When I consider how much honor is attributed to antiquity, and how many times, not to mention many other examples, a fragment of an antique statue has been bought at a great price in order to have it near to one, honoring his house, being able to have it imitated by those who delight in those arts, and how they then strive with all industry to present them in all their work: and when I see, on the other hand, the works of greatest virtu which Historians indicate have been accomplished by ancient Kingdoms and Republics, by Kings, Captains, Citizens, Lawgivers, and others who have worked themselves hard for their country, to be more readily admired than imitated, or rather so much neglected by everyone in every respect that no sign of that ancient virtu remains, I cannot otherwise than wonder and at the same time be sad: and so much more when I see in the civil differences that arise between Citizens, or in the maladies which men incur, they always have recourses to those judgments or to those remedies that have been judged or instituted by the ancients. For the civil laws are nothing else but the decisions given by the ancient Jurisconsults, which reduced to a system presently teach our Jurisconsults to judge and also what is medicine if not the experience had by the ancient Doctors, (and) on which the present Doctors base their judgments? None the less in the instituting of Republics, in maintaining of States, in the governing of Kingdoms, in organizing an army and conducting a war, in (giving) judgment for Subjects, in expanding the Empire, there will not be found either Prince, or Republic, or Captain, or Citizen, who has recourse to the examples of the ancients. Which I am persuaded arises not so much from the weakness to which the present education has brought the world, or from that evil which an ambitious indolence has created in many Christian Provinces and Cities, than from not having a real understanding of history, and from not drawing that (real) sense from its reading, or benefiting from the spirit which is contained in it. whence it arises that they who read take infinitely more pleasure in knowing the variety of incidents that are contained in them, without ever thinking of imitating them, believing the imitation not only difficult, but impossible: as if heaven, the sun, the elements, and men should have changed the order of their motions and power, from what they were anciently. Wanting, therefore, to draw men from this error, I have judged it necessary to write upon all those books of Titus Livy which, because of the malignity of the times, have been prevented (from coming to us), in order that I might judge by comparing ancient and modern events what is necessary for their better understanding, so that those who may read these Discourses of mine may be able to derive that usefulness for which the understanding of History ought to be sought. And although this enterprise may be difficult, none the less, aided by those who have advised me to begin carrying this load, I believe I can carry it so that there will remain for others a short way to bring it to its destined place (end). . . .
OF THE KINDS OF REPUBLICS THERE ARE, AND OF WHICH WAS THE ROMAN REPUBLIC
I want to place aside the discussion of those cities that had their beginning subject to others, and I will talk of those which have had their beginning far removed from any external servitude, but which (were) initially governed themselves through their own will, either as Republics or as Principalities; which have had (as diverse origins) diverse laws and institutions. For to some, at the beginning or very soon after, their laws were given to them by one (man) and all at one time, as those which were given to the Spartans by Lycurgus: Some have received them by chance, and at several times, according to events, as Rome did. So that a Republic can be called fortunate which by chance has a man so prudent, who gives her laws so ordered that without having need of correcting them, she can live securely under them. And it is seen that Sparta observed hers (laws) for more than eight hundred years without changing them and without any dangerous disturbance: and on the contrary that City has some degree of unhappiness which (not having fallen to a prudent lawmaker) is compelled to reorganize her laws by herself. And she also is more unhappy which has diverged more from her institutions; and that (Republic) is even further from them whose laws lead her away from perfect and true ends entirely outside of the right path; for to those who are in that condition it is almost impossible that by some incident they be set aright. Those others which do not have a perfect constitution, but had made a good beginning, are capable of becoming better, and can become perfect through the occurrence of events. It is very true, however, that they have never been reformed without danger, for the greater number of men never agree to a new law which contemplates a new order for the City, unless the necessity that needs be accomplished is shown to them: and as this necessity cannot arise without some peril, it is an easy thing for the Republic to be ruined before it can be brought to a more perfect constitution. The Republic of Florence gives a proof of this, which because of the incident of Arezzo in (the year) one thousand five hundred and two (1502) was reorganized, (and) it was disorganized by that of Prato in (the year) one thousand five hundred and twelve (1512).
