ON THE FIRST TEN BOOKS OF TITUS
Summary prepared by John Sloan
Table of Contents
Chapter One Of the beginning of cities in general, and
especially that of the city of Rome.
Chapter Two On different types of republics, especially
Chapter Three The creation of tribunes in Rome; which
made the republic more perfect.
Chapter Four The disunion of the senate and the people
made Rome powerful and free.
Chapter Five To whom can the guardianship of liberty more
safely be confided, the nobles or the people?
Chapter Six Was it possible to establish in Rome a
government capable of putting an end to the enmities existing between the
nobles and the people?
Chapter Seven How necessary the faculty of accusation is
in a republic to maintain liberty.
Chapter Eight In proportion
as accusations are useful in a republic, so are calumnies pernicious.
Chapter Nine To found a new republic, or to reform
entirely the old institutions of an existing one, must be the work of one man
Chapter Ten In proportion as the founders of a republic or
monarchy are entitled to praise, so do the founders of a tyranny deserve
Chapter Eleven Of the religion of the Romans.
Chapter Twelve The importance of giving religion a
prominent influence in a state, and how Italy was ruined because she failed in
this respect through the conduct of the church of Rome.
Chapter Thirteen How the Romans availed of religion to
preserve order in their city, and to carry out their enterprises and suppress
Chapter Fourteen The Romans interpreted the auspices
according to necessity, and very wisely made show of observing religion.
Chapter Fifteen How the Samnites resorted to religion
as an extreme remedy for their desperate condition..
Chapter Sixteen A people that has been accustomed to
live under a prince preserves its liberties with difficulty, if by accident it
has become free.
Chapter Seventeen A corrupt people that becomes free
can with greatest difficulty maintain its liberty.
Chapter Eighteen Who in a corrupt state a free
government may be maintained, assuming that one exists already, and how it
could be introduced if none had previously existed..
Chapter Nineteen If an able and vigorous prince is
succeeded by a feeble one.
Chapter Twenty Two continuous successions of able and
virtuous princes will achieve great results.
Chapter Twenty-one Princes and republics who fail to
have national armies are much to be blamed.
Chapter Twenty-two What we should note in the case of
the three Roman Horatii and the Alban Curatii.
Chapter Twenty-three One should never risk one's
whole fortune unless supported by one's entire forces.
Chapter Twenty-four Well-ordered republics establish
punishments and rewards for thier citizens.
Chapter Twenty-five Whoever wishes to reform an
existing government in a free state should at least preserve the semblance of
the old forms.
Chapter Twenty-six A new prince in a city or
province conquered by him should organize everything anew.
Chapter Twenty-seven Showing that men are very
rarely either entirely good or bad.
Chapter Twenty-eight Why Rome was less ungrateful
to her citizens than Athens.
Chapter Twenty-nine Which of the two is more
ungrateful, a people or a prince.
Chapter Thirty How princes and republics should act to
avoid the vice of ingratitude.
Chapter Thirty-one Showing that the Roman generals
were never severely punished for any faults they committed.
Chapter Thirty-two A republic or prince should not
defer securing the good will of the people.
Chapter Thirty-three When an evil has sprung up it
is safer to temporize with it rather than to attack it violently.
Chapter Thirty-four It is the authority which men
usurp, and not that which is given them freely, that is dangerous to civil
Chapter Thirty-five The reason the creation of
theDecemvirs in Rome was injurious to liberty.
Chapter Thirty-six Citizens who have been honored
with high office should not disdain less important ones.
Chapter Thirty-seven The troubles that resulted in
Rome from the Agrarian law.
Chapter Thirty-eight Febble republics are
Chapter Thirty-nine The same accidents often happen
to different peoples.
Chapter Forty Of the creation of the Decemvirs in Rome.
Chapter Forty-one It is imprudent and unprofitable
suddenly to change from humility to pride, or from gentleness to cruelty.
Chapter Forty-two How easily men may be corrupted.
Chapter Forty-three Only those who fight for their
own glory are good and loyal soldiers.
Chapter Forty-four A multitude without a chief is
Chapter Forty-five It is a bad example not to observe
Chapter Forty-six Men rise from one ambition to
Chapter Forty-seven Although men are apt to deceive
themselves in general matters, yet they rarely do so in particulars.
Chapter Forty-eight On preventing an important
office from being conferred on a wicked individual.
Chapter Forty-nine Cities born in servitude find it
impossible to make laws to preserve liberties.
Chapter Fifty No council or official should have the
power to stop public business.
Chapter Fifty-one A republic or prince must feign to
do of their own liberality that to which necessity compels them.
Chapter Fifty-two On repressing the insolence of an
Chapter Fifty-three How by the delusions of seeming
good the people are often misled to desire their own ruin.
Chapter Fifty-four How much influence a great man has
in restraining an excited multitude.
Chapter Fifty-five Public affairs are easily managed
in a city where the people are not corrupt.
Chapter Fifty-six Important events are generally
preceded by signs and portents.
Chapter Fifty-seven The people as a body are
courageous, but individually they are cowardly and feeble.
Chapter Fifty-eight The people are wiser and more
constant than princes.
Chapter Fifty-nine Leagues and alliances with
republics are more to be trusted than those with princes.
Chapter Sixty How Rome gave offices without regard to age
of the officials.
Chapter One The greatness of the Romans was due more to
their valor and ability than to good fortune.
Chapter Two Rome's enemies and how they defended their
Chapter Three Rome became great by ruining her neighbors
and freely admitting strangers into citizenship.
Chapter Four The ancient republics employed three
different methods for aggrandizing themselves.
Chapter Five How the historical record is destroyed by
Chapter Six How the Romans conducted war.
Chapter Seven The Roman practice of colonization.
Chapter Eight Why people emigrate.
Chapter Nine What causes war between sovereigns.
Chapter Ten Money is not the sinews of war.
Chapter Eleven It is not wise to form an alliance with a
prince that has more reputation than power.
Chapter Twelve Is it better to await an attack at home
or carry the war into the enemy's country?
Chapter Thirteen Cunning and deceit are more effective
than than force.
Chapter Fourteen Men often deceive themselves by
believing that humility can overcome insolence.
Chapter Fifteen Feeblestates are always undecided in
Chapter Sixteen How modern military systems differ from
those of the ancients.
Chapter Seventeen On the value of artillery in modern
Chapter Eighteen We should value infantry more than
Chapter Nineteen Conquests made by republics not
suited to rule them will lead to ruin rather than advancement.
Chapter Twenty The dangers from employing auxillary or
Chapter Twenty-one On the first praetor sent by Rome
Chapter Twenty-two Men frequently make erroneous
judgements on important matters.
