Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 483 pages of information about Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius.

Under such circumstances the number of the inhabitants of that State could never much increase.  For as all our actions imitate nature, and it is neither natural nor possible that a puny stem should carry a great branch, so a small republic cannot assume control over cities or countries stronger than herself; or, doing so, will resemble the tree whose boughs being greater than its trunk, are supported with difficulty, and snapped by every gust of wind.  As it proved with Sparta.  For after she had spread her dominion over all the cities of Greece, no sooner did Thebes rebel than all the others rebelled likewise, and the trunk was left stripped of its boughs.  But this could not have happened with Rome, whose stem was mighty enough to bear any branch with ease.

It was, therefore, by adding to her population, and by, adopting certain other methods presently to be noticed, that Rome became so great and powerful.  And this is well expressed by Titus Livius, in the words, “Crescit interea Roma Albae ruinis.”

CHAPTER IV.—­That Commonwealths have followed three Methods for extending their Power.

Any one who has read ancient history with attention, must have observed that three methods have been used by republics for extending their power.  One of these, followed by the old Etruscans, is to form a confederation of many States, wherein none has precedence over the rest in authority or rank, and each allows the others to share its acquisitions; as do the States of the Swiss League in our days, and as the Achaians and Etolians did in Greece in earlier times.  And because the Etruscans were opposed to the Romans in many wars, that I may give a clearer notion of this method of theirs, I shall enlarge a little in my account of the Etruscan people.

In Italy, before the Romans became supreme, the Etruscans were very powerful, both by sea and land; and although we have no separate history of their affairs, we have some slight records left us of them, and some indications of their greatness.  We know, for instance, that they planted a colony, to which they gave the name of Hadria, on the coast of the upper sea; which colony became so renowned that it lent its name to the sea itself, which to this day by the Latins is called the Hadriatic.  We know, too, that their arms were obeyed from the Tiber to the foot of the mountains which enclose the greater part of the Italian peninsula; although, two hundred years before Rome grew to any great strength, they had lost their supremacy in the province now known as Lombardy, of which the French had possessed themselves.  For that people, whether driven by necessity, or attracted by the excellence of the fruits, and still more of the wine of Italy, came there under their chief, Bellovesus; and after defeating and expelling the inhabitants of the country, settled themselves therein, and there built many cities; calling the district Gallia, after the name they then bore:  and this territory they retained until they were subdued by the Romans.

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