Wanting therefore to discourse on what were the institutions of the City of Rome and what events brought her to her perfection, I say, that some who have written of Republics say there are (one of) three States (governments) in them called by them Principality (Monarchy), of the Best (Aristocracy), and Popular (Democracy), and that those men who institute (laws) in a City ought to turn to one of these, according as it seems fit to them. Some others (and wiser according to the opinion of many) believe there are six kinds of Governments, of which those are very bad, and those are good in themselves, but may be so easily corrupted that they also become pernicious. Those that are good are three mentioned above: those that are bad, are three others which derive from those (first three), and each is so similar to them that they easily jump from one to the other, for the Principality easily becomes a tyranny, autocracy easily become State of the Few (oligarchies), and the Popular (Democracy) without difficulty is converted into a licentious one (anarchy). So much so that an organizer of a Republic institutes one of those three States (governments) in a City, he institutes it for only a short time, because there is no remedy which can prevent them from degenerating into their opposite kind, because of the resemblance that virtu and vice have in this instance.
These variations in government among men are born by chance, for at the beginning of the world the inhabitants were few, (and) lived for a time dispersed and like beasts: later as the generations multiplied they gathered together, and in order to be able better to defend themselves they began to seek among themselves the one who was most robust and of greater courage, and made him their head and obeyed him. From this there arose the knowledge of honest and good things; differentiating them from the pernicious and evil; for seeing one man harm his benefactor there arose hate and compassion between men, censuring the ingrates and honoring those who were grateful, and believing also that these same injuries could be done to them, to avoid like evils they were led to make laws, and institute punishments for those who should contravene them; whence came the cognition of justice. Which thing later caused them to select a Prince, not seeking the most stalwart but he who was more prudent and more just. But afterwards when they began to make the Prince by succession and not by election, the heirs quickly degenerated from their fathers, and leaving off from works of virtu they believed that Princes should have nothing else to do than surpass others in sumptuousness and lasciviousness and in every other kind of delight. So that the Prince began to be hated, and because of this hate he began to fear, and passing therefore from fear to injury, a tyranny quickly arose. From this there arose the beginnings of the ruin and conspiracies; and these conspiracies against the Prince were not made by weak and timid men, but by those who because of their generosity, greatness of spirit, riches, and nobility above the others, could not endure the dishonest life of that prince.
The multitude therefore following the authority of these powerful ones armed itself against the Prince, and having destroyed him, they obeyed them as their liberators. And these holding the name of chief in hatred, constituted a government by themselves, and in the beginning (having in mind the past tyranny) governed themselves according to the laws instituted by them, preferring every common usefulness to their conveniences, and governed and preserved private and public affairs with the greatest diligence. This administration later was handed down to their children, who not knowing the changeability of fortune (for) never having experienced bad (fortune), and not wanting to remain content with civil equality, they turned to avarice, ambition, violation of women, caused that aristocratic government (of the Best) to become an oligarchic government (of the Few) regardless of all civil rights: so that in a short time the same thing happened to them as it did to the Tyrant, for the multitude disgusted with their government, placed itself under the orders of whoever would in any way plan to attack those Governors, and thus there arose some one who, with the aid of the multitude, destroyed them. And the memory of the Prince and the injuries received from him being yet fresh (and) having destroyed the oligarchic state (of the Few), and not wanting to restore that of the Prince, the (people) turned to the Popular state (Democracy) and they organized that in such a way, that neither the powerful Few nor a Prince should have any authority. And because all States in the beginning receive some reverence, this Popular State maintained itself for a short time, but not for long, especially when that generation that had organized it was extinguished, for they quickly came to that license where neither private men or public men were feared: this was such that every one living in his own way, a thousand injuries were inflicted every day: so that constrained by necessity either through the suggestion of some good man, or to escape from such license, they once again turn to a Principality; and from this step by step they return to that license both in the manner and for the causes mentioned (previously).
And this is the circle in which all the Republics are governed and will eventually be governed; but rarely do they return to the same (original) governments: for almost no Republic can have so long a life as to be able often to pass through these changes and remain on its feet. But it may well happen that in the troubles besetting a Republic always lacking counsel and strength, it will become subject to a neighboring state which may be better organized than itself: but assuming this does not happen, a Republic would be apt to revolve indefinitely among these governments. I say therefore that all the (previously) mentioned forms are inferior because of the brevity of the existence of those three that are good, and of the malignity of those three that are bad. So that those who make laws prudently having recognized the defects of each, (and) avoiding every one of these forms by itself alone, they selected one (form) that should partake of all, they judging it to be more firm and stable, because when there is in the same City (government) a Principality, an Aristocracy, and a Popular Government (Democracy), one watches the other.
