Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 420 pages of information about Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius.

That these floods, plagues, and famines do in fact happen, I see no reason to doubt, both because we find all histories full of them, and recognize their effect in this oblivion of the past, and also because it is reasonable that such things should happen.  For as when much superfluous matter has gathered in simple bodies, nature makes repeated efforts to remove and purge it away, thereby promoting the health of these bodies, so likewise as regards that composite body the human race, when every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove elsewhere, every region being equally crowded and over-peopled, and when human craft and wickedness have reached their highest pitch, it must needs come about that the world will purge herself in one or another of these three ways, to the end that men, becoming few and contrite, may amend their lives and live with more convenience.

Etruria, then, as has been said above, was at one time powerful, abounding in piety and valour, practising her own customs, and speaking her own tongue; but all this was effaced by the power of Rome, so that, as I have observed already, nothing is left of her but the memory of a name.

CHAPTER VI.—­Of the Methods followed by the Romans in making War.

Having treated of the methods followed by the Romans for increasing their power, we shall now go on to consider those which they used in making war; and in all they did we shall find how wisely they turned aside from the common path in order to render their progress to supreme greatness easy.

Whosoever makes war, whether from policy or ambition, means to acquire and to hold what he acquires, and to carry on the war he has undertaken in such a manner that it shall enrich and not impoverish his native country and State.  It is necessary, therefore, whether for acquiring or holding, to consider how cost may be avoided, and everything done most advantageously for the public welfare.  But whoever would effect all this, must take the course and follow the methods of the Romans; which consisted, first of all, in making their wars, as the French say, great and short.  For entering the field with strong armies, they brought to a speedy conclusion whatever wars they had with the Latins, the Samnites, or the Etruscans.

And if we take note of all the wars in which they were engaged, from the foundation of their city down to the siege of Veii, all will be seen to have been quickly ended some in twenty, some in ten, and some in no more than six days.  And this was their wont:  So soon as war was declared they would go forth with their armies to meet the enemy and at once deliver battle.  The enemy, on being routed, to save their country from pillage, very soon came to terms, when the Romans would take from them certain portions of their territory.  These they either assigned to particular persons, or made the seat of

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