Niccolò Machiavelli.

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State, and in the profecution of other enterprizes %
and though many more might be produced out of
Livy, yet 1 fhall content myfelf with the following.

The people having created Tribunes with confular
power, and all of them, except one, being chofen
from amongft the Plebeians ; it happened that there
was a great peftilence and famine the fame year at
Rome : of which the Nobility making a handle at the
next creation of Tribunes, pretended that the G^ds
were offended at the people, for debafing the Majeily

*' Livres; all mannerof uncleannefs, even the moft (liocking to nature,
** had its fettled price Beltiality was rated at two hundred and
** fifty Livres. Dif})enfitions were granted, not only for pait fins, but
*♦ for fuch as any one had a mind to commit. In the Archives of Join-
<* ville an Indulgence whs found, granted to the Cardinal of Lorrain
*» and twelve of his retinue, whereby the remiffion of three Sin?,
*< which ever they chofe to name, fhould be anticipated to each of
** them. Le Laboureur relates of the Duchefs of Burgundy and Au-
<« vergne, Sifter toChailes VIII, that {he had the privilege of obtain-
** ing abfolution from all her fjns as long as fhe fiiould live, for herfelf
*< and ten of her attendants, upon forry-feven feftivals, without reck-
" oning Sunday.-. This created no furprize in thofe times. Public
*' offices of Indulgences were opened in all parts, and they were farmed
*' out like Cuftfuu-houfe Duties. Moft of tliofe public offices were
*' kept in alehoufes, by which means the Preacher, the Farmer, and
•' the Diftributor were all gainers. The Pope gave pnrr of the money
** to his Sifter, and no body as yet comp!ainc;d. 7 he Preachers de-
** clared openly from the Pulpit, that if a man was even to ravifh the
*' Virgin Mary, he would be forgiven upon purchafing an Indulgence,
*' and the people liftened to them with devotion. But this farm ia
" Germany happening to be given to the Dominicans, the Auguftincs,
** who had been long in Pofielfion of it, grew jealous; and this little
" clalhing of interclts betwixt thofe two Orders of Friars in a corner
** of Saxony, was the Source of the Reformation." See Paolo Sarpi's
Kiftory of the Council of Trent, towards the beginnintj.


Chap. XIII. The First Decad of LivyJ 59

of the Empire; and that there was no other way to
appeafe them, but by reducing the eledion of Tri-
bunes to its ancient footing ; at which the people were
fo terrified that they chofe all their Tribunes the next
year out of the Nobility. We may fee likewife how
the Roman Generals had recourfe to Religion, to en-
courage their troops at the fiege of Veii, for the Al-
ban Lake having overflowed its banks, to the great
furprife of every body, and the Soldiers being tired
out with the hardfhips of a ten years fiege, and im-
patient to be at home again, the Commanders pre-
tended to confult the Oracle of Apoilo, from which
they afTured them they received for anfwer, that they
fhould take Veii the fame year that the Alban Lake,
overflowed its banks. Animated with this hope, the
Soldiers patiently fubmitted to all the fatigues of war,
till Camillus took the City ; v/hich he did that very
year ■^, 1 hus Religion was of great Service in redu-
cing that place, and reftoring the Tribunefhip to the
jN'obility -, neither of which perhaps could otherwife

