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.

The sum of the matter, therefore, is, that the methods followed by Valerius are useful in a prince, but pernicious in a private citizen, both for his country and for himself, for his country, because such methods pave the way to a tyranny; for himself, because his fellow-citizens, growing suspicious of his conduct, are constrained to protect themselves to his hurt.  And conversely, I maintain, that the methods of Manlius, while hurtful in a prince are useful in a citizen, and in the highest degree for his country; and, moreover, seldom give offence, unless the hatred caused by his severity be augmented by the jealousy which the fame of his other virtues inspires:  a matter now to be considered in connection with the banishment of Camillas.

CHAPTER XXIII.—­Why Camillus was banished from Rome.

It has been shown above how methods like those of Valerius are hurtful to the citizen who employs them and to his country, while methods like those of Manlius are advantageous for a man’s country, though sometimes they be hurtful to the man himself.  This is well seen in the example of Camillus, whose bearing more nearly resembled that of Manlius than that of Valerius, so that Titus Livius, in speaking of him, says, “His virtues were at once hated and admired by his soldiers.” What gained him their admiration was his care for their safety, his prudence, his magnanimity, and the good order he maintained in conducting and commanding them.  What made him hated was his being more stern to punish than bountiful to reward; and Livius instances the following circumstances as giving rise to this hatred.  First, his having applied the money got by the sale of the goods of the Veientines to public purposes, and not divided it along with the rest of the spoils.  Second, his having, on the occasion of his triumph, caused his chariot to be drawn by four white horses, seeking in his pride, men said, to make himself the equal of the sun god.  And, third, his having vowed to Apollo a tenth of the Veientine plunder, which, if he was to fulfil his vow, he had to recover from his soldiers, into whose hands it had already come.

Herein we may well and readily discern what causes tend to make a prince hateful to his people; the chief whereof is the depriving them of some advantage.  And this is a matter of much importance.  For when a man is deprived of what is in itself useful, he never forgets it, and every trifling occasion recalls it to his mind; and because such occasions recur daily, he is every day reminded of his loss.  Another error which we are here taught to guard against, is the appearing haughty and proud, than which nothing is more distasteful to a people, and most of all to a free people; for although such pride and haughtiness do them no hurt, they nevertheless hold in detestation any who display these qualities.  Every show of pride, therefore, a prince should shun as he would a rock, since to invite hatred without resulting advantage were utterly rash and futile.

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