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.
witnessed a few years ago in the case of the Venetians, whose city, had it not been girdled by the sea, must then have found its end.  In France, indeed, a like result has not been seen so often, she being so great a kingdom as to have few enemies mightier than herself.  Nevertheless, when the English invaded France in the year 1513, the whole kingdom tottered; and the King himself, as well as every one else, had to own that a single defeat might have cost him his dominions.

But with the Romans the reverse of all this took place.  For the nearer an enemy approached Rome, the more completely he found her armed for resistance; and accordingly we see that on the occasion of Hannibal’s invasion of Italy, the Romans, after three defeats, and after the slaughter of so many of their captains and soldiers, were still able, not merely to withstand the invader, but even, in the end, to come off victorious.  This we may ascribe to the heart being well guarded, while the extremities were but little heeded.  For the strength of Rome rested on the Roman people themselves, on the Latin league, on the confederate towns of Italy, and on her colonies, from all of which sources she drew so numerous an army, as enabled her to subdue the whole world and to keep it in subjection.

The truth of what I say may be further seen from the question put by Hanno the Carthaginian to the messengers sent to Carthage by Hannibal after his victory at Cannae.  For when these were vaunting the achievements of Hannibal, they were asked by Hanno whether any one had come forward on behalf of the Romans to propose terms of peace, and whether any town of the Latin league or of the colonized districts had revolted from the Romans.  And when to both inquiries the envoys answered, “No,” Hanno observed that the war was no nearer an end than on the day it was begun.

We can understand, therefore, as well from what has now been said, as from what I have often said before, how great a difference there is between the methods followed by the republics of the present times, and those followed by the republics of antiquity; and why it is that we see every day astounding losses alternate with extraordinary gains.  For where men are weak, Fortune shows herself strong; and because she changes, States and Governments change with her; and will continue to change, until some one arise, who, following reverently the example of the ancients, shall so control her, that she shall not have opportunity with every revolution of the sun to display anew the greatness of her power.

CHAPTER XXXI.—­Of the Danger of trusting banished Men.

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