♦ Livy relates a noble circumftance concerning the behaviour of
Camillus upon this occafion.— It appears from a thoufand pafTages in
the Ancients, that the Heathens imagined there weje Ibme Deities who
envied the profperity of mankind, and never failed, looner or later,
to vifit thote that were remarkably happy, with feme herivy misfor-
tune. Camillus therefore could not fee the triumphs of Rome, over
the ruins of Veii, witliout apprehending fome fuch viciffitude ; upon
which account, lie prayed that if the prolperity of Rome was to be
balanced by fome evil, he alone, and not his Country, might fuffer it.
" Dictator Camillus, fays Livy, lib. V. cap. xxi, capta Veiorum
*' urb°, prrecones ediceie jubet, ut ab inermi turba ablfineatur ; is
*' finis i'anguinis fait. Dedi inde inermes coepti, & ad proedam miles
•* difcurritj quae cum ante oculos ejus aliquanto fpe atque opinion©
-** major, majorifque pretii rerum ferretur, dicitur manus ad caelum
** toUens precatus effe Dictator, ut fi cui hominum Deorumve nimia
** fua fortuna populique Romani videretur, earn invidiam lenire fuo
" private incommodo, quam minimo publico populique Romani li-
** ceret." Could any thing be more Heroic than this in a Heathen ?
What greatneis of minii ! does it not in fome meafure refemble St,
Paul's ** wifhing hlmfcif accurfed for the Ifraelites his brethren and
•' kinfmen ?" Plutarcli oblerves that when Camillus beheld the de-
vaftation of lb flouriihing a City, he could net refrain from fears be-
fore he made his prayer to the Gods. '^AXatrB? h tx; zuoxexaizra xfarof, xet

** Tuv ^Pikifxaioov ayoVTwy Ktu <f ejOVTauV airii^ov riva. 'B7'\ttr9V, e<po^a}V o KaujKXo; airo Ttif
*' uK^ag Ttt rnea.rrofA.eytt, 'SJ^oorov fxBV £$■»? s^^y-^ussv, ara, fxaKa^irSei^ v7to T»»
** wa^ovrxv, an^i rag ~/^Eifag rciq ^soi;, Kai OT^oo-ev^^o/xEVo? eitte," SiC, Plutarcll in

yita Camilii. See Valerius Maxiaius, lib, X. cap. v.


6o Political Discourses UPON Book I.

have been effected without much difficulty. — Let me
quote another exanple to the fame purpofe. There
had been great Tumults in Rome, occafioned by Te-
rentillus, a Tribune of the people, who wanted to
have a Law paifed, (the tenor of which fhall be taken
notice of in its proper place) that would have borije
hard upon the Nobility. To prevent this, the Nobi-
lity availed themfelves of Religion two ways. In the
firll place, they caufed the Sibylline books to be con-
fulted, and this aniwerto be returned from them," that
*' the City would be in greatdanger of lofing its liberties
*' that very year, if civil difcords were not prevented :**
which artif ce, (though it was difcovered by the Tri-
bunes) had fuch an effedl upon the people, that fhey
grew cool in the matter, and refufed to fupport them
any longer. The other expedient was this. One
Appius HerdoniiiS, having put himfelf at the head of
a multitude of Slaves and Exiles, which amounted
to no lefs than four thoufand, feized upon the Capitol
in the night, to the great confternation of the whole
City •, it being feared that if the i^qui and the Volfci,
perpetual enemies of the Roman name, iliould make
any attempt upon the City at that time, they would
certainly take it; and the Tribunes ilill obftinately
perfifting in having the Terentiiian law paficd, and
pretending that the report of the Capitol being ffized
upon, was only a falfe alarm, Fublius Rubetius, a
man of gravity and authority, came out of the Scnate-
houfe, and partly by fair words, partly by threats,
fometimes rcprefenting to them what danger the City
was in, fometimes how unfeafonable their demand
was at that time, made fuch an impreffion upon the
minds of the Plebeians, that having all taken an oath
of fidelity and obedience to the Conful, they prefently
ran to arms, and recovered the Capirol. But the
Conful Publius Valerius, being killed in the attack,
Titus Qiiintius was immediately made Conful in his
room ; who not giving the people time to take breath,
lelt they fliouid revive their clamours for the Teren-
tiljan law, ordered them to march with him directly

