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Chapter 21


That Capua was the first City to which the Romans sent a Prętor; nor there, until four hundred years after they began to make War.


The great difference between the methods followed by the ancient Romans in adding to their dominions, and those used for that purpose by the States of the present time, has now been sufficiently discussed. It has been seen, too how in dealing with the cities which they did not think fit to destroy, and even with those which had made their submission not as companions but as subjects, it was customary with the Romans to permit them to live on under their own laws, without imposing any outward sign of dependence, merely binding them to certain conditions, or complying with which they were maintained in their former dignity and importance. We know, further, that the same methods continued to be followed by the Romans until they passed beyond the confines of Italy, and began to reduce foreign kingdoms and States to provinces: as plainly appears in the fact that Capua was the first city to which they sent a prętor, and him from no motive of ambition, but at the request of the Capuans themselves who, living at variance with one another, thought it necessary to have a Roman citizen in their town who might restore unity and good order among them. Influenced by this example, and urged by the same need, the people of Antium were the next to ask that they too might have a prętor given them; touching which request and in connection with which new method of governing, Titus Livius observes, "that not the arms only but also the laws of Rome now began to exert an influence;" showing how much the course thus followed by the Romans promoted the growth of their authority.

For those cities, more especially, which have been used to freedom or to be governed by their own citizens, rest far better satisfied with a government which they do not see, even though it involve something of oppression, than with one which standing constantly before their eyes, seems every day to reproach them with the disgrace of servitude. And to the prince there is another advantage in this method of government, namely, that as the judges and magistrates who administer the laws civil and criminal within these cities, are not under his control, no decision of theirs can throw responsibility or discredit upon him; so that he thus escapes many occasions of calumny and hatred. Of the truth whereof, besides the ancient instances which might be noted, we have a recent example here in Italy. For Genoa, as every one knows, has many times been occupied by the French king, who always, until lately, sent thither a French governor to rule in his name. Recently, however, not from choice but of necessity, he has permitted the town to be self-governed under a Genoese ruler; and any one who had to decide which of these two methods of governing gives the greater security to the king's authority and the greater content to the people themselves, would assuredly have to pronounce in favour of the latter.

Men, moreover, in proportion as they see you averse to usurp authority over them, grow the readier to surrender themselves into your hands; and fear you less on the score of their freedom, when they find you acting towards them with consideration and kindness. It was the display of these qualities that moved the Capuans to ask the Romans for a prętor; for had the Romans betrayed the least eagerness to send them one, they would at once have conceived jealousy and grown estranged.

But why turn for examples to Capua and Rome, when we have them close at hand in Tuscany and Florence? Who is there but knows what a time it is since the city of Pistoja submitted of her own accord to the Florentine supremacy? Who, again, but knows the animosity which down to the present day exists between Florence and the cities of Pisa, Lucca, and Siena? This difference of feeling does not arise from the citizens of Pistoja valuing their freedom less than the citizens of these other towns or thinking themselves inferior to them, but from the Florentines having always acted towards the former as brothers, towards the latter as foes. This it was that led the Pistojans to come voluntarily under our authority while the others have done and do all in their power to escape it. For there seems no reason to doubt, that if Florence, instead of exasperating these neighbours of hers, had sought to win them over, either by entering into league with them or by lending them assistance, she would at this hour have been mistress of Tuscany. Not that I would be understood to maintain that recourse is never to be had to force and to arms, but that these are only to be used in the last resort, and when all other remedies are unavailing.


Niccolo Machiavelli

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