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.
no more hazardous or less useful defence than one conducted without method or system.  This is shown in Camillus causing a third army to be enrolled that it might be left in Rome for the protection of the city.  Many persons, doubtless, both then and now, would esteem this precaution superfluous, thinking that as the Romans were a warlike people and constantly under arms, there could be no occasion for a special levy, and that it was time enough to arm when the need came.  But Camillus, and any other equally prudent captain would be of the same mind, judged otherwise, not permitting the multitude to take up arms unless they were to be bound by the rules and discipline of military service.  Let him, therefore, who is called on to defend a city, taking example by Camillus, before all things avoid placing arms in the hands of an undisciplined multitude, but first of all select and enroll those whom he proposes to arm, so that they may be wholly governed by him as to where they shall assemble and whither they shall march; and then let him direct those who are not enrolled, to abide every man in his own house for its defence.  Whosoever observes this method in a city which is attacked, will be able to defend it with ease; but whosoever disregards it, and follows not the example of Camillus, shall never succeed.

CHAPTER XXXI.—­That strong Republics and valiant Men preserve through every change the same Spirit and Bearing.

Among other high sayings which our historian ascribes to Camillus, as showing of what stuff a truly great man should be made, he puts in his mouth the words, “My courage came not with my dictatorship nor went with my exile;” for by these words we are taught that a great man is constantly the same through all vicissitudes of Fortune; so that although she change, now exalting, now depressing, he remains unchanged, and retains always a mind so unmoved, and in such complete accordance with his nature as declares to all that over him Fortune has no dominion.

Very different is the behaviour of those weak-minded mortals who, puffed up and intoxicated with their success, ascribe all their felicity to virtues which they never knew, and thus grow hateful and insupportable to all around them.  Whence also the changes in their fortunes.  For whenever they have to look adversity in the face, they suddenly pass to the other extreme, becoming abject and base.  And thus it happens that feeble-minded princes, when they fall into difficulties, think rather of flight than of defence, because, having made bad use of their prosperity, they are wholly unprepared to defend themselves.

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