. in our own times, when they curbed the power of the
Venetians by the help of France, and tlien drove out
the French by the aid of the Swifs. As the church
then never was able to g,et Italy v»/holly into its own
hands, it would not fuffer any body elfe to do fo ;
and this is the reafon why it never could be united
"under one head, but ftill continues divided into fe-
veral Principalities and Republics; which has brought
it into fuch a State of ciifunion and weaknefs, that it
now lies at the mercy of the firft Invader, and for
this we may thank the Church alone. To prove the
truth of which alfertions, if it was pofllble to tranf-
plant the Court of Rome and all its authority in Italy,


Chap. XII, The First Decad of Livy. 57

into the territories of the Swifs, who at prefent
are the only people that have preferved both their
religious and military inllitutions in their original
vigour, it would foon be feen that the wickednefs
and depravity of that court would occafion more dif-
ordcr and confufion in Switzerland, than any other
misfortune that ever did, or ever could happen to it"^.

* Vo'taire, in his general Hlftory of Europe, part IV. chap. vli.
draws a ftrikir.g picture of that Court, and of tliofe times. " The
•' Comedies cf Ariofto and Machiavel, fays he, though not very de-
,** licate in regard to modefty and Religion, were frequently a<5>ed
** at this Court in the prefence of the Pope (Leo X.) and Cardinals,
** by young perfons of the higheft rank in Rome. Tlie merit alone
*' of thofe pieces, great indeed for that age, made an impreffion upon
** the Spedators. Whatever niight be offenfive to Religion pafTed
** unoblervtd at a Court entirely intent upon intrigues and pleafures,
** and which had no notion that Religion could be injured by thefe
** liberties. And indeed, as they attacked neither the Dodrine, nor
** Jurifdiftion of the Church, the Court of Rome took no more ex-
*' ceprions againft them, than the Greeks and ancient Romans did
** againll the wit and raillery of Ariftophanes and Plautus. Even
** affairs of the higheft importance, never broke in upon the Pope's
" pleafuresj he created thirty new Cardinals, moftly Italians, whofe
** tempers were every way comformable to that of their Sovereio-n,
** If they had not the fame tafte and knowledge as the Pontif, at ieafl:
** they imitated him in his pleafures. Almolf all the other Prelates
** followed their Example. Spain was at that time the only Country
*' remarkable for the exemplary lives of the Clergy. This ftridlnefs
*' of Morals had been intioduced by Cardinal Ximenes ; a man of a
*' four difpofition, who had no relifh but for arbitrary power, and
** who Itrutted in a Cordelier's habit when he was Regent of Spain,
*' and faid he knew how to bind the Grandees to their duty with his
*' cord, and would crufh their pride under his Sandals. In every otjjer
*' country the Prelates lived like voluptuous Princes, ibme of them
*' being polfeifed of eight or nine Biihopricks. The whole torrent,
*' both of Froteilant and Popifli writers, make loud complaints of the
** loofe morals of thofe timiCs. They tell us that the Bilhops, the in-
*' ferior Clergy, and the Monks, led mcft indolent and fcandalous
*' lives ; that nothing was more common than for Priefts to bring up
*' their children publicly, after the example oi' Foot Alexander VI.
** We have ftili the willofCroui, Bifhop of Cambray in thofe days,
*' in which he leaves feveral legacies ro his children, and referves a
*' Sum for the boj^ards^ 'vjh'ich he Jiill hopes Gcd 'vvilt be fo gracious toginje
** him, in cafe ne reco'vers from his illnefs. Thefe are the very words of

** the Will But what gave the greareft Scandal of all was, tne

'' public Sale of Indulgencies, Abiolurions, and Difpenlations of ail
*' piices J that Apcftolic revenue, unlimited and uncertain before
*' the time of Pope John XXII. was by him digelted as a Code of the
** Canon Law. A Deacon, or Subdeacon, guilty of murder, was
** abloived with perniifJion to hold three Benefices, for about twenty
** Crowns. A Bilhop, or an Abbot might aflailinute for three hundred


58 Political Discourses upon Book T,


How the Romans availed themfelves of Religion in reform-
ing the Slate^ in profecuting their wars, and in com^of-
ing tumults*

IT may not appear foreign to our purpofe, to fhew
by fome examples in what manner the Romans
availed themfelves of Religion in reforming their

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 6 of 44)