Among those who have merited more praise for having similar constitutions is Lycurgus, who so established his laws in Sparta, that in giving parts to the King, the Aristocracy, and the People, made a state that endured more than eight hundred years, with great praise to himself and tranquillity to that City. The contrary happened to Solon who established the laws in Athens, (and) who by establishing only the Popular (Democratic) state, he gave it such a brief existence that before he died he saw arise the tyranny of Pisistratus: and although after forty years his (the tyrants) heirs were driven out and liberty returned to Athens, for the Popular state was restored according to the ordinances of Solon, it did not last more than a hundred years, yet in order that it be maintained many conventions were made by which the insolence of the nobles and the general licentiousness were suppressed, which had not been considered by Solon: none the less because he did not mix it (Popular state) with the power of the Principate and with that of the Aristocracy, Athens lived a very short time as compared to Sparta.
But let us come to Rome, which, notwithstanding that it did not have a Lycurgus who so established it in the beginning that she was not able to exist free for a long time, none the less so many were the incidents that arose in that City because of the disunion that existed between the Plebs and the Senate, so that what the legislator did not do, chance did. For, if Rome did not attain top fortune, it attained the second; if the first institutions were defective, none the less they did not deviate from the straight path which would lead them to perfection, for Romulus and all the other Kings made many and good laws, all conforming to a free existence. But because their objective was to found a Kingdom and not a Republic, when that City became free she lacked many things that were necessary to be established in favor of liberty, which had not been established by those Kings. And although those Kings lost their Empire for the reasons and in the manner discussed, none the less those who drove them out quickly instituted two Consuls who should be in the place of the King, (and) so it happened that while the name (of King) was driven from Rome, the royal power was not; so that the Consuls and the Senate existed in forms mentioned above, that is the Principate and the Aristocracy. There remained only to make a place for Popular government for the reasons to be mentioned below, the people rose against them: so that in order not to lose everything, (the Nobility) was constrained to concede a part of its power to them, and on the other hand the Senate and the Consuls remained with so much authority that they were able to keep their rank in that Republic. And thus was born (the creation) of the Tribunes of the plebs, after which creation the government of that Republic came to be more stable, having a part of all those forms of government. And so favorable was fortune to them that although they passed from a Monarchial government and from an Aristocracy to one of the People (Democracy), by those same degrees and for the same reasons that were discussed above, none the less the Royal form was never entirely taken away to give authority to the Aristocracy, nor was all the authority of the Aristocrats diminished in order to give it to the People, but it remained shared (between the three) it made the Republic perfect: which perfection resulted from the disunion of the Plebs and the Senate, as we shall discuss at length in the next following chapters. . . .
OF THE RELIGIONS OF THE ROMANS
Although Rome had Romulus as its original organizer and, like a daughter, owed her birth and education to him, none the less the heavens, judging that the institutions of Romulus were not sufficient for so great an Empire, put it into the breasts of the Roman Senate to elect Numa Pompilius as successor to Romulus, so that those things that he had omitted, would be instituted by Numa. Who, finding a very ferocious people and wanting to reduce them to civil obedience by the acts of peace, turned to religion as something completely necessary in wanting to maintain a civilization, and he established it in such a manner that for many centuries there never was more fear of God than in that Republic, which facilitated any enterprise which the Senate or those of great Roman men should plan to do. And whoever should discuss the infinite actions of the people of Rome (taken) all together, and of many Romans (individually) by themselves, will see that those citizens feared much more the breaking of an oath than the laws, like those men who esteem more the power of God than that of man, as is manifestly seen in the examples of Scipio and of Manlius Torquatus, for after the defeat that Hannibal had inflicted on the Romans at Cannae, many citizens had gathered together (and) frightened and fearful (and) had agreed to abandon Italy and take themselves to Sicily: when Scipio heard of this, he went to meet them, and with bared sword in hand he constrained them to swear not to abandon their country. Lucius Manlius, father of Titus Manlius, who was later called Torquatus, had been accused by Marcus Pomponius, a Tribune of the Plebs: and before the day of judgment arrived, Titus went to meet Marcus, and threatening to kill him if he did not swear to withdraw the accusation against his father, constrained him to swear, and he (Marcus) from fear of having sworn withdrew the accusation from him (Lucius). And thus those citizens whom (neither) the love of their country and of its laws could keep in Italy, were kept there by an oath that they were forced to take, and the Tribune put aside the hatred that he had for his father, the injury that his son had done him, and his honor, in order to obey the oath taken; which did not result from anything else than from that religion which Numa had introduced in that City. And whoever considers well Roman history will see how much Religion served in commanding the armies, in reuniting the plebs, both in keeping men good, and in making the wicked ashamed. So that if it were discussed as to which Prince Rome should be more obligated, Romulus or Numa, I believe that Numa would (rather) attain the higher rank; for where Religion exists it is easily possible to introduce arms, but where there are arms and not religion, it (religion) can only be introduced there with difficulty. And it is seen that for Romulus to institute the Senate and to make the other civil and military arrangements, the authority of God was not necessary, but it was very necessary for Numa, who pretended he had met with a Nymph who advised him of that which he should counsel the people; and all this resulted because he wanted to introduce new ordinances and institutions in that City, and was apprehensive that his authority was not enough. And truly there never was any extraordinary institutor of laws among a people who did not have recourse to God, because otherwise he would not have been accepted; for they (these laws) are very well known by prudent men, but which by themselves do not contain evident reasons capable of persuading others. Wise men who want to remove this difficulty, therefore, have recourse to God. Thus did Lycurgus, thus Solon, thus many others who had the same aims as they.