Chapter Twenty-three How the Romans avoided taking
Chapter Twenty-four Fortresses are generally more
injurious than useful.
Chapter Twenty-five It is an error to attempt to
take advantage of internal dissensions in a city.
Chapter Twenty-six Contempt and insults generate
hatred without being of any advantage.
Chapter Twenty-seven Wise princes and republics
should be content with victory and not aim for more.
Chapter Twenty-eight It is dangerous not to avenge
a public or private injury.
Chapter Twenty-nine Fortune blinds men when she does
not wish them to oppose her.
Chapter Thirty The truely powerful do not purchase
alliances by money, but by valor and reputation of their armies.
Chapter Thirty-one It is dangerous to trust the word
Chapter Thirty-two The methods used by Romans to
Chapter Thirty-three The Romans gave great
independence of authority to their generals.
Chapter One To maintain long existance republics and
religions bodies must return often to original purposes.
Chapter Two At times it may be the highest wisdom to
Chapter Three To preserve their new liberty the Romans
had to execute the sons of Brutus.
Chapter Four A prince cannot live securely as long as
those he overthrew remain alive.
Chapter Five On the causes of kings losing their thrones.
Chapter Six On conspiracies.
Chapter Seven Why transitions in government are
sometimes bloody and sometimes not.
Chapter Eight Whoever wishes to change a government
should first consider well the existing conditions.
Chapter Nine To achieve constant success one must change
his conduct with the times.
Chapter Ten A general cannot avoid battle when the enemy
is set on it at all costs.
Chapter Eleven One may prevail even against many
enemies, if he can resist their first attacks.
Chapter Twelve A skilful general will make it necessary
for his own troops to fight, while striving to make it unnecessary for his
enemy to do so.
Chapter Thirteen Which is better, a good commander
with a febble army or a good army with an incompetent commander?
Chapter Fourteen The effect of new strategems and the
unexpected in battle.
Chapter Fifteen An army should have only one
Chapter Sixteen In difficult times men of merit are
sought, but in easy times rich and powerful men are more in favor.
Chapter Seventeen A person who has been offended
should not be given important positions.
Chapter Eighteen A good general must seek to
penetrate the enemy's plans and designs.
Chapter Nineteen Whether gentle or rigorous methods
are better for governing a multitude.
Chapter Twenty Humanity prevailed more with the
Faliscians than all the power of Rome.
Chapter Twenty-one Why Hannibal and Scipio achieved
the same successes with opposite conduct.
Chapter Twenty-two How Manlius Torquatus with
harshness and Valerius Corvinus by gentleness acquired equal glory.
Chapter Twenty-three The reasons Camillus was
banished from Rome.
Chapter Twenty-four The prolongation of military
commands caused Rome to lose her liberty.
Chapter Twenty-five On the poverty of Cincinnatus
and many other Roman citizens.
Chapter Twenty-six How staes are ruined on account
Chapter Twenty-seven How to restore unity in a
Chapter Twenty-eight Citizens should be watched
lest their apparent virtue conceal the start of tyranny.
Chapter Twenty-nine The faults of the people come
from the faults of their rulers.
Chapter Thirty To gain authority a citizen must
suppress the feeling of envy in others.
Chapter Thirty-one Great men and powerful republics
maintain dignity and courage in prosperity and adversity.
Chapter Thirty-two How some actors prevent peace.
Chapter Thirty-three The troops must have
confidence in themselves and in their commander.
Chapter thirty-four How reputation secures a
citizen popular favor.
Chapter Thirty-five On the danger of being
prominent in advocating any enterprise.
Chapter Thirty-six Why the Gauls' reputation before
battle is greater than afterwards.
Chapter Thirty-seven Are skirmishes necessary
before beginning battle?
Chapter Thirty-eight What qualities a
commander requires to gain the confidence of the army.
Chapter Thirty-nine A general should have a perfect
knowledge of the theater of war.
Chapter Forty Deceit in war is meritorious.
Chapter Forty-one One's country must be defended with
whatever means are required.
Chapter Forty-two Promises made under duress need not
Chapter Forty-three Natives of a country preserve
the same characteristics over time.
Chapter Forty-four Impetuosity and audacity often
achieve what ordinary means fail to attain.
Chapter Forty-five Is it better in battle to await
the enemy attack and then counter-attack or to take the offensive with
Chapter Forty-six The reasons why a family retains
the same characteristics.
Chapter Forty-seven Love of country should makea
good citizen forget private wrongs.
Chapter Forty-eight Any obvious error by the enemy
should make one suspect a strategm.
Chapter Forty-nine To retain her liberty a republic
must exercise caution.
The following summary of this, the most important of Machiavelli's many
works, is offered not as a substitute but rather in hopes it will stimulate the
reader to his own careful study of this unfortunately all to often neglected
book. I offer a combination of summaries of M's points, some of his more
trenchant aphorisms, and a few of my own comments on these. Please send
comments and corrections to John
Sloan. Click here to return to Machiavelli home
page Return to Contents
The Introduction and Greeting opens with the author's claim to long
practical experience and assiduous research. He claims to depart from the
ordinary usage - a claim certainly well borne out by the text that follows.
Return to Contents
"For to judge rightly, men should esteem rather those who
are and not those who can be generous; and those who would know how to govern
states, rather than those who have the right to govern, but lack the
Men are envious, prompt to blame and slow to praise. M claims he is
discovering new principles and systems like the exploration of unknown seas and
continents. (An obvious reference to Columbus and other contemporary
explorers). M writes that he is opening a new route.
He notes the great prices paid for fragments of ancient statues, hut that
little heed is paid to the ancient wisdom and none to ancient virtue.
Yet to found a republic, maintain states, to govern a kingdom, organize an
army, conduct a war, dispense justice and extend an empire... M here is listing
the characteristic activities of a great ruler.
People read history for pleasure hut don't imitate the example of the noble
actions they read about. Readers should derive those advantages which should be
the aim of all study of history. Return to Contents
M starts in characteristic fashion by categorizing states (cities) in
accordance with the manner in which they were founded. All of book one deals
with the internal affairs of states. The basis of most discussion centers on
the motives of citizens. Among the main themes which are immediately
identifiable are the concepts of necessity, domination, corruption, virtu,
fortuna, motivation, power, law and discipline.
People cannot make themselves secure except by being powerful. Return to Contents.
The kinds of republics are further categorized. M describes the six types
of government and establishes the dynamic relationships between them. In this
he takes the classical types and adds a dramatic new twist. There are three
good kinds and three bad. They occur in sequence as each bears the seeds of the
next (dialectics!) In order they are monarchy, tyranny, aristocracy, oligarchy,
democracy and licentiousness. These would go in an endless circle except that
in the real world few states survive long enough to experience the full cycle
let alone several.
