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.

Nevertheless, not to leave the question entirely open, I say, that for a citizen living under a republic, I think the conduct of Manlius more deserving of praise and less dangerous in its consequences.  For methods like his tend only to the public good and in no way subserve private ends.  He who shows himself harsh and stern at all times and to all men alike, and is seen to care only for the common welfare, will never gain himself partisans, since this is not the way to win personal friends, to whom, as I said before, the name of partisans is given.  For a republic, therefore, no line of conduct could be more useful or more to be desired than this, because in following it the public interest is not neglected, and no room is given to suspect personal ambition.

But the contrary holds as to the methods followed by Valerius.  For though the public service they render be the same, misgivings must needs arise that the personal good-will which, in the course of a prolonged command, a captain obtains from his soldiers, may lead to consequences fatal to the public liberty.  And if this was not found to happen in the case of Valerius, it was because the minds of the Roman people were not yet corrupted, and because they had never remained for a long time and continuously under his command.

Had we, however, like Xenophon, to consider what is most for the interest of a prince, we should have to give up Manlius and hold by Valerius; for, undoubtedly, a prince should strive to gain the love of his soldiers and subjects, as well as their obedience.  The latter he can secure by discipline and by his reputation for valour.  But for the former he will be indebted to his affability, kindliness, gentleness, and all those other like qualities which were possessed by Valerius, and which are described by Xenophon as existing in Cyrus.  That a prince should be personally loved and have his army wholly devoted to him is consistent with the character of his government; but that this should happen to a person of private station does not consist with his position as a citizen who has to live in conformity with the laws and in subordination to the magistrates.  We read in the early annals of the Venetian Republic, that once, on the return of the fleet, a dispute broke out between the sailors and the people, resulting in tumults and armed violence which neither the efforts of the public officers, the respect felt for particular citizens, nor the authority of the magistrates could quell.  But on a certain gentleman, who the year before had been in command of these sailors, showing himself among them, straightway, from the love they bore him, they submitted to his authority and withdrew from the fray.  Which deference on their part aroused such jealousy and suspicion in the minds of the Venetian senators that very soon after they got rid of this gentleman, either by death or exile.

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