Discourses on Livy Book II
Category: Ideas
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Niccolo Machiavelli was a Renassiasance philosopher, diplomat and historian. He often wrote texts on political theory, such as The Prince, in which he explored the role and actual power of a prince. In Discourse on Livy Book II, he discusses the Roman Empire. Did Fortune or Virtue account for the great empire the Romans built? He discusses the people the Romans battled with to acquire their realm and the importance of republics. Read the great philosopher's honest thoughts on the Roman Empire.

Discourses on Livy

Niccolò Machiavelli

Second Book

Discourses on Livy Book II

Chapter I:
Whether Virtu or Fortune Was the Greater Cause for the Empire Which the Romans Acquired

Many (authors), among whom is that most serious writer Plutarch, have had the opinion that the Roman people in acquiring the Empire were favored more by Fortune than by Virtu. And among other reasons which he cities, he says that, by the admission of that people, it can be shown that they ascribed all their victories to Fortune, as they had built more temples to Fortune than to any other God. And it seems that Livius joined in this opinion, for he rarely makes any Roman speak where he recounts (of) Virtu, without adding Fortune. Which thing I do not in any way agree with, nor do I believe also that it can be sustained. For if no other Republic will ever be found which has made the progress that Rome had, then I note that no Republic will ever be found which has been organized to be able to make such conquests as Rome. For it was the virtu of the armies that enabled her to acquire that Empire; and the order of proceeding and her own institutions founded by her first Legislator that enabled her to maintain the acquisitions, as will be narrated below in further discussion.

These (authors) also say that the fact of not ever engaging in two most important wars at the same time was due to the fortune and not the virtu of the Roman people; for they did riot engage in war with the Latins until they had so beaten the Samnites that the Romans had to engage in a war in defense of them: They did not combat with the Tuscans until they first subjugated the Latins, and had by frequent defeats almost completely enervated the Samnites: So that if these two powers had joined together ((while they were fresh)), without doubt it can easily be conjectured that the ruin of the Roman Republic would have ensued.

But however this thing may have been, it never did happen that they engaged in two most powerful wars at the same time; rather it appeared always that at the beginning of one the other would be extinguished, or in extinguishing one another would arise. Which is easily seen from the succession of wars engaged in by them; for, leaving aside the one they were engaged in before Rome was taken by the French (Gauls), it is seen that while they fought against the Equii and the Volscians, no other people ((while these people were powerful)) rose up against them. When these were subdued there arose the war against the Samnites, and although before that war was ended the Latin people rebelled against the Romans with their armies in subduing the insolence of the Latins. When these were subdued, the war against the Samnites sprung up again.

When the Samnites were beaten through the many defeats inflicted on their forces, there arose the war against the Tuscans; which being composed, the Samnites again rose up when Pyrrhus crossed over into Italy, and as soon as he was beaten and driven back to Greece, the first war with the Carthaginians was kindled: and that war was hardly finished when all the Gauls from all sides of the Alps conspired against the Romans, but they were defeated with the greatest massacre between Popolonia and Pisa where the tower of San Vincenti stands today. After this war was finished, they did not have any war of much importance for a space of twenty years, for they did not fight with any others except the Ligurians and the remnants of the Gauls who were in Lombardy. And thus they remained until there arose the second Carthaginian war, which kept Italy occupied for sixteen years. When this war ended with the greatest glory, there arose the Macedonian war; (and) after this was finished there came that of Antiochus and Asia. After this victory, there did not remain in all the world either a Prince or a Republic that could, by itself or all together, oppose the Roman forces.

But whoever examines the succession of these wars, prior to that last victory, and the manner in which they were conducted, will see mixed with Fortune a very great Virtu and Prudence. So that if one should examine the cause of that (good) fortune, he will easily find it, for it is a most certain thing that as a Prince or a People arrives at so great a reputation, that any neighboring Princes or Peoples by themselves are afraid to assault him, and he has no fear of them, it will always happen that none of them will ever assault him except from necessity; so that it will almost be at the election of that powerful one to make war upon any of those neighbors as appears (advantageous) to him, and to quiet the others by his industry. These are quieted easily in part because they have respect for his power, and in part because they are deceived by those means which he used to put them to sleep: and other powerful ones who are distant and have no commerce with him, will look upon this as a remote thing which does not pertain to them. In which error they remain until the conflagration arrives next to them, for which, when it comes, they have no remedy to extinguish it except with their own forces, which then will not be enough as he has become most powerful.

