The Prince

By Niccolò Machiavelli; Peter Bondanella et al. | Go to book overview

to fortune, not having the power and the loyalty to defend it in times of adversity. And it was always the opinion and belief of wise men that 'nothing is so unhealthy or unstable as the reputation for power that is not based upon one's own power.'* And one's own troops are those which are composed either of subjects or of citizens or your own dependants; all others are either mercenaries or auxiliaries. And the means to organize a citizen army are easily discovered if the methods followed by those four men I have cited above are examined, and if one observes how Philip, father of Alexander the Great, and many republics and princes have armed and organized themselves: in such methods I have full confidence.


CHAPTER XIV

A Prince's Duty Concerning Military Matters

A prince, therefore, must not have any other object nor any other thought, nor must he take anything as his profession but war, its institutions, and its discipline; because that is the only profession which befits one who commands; and it is of such importance that not only does it maintain those who were born princes, but many times it enables men of private station to rise to that position; and, on the other hand, it is evident that when princes have given more thought to personal luxuries than to arms, they have lost their state. And the most important cause of losing it is to neglect this art; and the way to acquire it is to be well versed in this art.

Francesco Sforza became Duke of Milan from being a private citizen because he was armed; his successors, since they avoided the inconveniences of arms, became private citizens after having been dukes. For, among the other bad effects it causes, being unarmed makes you despised; this is one of those infamies a prince should guard himself against, as will be treated below:* for between an armed and an unarmed man there is no comparison whatsoever, and it is not reasonable for

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