M advocates a state that would combine the three good forms. "When there
is combined under the same constitution a prince, a nobility, and the power of
the people, then these three powers will watch and keep each other reciprocally
in check'. (This concept came to the American Founding Fathers via Montiesque
and was made the cornerstone of our constitution.)
M in this chapter begins his characteristic format of establishing the basic
theme from the next example he finds in Livy, adding such other ancient
examples as are appropriate, and then adding contemporary examples to confirm
or contrast. The emphasis is on emotions and motives. "Man never willingly
adopts a new law tending to change the constitution unless necessity is
demonstrated." Go to Contents
The civil institutions of Rome - including the Tribunes. We must start by
assuming all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature. Men
act right only upon compulsion. Go to Contents
The disunity of the rulers brings liberty to the people. The success of
Rome resulted from a combination of good fortune and military discipline, but
the quarrels of the Senate and the people were the ultimate source of the
There are always two parties in a state. The favorable laws are the result of
their opposition and struggle. Good examples are the result of good education
and good education is due to good laws and good laws spring from agitation.
M here makes an important methodological remark, namely that good results stem
from good causes. Go to Contents
One should judge by results. One should confide trust to those who have the
least desire to violate it. The two parties in the state are (1) those who
desire to dominate; and (2) those whose only wish is not to be dominated. It is
the later who are more worthy of trust.
( The distinction between those desiring to dominate and those desiring not to
be dominated is perhaps the central concept in all M's political theory).
M considers history a laboratory of human psychology for our study since human
motivation is the driving force of history. Go to Contents
M gives long historical examples centered on Sparta and Venice, two states
which preserved their liberty through consciously adopting a policy of
restraint. They remained internally quiet but limited and were therefore
eventually unable to withstand larger external foes. Rome on the other hand
pursued the policy of expansion. This resulted in much internal disturbance,
but the energy released thereby was channeled into the expansion thus also
preserving internal liberty for a long period while preventing foreign
You cannot avoid one inconvenience without incurring another. The wise ruler
will chose the course having the least inconveniences.
Without a great number of well armed men no republic can ever increase in size
and power. Venice obtained most of its possessions not by war but by money and
fraud. There are but two motives for making war on a republic - the desire to
subjugate her or the apprehension of being subjugated by her.
All human things are kept in perpetual movement and can never remain stable.
States naturally either rise or decline. Necessity compels them to many acts to
which reason will not influence them. A precise middle course cannot be
( This is one of the many passages which may indicate why I consider a thorough
understanding of Machiavelli essential to the study of Marxist-Leninist
dialectics.) Go to Contents
M considers the ancient faculty of accusing citizens (ostracism) necessary
to good government. The state needs a constitutional procedure for venting ill
humors. The masses need the opportunity for giving vent to their hatred of the
oppressors. Otherwise the division of the society into factions will cause
ruin. M emphasizes the role of fear. Go to Contents
While accusations are useful, calumny is pernicious. Accusations are a
lawful process, but calumny is illegal gossip. Go to
To found a republic or reform one is the work of a single ruler, not a
group. In Rome the key factors causing success were its institutions, religion
and military establishment. M describes the role of the new revolutionary
leader (Lenin?) in the seizure of power necessary for reform.
But the lawgiver must take steps to insure a proper transition and succession
at his death. He must transfer power himself to the many or a successor will
use his power for evil. (Stalin?) The key to power is command of the army. M's
heros are Moses, Lycurgus and Solon. Go to Contents
Founders of republics are to be praised and of a tyranny to he excoriated.
M gives his categories of heros, that is founders and his categories of
But nearly all men will he drawn to those deserving blame. M condemns Julius
Caesar. He notes the violent end of six out of the first Caesars. We should
learn from the lessons of history. Go to Contents
The topic is religion. Religion is a critical necessity to support a civil
society. One of the chief causes of Rome's greatness was the nature of its
religion which unified the people and was the basis for the discipline of the
army. (M's concept of religion is broad enough to be termed an ideology today.)
Where religion exists it is easy to introduce armies and discipline, but where
there are armies and no religion it is difficult to introduce the latter. All
lawgivers resort to divine authority as ultimate basis for the observance of
their laws. Go to Contents
The modern (Catholic) church is the cause of Italian troubles. The people
in order to remain free from corruption must preserve the purity of their
religion. There is no greater indication of the ruin of a country that to see
the religion in contempt. The Christian religion has diverged from that of its
founder and the current corruption of Rome is giving an example of evil which
has destroyed piety and belief. The Church also prevents temporal unity. (M
prefigures the Reformation). Go to Contents
The connection in Rome between religion and liberty. Go to
The Romans used religion to inspire the troops for battle. (Role of
Communist political officers?) Go to Contents
The Samnites used religion also. Go to Contents
A people not used to liberty will have a more difficult time preserving it.
M's theme is corruption and revenge. The people do not appreciate their
benefits. The new ruler must kill the "sons of Brutus" that is
eliminate all who oppose the new order. Go to Contents
A corrupt people who become free will have a difficult time maintaining
liberty. In fact it is doubtful if a corrupt people can ever gain liberty
anyway. To do this requires the actions of a new prince (leader). Corruption
blinds people to the yoke the new dictator places on them. M here is saying
that the result of revolution in a corrupt society is to replace the old regime
with a new dictator. Go to Contents
Can a free government be maintained in a corrupt society? Not likely. Good
habits require good laws, but good laws need good habits. The enforcement of
good laws is essential to the preservation of the people's habits from
corruption but when the habits of the people degenerate into civic corruption
the good laws won't last. Go to Contents
The succession of an able ruler by one weak one may not be fatal to the
state, but two weak ones in a row will surely cause collapse. Go
Two virtuous rulers in a row will result in great achievements.
Go to Contents
On the importance of national armies (ie not foreign mercenaries) and on
the necessity for them to practice and train in peacetime. Go to
One should never risk his whole fortune on only a portion of his forces.
(He will risk defeat in detail). A man's merits should not extenuate his
crimes. It is never wise to enter into agreements the observance of which is
doubtful. M takes these three points from a single part of Livy and then
elaborates on them in the following chapters. Go to Contents
Chapter Twenty- three:
Elaboration on the point about never risking all with only a portion of the
forces. A practical application is don't try to defend passes where you cannot
deploy the full army, but meet the enemy in the plain where you can properly
deploy. Go to Contents
Elaboration on the point that merits do not cancel crimes. Go to Contents
When reforming a government one must preserve the old forms. The majority
of mankind is satisfied with appearances. They are more influenced by things
that seem than by those that are. Go to Contents
The ruler of a newly conquered place should establish everything new,
destroy all the old cities and transfer the population to new locations. Leave
nothing unchanged. Insure that no privilege, honor or rank stems but from the
hand of the new ruler. Men generally decide on a middle course, which is most
hazardous. They know neither how to be entirely good or entirely bad.