I will leave to one side how the Samnites remained to see the Volscians and the Equii conquered by the Romans, and so as not to be too prolix I will make use of the Carthaginians who were of great power and of great reputation when the Romans were fighting with the Samnites and Tuscans; for they already held all Africa, Sardinia and Sicily, and had dominion in part of Spain. Which power of theirs, together with their being distant from the confines of the Roman people, caused them never to think of assaulting them, nor of succoring the Samnites and Tuscans; rather it made them do as is done in any power that grows, allying themselves with them (the Romans) in their favor and seeking their friendship. Nor did they see before this error was made, that the Romans having subdued all the peoples (placed) between them and the Carthaginians, begun to combat them for the Empire of Sicily and Spain. The same thing happened to the Gauls as to the Carthaginians, and also to Philip King of Macedonia and to Antiochus; and everyone of them believed ((while the Roman people were occupied with others)) that the others would overcome them, and then it would be time either by peace or war to defend themselves from (the Romans). So that I believe that the (good) Fortune which the Romans had in these parts would be had by all those Princes who would proceed as the Romans and who would have that same Virtu as they had.

It would be well here in connection with this subject to show the course held by Roman people in entering the Provinces of others, of which we have talked about at length in our treatment of Principalities (Treatise on the Prince), for there we have debated this matter widely. I will only say this briefly, that they have always endeavored to have some friend in these new provinces who should be as a ladder or door to let them climb in, both to let them enter and as a means of keeping it; as was seen, that by means of the Capuans they entered Samnium, by means of the Camertines into Tuscany, by the Mamertines into Sicily, by the Saguntines into Spain, by Massinissa into Africa, by the Aetolians into Greece, by Eumences and other Princes into Asia, and by the Massilians and the Aeduans into Gaul. And thus they never lacked similar supports, both in order to be able to facilitate their enterprises of their acquiring provinces and in holding them. Which those people who observed them saw that they had less need of Fortune, than those people who do not make good observers. And so as to enable everyone to know better how much more Virtu enabled them to acquire that Empire than did Fortune, in the following chapter we will discuss the kind of people they had to combat and how obstinate they were in defending their liberty.

Chapter II:
With What People the Romans Had to Combat, and How Obstinately They Defended Their Liberty

Nothing caused so much hard work for the Romans as the overcoming of the surrounding people and part of the distant Provinces, as the love many people in those times had for liberty; which they so obstinately defended but they would never have been subjugated except for the excessive virtu (of the Romans). For, from many examples, it is known into what dangers they placed themselves in order to maintain or recover (their liberty), and what vengeance they practiced against those who had deprived them of it. It is also to be learned from the lessons of history what injury the people and the City received from such servitude. And, while in these times there is only one Province of which it can be said has in it free Cities, in ancient times in all the Provinces there existed many free people. It will be seen that in those times of which we speak at present, there were in Italy, from the Alps ((which now divide Tuscany from Lombardy)) up to the furthest (part) in Italy, many free peoples, such as were the Tuscans, the Romans, the Samnites, and many other people, who inhabited the remaining part of Italy.

Nor is there ever any discussion whether there was any King outside those who reigned in Rome, and Porsenna, King of Tuscany, whose line was extinguished in a manner of which history does not speak. But it is indeed seen that in those times when the Romans went to besiege Veii, Tuscany was free, and so much did it enjoy its liberty and so hated the title of Prince, that when the Veientians created a King for the defense of Veii, and requested aid of the Tuscans against the Romans, they decided, after much consultation, not to give aid to the Veientians as long as they lived under the King, judging it not to be good to defend the country of those who already had subjected themselves to others. And it is easy to understand whence this affection arises in a people to live free, for it is seen from experience that Cities never increased either in dominion or wealth except while they had been free.

And truly it is a marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Athens had arrived in the space of a hundred years after she had freed herself from the tyranny of Pisistratus. But above all, it is a more marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Rome arrived after it liberated itself from its Kings. The cause is easy to understand, for not the individual good, but the common good is what makes Cities great. And, without doubt, this common good is not observed except in Republics, because everything is done which makes for their benefit, and if it should turn to harm this or that individual, those for whom the said good is done are so many, that they can carry on against the interests of those few who should be harmed. The contrary happens when there is a Prince, where much of the time what he does for himself harms the City, and what is done for the City harms him.