The Roman people, therefore, admiring his (Numa's) goodness and prudence, yielded to his every decision. It is indeed true that those times were full of Religion, and those men with whom he (Numa) had to work were coarse (which) gave him great facility to pursue his designs, being able easily to impress upon them any new form. And without doubt whoever should want to establish a Republic in the present era, would find it more easy to do so among men of the mountains where there is no civilization, than among those who are used to living in the City, where civilization is corrupt, as a sculptor more easily extracts a beautiful statue from crude marble than of one badly sketched out by others. Considering all this I conclude therefore, that the Religion introduced by Numa was among the chief reasons for the felicity of that City, for it caused good ordinances, good ordinances make good fortune, and from good fortune there arises the happy successes of the enterprises. And as the observance of divine institutions is the cause of the greatness of Republics, so the contempt of it is the cause of their ruin, for where the fear of God is lacking it will happen that that kingdom will be ruined or that it will be sustained through fear of a Prince, which may supply the want of Religion. And because Princes are short lived, it will happen that that Kingdom will easily fall as he (Prince) fails in virtu. Whence it results that Kingdoms which depend solely on the virtu of one man, are not durable for long, because that virtu fails with the life of that man, and it rarely happens that it is renewed in (his) successor, as Dante prudently says:
Rarely there descends from the branches (father to son) Human probity, and this is the will (of the one) who gives it, because it is asked alone from him.
The welfare of a Republic or a Kingdom, therefore, is not in having a Prince who governs prudently while he lives, but one who organizes it in a way that, if he should die, it will still maintain itself. And although crude men are more easily persuaded by new ordinances and opinions, yet it is not impossible because of this to persuade civilized men, (and) who presume themselves not to be crude. The people of Florence did not seem either crude or ignorant, none the less Brother Girolamo Savonarola was persuaded that he talked with God. I do not want to judge whether that was true or not, because one ought not to talk of so great a man except with reverence. But I may well say that an infinite (number) believed him without they having seen anything extraordinary which would make them believe, because his life, the doctrine, the subjects he took up were sufficient to make them have faith. Let no one be dismayed, therefore, if he is not able to attain that which had been attained by others, for men (as was said in our preface) are born, live, and die, always in the same way.