again ft





Chap. XIV. The First Decad of I^ivy.' 6i

againfl: the Volfci ; infifling that by the oath they had
taken to obey the Conful, they were obliged to follow
him -, and though this was oppofed by the Tribunes,
who alledged, that the oath they had taken extended
no further than to the late Conful : yet fuch was the
veneration for Religion in thofe times, as Livy informs
us, that the people chofe rather to follow the Conful,
tlian liften to the fuggeftions of the Tribunes, and
adds the following refle6tion to their great honour.
" Nondum haec, quas nunc tenet faeculum, negligen-
tia Deorum venerat, nee interpretando fibi quifque
jusjurandum & leges aptas faciebat." i. e. *' That
contempt of the Gods which has overfpread this
age, was not then known, nor did private men dare
to interpret oaths as they pleafed, or accommodate
the laws to their own private intereil and advan-
tage." The Tribunes therefore apprehending they
fliould otherwife lofe all their power, promifed to obey
the Conful, and not to infift upon the Terentillan law
for the fpace of twelve months ; provided the Confuls
did not lead out the people to war during the fame
term. And thus Religion enabled the Senate to fur-
mount this difiiculty ; which they could not have
done without that afiiftance.


^be Romans inlerpreied their Aufpices according to the
neceffiiy of the times^ and wifely pretended to conform
to the hftitutioyis of their Religicn^ even when they were
obliged to a^ counter to them : but if any one openly
and rafJj'y defpifed them^ he was always punifJ'jed for it,

AUGURIES, as I have faid before, were a
confiderable part of the Gentile Religion, and
contributed not a little to the grandeur and felicity of
the Roman Common-wealth. Upon which account,
the Romans held them in greater veneration than any
other ordinance or Religious inftitution^ and always


62 Political Discourses upon Book L


had recourfe to them in the ele6tion of Confuls, in en-
gaging in any enterprize, in conducing tlieir armies,
in chufing the time and place of battle, and in fhort,
in all undertakings of importance, whecher civil or
military : nor did they ever go upon any expedition,
till they had pofifefTed their Soldiers with a periuafion
that the Gods had promifed them fuccefs. Now
amongft other orders of their Soothfayers, there were
certain officers called Pullarii "^, who always attended
their armies, and were to give their prefages when
they were preparing to engage the enemy. If the
poultry would eat, they looked upon it as a good
omen, but if they would not, they carefully avoided
an engagement. Neverthelefs, when their own rea-
fon (hewed them the abfolute necelTity of ading, they
proceeded accordingly, though the Aufpices proved
ever fo unfavourable-, but in this they conduced them-
felves fo adroitly, and with fuch caution, that they
feemed not to have acted either in defiance or con-
tempt of their Religion ; as the Conful Papirius did
before an engagement with the Samnites, which was
of fuch fatal confequence to them that they never
afterwards were able to make head againft the Ro-
mans. For Papirius lying encamped with his army
near that of the Samnites, in fuch a fituation and cir-
cumftances, that he thought a vidory certain if they
came to a(5lion,was very defirous to ergage j and there-
fore ordered the Pullarii " to take an omen •," but the
poultry refufing to peck, and the chief of the Pullarii
feeing the eagernefs of the army to fight, as well as
the aflurance that both the Soldiers and the General
had of a vidlory, and being loath to difappoint them
of fo fair an opportunity cf fuccefs, reported to the
Conful, that he had taken an omen, and that it was
a very propitious one. Upon which, Papirius im-
mediately drew up his forces in order of battle ; but
fome of the other Pullarii happening to blab it out

• They took Omens from the feeding of the Sacred Poultrj'', as
they called the chickens that were under their care and infpedtion for
that purpofe,