So that soon there arises a Tyranny over a free society, the least evil which results to that City is for it not to progress further, nor to grow further in power or wealth, but most of the times it rather happens that it turns backward. And if chance should cause that a Tyrant of virtu should spring up, who by his courage and virtu at arms expands his dominion, no usefulness would result to the Republic but only to be himself; for he cannot honor any of those citizens who are valiant and good over whom he tyrannizes, as he does not want to have to suspect them. Nor also can he subject those Cities which he acquires or make them tributary to the City of which he is the Tyrant, because he does not help himself in making them powerful, but it will help him greatly in keeping the State disunited, so that each town and each province should recognize him. So that he alone, and not his country, profits from his acquisitions. And whoever should want to confirm this opinion with infinite other arguments, let him read Xenophon’s treatise which he wrote on Tyranny.

It is no wonder, therefore, that the ancient people should have persecuted the Tyrants with so much hatred and should have loved living in freedom, and the name of Liberty so much esteemed by them; as happened when Hieronymus, nephew of Hiero the Syracusan, was killed in Syracuse; that when the news of his death came to his army, which was not very far from Syracuse, they at first begun to raise a tumult and take up arms against his killers; but when they heard that there was shouting of liberty in Syracuse, attracted by the name everyone became quiet, their ire against the Tyrannicides was quelled, and they thought of how a free government could be established in that City.

It is also no wonder that the people took extraordinary vengeance against those who deprived them of liberty. Of which there have been many examples, but I intend to refer only to one which happened in Corcyra, a City of Greece, in the times of the Peloponnesian war, where, the Province being divided into two factions, of which the Athenians followed one, the Spartans the other, there arose then among the many other Cities a division among themselves, some following (the friendship of) Sparta, the the others (of) Athens: and it happened in the said City (Corcyra) that the nobles had prevailed and had taken away the liberty from the people; the populari (popular party) with the aid of the Athenians recovered its power, and, having laid hands on the nobility, put them into a prison capable of holding all of them; from which they took out eight or ten at one time under a pretext of sending them into exile in different places, but put them to death with (examples of) extreme cruelties.

When the remainder became aware of this, they resolved if possible to escape that ignominious death, and arming themselves as (best) as they could, they fought with those who attempted to enter and defended the entrance to the prison; but when the people came together at this noise, they pulled down the upper part of that place, and suffocated them in the ruins. Many other similar notable and horrible cases occurred in the said Province, so that it is seen to be true that liberty is avenged with great energy when it is taken away than when it is only threatened (to be taken).

In thinking, therefore, of whence it should happen that in those ancient times the people were greater lovers of Liberty than in these times, I believe it results from the same reason which makes men presently less strong, which I believe is the difference between our education and that of the ancients, founded on the difference between our Religion and the ancients. For, as our Religion shows the truth and the true way (of life), it causes us to esteem less the honors of the world: while the Gentiles (Pagans) esteeming them greatly, and having placed the highest good in them, were more ferocious in their actions. Which can be observed from many of their institutions, beginning with the magnificence of their sacrifices (as compared) to the humility of ours, in which there is some pomp more delicate than magnificent, but no ferocious or energetic actions.

Theirs did not lack pomp and magnificence of ceremony, but there was added the action of sacrifice full of blood and ferocity, the killing of many animals, which sight being terrible it rendered the men like unto it. In addition to this, the ancient Religion did not beatify men except those full of worldly glory, such as were the Captains of armies and Princes of Republics. Our Religion has glorified more humble and contemplative men rather than men of action. It also places the highest good in humility, lowliness, and contempt of human things: the other places it in the greatness of soul, the strength of body, and all the other things which make men very brave. And, if our Religion requires that there be strength (of soul) in you, it desires that you be more adept at suffering than in achieving great deeds.

This mode of living appears to me, therefore, to have rendered the world weak and a prey to wicked men, who can manage it securely, seeing that the great body of men, in order to go to Paradise, think more of enduring their beatings than in avenging them. And although it appears that the World has become effeminate and Heaven disarmed, yet this arises without doubt more from the baseness of men who have interpreted our Religion in accordance with Indolence and not in accordance with Virtu. For if they were to consider that it (our Religion) permits the exaltation and defense of the country, they would see that it desires that we love and honor her (our country), and that we prepare ourselves so that we can be able to defend her. This education and false interpretations, therefore, are the cause that in the world as many Republics are not seen in them that the people have as much love for liberty now as at that time. I believe, however, the reason for this rather to be, that the Roman Empire with its arms and greatness destroyed all the Republics and all civil institutions. And although that Empire was later dissolved, yet these Cities could not reunite themselves, nor reorganize their civil institutions, except in a very few places in that Empire.