THE MULTITUDE IS WISER AND MORE CONSTANT THAN A PRINCE
I say, therefore, the individual men, and especially Princes, can be accused of that defect which the writers accuse the multitudes; for anyone who is not controlled by the laws, will make the same errors as a loose multitude. And this can be easily observed, for there are and there have been many Princes, but of the good and wise ones there have been only a few, I say, of those Princes who have been able to break that restraint which could control them; among whom are not those Kings who arose in Egypt in that ancient period when that province was governed by laws, nor those who arose in Sparta, nor those who have risen in France in our times, which Kingdom is more regulated by laws than any other Kingdom of our times of which there is knowledge. And these Kingdoms which arise under such constitutions are not to be placed in that number whence the nature of each man individually has to be considered, and to see if he is like the multitude; for alongside them there ought to be placed a multitude controlled by laws in the same way as they (the Kings) were, and the same goodness will be found in them as we see in (the Kings), and we will see that they serve neither haughtily nor humbly; as was the Roman People, who while the Republic remained incorrupt, never served humbly or ruled insolently, but rather with its institutions and Magistracies held its rank honorably. And when it was necessary to spring up against a powerful one who was harming them, they did so, as was seen with Manlius and the Ten, and others who sought to oppress them; and so also when it was necessary for the public safety to obey the Dictators and Consuls. And if the Roman People desired Manlius Capitolinus after his death, it is not to be wondered at, for they desired his virtu, which had been such that the memory of them brought compassion to everyone, and would have had the power to cause that same result in any Prince, for it is the verdict of all writers that virtu is lauded and admired even in ones enemies: and if so much desire could have restored him, the Roman people would have given him the same judgment as they did when they took him from prison, a little before they condemned him to death: and as was also seen of Princes held to be wise, who have had some persons put to death and then greatly regretted it, as Alexander with Clitus and his other friends, and Herod with Mariamne: But that which our Historian says of the nature of the multitude, he does not say of those who were regulated by laws, such as were the Romans, but of an unbridled multitude, as was that of Syracuse, which made those errors which infuriated and unbridled men make, and as Alexander and Herod did in the abovementioned cases.
The nature of the multitude, therefore, is not to be blamed any more than that of Princes, for they all err equally when they all are able to err without control. Of which, in addition to what I have said, there are many examples, both from among the Roman Emperors and from among other Tyrants and Princes, where so much inconstancy and recklessness of life is observed, as is ever found in any multitude. I conclude therefore, contrary to the common opinion which says that the People, when they are Princes, are changeable and ungrateful, affirming that there are no more of these defects in them than there are in particular Princes: And to accuse the People and the Princes together can be the truth; but to except the Princes would be a deception: For a People that commands and is well organized will be stable, prudent, grateful, and not otherwise than a Prince, or even better than a Prince, although he be esteemed wise. And on the other hand, a Prince loosened from the (control) of the laws, will be ungrateful, inconstant, and more imprudent than a people. And that difference in their proceedings arises, not from the different nature, ((for it is the same in everyone, and if there is an advantage for good, it is in the People)) but from the more or less respect they have for the laws under which one and the other live. And whoever considers the Roman people will see that for four hundred years they have been enemies of the name of Royalty and lovers of glory and of the common good of their country: He will see so many examples employed by them which testify to the one thing and the other. And if anyone should allege to me the ingratitude that they (the Roman people) showed against Scipio, I will reply that which was discussed above at length on this subject, where it has been shown that people are less ungrateful than Princes. But as to prudence and stability, I say, that a people is more prudent, more stable, and of better judgment than a Prince: And not without reason is the voice of the people like that of God, for a universal opinion is seen causes marvelous effects in its prognostication, so that it would seem that by some hidden virtu, evil or good is foreseen. As to the judging of things, it is rarely seen that when they hear two speakers who hold opposite views, if they are of equal virtu, they do not take up the the better opinion, and they are capable of seeing the truth in what they hear. And if ((as has been said above)) they err in things concerning bravery, or which appear useful, a Prince also errs many times in his own passions, which are much greater than those of the people. It will also be seen that in the election of their magistrates, they make by far a better selection than a Prince, but a people will never be persuaded that it is better to bring to that dignity a man of infamous and corrupt habits: to which a Prince may be persuaded easily and in a thousand ways. It will be seen that when a people begin to hold a thing in horror, they remain in that opinion for many centuries, which is not seen in a Prince. And on both of these two things, the testimony of the Roman people will suffice for me, who, in so many hundreds of years, in so many elections of Consuls and Tribunes, they did not make four elections of which they had to repent. And ((as I have said)) they held the name of Royalty in so much hatred, that no obligation to any of its Citizens who should seize that title would enable him to escape the merited penalty. In addition to this, it will be seen that the Cities where the people are Princes, make the greatest progress in the shortest time and much greater than those who have always been under a Prince, as Rome did after the driving out of the Kings, and Athens did after they were free of Pisistratus. Which cannot arise except that those governments of the people are better than those of the Princes.
Nor do I want that there should be opposed to my opinion all that which our Historian has said in the aforementioned text and in any other; for if there should be discussed all the disorders of the People, all the disorders of the Princes, all the glories of the People, all those of the Princes, it will be seen that the People are far superior in goodness and in glory. And if Princes are superior to the people in instituting laws, forming civil governments, make new statutes and ordinances, the People are so much superior in maintaining the institutions which will add to the glory of those who established them.