Go to Contents
Elaboration on the theme that men are rarely either entirely good or bad.
Go to Contents
Ingratitude - a most common characteristic of man and one most pernicious
to public order. Rome at least had less ingratitude than Athens. Go to Contents
Which is more ungrateful, a ruler or a people? Ingratitude springs from
avarice or fear. M quotes Tacitus "Men are more ready to repay an injury
than a benefit because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure." It
is the nature of man to be ambitious as well as suspicious. Fear and suspicion
are natural to rulers. Go to Contents
How rulers should avoid ingratitude. For one thing, command expeditions in
person. But republics cannot command expeditions, therefore they must raise up
a large number of generals who in competing will watch over each other.
Go to Contents
Rome was more lenient on its generals for failure and this relieved their
minds and enabled them to do better. Go to Contents
A ruler should secure the good will of the people immediately, not wait
until he is already in trouble. "For masses will think that they do not
owe the benefits you have bestowed upon them to you but to your adversaries.
Look ahead and plan on whom one will need as allies in time of future troubles.
Then take steps to secure them during quiet time. Go to
It is safer to temporize with a new evil than to attack it violently
because one can't properly judge quickly its true nature and extent. One can't
put out a fire by blowing on it. But having evaluated it and judged that one
has sufficient force available then do attack it ruthlessly. Go
The office of Dictator was a beneficial institution in Rome. Legal power
conferred for a short time does no harm, but the power men usurp is a source of
trouble. Go to Contents
But the Roman Decemvirs were injurious to civil liberty because they had
too much power for too long. Go to Contents
Citizens should accept any public office, even ones lower than those
formerly held. Go to Contents
The Roman agrarian law was a source of trouble due to the role of envy.
When men are no longer obliged to fight from necessity they fight from
ambition, which passion is so powerful in the hearts of men that it never
Nature has created men so that they desire everything but are unable to attain
it, desire being thus always greater than the faculty of acquiring.
The consequence is war. In well regulated republics the state should be rich
and the citizens poor. The agrarian law destroyed Rome. It caused hatred
between the people and the Senate. Both sides resorted to private measures and
created civil war. More people value riches than honors. The Senate always
freely granted honors to the people, but resisted when it came to giving away
their property. Go to Contents
Feeble republics are irresolute. This is a very bad fault. They never take
a wise course except by force of necessity. Go to Contents
Whoever considers the past and the present will readily observe that all
cities and all republics are and ever have been animated by the same desires
and the same passions; so that it is easy by diligent study of the past, to
foresee what is likely to happen in the future in any republic etc.
( M's account of the effect of the war with Pisa on Florentine society bears
uncanny similarity to the Vietnam war and the US.) Go to
The creation of the Decemvirs in Rome. M gives a very long analysis of the
events. The resulting trouble sprang from the same cause that created trouble
elsewhere, namely the too great desire of the people to be free and the too
great desire of the nobles to dominate. Go to Contents
It is imprudent to change style suddenly from gentleness to cruelty.
Go to Contents
How easily men may be corrupted. Great care and attention is needed to
restrain the passions of men. Go to Contents
A good army fights for its own glory not the ambition of someone else.
Mercenaries are useless. The army should be of citizens. Go to
A multitude without a chief is useless. One should never show one's
intentions but endeavor to obtain one's desires anyhow. Go to
Violating the laws is a bad example, especially from a ruler.
Go to Contents
Men rise from one ambition to the next. All evil examples have their origin
in good beginnings. Go to Contents
Men are apt to deceive themselves in general matters, but rarely do so in
particulars. Go to Contents
One way to prevent an important office from being conferred on a evil man
is to have it applied for by someone still more vile, or by the most
outstanding person in the state. Go to Contents
If Rome with its good beginning had trouble preserving its liberty, how
much more difficult is it for states that started in servitude to do so. It is
nearly impossible to organize a government that will secure liberty in such a
state. Those who reform a government never organize it for the general good,
but always with the view of benefiting their own party.
( This comment applies to Third World countries today and is remarkably
accurate for what has transpired over the last years in Russia, Ukraine and the
other former Soviet republics). Go to Contents
No council or official should have the power to stop the public business.
Never allow the few to interrupt important civic business. Go to
Rulers must feign to do of their own liberality, that which necessity
compels them to do. Go to Contents
The way to bloc the ambitious is to forestall them on their path to power.
Before proceeding on a course of action, men should consider the objections and
dangers and make a cost/benefit analysis. If the peril exceeds the advantages
avoid the action. Go to Contents
The delusion of the seeming good misleads the people to desire their own
ruin. People are too often influenced by great hopes. The masses are influenced
by appearances. Go to Contents
On the influence of a great leader over an excited multitude.
Go to Contents
Public affairs are easily managed where people are not corrupt and are
equal economically. M contrasts Italy and Germany and foresees the Reformation
coming. He gives a long analysis. Men who live idly upon the proceeds of their
property are always pernicious to a republic. They must be destroyed.
Go to Contents
On signs and portents of future events - fortune tellers, etc. M writes
that he knows not why, but he still believes in the occurrence of such
portents. Go to Contents
The people as a body are courageous, but individually are cowards. A mob
can be formidable, but without a leader it can also be cowardly if divided and
made to think of the individual safety of each member. Go to
The people are wiser and more constant than an individual ruler
Go to Contents.
Alliances with a republic are more trustworthy than those with individual
rulers. Go to Contents
Rome gave out offices based on merit not age. Go to
(This book is on the external affairs of Rome and other states. M again
starts through Livy for his basic examples and topics.)
Men praise the past too much because they don't know the real details. They
magnify the good points. Most writers glorify and obey conquerors and play down
the bad parts. Men's hatreds generally spring from fear or envy. Human affairs
being in a state of perpetual movement things are always either ascending or
declining. So sometimes the present is worse than the past and sometimes not.
But the world in general remains in very much the same condition. The good
balances the evil. What happens is that good and evil shift from place to
place. At present Italy is the locus of much evil indeed.
Another factor is that men's judgements change as they grow older. What seemed
valid when young seems evil when older. This causes men to think the past was a
Another factor is that human desires are insatiable. This makes people decry
the present, praise the past, and desire the future.
M points all this out and wants the reader to be aware that he is quite
conscious of his own tendency to praise the past despite knowing these
pitfalls. He writes that it is only because the current evil is so manifest and
overwhelming that he nevertheless feels required to praise the past.
