The Watering Hole, Wednesday 8/31/16

THE PRINCE

CHAPTER IX

CONCERNING A CIVIL PRINCIPALITY

But coming to the other point–where a leading citizen becomes the prince of his country, not by wickedness or any intolerable violence, but by the favour of his fellow citizens–this may be called a civil principality: nor is genius or fortune altogether necessary to attain to it, but rather a happy shrewdness. I say then that such a principality is obtained either by the favour of the people or by the favour of the nobles. Because in all cities these two distinct parties are found, and from this it arises that the people do not wish to be ruled nor oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles wish to rule and oppress the people; and from these two opposite desires there arises in cities one of three results, either a principality, self- government, or anarchy.

A principality is created either by the people or by the nobles, accordingly as one or other of them has the opportunity; for the nobles, seeing they cannot withstand the people, begin to cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and they make him a prince, so that under his shadow they can give vent to their ambitions. The people, finding they cannot resist the nobles, also cry up the reputation of one of themselves, and make him a prince so as to be defended by his authority. He who obtains sovereignty by the assistance of the nobles maintains himself with more difficulty than he who comes to it by the aid of the people, because the former finds himself with many around him who consider themselves his equals, and because of this he can neither rule nor manage them to his liking. But he who reaches sovereignty by popular favour finds himself alone, and has none around him, or few, who are not prepared to obey him.

Besides this, one cannot by fair dealing, and without injury to others, satisfy the nobles, but you can satisfy the people, for their object is more righteous than that of the nobles, the latter wishing to oppress, while the former only desire not to be oppressed. It is to be added also that a prince can never secure himself against a hostile people, because of their being too many, whilst from the nobles he can secure himself, as they are few in number. The worst that a prince may expect from a hostile people is to be abandoned by them; but from hostile nobles he has not only to fear abandonment, but also that they will rise against him; for they, being in these affairs more far- seeing and astute, always come forward in time to save themselves, and to obtain favours from him whom they expect to prevail. Further, the prince is compelled to live always with the same people, but he can do well without the same nobles, being able to make and unmake them daily, and to give or wake away authority when it pleases him.

Therefore, to make this point clearer, I say that the nobles ought to be looked at mainly in two ways: that is to say, they either shape their course in such a way as binds them entirely to your fortune, or they do not. Those who so bind themselves, and are not rapacious, ought to be honoured and loved; those who do not bind themselves may be dealt with in two ways; they may fail to do this through pusillanimity and a natural want of courage, in which case you ought to make use of them, especially of those who are of good counsel; and thus, whilst in prosperity you honour them, in adversity you do not have to fear them. But when for their own ambitious ends they shun binding themselves, it is a token that they are giving more thought to themselves than to you, and a prince out to guard against such, and to fear them as if they were open enemies, because in adversity they always help to ruin him.

Therefore, one who becomes a prince through the favour of the people ought to keep them friendly, and this he can easily do seeing they only ask not to be oppressed by him. But one who, in opposition to the people, becomes a prince by the favour of the nobles, ought, above everything, to seek to win the people over to himself, and this he may easily do if he takes them under his protection. Because men, when they receive good from him of whom they were expecting evil, are bound more closely to their benefactor; thus the people quickly become more devoted to him than if he had been raised to the principality by their favours; and the prince can win their affections in many ways, but as these vary according to the circumstances one cannot give fixed rules, so I omit them; but, I repeat, it is necessary for a prince to have the people friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity.

Nabis,[*] Prince of the Spartans, sustained the attack of all Greece, and of a victorious Roman army, and against them he defended his country and his government; and for the overcoming of this peril it was only necessary for him to make himself secure against a few, but this would not have been sufficient had the people been hostile. And do not let any one impugn this statement with the trite proverb that “He who builds on the people, builds on the mud,” for this is true when a private citizen makes a foundation there, and persuades himself that the people will free him when he is oppressed by his enemies or by the magistrates; wherein he would find himself very often deceived, as happened to the Gracchi in Rome and to Messer Giorgio Scali[+] in Florence. But granted a prince who has established himself as above, who can command, and is a man of courage, undismayed in adversity, who does not fail in other qualifications, and who, by his resolution and energy, keeps the whole people encouraged–such a one will never find himself deceived in them, and it will be shown that he has laid his foundations well.

