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.

Careful consideration of this should make those who frame laws for commonwealths and kingdoms more alive to the necessity of placing restraints on men’s evil appetites, and depriving them of all hope of doing wrong with impunity.

CHAPTER XLIII.—­That Men fighting in their own Cause make good and resolute Soldiers.

From what has been touched upon above, we are also led to remark how wide is the difference between an army which, having no ground for discontent, fights in its own cause, and one which, being discontented, fights to satisfy the ambition of others.  For whereas the Romans were always victorious under the consuls, under the decemvirs they were always defeated.  This helps us to understand why it is that mercenary troops are worthless; namely, that they have no incitement to keep them true to you beyond the pittance which you pay them, which neither is nor can be a sufficient motive for such fidelity and devotion as would make them willing to die in your behalf.  But in those armies in which there exists not such an attachment towards him for whom they fight as makes them devoted to his cause, there never will be valour enough to withstand an enemy if only he be a little brave.  And since such attachment and devotion cannot be looked for from any save your own subjects, you must, if you would preserve your dominions, or maintain your commonwealth or kingdom, arm the natives of your country; as we see to have been done by all those who have achieved great things in war.

Under the decemvirs the ancient valour of the Roman soldiers had in no degree abated; yet, because they were no longer animated by the same good will, they did not exert themselves as they were wont.  But so soon as the decemvirate came to an end, and the soldiers began once more to fight as free men, the old spirit was reawakened, and, as a consequence, their enterprises, according to former usage, were brought to a successful close.

CHAPTER XLIV.—­That the Multitude is helpless without a Head:  and that we should not with the same breath threaten and ask leave.

When Virginia died by her father’s hand, the commons of Rome withdrew under arms to the Sacred Hill.  Whereupon the senate sent messengers to demand by what sanction they had deserted their commanders and assembled there in arms.  And in such reverence was the authority of the senate held, that the commons, lacking leaders, durst make no reply.  “Not,” says Titus Livius, “that they were at a loss what to answer, but because they had none to answer for them;” words which clearly show how helpless a thing is the multitude when without a head.

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