Chap. XIV. The First Decad of Livy. 6^

amongft the Soldiers that the poultry would not ear,
they acquainted Spurius Papirius, the Conful's Ne-
phew, with it, who immediately carried the report to
his Uncle. But the Conlul calmly replied, *' do you
*' take care of your own poil, as to the army and my-
" felf, the Aufpices are lufficiently favourable to us,
<' and if the Chief of the Pullarii has told me a falfe-
*' hood, the confequences will fall upon himfelf." That
the event therefore might correfpond with the omen,
he ordered his Officers to place the Pullarii in the
front of the Battle, and marched diredlv aorainft the
enemy. Evx as they were advancing, one of the Ro-
man Soldiers, throwing a dart at random, happened
to kill the Chief of the Pullarii -, which being re-
ported to the Conful, " Then, faid he, 1 am fure all
" things will go well, the Gods are appeafed, and
*' the death of the Pullarius has expiated his lie-,'*
and thus by dexteroufiy accommodating his refolution
to the Aufpices, he engaged the enemy, and beat
them ; his Soldiers being perfuaded he had not in
any wife afled contrary to the rites of their Religion.
— i\ppius Pulcher, on the contrary, happening to
command in Sicily, during the time of the firft Punic
war, and being defirous to engage the Carthaginian
army, ordered the Pullarii to take an omen ; and they
informing him that the poultry would not ear, he faid,
*' let us fee then whether they will drink," and im-
mediately threw them into the Sea. Bu: coming to
an eni^agement with the eneniy, he lou the day ; for
which he was fent for to Rome and difgraced ^, whilfl

* Valerius Maximiis relates this of Publitis Claudius, 1. I, c. iv.
It is alfo told of Diagoras, oi- as fonie fay of Protagoras, who was pu-
iiiflied by the Athenians for ridiculing their eftablifhed Religion : for
he not only divulged the Ele\iliniaa myi^eries and laughed at them,
but cut a Siatue of Hercules to pieces, for fire wood to boil tur-
nips ; as we are told by the Sch -liaft on Ariftophanes in Nub. A61 III.
Scene i. and by Athenagoras in Legat. Father GarafFe likewife fpeaks
of it in his Do6frine curieufe, liv. il. feft. v. *' Diagoras, fays he,
** going one day into an Inn, in which he found there was nothing to
" be had for dinner but a few turnips, laid hold of an old Statue of
** Hercules, who was the tutelar Deity of the houfe, and accofted him
" in this manner, Veni Hercuks, tertium Deciinum fubi certarnsn,


64 Political Discourses upon Book I.

Papirlus, on the other hand, was honoured and re-
warded ; not becaufe one had gained a viclory and
the other been defeated ^ but becaufe one had pru-
dently evaded the Aufpices, and the other had radily
and openly defied them. For this fort of Divination
was calculated only to infpire the Soldiery with that
courage and aflurance of fuccefs in time of a£lion,
which fo much contributes to vidtory •, and it was
pradlifed not only by the Romans, but by other peo-
ple, of which I fhall give an example in the next


^hat the Samnites had recourfe to Religion^ as the cnlj
Remedy when their affairs were become defperate.

TH E Samnites having been often defeated by
the Romans, and reduced to the lafl extremity
by the death of a great number of their Soldiers and
Officers, who were killed in a battle that happened
in Tufcany ; their allies alfo, the Tufcans, Gauls,
and Umbrians, being fo weak that they were incapa-
ble of giving them any further alTiftance, Livy tells
us, " nee fuis nee externis viribus jam ftare poteranr,
•' tamen bello non abftinebant, adeo ne infelicicer
** quidem defenfas libertatis t^debat, & vinci quam
*' non tentare vidloriam malebant." i. e. '' They
** could neither fupport themfeives by their own
*' ftrength nor that of others, yet they continued the
*' war; and though they had been fo unfuccefsful in
** the defence of their liberties, they ftill perfifted in
*' it, and chofe rather to be conquered, than not en-

" & excoquelentem." " Come Mafter Herculu?, here's a thirteenth

•* labour for you, you mull boil me thel'e turnips." Another time,

•* going into a Court-yald vvliere the Priefts were taking an Augury

*' from the feeding of birds, and feein-g the whole College was greatly

•* terrified becaufe the chickens did not eat, he took them, in a feem-

*♦ ing paflion, and dipping them three or four times over head in a

^* tub of water, you (hall diink, however, faid he, if you won't eat."


