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.

There are many circumstances, therefore, which may force a captain to give battle contrary to his intention, among which the want of money may sometimes be one.  But this is no ground for pronouncing money to be the sinews of war, any more than those other things from the want of which men are reduced to the same necessity.  Once more, therefore, I repeat that not gold but good soldiers constitute the sinews of war.  Money, indeed, is most necessary in a secondary place; but this necessity good soldiers will always be able to supply, since it is as impossible that good soldiers should lack money, as that money by itself should secure good soldiers.  And that what I say is true is shown by countless passages in history.  When Pericles persuaded the Athenians to declare war against the whole Peloponnesus, assuring them that their dexterity, aided by their wealth, was sure to bring them off victorious, the Athenians, though for a while they prospered in this war, in the end were overpowered, the prudent counsels and good soldiers of Sparta proving more than a match for the dexterity and wealth of Athens.  But, indeed, there can be no better witness to the truth of my contention than Titus Livius himself.  For in that passage of his history wherein he discusses whether if Alexander the Great had invaded Italy, he would have succeeded in vanquishing the Romans, three things are noted by him as essential to success in war; to wit, many and good soldiers, prudent captains, and favourable fortune; and after examining whether the Romans or Alexander would have had the advantage in each of these three particulars, he arrives at his conclusion without any mention of money.

The Campanians, therefore, when asked by the Sidicinians to arm in their behalf, must have measured their strength by wealth and not by soldiers; for after declaring in their favour and suffering two defeats, to save themselves they were obliged to become tributary to Rome.

CHAPTER XI.—­That it were unwise to ally yourself a Prince who has Reputation rather than Strength.

To mark the mistake made by the Sidicinians in trusting to the protection of the Campanians, and by the Campanians in supposing themselves able to protect the Sidicinians, Titus Livius could not have expressed himself in apter words than by saying, that “the Campanians rather lent their name to the Sidicinians than furnished any substantial aid towards their defence.

Here we have to note that alliances with princes who from dwelling at a distance have no facility, or who from their own embarrassments, or from other causes, have no ability to render aid, afford rather reputation than protection to those who put their trust in them.  As was the case in our own times with the Florentines, when, in the year 1479, they were attacked by the Pope and the King of Naples.  For being friends of the French king they drew from that friendship more reputation than help.  The same would be the case with that prince who should engage in any enterprise in reliance on the Emperor Maximilian, his being one of those friendships which, in the words of our historian, nomen magis quam praesidium adferunt.

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Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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