[*] Nabis, tyrant of Sparta, conquered by the Romans under Flamininus in 195 B.C.; killed 192 B.C.

[+] Messer Giorgio Scali. This event is to be found in Machiavelli’s “Florentine History,” Book III.

These principalities are liable to danger when they are passing from the civil to the absolute order of government, for such princes either rule personally or through magistrates. In the latter case their government is weaker and more insecure, because it rests entirely on the goodwill of those citizens who are raised to the magistracy, and who, especially in troubled times, can destroy the government with great ease, either by intrigue or open defiance; and the prince has not the chance amid tumults to exercise absolute authority, because the citizens and subjects, accustomed to receive orders from magistrates, are not of a mind to obey him amid these confusions, and there will always be in doubtful times a scarcity of men whom he can trust. For such a prince cannot rely upon what he observes in quiet times, when citizens have need of the state, because then every one agrees with him; they all promise, and when death is far distant they all wish to die for him; but in troubled times, when the state has need of its citizens, then he finds but few. And so much the more is this experiment dangerous, inasmuch as it can only be tried once. Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always in every sort and kind of circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always find them faithful.

OPEN THREAD

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The Watering Hole, Tuesday, August 30th, 2016: “Invest in Beauty”

I was going to tell a dreary tale – about a disturbing conversation I had with a customer who, somewhere in the discussion of her foot problems, managed to bring up Trump and her buzzword-laden approval of him – for today’s post. Instead, thanks to two Zoosters’ comments from yesterday’s thread, here’s some cat stuff.

In yesterday’s comments, pete contributed the following:

“I have often thought that the world would be a better place if evolution had just stopped after cats; large and small. Sure. They are vicious predators with a complete absence of mercy but they are also graceful, intelligent, and have a fantastic sense of humor.”

Not much later, fatherbob posted a link to an article about a lost cat being found next to its “missing cat” poster. The same site had another article about professional photographer Robert Sijka’s photos of “Bearded Cats”, aka Maine Coons; the article includes a brief gallery of glorious creatures, and a link to more. You HAVE to check them out.  As the author of the article says:

“Maine Coons are the largest domesticated felines in the world, able to grow up to four feet in length. The breed is characterised by their gentle nature and their fabulous fur, which can easily be mistaken for a scruffy beard.
Basically, they’re kinda like a lynx, except that they won’t try to kill you.”

Of course, Maine Coons start out all tiny and innocent-looking, like these:
MaineCoonsPictures-1024-768-Origami-MCO-f2203-photos-Ni794815Maine_Coon_cat_licking_its_paw_044972_But they eventually turn into the fiercely beautiful, majestic, dignified, imperial creatures that all cats innately are, regardless of size or fur length.
MaineCoonSilverTabbyMaine-Coon-Cat-6-1024x680There, that’s better than some scary Trump supporter, right?

Last week I ran across a quote on a greeting card that I’m compelled to share:

“If you ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.”

~ Frank Lloyd Wright ~

This is our daily Open Thread. You know what to do.

The Cheat Goes On – A Song Parody

Today’s open thread is going to be a song parody suggested to me by Alert Reader houseofroberts. (Thanks, house.) It’s a parody of Sonny and Cher’s “The Beat Goes On,” and it’s about (insert favorite insult here) Donald J. Trump.

The Cheat Goes On
Original words and music, “The Beat Goes On” by Sonny Bono, 1967
Additional lyrics by Wayne A. Schneider, 2016

The cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Commodore was once the rage, uh-oh
Boastfully he turned a page, uh-oh
The branding crap’s the current thing, uh-oh
Tinyhander is their newborn king, uh-oh

And the cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Democracy more’s the super sport, uh-oh
Listen, girls still make their marks, uh-oh
And troops will keep on marching off to war
Electorally they keep a dismal score

The cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

Koch boys sit in chairs and moan and piss
Trump keeps chasing blacks to get a kiss
The lies keep a-coming faster all the time
Some folks cry, “Hey, Donny, did you do a crime?”