Go to Contents
The greatness of Rome was due to valor and ability more than luck. Luck
(that is good fortune) did have a role in that Rome never had to fight two
major wars simultaneously. M refers to his "Prince" and notes that
the Romans always sought local, internal allies and agents inside the society
(city) they were attacking. Go to Contents
Love of liberty on the part of their enemies was a major obstacle facing
the Romans. Not individual prosperity, but the general good, that is what makes
a city great. Private interests are generally in opposition to those of
Men were tougher mentally in the past. The Christian religion teaches men to
attach less value to honor and possessions of this world. Men were more
ferocious and bloody in ancient religious practices. They valued glory more
instead of humility and contempt for worldly objects. Men are now so feeble
they are easy prey for the evil minded individuals who can not control them
more easily. This education, which falsely interprets our religion, is the
cause of their not being so many republics nowadays as in ancient times and of
the loss of love of liberty among the people.
Another reason is that Rome itself destroyed many of the ancient republics and
when it in turn was destroyed it was not possible for the ancient republics to
M continues with further praise of the many advantages flowing in ancient times
from the love of liberty of the people. Go to Contents
As part of its expansionary strategy, Rome ruined its neighbors and
attracted their populations to itself. A state needs a large population for
maximum development. Go to Contents
(This is one of the key chapters.) The ancient republics employed three
different methods for aggrandizing themselves. These were (1) confederation of
equal members, (2) association of states in which one kept actual control, and
(3) outright conquest in which one conqueror made subjects of the conquered
peoples. Rome employed the second. M gives examples of each and discusses the
related advantages and disadvantages. Go to Contents
The records of the ancient past have been destroyed by natural causes and
by the zeal of Christian religious believers. Go to Contents
M describes the Roman methods for conducting war. Make war short and sharp.
Seek to profit from war and not ruin the state. Enrich the state treasury not
individuals. Give battle to the enemy in the field as quickly as possible.
Go to Contents
Rome gave land to colonists. Go to Contents
There are two different kinds of war, limited and total. Limited war
springs from the conflicting ambitions of the two hostile powers. It is limited
by the mutual recognition of the limited political aims involved. However,
total war involves entire peoples. One people is seeking to destroy another to
achieve absolute possession of the territory. This kind of war is frightful and
cruel. People fight for their very existence. Rome had three such total wars
early in its history, against the Gauls twice and the Teutons once. Later it
was destroyed in such wars against the Goths and Vandals.
(M's historical examples may not be completely accurate, but his perception of
the concept that war is a political instrument which must conform in its
content to the political policies that cause it is certainly valid. [Lenin ?]
It is also worth remembering that war total in nature from the point of view of
the participants is not something unique to the nuclear age.) Go
M discusses the causes of wars between sovereigns. One cause is accident,
which sometimes draws states into wars they did not expect. The main cause is
the political policy of the party that desired the war. Accident may come from
the activities of an ally. In fact this is a common way to provoke a war.
Go to Contents
Money is not the sinew of war that it is commonly thought to be. Everyone
may begin a war at his pleasure, but cannot so finish it. The ruler should be
careful not to deceive himself in making his estimate of the situation and his
strength. He will surely do so if he counts merely on his wealth. Money alone,
so far from being a means of defense, will only render a prince the more liable
to being plundered. (Applies also to such measures as GNP today). M gives
several ancient and current examples.
Gold alone will not procure good soldiers, but good soldiers will always
There are an infinity of reasons that may induce a general to give battle
against his will, and the want of money may in some instances be one of them.
Go to Contents
It is not wise to form an alliance with a prince that has more reputation
than power. Go to Contents
M discusses at length the question "Whether it is better, when
apprehending an attack, to await it at home, or to carry the war into the
enemy's country." He cites both examples and the opinions of authorities.
Then he makes the following distinction in rendering his own opinion. The
national strength comes either from being well armed (that is having a good,
that is citizen, army) or from money (economic power). If it is the latter then
it is better to keep the enemy at a distance and preserve one's own economic
base inviolate. But if it is the former, then it is better to await the
powerful and dangerous enemy at home where one can bring to bear the entire
weight of one's own well armed and disciplined population. Go to
Cunning and deceit will serve a man better than force to rise from a base
condition to great fortune. Men seldom rise from low condition to high rank
without using either force or fraud unless the high rank comes from gift or
inheritance. Force alone hardly ever is sufficient. But cunning alone
frequently is sufficient. Go to Contents
Men often deceive themselves in believing that by humility they can
overcome insolence. Humility, especially toward insolent men who, from jealousy
or some other motive have a hatred of you, not only is of no service but also
will actually be hurtful. It is all right to give from generosity that which
could be held by force if required, but never yield from the apprehension of
force. If he yields it from fear, it is for the purpose of avoiding war, and he
will rarely escape from that, for he to whom he has from cowardice conceded the
one thing will not be satisfied, but will want to take other things.
Go to Contents
Feeble states are always undecided in their decisions and slow decisions
are invariably injurious. Go to Contents
M describes in detail the ancient military system and how it differs from
contemporary practice. He notes that Rome's most critical battle was that
against the Latins who were in all respects identical in military organization
and quality to itself. His description is the same as that in The Art of
War. Modern commanders have abandoned the concept of providing a reserve by
forming in three lines. Go to Contents
M discusses the value of artillery in modern armies. He disagrees with the
common view that artillery would have rendered Roman conquests impossible and
that artillery prevents men from displaying personal valor and that wars will
be waged entirely by artillery with no hand-to- hand combat. ( His approach in
answering these questions is itself interesting.) Wars are either defensive or
aggressive, thus we must first find out whether artillery is more useful in
attack or defense. M believes it is more damaging to the defender because the
attacker can always bring more artillery to bear on a defended place than the
walls and defending artillery can counter. He continues with a full discussion
of the use of artillery and of fortifications. "The defense of fortified
cities depends upon the arms and valor of the garrison, the same as in ancient
times. Therefore artillery would have helped the Romans since their wars were
always offensive. Their conquests would have been even more rapid than they
As to the question of valor, M notes that under artillery fire men actually
have to expose themselves more. Commanders and principal officers of armies are
more exposed now than formerly. However, overall modern artillery produce no
more casualties that were produced in ancient sieges, which also did not lack
for the use of projectile weapons. Nevertheless the recent protracted wars in
Italy furnish fewer examples of generals killed that any ten years of war of
the ancients. M denies that artillery prevents personal valor.
As for the decline of hand-to-hand combat and the idea that war will be made
altogether with artillery, M maintains that this opinion is wholly erroneous.