Chap. X\^. The First Decad Of Livv. 6$

*' deavour to conquer." They refolved, therefore, to
exert their utmofl endeavours in the lafb pufh they
were able to make; bur, as they well knew a viclory
was not to be hoped for, when the foldiers were diffi-
dent and difpirited, and that i^othing could To effec-
tually infpire them with courage asP.eligious confider*
ations, they determined, by the advice of Ovius
Paccius, one of their Priefts, to revive an ancient ce-
remony that had long been negleded ; which they did
in this manner. Having ereded an Altar, they of-
fered up a folemn facrifice, and made the principal
officers of their army fv^ear, never to run away in
time of battle : after which they called the common ^
foldiers one by one, into an area near the Altar, fur*
rounded by Centurions with drawn fwords in their
hands •, where they liril obliged them to take an oath,
not to divulge any thing they fhould either fee or hear
there. When this v;as done, having repeated feveral
forms of execration, and fearful curfes upon thofe
that fliould violate their oath, they made them pro-
mife and fwear again, that they would always be ready
to march whitherfoever they were commanded by
their Generals; that they would never turn their back
in battle; that they would kill any of their fellow-
fold iers, if they faw them do fo ; and then to pray,
that if they did not religiouOy obferve all this, dei-
trud:ion might fall upon themfelves, their families,
and poderity ; but fome of them making a fcruple
of taking thefe oaths, were inflantly run through the
body by the Centurions ; which had fuch an effedt
upon the reft, who were terrified at the ferocity of
the fpedack, that they all complied. To add ftill
more to the folemnity and magnificence of this cere-
mony, one half of the army, which confifted of forty
thoufand men, were cloathed in white, with crefts and
plumes of feathers upon their helmets ; after which,
they encampfed near Aquilonia. But Papirius being
ordered to march againft them, told his foldiers at the
conclufion of an harangue which he made to animate
them, *' CrilUs non vulnere facere, & pi6la atque
Vol. in, F •' aurata

66 Political Discourses upon * Book I.

*' auratafcuta tranfireRomanum pilum.'* i. e. "That
*' crcfls and plumes could do them no harm, nor
*' were gik and painted fliields proof againit a Ro-
•' man javelin :" and to prevent his men from being
difpirited by the efFedts which perhaps they might
think the oaths beforementioned, would have upon
the enemy, he faid, thofe oaths were more likely to
daunt than animate them ; becaufe, they muft of ne-
cefiity be afraid, not only of the Gods, but of their
enemy •, nay, of their own fellow-foldicrs too, at the
fame time. H<^wever, when the two armies came to
engage, the Samnites were routed : for the valour of
the Romans, and the dejeftion of an enemy, who had
been fo often defeated by them, got the better of all
that refolution which Religion and [heir oaths had in-
fpired them with. Ncverthelefs, we may fee from
hence, the opinion they had of thefe things, by having
reeourfe to them as the lafl and only expedient that
could give them any hopes of reftori^ng their former
courage ; which fully {hews how much confidence Re-
ligion is capable of creating in the minds of men
when prudently applied. And though, perhaps, this
difcourfe might more properly have been inferted
amongft thofe, that relate to t ran fad ions which hap-
pened out of the City •, yet, as it has fome fort of con-
nedlion with one of the moil important inilitutions in
the Roman Common wealth, I thought it better to in-
troduce it in this place ; left by leaving the Subject
unfinifhed, I Ihould be forced to return to it hereatter.