And the cheat goes on, the cheat goes on
Just keep sounding a victim to their brains
Donny, Donny, deke, Donny, Donny, dumb

And the cheat goes on, and the cheat goes on
And the cheat goes on, and the cheat goes on

That’s it for our show. You’ve been a great audience. Don’t forget to tip the veal and try the waitresses. Talk about what you wish.

The Watering Hole; Friday August 26 2016; Insanity’s Latest Alt-Right Manifestations

 I could not have defined the change —
Conversion of the Mind
Like Sanctifying in the Soul —
Is witnessed — not explained –
(Emily Dickinson)

******

Right wing Insanity — aka ‘Alt-Right’ — seems to have resulted in a Conversion of the Mind of some, a conversion that many of us, myself included, have  witnessed — not explained. I have, thankfully, no idea what it’s like to be nuts in the way the right winger whitey-boy so-called “nationalist” and his minions are nuts, and for that I thank all the gods that can ever be devised, created, or even imagined.

I could probably rant for hours on the stupidity/insanity of the nonsensical argument that white folks are superior to each and every person with brown skin — or even cockroaches, for that matter — but in the interest of genuine truth and accuracy, I’ll take a rain check and instead, simply toss out some snippets from a couple of linked articles which clearly serve to dismiss that particular argument with more (unintended) fervor than I could ever muster (this late in the week, at least).

Best advice: prepare yourself; cover your keyboard (saran recommended), and next, here goes, as they say, nothin’:

Alt-Right Founder Demands Clinton Apologize To ‘European-Americans Everywhere’

Richard Spencer, the white nationalist activist who coined the term “alt-right” to describe the emerging racist movement of which he is a leader, lashed out at Hillary Clinton today for her plans to criticize Donald Trump for his ties to the alt-right movement. . . .

From Spencer’s (National Policy Insititute) press release:

[. . .]

Hillary and her allies in “conservative” media will stop at nothing to portray peaceful European-American advocacy as a dark specter haunting America. In reality, she and her allies, especially so-called “conservatives,” are only giving comfort to the most radical and violent elements in our society.

We disavow any attempts by Clinton or any of her surrogates on the left, right, or center to tag the National Policy Institute or the work we do as violent extremism. We call on her and her allies to issue an apology to European-Americans everywhere and confront her own troubling links to extremism and the civil unrest she has stoked for months.

That one was pretty bad, but then there’s this:

While Trump Champions The Alt-Right In America, Putin Spreads Its Ideology Through Europe

For years, the GOP has been moving away from its identity as a traditional center-right party and morphing into something that more resembles the populist fringe parties of Europe.

Donald Trump’s candidacy has all but completed this transformation.

[. . .]

The alt-right thinks the mainstream conservative movement has been compromised by feminism, racial tolerance and “globalism,” and that only a reactionary, populist movement that speaks to the plight of white men can save America from political correctness and multiculturalism. The alt-right is drenched in racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and misogyny.

[. . .]

Russia under Putin’s leadership has been promoting ultraconservative political groups in Europe with the goal of weakening the EU and the liberalism, democracy and cultural pluralism that comes with it. . . . “As European far-right leaders openly voice their support for Moscow, it would be wise to remember that Putin’s Russia is not just another ‘meddling power’ lobbying for its interests,” writes Alina Polyakova. “It is a government hostile to the West and the value system—democracy, freedom of expression, political accountability—that it represents.”

[…]

The Russian government has also sponsored a global right-wing effort to portray the U.S. and Europe as victims of cultural rot due to homosexuality, abortion rights and secular government, and Russia as the protector and preserver of traditional Christian values. . . . Trump, who aspires to be the Russian president’s “new best friend,” has praised Putin as “a leader, unlike what we have in this country,” and has seemed to side with Putin’s position on the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria and shared in fueling doubts about the future of the EU and NATO. Trump’s campaign is stacked with officials with Russian ties and, at least according to his eldest son, his businesses have seen “a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

Sounds like maybe if we the people elect a President Trump, we might also wind up looking forward to what, the possibility of a future union between Amurkkka and Russia? “One Nation, Under __?__” . . . and “Dedicated to the proposition that all men are [NOT] created equal [and neither are their wimmin] . . .” etc.?