But however it was, the Romans found a conspiracy in every smallest part of the world of Republics very well armed and most obstinate in the defense of their liberty. Which shows that the Roman people could never have overcome them without that rare and extreme virtu. And to give an example of one instance, the example of the Samnites suffices for me, which seems to be a marvelous one. And T. Livius admits that these (people) were so powerful and their arms so valiant, that, up to the time of the Consul Papirus Cursor, son of the first Papirus, for a period of forty-six years, they were able to resist the Romans, despite the many defeats, destruction of Towns, and massacres suffered by their country. Especially as it is now seen that that country where there were so many Cities and so many men, is now almost uninhabited: and yet it was so well established and so powerful, that it was unconquerable except by Roman virtu.

And it is an easy thing whence that order and disorder proceeded, for it all comes from their then living in freedom and now living in servitude. For all the towns and provinces which are free in every way ((as was said above)) make the greatest advances. For here greater populations are seen because marriages are more free and more desired by men, because everyone willingly procreates those children that he believes he is able to raise without being apprehensive that their patrimony will be taken away, and to know that they are not only born free and not slaves, but are also able through their own virtu to become Princes. They will see wealth multiplied more rapidly, both that which comes from the culture (of the soil) and that which comes from the arts, for everyone willingly multiplies those things and seek to acquire those goods whose acquisition he believes he can enjoy.

Whence it results that men competing for both private and public betterment, both come to increase in a wondrous manner. The contrary of all these things happens in those countries which live in servitude, and the more the good customs are lacking, the more rigorous is the servitude. And the hardest of all servitudes is that of being subject to a Republic: the one, because it is more enduring and the possibility of escaping from it is missing: the other, because the final aim of a Republic is to enervate and weaken ((in order to increase its own power)) all the other states. Which a Prince who subjugates you does not do unless that Prince is some barbarous Prince, a destroyer of countries and dissipater of all human civilization, such as are oriental Princes: But if he has ordinary human feelings in him, most of the times he will love equally the Cities subject to him, and will leave them (enjoy) all their arts, and almost all their ancient institutions. So that if they cannot grow as if they were free, they will not be ruined even in servitude; servitude being understood as that in which Cities serve a foreigner, for of that to one of their own Citizens, we have spoken above.

Whoever considers, therefore, all that which has been said, will not marvel at the power which the Samnites had while they were free, and at the weakness to which they came afterwards under servitude: and T. Livius gives testimony of this in many places, and mainly in the war with Hannibal, where he shows that when the Samnites were pressed by a legion of (Romans) who were at Nola, they sent Orators (Ambassadors) to Hannibal to beg him to succor them. Who in their speech said to him that for a hundred years they had combatted the Romans with their own soldiers and their own Captains, and many times had sustained (battle against) two consular armies and two Consuls; but now they had arrived at such baseness that they were hardly able to defend themselves against the small Roman legion which was at Nola.

Chapter III:
Rome Became a Great City by Ruining the Surrounding Cities and Admitting Foreigners Easily to Her Honors

Crescit interea Roma Albae ruinis. (Rome grew on the ruins of Alba) Those who plan for a City to achieve great Empire ought with all industry to endeavor to make it full of inhabitants, for without this abundance of men, one can never succeed in making a City great. This is done in two ways, by love and by force. Through love, by keeping the ways open and secure for foreigners who should plan to come to live there. Through force, by destroying the neighboring Cities and sending their inhabitants to live in your City. Which was so greatly observed by Rome, that in the time of the sixth King of Rome, that there lived there eighty thousand men capable of bearing arms. For the Romans wanted to act according to the custom of the good cultivator, who, in order to make a plant grow and able to produce and mature its fruits, cuts off the first branches that it puts out, so that by retaining that virtu in the roots of that plant, they can in time grow more green and more fruitful.

