WHAT THE DUTIES OF A PRINCE ARE WITH REGARD
TO THE MILITIA
A Prince should therefore have no other aim or thought, nor take up any other thing for his study, but war and its order and discipline, for that is the only art that is necessary to one who commands, and it is of such virtue that it not only maintains those who are born princes, but often enables men of private fortune to attain to that rank. And one sees, on the other hand, that when princes think more of luxury than of arms, they lose their state. The chief cause which makes any one lose it, is the contempt of this art, and the way to acquire it is to be well versed in the same. Francesco Sforza, through being well armed, became, from a private position, Duke of Milan; his sons, through wishing to avoid the fatigue and hardship of war, from dukes became private persons. For among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible; which is one of those disgraceful things which a prince must guard against, as will be explained later. Because there is no comparison whatever between an armed man and a disarmed one ; it is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed; or that any unarmed man will remain safe among armed servants. For one being disdainful and the other suspicious, it is not possible for them to act well together. And yet a prince who is ignorant of military matters, besides the other misfortunes already mentioned, cannot be esteemed by his soldiers, nor have confidence in them. He ought, therefore, never to let his thoughts stray from the exercise of war; and in peace he ought to practise it more than in war, which he can do in two ways: both by action and by study. As to action, he must, besides keeping his men well disciplined and exercised, engage continually in hunting, and thus accustom his body to hardships; and on the other hand learn the nature of the land, how the mountains rise, how the valleys are disposed, where the plains lie, and understand the nature of the rivers and swamps, and to this he should devote great attention. This knowledge is useful in two ways. In the first place, one learns to know one's country, and can the better see how to defend it. Then by means of the knowledge and experience gained in one locality, one can easily understand any other that it may be necessary to venture on, for the hills and valleys, plains and rivers of Tuscany, for instance, have a certain resemblance to those of other provinces, so that from a knowledge of the country in one province one can easily arrive at a knowledge of others. And that prince who is lacking in this skill is wanting in the first essentials of a leader; for it is this which teaches how to find the enemy, take up quarters, lead armies, arrange marches and occupy positions with advantage. Philopoemen, prince of the Achæi, among other praises bestowed on him by writers, is lauded because in times of peace he thought of nothing but the methods of warfare, and when he was in the country with his friends, he often stopped and asked them: If the enemy were on that hill and we found ourselves here with our army, which of us would have the advantage? How could we safely approach him maintaining our order? If we wished to retire, what ought we to do? If they retired, how should we follow them? And he put before them as they went along all the cases that might happen to an army, heard their opinion, gave his own, fortifying it by argument; so that through these continued cogitations there could never happen any incident when leading his armies for which he was not prepared. But as to exercise for the mind, the prince ought to read history and study the actions of eminent men, see how they acted in warfare, examine the causes of their victories and losses in order to imitate the former and avoid the latter, and above all, do as some eminent men have done in the past, who have imitated some one, who has been much praised and glorified, and have always kept their deeds and actions before them, as they say Alexander the Great imitated Achilles, Caesar Alexander, and Scipio Cyrus. And whoever reads the life of Cyrus written by Xenophon, will perceive in the life of Scipio how gloriously he imitated him, and how, in chastity, affability, humanity, and liberality Scipio conformed to those qualities of Cyrus described by Xenophon.
A wise prince should follow similar methods and never remain idle in peaceful times, but by industry make such good use of the time as may serve him in adversity, so that when fortune changes she may find him prepared to resist her blows.