YeeHaw!

VOTE TRUMP! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! LET’S HAVE A FUTURE UNION BETWEEN AMURKKKA and RUSSIA!

F*U*B*A*R!

Oh. Ummm . . . wait.

Rats. There it is again. That old and all too familiar Danger to be Sane affliction. Sigh. Nemesis. How can we rid ourselves of it?

Insanity: Madness; state of being unsound in mind.

******

‘Twas a Divine Insanity —
The Danger to be Sane
Should I again experience —
‘Tis Antidote to turn —
To Tomes of solid Witchcraft –
(Emily Dickinson)

VOTE TRUMP!
Or maybe turn / To Tomes of solid Witchcraft?

******

OK. I give up. Gonna move on, think of something pleasant, something civil.

2014 June 29 Bullsnake 124

Yeah. OK. Like that.

OPEN THREAD

Breaking Gnus: Asstroid Headed for Earth

Amateur Astrologist Hugo DeGasse is credited with discovering a new asstroid earlier this month using a crude radio-telescope made from parts he bought at a Radio Shack going-out-of-business sale.

NASA confirmed the sighting and explained the reason why it escaped their detection. This asstroid is unusual, a NASA spokesperson explained, in that it is made up entirely of frozen methane. While NASA’s equipment was geared for picking up the spectral signature of water-based comets and mineral-based asstroids, Hugo’s crude telescope was fortunately capable of detecting only methane-based objects in the night sky, which made locating this asstroid quite easy for him.

The asstroid is on course to arrive in the Earth’s atmosphere in early November. Current computer-based trajectories indicate it will be a near-miss as it penetrates the atmosphere somewhere over the western Atlantic Ocean in the northern hemisphere. From there it will pass over the eastern seaboard of the United States, cross the Appalachians and burn up in the atmosphere in a bright blue explosion somewhere over the Midwest. Although the asstroid is not expected to cause injuries, NASA scientists warn that people with breathing problems should remain indoors as the object passes overhead, as unburnt methane would likely leave a stench that will last for at least a day.

The asstroid has already been named Hugo DeGasse, after the man who first spotted the now-identified flying object.

The Watering Hole; Thursday August 25 2016; The American Right Wing; A Circumferential (Poetic) Analysis of Its Politicians and the Dismal Future They Portend

The Poets light but Lamps —
Themselves — go out —
The Wicks they stimulate —
If vital Light

Inhere as do the Suns —
Each Age a Lens
Disseminating their
Circumference
(Emily Dickinson)

******

The nineteenth century American Poet Emily Dickinson liked to use the word “Circumference” to define the undercurrent ‘content’ in and of her poetry. According to the recently published Emily Dickinson Lexicon, her use of Circumference in the poem above  (J-883) implies “semantic connotations that go beyond the core meaning of a word” as in metaphoric “experience; reality; enlightenment; intelligence; revelation; inspiration; wisdom.” Dickinson apparently also saw, in Circumference, what would be considered “irrefutable aspects of reality.”

As an amateur ‘poet,’ I’ve long found that whole idea to be not only intriguing, but also a fun way to kill several hours on each of several days, sometimes for several weeks, all in pursuit of the idea of coming up with various “semantic connotations that go beyond the core meaning of a word” or of a name, maybe? Simple task, right? Well, OK, not ‘simple,’ but intriguing enough to snag my attention. So I decided to give it all a try. My poetic style choice was the sonnet: 14 lines, 10 syllables per line, Shakespearean rhyming pattern abab.cdcd.efef.gg. That part’s tough enough, but I soon got to wondering if I could also find a way to use fourteen of the letters from the poem’s main title acrostically, i.e. as the first letters, in order, of each of the sonnet’s fourteen lines which together might (hopefully!) produce a statement containing “irrefutable aspects of reality,” aka Circumference!

So without further ado: first in line is this one, written late in the George W. Bush years, circa 2007. it’s actually less about Dubya than it is about the impact of his eight years on the country and its people, a consequence more likely related to the entire of his administration and not just himself; but still, he owns it.