Whoever wishes to form a good army must, by real or sham fights, train his
troops to attack the enemy sword in hand, and seize hold of him bodily; and he
must rely more upon infantry than upon cavalry. Go to
We should value infantry more than cavalry. M gives many references to
examples and authorities both ancient and modern. Go to
The mere acquisition of territory may prove injurious; for one may well
extend one's dominion without increasing one's power, but the acquisition of
dominion without power is sure to bring with it ruin. Whoever impoverishes
himself by war acquires no power, even though he be victorious, for his
conquests cost more that they are worth. If the republic is not properly
constituted to take advantage of conquest it would be better to avoid it.
Go to Contents
M returns to his favorite theme that mercenaries are worse than useless. He
refers to his other works (Prince, Art of War) for more on this topic.
But the ambition of men is such that, to gratify a present desire, they think
not of the evils which will in a short time result from it (using mercenaries)
. Go to Contents
The Romans either destroyed conquered places or left them at maximum
liberty to continue to enjoy their own local self rule. Go to
The judgements of men in important matters are often erroneous. Superior
men are generally hated from jealousy or ambition so that preference is given
to the erroneous errors of men who are more desirous of pleasing the masses
than of promoting the general good.
It rarely happens that the victor in a battle loses many of his men, he loses
only those that are killed in the fight, and none by flight. Go
It is essential to be able to make a correct estimate of the situation. The
worst condition to be in is to be unwilling to accept the terms of peace yet
incapable to sustaining war. The Romans never took any undecided middle course
in important affairs.
Honor consists in being able and knowing when and how to chastise evil-doers.
Above all, half measures should be avoided. Go to Contents
Fortresses are generally more injurious than useful. M defines the purposes
for fortresses and indicates that they do not usually fulfill them. They are
not a substitute for a good field army. Nor will they substitute for the good
will of the people. Go to Contents
It is an error to try to attack a country thinking that the existence of
internal dissensions will it and of itself enable you to conquer. For in the
face of external threat most often the dissensions will be forgo ten and the
people unite against you. The proper way to use internal dissensions is to use
them to your advantage. One way to do this is to try and win the confidence of
the citizens that are divided and manage to become the arbiter between the
parties. Another way is to sparingly favor the weaker party so as to keep them
at war and make them exhaust themselves. do not give them apprehension by
displaying your own forces or let them know you intend to subjugate them.
Go to Contents
Contempt and insults engender hatred without giving any advantage.
Go to Contents
Victors should be content with their victory and not strive for too much at
once. But men always commit the error of not knowing where to limit their
hopes, and by trusting to these rather than to a just measure of their
resources, they are generally ruined. Go to Contents
It is dangerous to fail to justly punish wrongdoing because those who are
aggrieved will seek revenge. Such efforts at extra legal revenge will ruin the
state. Go to Contents
Chapter Twenty- nine:
M quotes Livy "Fortune thus blinds the minds of men when she does not
wish them to resist her powers." This means that sometimes Heaven itself
is arrayed against your best efforts. But men should never despair on this
account, for not knowing the aims of Fortune, men should always be hopeful, and
never yield to despair. Go to Contents
States that are really powerful do not purchase alliances by money, but by
their valor and the reputation of their armies. The Romans never purchased a
peace or a territory.
Amongst the other indications by which the power of a republic may be
recognized is the relation in which they live with their neighbors; if these
are tributary to her by way of securing her friendship and protection, then it
is a sure sign that that republic is powerful. But if these neighbors draw
money from her, then it is a sure indication of great weakness on the part of
the republic. Go to Contents
It is dangerous to trust to the representations of exiles. Do not believe
them. Go to Contents
M describes the Roman methods for conquering others. They relied on siege
only as a last resort. They and others also used stealth, but this is a very
difficult method. The most frequent method was to ruin the territory of the
neighbor by incursions and depredations (economic warfare) thus forcing the
surrender of the city without a full scale battle. Go to
The Romans left their commanders completely in charge and did not attempt
to control too much from the central government. There is no way the central
government, not being on the spot, can know the endless particulars needed for
wise decisions. Go to Contents
(This is a very long chapter in which M sets out further views on
corruption.) All things have a limit to their existence. Corruption sets in and
must be countered. The best nations and institutions have built in the means
for frequently renewing themselves or they obtain the renovation as a result of
some extrinsic accident. A republic should be brought back to its original
principles. This is usually done by some good man or some good laws.
Go to Contents
It may at times be the highest wisdom to simulate folly. (This is part of
M's advice on deception in general.) Go to Contents
It is necessary to execute the "sons of Brutus". When one reforms
a state one must destroy all who uphold the old regime or who will resist the
new one. Never allow an evil to run on out of respect for the law, especially
when the law itself might easily be destroyed by the evil. Acts and motives
must be judged by their results. Malignity is neither effaced by time, not
placated by gifts. Go to Contents
M shows that the above advice for republics applies equally in monarchies.
Go to Contents
M discusses the causes that make a monarch (dictator) lose his throne.
Princes should remember, then, that they begin to lose their state from the
moment when they begin to disregard the laws and ancient customs under which
the people have lived. Go to Contents
M devotes by far the longest chapter to one of his central topics,
conspiracies. He treats the subject objectively from the viewpoints of both
ruler and subject. He classifies conspiracies according to object and type and
analyzes each in turn. As usual, the personal motivations of the actors are
seen as the critical elements to be examined. Having discussed the causes he
then examines the results in order to ascertain what led to success or failure.
M divides the conspiracy into three time phases and explains what special
measures need to be taken during each.
History teaches us that many more princes have lost their lives and their
states by conspiracies than by open war. But few can venture to make open war
upon their sovereign, whilst every one may engage in conspiracies against him.
On the other hand, subjects cannot undertake more perilous and foolhardy
enterprises than conspiracies.
Conspiracies are generated by the desire for revenge and the desire to liberate
the country from tyranny. However, the thirst for dominion is as great as that
of revenge. This thirst blinds both the ruler and the conspirator. Failure in
general results from a lack of prudence on the part of the conspirator. Men not
accustomed to the affairs of this world often commit the greatest mistakes.
Bad rulers are in constant fear lest others are conspiring to inflict upon them
the punishment which they are conscious of deserving. You must bind men to you
by benefits, or you must make sure of them in some other way, but never reduce
them to the alternative of having either to destroy you or perish themselves.
Changes during the execution phase of a conspiracy will so disturb the
situation as to defeat the whole plot. Want of firmness in the execution phase
is another common cause of failure. You cannot be sure of any man's courage in
great affairs, unless it has been tested by actual experience. A great danger
also stems from failing to destroy all so that someone is left who will avenge
the prince that is killed. Go to Contents
M treats briefly the reasons why some major changes in the governmental
system from liberty to servitude or the reverse are accompanied by great
bloodshed and others are not. Go to Contents
Someone who wants to change the government of a republic should first study
its existing conditions. The means of attaining glory are different in a
republic that is corrupt from what they are in a republic that still preserves
its institutions pure. Men in their conduct should well consider and conform to
the times in which they live. Before one person can usurp supreme and absolute
authority in a free state and subject it to tyranny, the people must have
already become corrupt by gradual steps from generation to generation.
