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.
But,” said the consul, “should we remit your punishment, what sort of peace can we hope to have with you?” To which the other replied, “If granted on fair terms, a firm and lasting peace; if on unfair, a peace of brief duration.” Upon this, though many of the senators were displeased, the wiser among them declared “that they had heard the voice of freedom and manhood, and would never believe that the man or people who so spoke ought to remain longer than was needful in a position which gave them cause for shame; since that was a safe peace which was accepted willingly; whereas good faith could not be looked for where it was sought to impose servitude.” So saying, they decided that the people of Privernum should be admitted to Roman citizenship, with all the rights and privileges thereto appertaining; declaring that “men whose only thought was for freedom, were indeed worthy to be Romans.” So pleasing was this true and high answer to generous minds, while any other must have seemed at once false and shameful.  And they who judge otherwise of men, and of those men, especially, who have been used to be free, or so to think themselves, are mistaken; and are led through their mistake to adopt courses unprofitable for themselves and affording no content to others.  Whence, the frequent rebellions and the downfall of States.

But, returning to our subject, I conclude, as well from this instance of Privernum, as from the measures followed with the Latins, that when we have to pass sentence upon powerful States accustomed to live in freedom, we must either destroy them utterly, or else treat them with much indulgence; and that any other course we may take with them will be unprofitable.  But most carefully should we avoid, as of all courses the most pernicious, such half-measures as were followed by the Samnites when they had the Romans shut up in the Caudine Forks, and would not listen to the counsels of the old man who urged them either to send their captives away with every honourable attention, or else put them all to death; but adopted a middle course, and after disarming them and making them pass under the yoke, suffered them to depart at once disgraced and angered.  And no long time after, they found to their sorrow that the old man’s warning was true, and that the course they had themselves chosen was calamitous; as shall, hereafter, in its place be shown.

CHAPTER XXIV.—­That, commonly, Fortresses do much more Harm than Good

To the wise men of our day it may seem an oversight on the part of the Romans, that, when they sought to protect themselves against the men of Latium and Privernum, it never occurred to them to build strongholds in their cities to be a curb upon them, and insure their fidelity, especially when we remember the Florentine saying which these same wise men often quote, to the effect that Pisa and other like cities must be held

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