THAT WHICH CONCERNS A PRINCE ON THE SUBJECT OF THE ART OF WAR

CHAPTER XIV: THAT WHICH CONCERNS A PRINCE ON THE SUBJECT OF THE
ART OF WAR
A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study,
than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules,
and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often
enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that
when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states. And the
first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is
to be master of the art. Francesco Sforza, through being martial, from a private person
became Duke of Milan; and the sons, through avoiding the hardships and troubles of
arms, from dukes became private persons. For among other evils which being unarmed
brings you, it causes you to be despised, and this is one of those ignominies against which
a prince ought to guard himself, as is shown later on. Because there is nothing
proportionate between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who is
armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man
should be secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain and in
the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together. And therefore a
prince who does not understand the art of war, over and above the other misfortunes
already mentioned, cannot be respected by his soldiers, nor can he rely on them. He ought
never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and in peace he should
addict himself more to its exercise than in war; this he can do in two ways, the one by
action, the other by study.

THAT WHICH CONCERNS A PRINCE ON THE SUBJECT OF THE ART OF WAR


As regards action, he ought above all things to keep his men well organized and drilled,
to follow incessantly the chase, by which he accustoms his body to hardships, and learns
something of the nature of localities, and gets to find out how the mountains rise, how the
valleys open out, how the plains lie, and to understand the nature of rivers and marshes,
and in all this to take the greatest care. This knowledge is useful in two ways. Firstly, he
learns to know his country, and is better able to undertake its defense; afterwards, by
means of the knowledge and observation of that locality, he understands with ease any
other which it may be necessary for him to study hereafter; because the hills, valleys, and
plains, and rivers and marshes that are, for instance, in Tuscany, have a certain
resemblance to those of other countries, so that with a knowledge of the aspect of one
country one can easily arrive at a knowledge of others. And the prince that lacks this skill
lacks the essential which it is desirable that a captain should possess, for it teaches him to
surprise his enemy, to select quarters, to lead armies, to array the battle, to besiege towns
to advantage.


But to exercise the intellect the prince should read histories, and study there the actions of
illustrious men, to see how they have borne themselves in war, to examine the causes of
their victories and defeat, so as to avoid the latter and imitate the former; and above all do
as an illustrious man did, who took as an exemplar one who had been praised and famous
before him, and whose achievements and deeds he always kept in his mind, as it is said
Alexander the Great imitated Achilles, Caesar Alexander, Scipio Cyrus. And whoever
reads the life of Cyrus, written by Xenophon, will recognize afterwards in the life of
Scipio how that imitation was his glory, and how in chastity, affability, humanity, and
liberality Scipio conformed to those things which have been written of Cyrus by
Xenophon. A wise prince ought to observe some such rules, and never in peaceful times
stand idle, but increase his resources with industry in such a way that they may be
available to him in adversity, so that if fortune chances it may find him prepared to resist
her blows.