Gone, Wasted, Broken –
The Legacy of GEORGE W BUSH
An Elegy on America

Gone now, America’s halcyon days
Where Reason stood tall and grand in the sun;
Brilliance defined Her equanimous ways –
Gone now, expunged, all Her triumphs hard won.
E. pluribus unum: Her goal was clear;
One chosen from many, She alone rose
Reflecting the grandeur of cause sincere,
Gone now, forever corrupted by woes.
Environment – Poisoned with gas and fume;
Waters – Mercurial, deadly as wars;
Broken – A people, too cold to exhume;
Uberty – Transposed to desolate shores;
Society – Crushed, then forced to concede
Hegemony – now become pow’r . . . and greed.

Next, from the pre-election months of 2012, my circumferential impressions of Candidate Mitt Romney, including the probable impact of his Oligarch-style wealth and greed mantras on the country, along with my own notion that if he won the election, then “Nobody” would be President.

WILLARD M ROMNEY
The Odyssey of Nemo
Of Nobody
With Much Regret

When greed defines a nominee’s malaise,
Implicitly, the nation’s fortunes loom
Like mountains visible through brownish haze,
Like ocean’s breakers crashing in the gloom
And doom of icy or cyclonic storm.
Republics and Democracies succumb;
Death assumes a barbarous pose, its form
Most certainly the product of those numb
Regurgitations from dead minds, unsheathed.
Oh death, where is thy sting?” the poet asked.
My sword’s malaise of greed to you bequeathed,”
Nemo responds, his vapid soul unmasked.
Eternal passage thus abruptly halts,
Yet Nemo ne’er will lead – he’s crazed with faults.

Next comes a more recent addition, one that’s not a sonnet, not acrostic, and not very circumferential, because when the topic is Trump, circumference and metaphor really aren’t always all that necessary (or even available)!

DONALD J. TRUMP
His 2016 Candidacy: Parsed
(sort of)

If ever there was a moment of note,
This moment might well be the one;
If ever there’s been a good time to act,
That time hasn’t passed, it’s NOT gone.

Time, when it’s wasted, impacts that ‘right now’
Which surfaced a second ago,
And future arriving a second too soon
 Can oftentimes screw up the show!

The show now on stage rehashes again
Those mistakes that define whence we’ve come;
The reason is clear, it’s not hard to see:
Hair Drumpf is the consummate BUM!

If ever there was a screwball of note,
This screwball’s atop a long list;
Of each and all bums from present and past,
THIS one, when gone, won’t be missed!

So think of all that the next time you find
A moment to ponder, to parse —
Employ the best means such moment allows,
Then throw this bum out on his arse!

The fourth poem is a return to the fourteen line acrostic sonnet in which the unburdened message is the title, which is also embedded acrostically. The circumference — those “semantic connotations that go beyond the core meaning of a word” — is embedded in the body of the sonnet — its structure, its words, rhyming patterns, etc. — and hopefully suggests metaphors of “experience; reality; enlightenment; intelligence; revelation; inspiration; wisdom” alongside “irrefutable aspects of reality,” and all in ways which clarify the unburdened title’s message.

REQUIEM: AMERICA

Requiem, as dirge of sophistic love,
Exposes destinies which nations earn.
Quoth Hamlet: “Conscience does make cowards of
Us all” – that is, till We the People learn,
Implicitly, that human Cowardice
Exudes contempt for Rationalities.
Meanwhile, mankind’s destiny – Avarice –
Appears in service to those Vanities
Most shallowed minds presume to be their right,
Enabling failure thus of Self, of State.
Repression blooms and quickly dims all light
Intrinsic to the heart of Freedom’s Fate –
Consumed – whilst words of Truth, now specious, Moan . . .
And stand as lifeless slogans . . . etched in stone.

And finally, a non-circumferential Emily Dickinson verse containing but one simile and no exhaustive metaphor, but which nevertheless manages to sum up — in four lines and a mere twenty-one words — the entire of the personas of each George W. Bush, Willard M. Romney, and Donald J. Trump (along with the bulk of the remainder of the entire Republican Party, for that matter). Or maybe that’s Circumference in its purest form!

