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.
that she might be assisted by his name and power in her struggle with Lombardy.  The emperor promised to come with a strong army to take part against the Visconti and to protect Florence from them, on condition that the Florentines paid him a hundred thousand ducats on his setting out, and another hundred thousand on his arrival in Italy; to which terms the Florentines agreed.  But although he then received payment of the first instalment and, afterwards, on reaching Verona, of the second, he turned back from the expedition without effecting anything, alleging as his excuse that he was stopped by certain persons who had failed to fulfil their engagements.  But if Florence had not been urged by passion or overcome by necessity, or had she read of and understood the ancient usages of the barbarians, she would neither on this, nor on many other occasions, have been deceived by them, seeing that these nations have always been of the same character, and have always, in all circumstances, and with all men alike, used the same methods.  For in ancient times we find them behaving after the same fashion to the Etruscans, who, when overpowered by the Romans, by whom they had been repeatedly routed and put to flight, perceiving that they could not stand without help, entered into a compact with the Gauls dwelling in the parts of Italy south of the Alps, to pay them a certain sum if they would unite with them in a campaign against the Romans.  But the Gauls, after taking their money, refused to arm on their behalf, alleging that they had not been paid to make war on the enemies of the Etruscans, but only to refrain from pillaging their lands.  And thus the people of Etruria, through the avarice and perfidy of the Gauls, were at once defrauded of their money and disappointed of the help which they had counted on obtaining.

From which two instances of the Etruscans in ancient times and of the Florentines in recent, we may see that barbaric races have constantly followed the same methods, and may easily draw our conclusions as to how far princes should trust them.

CHAPTER XLIV.—­That where ordinary methods fail, Hardihood and Daring often succeed.

When attacked by the Romans, the Samnites as they could not without help stand against them in the field, resolved to leave garrisons in the towns of Samnium, and to pass with their main army into Etruria, that country being then at truce with Rome, and thus ascertain whether their actual presence in arms might not move the Etruscans to renew hostilities against Rome, which they had refused to renew when invited through envoys.  During the negotiations which, on this occasion, passed between the two nations, the Samnites in explaining the chief causes that led them to take up arms, used the memorable words—­“they had risen because peace is a heavier burthen for slaves than war for freemen” In the end, partly by their persuasions, and partly by the presence of their army, they induced the Etruscans to join forces with them.

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