And in sum to epilogue this material, I say that the States of the Princes have lasted a long time, the States of the Republics have lasted a long time, and both have had need to be regulated by laws; for a Prince who can do what he wants is a madman, and a People which can do as it wants to is not wise. If, therefore, discussion is to be had of a Prince obligated by laws, and of a People unobligated by them, more virtu will be observed in the People than in Princes: if the discussion is to be had of both loosened (from such control), fewer errors will be observed in the People than in the Princes, and those that are fewer have the greater remedies: For a licentious and tumultuous People can be talked to by a good man, and can easily be returned to the good path: (but) there is no one who can talk to a Prince, nor is there any other remedy but steel (sword). From which the conjecture can be made of the maladies of the one and the other: that if words are enough to cure the malady of the People, and that of the Prince needs the sword, there will never be anyone who will not judge that where the greater cure is required, they are where the greater errors exist. When a People is indeed unbridled, the foolishness that they do is not to be feared, nor is fear to be had of the present malady, but of that which can arise, a Tyrant being able to rise up amidst so much confusion. But the contrary happens in the case of bad Princes, where the present evil is feared, and there is hope for the future, men persuading themselves that the (termination) of their lives can make liberty spring up. Thus the difference between the one and the other is seen, that one concerns things that are, the other of things that will be. The cruelties of the multitude are (directed) against those whom they fear will oppose the common good, those of a Prince are (directed) against those whom he fears will oppose his own good. But the opinion against the People arises because everyone speaks evil of the people freely and without fear even while they reign; of the Princes they talk with a thousand fears and a thousand apprehensions. And it does not appear to me to be outside this subject ((for this matter draws me there)) to discuss in the following chapter whether alliances made with a Republic, or those made with a Prince, can be trusted.
WITH WHAT PEOPLE THE ROMANS HAD TO COMBAT,
AND HOW OBSTINATELY THEY DEFENDED THEIR LIBERTY
Nothing caused so much hard work for the Romans as the overcoming of the surrounding people and part of the distant Provinces, as the love many people in those times had for liberty; which they so obstinately defended but they would never have been subjugated except for the excessive virtu (of the Romans). For, from many examples, it is known into what dangers they placed themselves in order to maintain or recover (their liberty), and what vengeance they practiced against those who had deprived them of it. It is also to be learned from the lessons of history what injury the people and the City received from such servitude. And, while in these times there is only one Province of which it can be said has in it free Cities, in ancient times in all the Provinces there existed many free people. It will be seen that in those times of which we speak at present, there were in Italy, from the Alps ((which now divide Tuscany from Lombardy)) up to the furthest (part) in Italy, many free peoples, such as were the Tuscans, the Romans, the Samnites, and many other people, who inhabited the remaining part of Italy. Nor is there ever any discussion whether there was any King outside those who reigned in Rome, and Porsenna, King of Tuscany, whose line was extinguished in a manner of which history does not speak. But it is indeed seen that in those times when the Romans went to besiege Veii, Tuscany was free, and so much did it enjoy its liberty and so hated the title of Prince, that when the Veientians created a King for the defense of Veii, and requested aid of the Tuscans against the Romans, they decided, after much consultation, not to give aid to the Veientians as long as they lived under the King, judging it not to be good to defend the country of those who already had subjected themselves to others. And it is easy to understand whence this affection arises in a people to live free, for it is seen from experience that Cities never increased either in dominion or wealth except while they had been free. And truly it is a marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Athens had arrived in the space of a hundred years after she had freed herself from the tyranny of Pisistratus. But above all, it is a more marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Rome arrived after it liberated itself from its Kings. The cause is easy to understand, for not the individual good, but the common good is what makes Cities great. And, without doubt, this common good is not observed except in Republics, because everything is done which makes for their benefit, and if it should turn to harm this or that individual, those for whom the said good is done are so many, that they can carry on against the interests of those few who should be harmed. The contrary happens when there is a Prince, where much of the time what he does for himself harms the City, and what is done for the City harms him. So that soon there arises a Tyranny over a free society, the least evil which results to that City is for it not to progress further, nor to grow further in power or wealth, but most of the times it rather happens that it turns backward. And if chance should cause that a Tyrant of virtu should spring up, who by his courage and virtu at arms expands his dominion, no usefulness would result to the Republic but only to be himself; for he cannot honor any of those citizens who are valiant and good over whom he tyrannizes, as he does not want to have to suspect them. Nor also can he subject those Cities which he acquires or make them tributary to the City of which he is the Tyrant, because he does not help himself in making them powerful, but it will help him greatly in keeping the State disunited, so that each town and each province should recognize him. So that he alone, and not his country, profits from his acquisitions. And whoever should want to confirm this opinion with infinite other arguments, let him read Xenophon's treatise which he wrote on Tyranny.