How dreary — to be — Somebody!
How public — like a Frog —
To tell one’s name — the livelong June —
To an admiring Bog!

******

Final note: Setting Poetry, Circumference, and the collective message(s) embedded therein aside for the moment, one fact continues to stand tall by itself, and it needs no metaphorical support to burgeon its impact: Far Right Wing Politics represent one of the — if not THE — most deadly and dangerous enemies of the State, of we the People, of Civilization, and of the Planet itself. This country continues to teeter on the brink of succumbing to that political machine that cares for NOTHING other than power and the wealth thereby gatherable. In fact, the most salient way to put Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan into effect would be to turn the clock back some sixty years, dispose of right wing conservatism completely, and work instead to build a nation and a society in which there is no hate, no fear, no greed, but instead one that’s built upon education, creative thought, innovation, and, of course, Poetic Circumference! — all of which invariably work together hand-in-hand to discourage the unenlightened thought that defines Right Wing Conservatism. And then we can — finally — begin again that elusive goal of building a civilization NOT based on hate, fear, and avarice.

Worth a try, I’d say.

******

“OK, we’ll have to leave it there.”

OPEN THREAD

The Watering Hole, Wednesday 8/24/16

THE PRINCE

CHAPTER VIII

CONCERNING THOSE WHO HAVE OBTAINED A PRINCIPALITY BY WICKEDNESS

Although a prince may rise from a private station in two ways, neither of which can be entirely attributed to fortune or genius, yet it is manifest to me that I must not be silent on them, although one could be more copiously treated when I discuss republics. These methods are when, either by some wicked or nefarious ways, one ascends to the principality, or when by the favour of his fellow-citizens a private person becomes the prince of his country. And speaking of the first method, it will be illustrated by two examples–one ancient, the other modern–and without entering further into the subject, I consider these two examples will suffice those who may be compelled to follow them.

Agathocles, the Sicilian,[*] became King of Syracuse not only from a private but from a low and abject position. This man, the son of a potter, through all the changes in his fortunes always led an infamous life. Nevertheless, he accompanied his infamies with so much ability of mind and body that, having devoted himself to the military profession, he rose through its ranks to be Praetor of Syracuse. Being established in that position, and having deliberately resolved to make himself prince and to seize by violence, without obligation to others, that which had been conceded to him by assent, he came to an understanding for this purpose with Amilcar, the Carthaginian, who, with his army, was fighting in Sicily. One morning he assembled the people and the senate of Syracuse, as if he had to discuss with them things relating to the Republic, and at a given signal the soldiers killed all the senators and the richest of the people; these dead, he seized and held the princedom of that city without any civil commotion. And although he was twice routed by the Carthaginians, and ultimately besieged, yet not only was he able to defend his city, but leaving part of his men for its defence, with the others he attacked Africa, and in a short time raised the siege of Syracuse. The Carthaginians, reduced to extreme necessity, were compelled to come to terms with Agathocles, and, leaving Sicily to him, had to be content with the possession of Africa.

[*] Agathocles the Sicilian, born 361 B.C., died 289 B.C.

Therefore, he who considers the actions and the genius of this man will see nothing, or little, which can be attributed to fortune, inasmuch as he attained pre-eminence, as is shown above, not by the favour of any one, but step by step in the military profession, which steps were gained with a thousand troubles and perils, and were afterwards boldly held by him with many hazardous dangers. Yet it cannot be called talent to slay fellow-citizens, to deceive friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion; such methods may gain empire, but not glory. Still, if the courage of Agathocles in entering into and extricating himself from dangers be considered, together with his greatness of mind in enduring and overcoming hardships, it cannot be seen why he should be esteemed less than the most notable captain. Nevertheless, his barbarous cruelty and inhumanity with infinite wickedness do not permit him to be celebrated among the most excellent men. What he achieved cannot be attributed either to fortune or genius.