And that this method of aggrandizing and creating an Empire was necessary and good, is shown by the example of Sparta and Athens; which two Republics although well armed and regulated by excellent laws, none the less did not attain to the greatness of the Roman Empire, and Rome appeared more tumultuous and not as well regulated as those others. No other reason can be adduced for this than that mentioned above; for Rome, from having enlarged the population of the City in both those two ways, was enabled to put two hundred thousand men under arms, while Sparta and Athens were never able (to raise) twenty thousand each. Which resulted not from the site of Rome being more favorable than those of the other, but solely from the different mode of procedure.

For Lycurgus, founder of the Spartan Republic, thinking that nothing could more easily dissolve its laws than the admixture of new inhabitants, did everything (he could) so that foreigners would not come to them; and in addition to not receiving them into their citizenship by marriage, and other commerce that makes men come together, ordered that in that Republic of his only leather money should be spent, in order to take away from everyone the desire to come there in order to bring in merchandise or some arts: of a kind so that the City could never increase its inhabitants. And because all our actions imitate nature, it is neither possible nor natural that a slender trunk should sustain a big branch.

A small Republic, therefore, cannot conquer Cities or Republics which are larger and more valiant than it; and if it does conquer them, it happens then to them as to that tree that has its branches bigger than its trunk, which sustains it only with great effort with every little breeze that blows; such as is seen happened in Sparta, which had conquered all the Cities of Greece, but as soon as Thebes rebelled, all the others rebelled, and the trunk remained alone without branches. Which could not have happened to Rome, as it had its trunk so big that it could sustain any branch. This mode of proceeding therefore, together with others which will be mentioned below, made Rome great and most powerful. Which T. Livius points out in two (few) words, when he said: Rome grew while Alba was ruined.

Chapter IV:
Republics Have Had Three Ways of Expanding

Whoever has studied the ancient histories finds that Republics had three ways of expanding. One has been that which the ancient Tuscans observed, of being one league of many united Republics, where there is not any one before the other either in authority or in rank. And in acquiring other Cities they made them associates of themselves, as in a similar way the Swiss do in these times, and as the Achaens and Aetolians did in ancient times in Greece. And as the Romans had many wars with the Tuscans ((in order to illustrate better the first method)) I will extend myself in giving a particular account of them. Before the Roman Empire, the Tuscans were the most powerful people in Italy, both on land and on the sea, and although there is no particular history of their affairs, yet there is some small record and some signs of their greatness; and it is known that they sent a colony to the sea, above (north of) them, which they called Adria, which was so noble that it gave a name to that sea which the Latins also called the Adriatic.

It is also known that their arms (authority) was obeyed from the Tiber up to the foot of the Alps which now encircle the greater part of Italy; notwithstanding that two hundred years before the Romans became so powerful that the said Tuscans lost the Dominion of that country which today is called Lombardy: which province had been seized by the Gauls, who, moved either by necessity or the sweetness of the fruits, and especially of the wine, came into Italy under their leader Bellovesus, and having defeated and driven out the inhabitants of the province, they settled there where they built many cities, and they called that Province Gallia from the name they themselves had, which they kept until they were subjugated by the Romans. The Tuscans, then, lived in that equality and proceeded in their expansion through the first method which was mentioned above: and there were twelve Cities, among which were Clusium, Veii, Fiesole, Arezzo, Volterra, and others like them, which through a league governed their Empire; nor could they go outside of Italy with their acquisitions, a great part of which still remained intact (independent), for the reasons which will be mentioned below.

The other method is to make them associates; not so closely, however, that the position of commanding the seat of the Empire and the right of sovereignty should not remain with you; which method was observed by the Romans. The third method is to make subjects of them immediately and not associates, as did the Spartans and Athenians. Of which three methods this last is entirely useless as is seen was the case in the above mentioned two Republics, which were ruined for no other reason than from having acquired that dominion which they were unable to maintain. For to undertake the governing of Cities by violence, especially those which were accustomed to living in freedom, is a difficult and wearisome thing. And unless you are armed, and powerfully armed, you cannot either command or rule them.

And to want to be thus established, it is necessary to make associates of them who would help in increasing the population of your City. And as these two Cities (Sparta and Athens) did not do either the one or the other, their method of procedure was useless. And because Rome, which is an example of the second method, did both things, she therefore rose to such exceeding power. And as she had been the only one to act thusly, so too she had been the only one to become so powerful; for she had created many associates throughout all Italy, who lived with them in many respects equally under the law, but on the other hand ((as I said above)) she always reserved for herself the seat of Empire and the right of command, so that these associates of hers came ((without their being aware of it)) through their own efforts and blood to subjugate themselves.