Go to Contents
Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.
M remarks that he has often reflected that the causes of the success or failure
of men depend upon their manner of suiting their conduct to the times. (In a
remarkably penetrating analysis of human psychology M notes that men find
success because their modus operandi is suited to the times, but then they are
incapable of breaking from their accustomed habits as the times change. For any
man accustomed to a certain mode of proceeding will never change it, and
consequently when time and circumstances change, so that his ways are no longer
in harmony with them he must of necessity succumb. That we cannot change at
will is due to two causes; the one is the impossibility of resisting the
natural bent of our characters; and the other is the difficulty of persuading
ourselves, after having been accustomed to success by a certain mode of
proceeding, that any other can succeed as well.
M notes that the ruin of states is caused in like manner, because they do not
modify their institutions to suit the changes of the times. Such changes are
more difficult and late in republics. On the other hand, republics are better
able to accommodate changing times than a single ruler because in the very
diversity of their multiple leadership class they will find new men who are
attuned to the new conditions. Go to Contents
A general cannot avoid battle when the enemy is determined upon it at all
costs. It is especially in matters relating to the art of war that we deviate
from the practice of the ancients, for in this respect we do not observe any of
the principles that were so much esteemed by them. (Note M's belief that there
are Principles of War. One principal he then mentions is that in the opening
line above. His chapter title. ] His discussion of strategy in this chapter is
especially worth study. M well describes the circumstance which should make a
general either desire to avoid battle or to bring one on rapidly.)
Go to Contents
Whoever has to contend against many enemies may nevertheless overcome them,
though he be inferior in power, provided he is able to resist their first
efforts. (The concept of Win the First Battle!) All human institutions contain
some inherent evil that gives rise to unforeseen accidents, which must be
guarded against by new measures. The presumption of success should always be in
favor of a single power contending against a combination, however superior in
numbers and power. The opportunity for divisions, which will weaken them, among
the group is too overpowering. Go to Contents
A skillful general should place his soldiers in the situation of being
forced to fight by necessity and should attempt as much as possible to relieve
the enemy of such necessity. M reiterates his point on the advantage necessity
gives to human actions. Man responds to pressure. M continues with further
discussion of such attributes as rivalry, hatred, domination and courage. A
captain should relieve the defenders on the pressure of necessity and thus
diminish the obstinacy of their defense. He should promise them a full pardon
if they fear punishment, and if they are apprehensive for their liberties he
should assure them that he is not the enemy of the public good. Artifices of
this kind are quickly appreciated by the wise, but the people are generally
deceived by them. Blinded by their eager desire for present peace, they do not
see the snares that are concealed under these liberal promises, and thus many
cities have fallen into servitude. (This of course is the basis for "Peace
Campaigns and anti-nuclear protests". Go to Contents
M analyzes the question whether an able commander with a feeble army is
better than a good army with an incompetent commander. After some reference to
ancient authority M remarks that battles have been won solely by the valor of
the soldiers and others solely by the courage of the general. So that he
concludes that they are equally dependent one upon the other. On the other
hand, neither situation (with respect to an opponent) is much to be feared.
Finally, M notes that given time the good general will train a good army for
himself. Therefore one should rely more on the general. In fact, generals who
have had to train up their own army before leading it are worthy of double
praise. (SeeArt of War) Go to Contents
M describes the effect of unexpected stratagems and events during battle.
He argues for the value of discipline in overcoming the dangers from these. He
notes that the general should try to use stratagems to encourage his own troops
and dishearten the enemy. Go to Contents
An army should have but one chief. (M on the importance of Unity of
Command). Go to Contents
During wartime men of merit are sought, but during peacetime the public
neglects these and seeks rather than merit, men having riches or other unworthy
attributes. The means for remedying this evil are to keep the citizens poor so
that wealth and lack of virtue may neither corrupt themselves nor enable them
to corrupt others; and so organize the state for war as to be ever prepared for
it, and always have need for men of merit. In other words, provide a constant
opportunity for the employment of men of ability in the service of society on
external affairs of which war is the most useful. Go to
A person who has been offended should not be given an important public
office. Go to Contents
Nothing is more important for a good general than for him to try to
penetrate the designs of the enemy. This includes the condition of his army as
well. In battle the victory often goes to the side which first understands the
true condition of the opponent. Go to Contents
M discusses the relative merit of using gentle and harsh measures in
governing a multitude. Go to Contents
He follows with an example of the value of acting humanely. An act of
humanity and benevolence will at all times have more influence over the minds
of men than violence and ferocity. States which no armies could conquer have
yielded to an act of humanity, benevolence, chastity, or generosity.
Go to Contents
(A very important chapter for M's method. He notes that sometimes one
general achieves the same result an another general by use of opposite means.
Since M bases his method on the proposition that causes have effects, it is
crucial for him to discover why opposite causes may produce the same effects.
If this situation is generally true, than one could not logically recommend one
causative action against another in hopes of producing a particular effect. On
the way to his answer M as usual delves into human motivations.)
The love of novelty manifests itself equally in those who are well off and in
those who are not. Men get tired of prosperity, just as they are afflicted by
the reverse. This love of change opens the way to everyone who takes the lead
in any innovation. Men are prompted in their actions by two main motives, love
and fear. Men are so restless that the slightest opening for their ambition
causes them quickly to forget all affection for their ruler. Go
M discusses the manner in which some leaders use harshness while others use
gentleness with equal success. He who gives severe orders must see them
executed with severity. He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command. M
believes the issue is debatable, but in the end decides in favor of severity in
a republic in as much as it operates entirely for the benefit of the state, and
can never favor private ambition.. The severe ruler leading citizen in a
republic will be devoted only to the public good. Too much special devotion of
the kind generated by kindness might lead to bad effects if the troops conceive
a special loyalty to their general instead of the state. However, he believes a
monarch (individual ruler) should use gentleness. Go to
M uses the example of Camillus to show how severity that benefits the state
can cause ruin to the individual general. Go to Contents
The prolongation of military commands caused Rome the loss of her liberty.
