The city of Pistoja, as I have said already in connection with another matter, was won over to the Florentine republic by no other artifice than this. For the town being split by factions, the Florentines, by now favouring one side and now the other, without incurring the suspicions of either, brought both to such extremities that, wearied out with their harassed life, they threw themselves at last of their own accord into the arms of Florence. The city of Siena, again, has never made any change in her government which has had the support of the Florentines, save when that support has been slight and insignificant; for whenever the interference of Florence has been marked and decided, it has had the effect of uniting all parties in support of things as they stood.
One other instance I shall add to those already given. Oftener than once Filippo Visconti, duke of Milan, relying on their divisions, set wars on foot against the Florentines, and always without success; so that, in lamenting over these failures, he was wont to complain that the mad humours of the Florentines had cost him two millions of gold, without his having anything to show for it. The Veientines and Etruscans, therefore, as I have said already, were misled by false hopes, and in the end were routed by the Romans in a single pitched battle; and any who should look hereafter to prevail on like grounds and by similar means against a divided people, will always find themselves deceived.
To abstain from threats and injurious language, is, methinks, one of the wisest precautions a man can use. For abuse and menace take nothing from the strength of an adversary; the latter only making him more cautious, while the former inflames his hatred against you, and leads him to consider more diligently how he may cause you hurt.
This is seen from the example of the Veientines, of whom I spoke in the last Chapter, who, to the injury of war against the Romans, added those verbal injuries from which all prudent commanders should compel their soldiers to refrain. For these are injuries which stir and kindle your enemy to vengeance, and yet, as has been said, in no way disable him from doing you hurt; so that, in truth, they are weapons which wound those who use them. Of this we find a notable instance in Asia, in connection with the siege of Amida. For Gabade, the Persian general, after besieging this town for a great while, wearied out at last by its protracted defence, determined on withdrawing his army; and had actually begun to strike his camp, when the whole inhabitants of the place, elated by their success, came out upon the walls to taunt and upbraid their enemies with their cowardice and meanness of spirit, and to load them with every kind of abuse. Stung by these insults, Gabade, changing his resolution,