For as soon as they begun to go beyond Italy with their armies to reduce other Kingdoms to Provinces, and to make for themselves subjects of those who, having been accustomed to live under Kings, did not care to be subjects, and from having Roman governors, and having been conquered by armies under Roman command, they recognized no one to be superior other than the Romans. So that those associates of Rome (who were) in Italy found themselves suddenly surrounded by Roman subjects and pressed by a very large City like Rome: and when they understood the deceit under which they had lived they were not in time to remedy it, for Rome had achieved so much authority with the (acquisition) of the external provinces, and so much power was to be found within themselves, the City having become greatly populated and well armed.

And although these associates of hers conspired against her in order to avenge the injuries inflicted on them, they were defeated (in war) in a short time, worsening their condition; for from being associates they too became their subjects. This method of proceeding ((as has been said)) had been observed only by the Romans; and a Republic which wants to aggrandize itself cannot have any other method, for experience has not shown anything else more certain and more true.

The fore-mentioned method of creating Leagues, such as were the Tuscans, Achaians, and the Aetolians, and as are the Swiss today, is, after that of the Romans, the better method; for with it, it is not possible to expand greatly, but two benefits ensue: the one, that they are not easily drawn into war: the other, that that which you take you can easily hold. The reason they are not able to expand is that Republics are not united and have their seats in several places, which makes it difficult for them to consult and decide. It also makes them undesirous of dominating, for, as many Communities participating in that dominion, they do not value much such acquisitions as does a single Republic which hopes to enjoy it entirely by itself. In addition to this they are governed by a council, and it follows that they are tardier in every decision than those which come from those who live in the same circle.

It is also seen from experience that such methods of procedure have a fixed limit, of which there is no example which indicates it has ever been transgressed; and this (limit) is the addition of twelve or fourteen communities, beyond which they cannot go, and as their defending themselves appears to them to be difficult they do not seek greater dominion, as much because necessity does not constrain them to have more power, as well as for not recognizing any usefulness in further acquisitions for the reason mentioned above: for they have to do one of two things: either to continue making additional associates for themselves, as this multitude would cause confusion, or they would have to make them subjects to themselves.

And as they see the difficulty of this, and little usefulness in maintaining it, they see no value in it. When, therefore, they are come to such a great number that it appears to them they can live securely, they turn to two things: the one, to take up the protection of others who seek it, and by this means obtain money from each one, and which they can readily distribute among themselves: the other, is to become soldiers for others and accept a stipend from this Prince or that, who hires them for undertaking his enterprises, as is seen the Swiss do these days, and as one reads was done by the above mentioned ones.

Of which Titus Livius gives testimony, where he tells of Philip, King of Macedon, coming to negotiate with Titus Quintus Flaminius, and discussing the accord in the presence of a Praetor of the Aetolians, the said Praetor in coming to talk with him, was by him reprimanded for avarice and infidelity, saying that the Aetolians were not ashamed to enlist in the military service for one, and then also send their men into the service of the enemy, so that many times the Aetolian ensigns were seen among the two opposing armies. We see, therefore, that this method of proceeding through leagues has always been the same, and has had the same results. It is also seen that the method of making (them) subjects has always been ineffective and to have produced little profit: and when they had carried this method too far, they were soon ruined. And if this method of making subjects is useless in armed Republics, it is even more useless in those which are unarmed, as the Republics of Italy have been in our times.

It is to be recognized, therefore, that the Romans had the certain method, which is so much more admirable as there was no example before Rome, and there has been no one who has imitated them since Rome. And as to leagues, only the Swiss and the league of Swabia are found to be the only ones which imitated them. And finally of this matter it will be said, so many institutions observed by Rome, pertinent to the events both internal as well as external, have not only not been imitated in our times, but have not been taken into account, being judged by some not to be true, by some impossible, by some not applicable and useless. So that by remaining in this ignorance we (Italy) are prey to anyone who has wanted to rule this province.

But if the imitation of the Romans appeared difficult, that the ancient Tuscans ought not to appear so, especially by the present Tuscans. For if they could not acquire that power in Italy, which that method of procedure would have given them, they lived in security for a long time, with very much glory of Dominion and arms, and especially praise for their customs and Religion. Which power and glory was first diminished by the Gauls, and afterwards extinguished by the Romans: and was so completely extinguished, that, although two thousand years ago the power of the Tuscans was great, at present there is almost no memory. Which thing has made me think whence this oblivion of things arises, as will be discussed in the following chapter.