It is no wonder, therefore, that the ancient people should have persecuted the Tyrants with so much hatred and should have loved living in freedom, and the name of Liberty so much esteemed by them; as happened when Hieronymus, nephew of Hiero the Syracusan, was killed in Syracuse; that when the news of his death came to his army, which was not very far from Syracuse, they at first begun to raise a tumult and take up arms against his killers; but when they heard that there was shouting of liberty in Syracuse, attracted by the name everyone became quiet, their ire against the Tyrannicides was quelled, and they thought of how a free government could be established in that City. It is also no wonder that the people took extraordinary vengeance against those who deprived them of liberty. Of which there have been many examples, but I intend to refer only to one which happened in Corcyra, a City of Greece, in the times of the Peloponnesian war, where, the Province being divided into two factions, of which the Athenians followed one, the Spartans the other, there arose then among the many other Cities a division among themselves, some following (the friendship of) Sparta, the the others (of) Athens: and it happened in the said City (Corcyra) that the nobles had prevailed and had taken away the liberty from the people; the populari (popular party) with the aid of the Athenians recovered its power, and, having laid hands on the nobility, put them into a prison capable of holding all of them; from which they took out eight or ten at one time under a pretext of sending them into exile in different places, but put them to death with (examples of) extreme cruelties. When the remainder became aware of this, they resolved if possible to escape that ignominious death, and arming themselves as (best) as they could, they fought with those who attempted to enter and defended the entrance to the prison; but when the people came together at this noise, they pulled down the upper part of that place, and suffocated them in the ruins. Many other similar notable and horrible cases occurred in the said Province, so that it is seen to be true that liberty is avenged with great energy when it is taken away than when it is only threatened (to be taken).
In thinking, therefore, of whence it should happen that in those ancient times the people were greater lovers of Liberty than in these times, I believe it results from the same reason which makes men presently less strong, which I believe is the difference between our education and that of the ancients, founded on the difference between our Religion and the ancients. For, as our Religion shows the truth and the true way (of life), it causes us to esteem less the honors of the world: while the Gentiles (Pagans) esteeming them greatly, and having placed the highest good in them, were more ferocious in their actions. Which can be observed from many of their institutions, beginning with the magnificence of their sacrifices (as compared) to the humility of ours, in which there is some pomp more delicate than magnificent, but no ferocious or energetic actions. Theirs did not lack pomp and magnificence of ceremony, but there was added the action of sacrifice full of blood and ferocity, the killing of many animals, which sight being terrible it rendered the men like unto it. In addition to this, the ancient Religion did not beatify men except those full of worldly glory, such as were the Captains of armies and Princes of Republics. Our Religion has glorified more humble and contemplative men rather than men of action. It also places the highest good in humility, lowliness, and contempt of human things: the other places it in the greatness of soul, the strength of body, and all the other things which make men very brave. And, if our Religion requires that there be strength (of soul) in you, it desires that you be more adept at suffering than in achieving great deeds.
This mode of living appears to me, therefore, to have rendered the world weak and a prey to wicked men, who can manage it securely, seeing that the great body of men, in order to go to Paradise, think more of enduring their beatings than in avenging them. And although it appears that the World has become effeminate and Heaven disarmed, yet this arises without doubt more from the baseness of men who have interpreted our Religion in accordance with Indolence and not in accordance with Virtu. For if they were to consider that it (our Religion) permits the exaltation and defense of the country, they would see that it desires that we love and honor her (our country), and that we prepare ourselves so that we can be able to defend her. This education and false interpretations, therefore, are the cause that in the world as many Republics are not seen in them that the people have as much love for liberty now as at that time. I believe, however, the reason for this rather to be, that the Roman Empire with its arms and greatness destroyed all the Republics and all civil institutions. And although that Empire was later dissolved, yet these Cities could not reunite themselves, nor reorganize their civil institutions, except in a very few places in that Empire.