If a people accujlomed to live under the dc?ninicn of a
Prince^ Jhould by any accident become entirely free^ they
will find it a very difficult matter to maintain their li-

HOW hard it is for a people that have been ufed
to live in fubjedlion to a Prince, to preferve
their liberty, if by any means they become free, as


Chap. XVI. The First Decad of Livy. 67

the Romans did after the expulfion of the Tarquins,
may be fiievvn from numbcrlefs examples that occur
in ancient hiftory. Indeed it cannot well be other-
wife : for the multitude differs but litrle from a wild
beaft , which, (how fierce and favage fcever it may be
by nature) ]f it gets loofe after it has been long con-
fined and kept in fubjcdion, yet, not knowing how
to fupport itlelf, or whither to fly for flicker, may
eafily be taken and chained up again, by any one that
pleafes. So it is with a people, that has been ufed to
be o-overned by others : for not knowing how to. aft
cither oifenfively or defenfively for their own prefer-
vation, and having no connexions with any other State,
they foon fubmit to the yoke again, which often proves
more heavy and intolerable, than that which they had
Ihaken oft before-^. Thefe difficulties they are fure
to encounter, even when the people are not totally
depraved •, but where the whole mafs is corrupted j
they cannot maintain their freedom for any time, no
not a moment, as I fhall fnew prefently. Let it be
remembered then, that I here fpeak of a people,
amongft whom corruption has not yet arrived at the
lail pitch, but where there are more fparks of virtue
than vice ftill fubfifting. To the dii4iculties already
mentioned, we may add one more; and that is, when-
ever a State becomes free, it is always fure to have
many enemies, that v;ill endeavour to fubvert it, and

* Strabo fays, lib. XII. " That the Royal Family being extJn(5l in
" Cappadocia, the people refuted the permiirion which the Romans
** would have given rliem to be free, and fent Ambafladojs tp Rome,
'• to declare, that liberty was infupportabie to them, and to afk a
*' King. The Romans were furprized at it, and gave them leave to
»* confer the Kingdom on whom they pleafed. .Accordingly, they
«* chofe Ariobaizanes, whofe pofterity {'ailing in the third generation,
" Archelaus, though not at ail related to that family, was made their
«* King by Mark Anthony !" Might we not juftly fay of them, <* O
** homines ad Servitutem natos:" ** O wretches born toflavery/V After
all, it is plain, Monarchy was fitter for them than a Common-wealth :
a certain turn of mind is necelTary not to abufe liberty, and all peo-
ple have not that turn. Jultin fays, " the Roman Senate chofe Ario-
** barzanes j" which is the more probable: for what likelihood is
there that they fliould leave the EleiVion of a King to the difcretion of
the Cappadocians at fuch a conjundlure }

F 2 but

63 Political Discourses upon Book I.

but few, or no friends to fupport it. By enemies, I
mean thofe minions that find their advantage in living
under a tyrannical government, and grow rich by the
bounty and favour of their Prince \ who, being de-
.prived of thefe emoluments, cannot afterwards live
contented, but endeavour to introduce tyranny again,
that they may be reftored to their former authority*
The reafon why fuch a State will havefew or no friends,
is, becaufe free governments ufually confer honours
and employments upon none but fuch as have me-
rited them by particular fervices, and then too with
a frugal hand : fo that when a man enjoys no more
than what he thinks he has deferved, he does not look
upon himfelf to be under any obligation to thofe that
gave it. Befides, the value of thofe benefits which
reiult from livino; under a free State, is feldom either
acknowledged or known by any, till after they are
loft ; I mean the quiet enjoyment of their propertiesf
without fear or fufpicion, as well as the protection of
their own perfons and children, and the honour of
their wives : for no body will own that he is obliged
to another man only for doing him no wrong.

To remedy iuch diforders and inconveniencies,
therefore, as mufl naturally be occafioned by thefe
difficulties, in a State that is newly become free, the
wired, the fafefl, the mofl: efficacious and necefiTary
expedient is, to kill the fons of Brutus \ who, as hiftory
informs us, entered into a confpiracy with feveral
other voung Romans againft their country, for no
othc r reafon, but becaufe they did not enjoy fo much
authority under a Confular government, as they had
done before, under a Regal one, and thought, whilft
the generality were become free, they alone were be-
come (laves '■■•, For, whoever undertakes to govern
a people, either under a Monarchical or Republican

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