Chapter V:
That the Changes of Sects and Languages, Together With the Accident of Deluges and Pestilence, Extinguished the Memory of Things

To those Philosophers who hold that the World has existed from eternity, I believe it is possible to reply, that, if such great antiquity was true, it would be reasonable that there should be some record of more than five thousand years, except it is seen that the records of those times have been destroyed from diverse causes: of which some were acts of men, some of Heaven. Those that are acts of men are the changes of the sects (religion) and of languages. Because, when a new sect springs up, that is, a new Religion, the first effort is ((in order to give itself reputation)) to extinguish the old; and if it happens that the establishers of the new sect are of different languages, they extinguish it (the old) easily.

Which thing is known by observing the method which the Christian Religion employed against the Gentile (heathen) sect, which has cancelled all its institutions, all of its ceremonies, and extinguished every record of that ancient Theology. It is true that they did not succeed in entirely extinguishing the records of the things done by their excellent men, which has resulted from their having maintained the Latin language, which was done by force, having to write this new law in it. For if they could have written it in a new language, considering the other persecutions they suffered, none of the past events would have been recorded. And whoever reads the methods used by Saint Gregory and the other Heads of the Christian Religion, will see with what obstinacy they persecuted all the ancient memorials, burning the works of the Poets and Historians, ruining statues, and despoiling everything else that gave any sign of antiquity. So that, if to this persecution they had added a new language, it would have been seen that in a very brief time everything (previous) would have been forgotten.

It is to be believed, therefore, that that which the Christian Religion wanted to do against the Gentile sect, the Gentiles did against that which preceded them. And as these sects changed two or three times in five or six thousand years, all memory of things done before that time are lost. And if, however, some signs of it were left, it would be considered a fabulous thing, and not to be given credence: as happened with the history of Diodorus Siculus, who although he gives account of forty or fifty thousand years, none the less it is reputed ((as I believe it is )) a mendacious thing.

As to the causes that come from Heaven, they are those that extinguish the human race and reduce the inhabitants of parts of the world to a very few. And this results either from pestilence, or famine, or from an inundation of water; and the last is the most important, as much because it is the most universal, as because those who are saved are men of the mountains and rugged, who, not having any knowledge of antiquity, cannot leave it to posterity. And if among them there should be saved one who should have this knowledge, he would hide it or pervert it in his own way in order to create a reputation and name for himself; so that there remains to his successors only what he wanted to write, and nothing else.

And that these inundations, pestilences, and famines, occur, I do not believe there is any doubt, not only because all histories are full of them, but also because the effects of these oblivious things are seen, and because it appears reasonable they should be; For in nature as in simple bodies, when there is an accumulation of much superfluous matter, it very often moves by itself and makes a purgation which is healthy to that body; and so it happens in this compound body of the human race, that when all the provinces are full of inhabitants so that they cannot live or go elsewhere in order to occupy and fill up all places, and when human astuteness and malignity has gone as far as they can go, it happens of necessity that the world purges itself in one of the three ways, so that men having been chastised and reduced in number, live more commodiously and become better. Tuscany, then, was once powerful, as was said above, full of Religion and Virtu had its own customs and its own national language; all of which was extinguished by the Roman power. So that ((as was said)) nothing remained of it but the memory of its name.

Chapter VI:
How the Romans Proceeded in Making War

Having discussed how the Romans proceeded in their expansion, we will now discuss how they proceeded in making war, and it will be seen with how much prudence they deviated in all the actions from the universal methods of others, in order to make their road to supreme greatness easy. The intention of whoever makes war, whether by election or from ambition, is to acquire and maintain the acquisition, and to proceed in such a way so as to enrich themselves and not to impoverish the (conquered) country and his own country. It is necessary, therefore, both in the acquisition and in the maintenance, to take care not to spend (too much), rather to do everything for the usefulness of his people.

Whoever wants to do all these things must hold to the Roman conduct and method, which was first to make the war short and sharp, as the French say, for corning into the field with large armies, they dispatched all the wars they had with the Latins, Samnites, and Tuscans, in the briefest time. And if all those things they did from the beginning of Rome up to the siege of the Veienti were to be noted, it will be seen that they were all dispatched some in six, some in ten, some in twenty days; for this was their usage. As soon as war broke out, they went out with the armies to meet the enemy and quickly came to the engagement.

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