In our times, during the rule of Alexander the Sixth, Oliverotto da Fermo, having been left an orphan many years before, was brought up by his maternal uncle, Giovanni Fogliani, and in the early days of his youth sent to fight under Pagolo Vitelli, that, being trained under his discipline, he might attain some high position in the military profession. After Pagolo died, he fought under his brother Vitellozzo, and in a very short time, being endowed with wit and a vigorous body and mind, he became the first man in his profession. But it appearing a paltry thing to serve under others, he resolved, with the aid of some citizens of Fermo, to whom the slavery of their country was dearer than its liberty, and with the help of the Vitelleschi, to seize Fermo. So he wrote to Giovanni Fogliani that, having been away from home for many years, he wished to visit him and his city, and in some measure to look upon his patrimony; and although he had not laboured to acquire anything except honour, yet, in order that the citizens should see he had not spent his time in vain, he desired to come honourably, so would be accompanied by one hundred horsemen, his friends and retainers; and he entreated Giovanni to arrange that he should be received honourably by the Fermians, all of which would be not only to his honour, but also to that of Giovanni himself, who had brought him up.

Giovanni, therefore, did not fail in any attentions due to his nephew, and he caused him to be honourably received by the Fermians, and he lodged him in his own house, where, having passed some days, and having arranged what was necessary for his wicked designs, Oliverotto gave a solemn banquet to which he invited Giovanni Fogliani and the chiefs of Fermo. When the viands and all the other entertainments that are usual in such banquets were finished, Oliverotto artfully began certain grave discourses, speaking of the greatness of Pope Alexander and his son Cesare, and of their enterprises, to which discourse Giovanni and others answered; but he rose at once, saying that such matters ought to be discussed in a more private place, and he betook himself to a chamber, whither Giovanni and the rest of the citizens went in after him. No sooner were they seated than soldiers issued from secret places and slaughtered Giovanni and the rest. After these murders Oliverotto, mounted on horseback, rode up and down the town and besieged the chief magistrate in the palace, so that in fear the people were forced to obey him, and to form a government, of which he made himself the prince. He killed all the malcontents who were able to injure him, and strengthened himself with new civil and military ordinances, in such a way that, in the year during which he held the principality, not only was he secure in the city of Fermo, but he had become formidable to all his neighbours. And his destruction would have been as difficult as that of Agathocles if he had not allowed himself to be overreached by Cesare Borgia, who took him with the Orsini and Vitelli at Sinigalia, as was stated above. Thus one year after he had committed this parricide, he was strangled, together with Vitellozzo, whom he had made his leader in valour and wickedness.

Some may wonder how it can happen that Agathocles, and his like, after infinite treacheries and cruelties, should live for long secure in his country, and defend himself from external enemies, and never be conspired against by his own citizens; seeing that many others, by means of cruelty, have never been able even in peaceful times to hold the state, still less in the doubtful times of war. I believe that this follows from severities[*] being badly or properly used. Those may be called properly used, if of evil it is possible to speak well, that are applied at one blow and are necessary to one’s security, and that are not persisted in afterwards unless they can be turned to the advantage of the subjects. The badly employed are those which, notwithstanding they may be few in the commencement, multiply with time rather than decrease. Those who practise the first system are able, by aid of God or man, to mitigate in some degree their rule, as Agathocles did. It is impossible for those who follow the other to maintain themselves.

[*] Mr Burd suggests that this word probably comes near the modern equivalent of Machiavelli’s thought when he speaks of “crudelta” than the more obvious “cruelties.”

Hence it is to be remarked that, in seizing a state, the usurper ought to examine closely into all those injuries which it is necessary for him to inflict, and to do them all at one stroke so as not to have to repeat them daily; and thus by not unsettling men he will be able to reassure them, and win them to himself by benefits. He who does otherwise, either from timidity or evil advice, is always compelled to keep the knife in his hand; neither can he rely on his subjects, nor can they attach themselves to him, owing to their continued and repeated wrongs. For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavour of them may last longer.

And above all things, a prince ought to live amongst his people in such a way that no unexpected circumstances, whether of good or evil, shall make him change; because if the necessity for this comes in troubled times, you are too late for harsh measures; and mild ones will not help you, for they will be considered as forced from you, and no one will be under any obligation to you for them.

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