(By this M means the demise of the Republic and rise of the Empire) . The two
causes of the decadence of the Republic were the dissensions resultant from the
agrarian laws and the prolongation of her military commands. The latter
resulted in fewer men becoming experienced in command and therefor having a
distinguished reputation and in the soldiers becoming so attached to their
general personally that they made themselves his partisans. Go
M uses the example of Cincinnatus to support his argument in favor of
keeping the citizens poor. Poverty was never allowed to stand in the way of the
achievement of any rank or honor, and virtue and merit were sought for under
whatever roof they dwelt. Eminent citizens were content to remain in poverty
and were satisfied merely to win honor by their military achievements, leaving
all profit to the public treasury. These citizens rose above princes solely by
the grandeur of their souls. Poverty produces better fruits that riches.
Go to Contents
How states are ruined on account of women. Women have been the cause of
great dissensions and much ruin to states, and have caused great damage to
those who govern them. (By this M means that the violation and mistreatment of
women by rulers has often led to their overthrow.) Go to
It is essential to restore unity to a divided state. It is dangerous to try
to rule by maintaining divisions and factions in society. The way to restore
unity is to execute or banish the leaders of the factions. Go to
M recounts the example of Spurius Melius in support of his contention that
in a well ordered state only such acts as are of benefit to the state will be
looked upon favorably. If distinguished citizens can buy influence by private
means, corruption will follow. The way to public honor should be open to every
citizen, but private ways should be prohibited. Go to
The faults of the people spring from the faults of their rulers: that is
the bad example set by bad rulers. Go to Contents
M discusses at length the evils that spring from envy. He also points out
that for the defense of the city one should not indiscriminately arm the
multitude, but rather should carefully select citizens whom one can discipline
and train. Go to Contents
Chapter Thirty- one:
Great men and republics preserve an equal dignity and courage in adversity
and prosperity. The fickleness of fortune has no power over them. Weak men are
made vain and intoxicated by good fortune, they attribute their success to
merits which they do not possess, and this makes them odious and insupportable
to all around them. M lavishes a long list of adjectives on the wretched
Venetians in contrasting them with the noble Romans.
The foundation of states is a good military organization. Without such a
military organization, there can neither be good laws nor anything else good.
Troops cannot be good unless they are well disciplined and trained, and this
cannot be done with any troops other than natives of the country. Troops must
be trained and disciplined in time of peace. Go to Contents
M describes the means some leaders use to prevent peace between states.
Go to Contents
To insure victory the troops must have confidence in themselves as well as
in their commanders. To give the army this confidence they must be well armed
and disciplined, and the men must know each other. (M discusses various methods
used by the Romans to instill confidence.) Go to Contents
M discusses the ways in which citizens gain public recognition and popular
favor. He then judges that the people generally make better choices for their
magistrates than do individual princes.
M states that it is dangerous to be too prominent in advocating an
important enterprise. He recommends that one be moderate and cautious in
suggesting public activities. Men judge only by the result, not the good
motives of the advocate. Hence if the proposal leads to failure the advocate
will be liable to punishment. He is speaking from personal experience, although
he does not say so and only recounts various ancient examples. He gives a
classic bureaucratic approach to expressing an opinion. Go to
There are three kinds of character in troops. One combines warlike ardor
with discipline; this produces true valor. In a well ordered army no one should
do anything except in accordance with the regulations. Good order sustains the
courage and reanimates that ardor with the hope of victory, which will never
fail if discipline be preserved. The second possesses ardor without discipline.
For if they do not overthrow the enemy by the first furious onset they fail.
The third kind are such as have neither natural courage nor discipline. This is
the kind of army the Italians have now.. These are entirely useless.
Go to Contents
In human affairs the good is always accompanied by some evil so that the
good is achieved only with difficulty, unless we are so aided by Fortuna that
she overcomes the natural and ordinary difficulties. A good captain should
avoid every unimportant action that may nevertheless produce a bad effect upon
his army. He must not hazard his whole fortune where he cannot employ his whole
force. Before engaging a new enemy in full battle, however, it is well to
engage it in skirmishes in which one's army can learn to know him and reduce
the potential for fear. This is especially so if the enemy's reputation is
likely to generate terror. However, one must be careful because defeats in such
skirmishes could increase the very fear that they are designed to overcome.
This is one of those cases where the evil lies so near the good and is so
commingled with it, that it is easy to encounter the one in thinking to take
Above all, the skilful commander will avoid everything that can possibly tend
to discourage his army. Go to Contents
It is not titles that honor men, but men honor titles. Great commanders
employ extraordinary means to reassure even veteran troops. One method is use
of sham battles. Go to Contents
A general should possess a perfect knowledge of the locality in which he is
waging war. The acquisition of every science demands practice. To possess
military science perfectly requires more practice than any other. The special
knowledge of localities is better acquired by the chase (hunting) than in any
other exercise. (M is speaking of the special skill of good commanders in being
able immediately to evaluate terrain. He discusses this skill at length in
The Prince and recommends constant study of terrain as the prince goes
about his routine travels.) Go to Contents
Deceit in the conduct of war is meritorious, although it is detestable in
all other things. The commander who vanquishes an enemy be stratagem is equally
praised with one who gains victory by force. However, M separates this deceit
with perfidy, which breaks pledged faith and treaties. While perfidy will also
sometimes win states it does so by bringing also dishonor. M speaks of those
feints and stratagems which you employ against an enemy that distrusts you, and
in the employment of which properly consists the art of war. Go
One's country must be defended, whether with glory or with shame. For the
purpose of saving the country no propositions ought to be rejected. No
considerations of justice or injustice, humanity or cruelty, nor of glory or of
shame should be allowed to prevail. Go to Contents
Promises exacted by force need not be observed. Such promises will always
be disregarded when that force no longer exists, and this involves no dishonor.
(M notes that princes also often disregard other promises as well and refers
the reader to The Prince for further discussion.) Go to
Natives of the same country preserve for all time the same characteristics.
Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past, for human events
ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are
produced by men who have been, and ever will be, animated by the same passions,
and thus they must necessarily have the same results. Go to
Impetuosity and audacity often achieve what ordinary means fail to attain.
Peace was more burdensome for men that are enslaved than war is for men that
are free. When the occasion permits don't give people time for deliberation.
Go to Contents
(In contrast to the previous chapter, M here draws the conclusion that it
is better to await the attack of the enemy rather than launch too impetuous an
attack on him.) Go to Contents
M discusses the perennial question of which is responsible for a man's
character, nature of nurture. He ascribes great influence to education. In any
case, different families seem to preserve different characters from generation
to generation. Go to Contents
Love of country should make the good citizen forget private wrongs.
Go to Contents
The commander should always mistrust any manifest error which he sees the
enemy commit, as it invariably conceals some stratagem. But the desire of
victory often blinds men to that degree that they see nothing but what seems
favorable to their object. Go to Contents
In a great republic there are constantly evils occurring that require
remedies. The republic needs fresh precautions to preserve liberty.
Go to Contents