notes on hatred as a political instrument

uolebat accipi dicebatque identidem: ‘oderint, dum probent.’
C. Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, Tiberius, 59

tragicum illud subinde iactabat: oderint, dum metuant.
C. Suetonius Tranquillus, De Vita Caesarum, C. Caligula, 30

Sed tum servare illud poetas, quod deceat, dicimus, cum id quod quaque persona dignum est, et fit et dicitur, ut si Aeacus aut Minos diceret: oderint, dum metuant, aut: natis sepulchro ipse est parens, indecorum videretur, quod eos fuisse iustos accepimus; at Atreo dicente plausus excitantur, est enim digna persona oratio; sed poetae quid quemque deceat, ex persona iudicabunt; nobis autem personam imposuit ipsa natura magna cum excellentia praestantiaque animantium reliquarum.
M. Tulli Ciceronis De Officiis Liber Primus, 97
Now, we say that the poets observe propriety (decorum), when every word or action is in accord with each individual character. For example, if Aeacus or Minos said. “Let them hate, if only they fear,” or: “The father is himself his children’s tomb,” that would seem improper, because we are told that they were just men. But when Atreus speaks those lines [in a play by Lucius Attius], they call forth applause; for the sentiment is in keeping with the character. But it will rest with the poets to decide, according to the individual characters, what is proper for each; but to us Nature herself has assigned a character of surpassing excellence, far superior to that of all other living creatures, and in accordance with that we shall have to decide what propriety requires.
Cicero, De Officiis, book I.xxviii, translated by Walter Miller
Carum esse civem, bene de re publica mereri, laudari, coli, diligi gloriosum est; metui vero et in odio esse invidiosum, detestabile, imbecillum, caducum. quod videmus etiam in fabula illi ipsi qui ‘oderint, dum metuant’ dixerit perniciosum fuisse.
M. Tullius Cicero, In M. Antonivm Oratio Philippica Prima, 34-35
For a citizen to be dear to his fellow-citizens, to deserve well of the republic, to be praised, to be respected, to be loved, is glorious; but to be feared, and to be an object of hatred, is odious, detestable; and moreover, pregnant with weakness and decay. And we see that, even in the play, the very man who said,
        “What care I though all men should hate my name,
         So long as fear accompanies their hate?”
found that it was a mischievous principle to act upon.
―translated by C. D. Yonge
Quand j’aurai inspiré le dégoût et l’horreur universels, j’aurai conquis la solitude.
Charles Baudelaire
Once I have inspired universal disgust and horror, I will have conquered solitude.
translated by MZ

    It is curious that these familiar maxims of imperial brutality are missing their middle term. As Tiberius means hatred to engender respect, Caligula is satisfied with its production of fear. Is there room for a more restrained principle deriving respect from plain fear, metuant, dum probent?

        De liberalitate et parsimonia         Concerning Liberality And Meanness
    Cominciandomi, adunque alle prime soprascritte qualità dico come sarebbe bene essere tenuto liberale: non di manco, la liberalità, usata in modo che tu sia tenuto, ti offende; perché se ella si usa virtuosamente e come la si debbe usare, la non fia conosciuta, e non ti cascherà l’infamia del suo contrario. E però, a volersi mantenere infra li uomini el nome del liberale, è necessario non lasciare indrieto alcuna qualità di suntuosità; talmente che, sempre uno principe cosí fatto consumerà in simili opere tutte le sue facultà; e sarà necessitato alla fine, se si vorrà mantenere el nome del liberale, gravare e’ populi estraordinariamente et essere fiscale, e fare tutte quelle cose che si possono fare per avere danari. Il che comincerà a farlo odioso con sudditi, e poco stimare da nessuno, diventando povero; in modo che, con questa sua liberalità avendo offeso li assai e premiato e’ pochi, sente ogni primo disagio, e periclita in qualunque primo periculo: il che conoscendo lui, e volendosene ritrarre, incorre subito nella infamia del misero.     Commencing then with the first of the above-named characteristics, I say that it would be well to be reputed liberal. Nevertheless, liberality exercised in a way that does not bring you the reputation for it, injures you; for if one exercises it honestly and as it should be exercised, it may not become known, and you will not avoid the reproach of its opposite. Therefore, any one wishing to maintain among
men the name of liberal is obliged to avoid no attribute of magnificence; so that a prince thus inclined will consume in such acts all his property, and will be compelled in the end, if he wish to maintain the name of liberal, to unduly weigh down his people, and tax them, and do everything he can to get money. This will soon make him odious to his subjects, and becoming poor he will be little valued by any one; thus, with his liberality, having offended many and rewarded few, he is affected by the very first trouble and imperilled by whatever may be the first danger; recognizing this himself, and wishing to draw back from it, he runs at once into the reproach of being miserly.
    Uno principe, adunque, non potendo usare questa virtù del liberale sanza suo danno, in modo che la sia conosciuta, debbe, s’elli è prudente, non si curare del nome del misero: perché col tempo sarà tenuto sempre più liberale, veggendo che con la sua parsimonia le sua intrate li bastano, può defendersi da chi li fa guerra, può fare imprese sanza gravare e’ populi; talmente che viene a usare liberalità a tutti quelli a chi non toglie, che sono infiniti, e miseria a tutti coloro a chi non dà, che sono pochi. Ne’ nostri tempi noi non abbiamo veduto fare gran cose se non a quelli che sono stati tenuti miseri; li altri essere spenti. Papa Iulio II, come si fu servito del nome del liberale per aggiugnere al papato, non pensò poi a mantenerselo, per potere fare guerra. El re di Francia presente ha fatto tante guerre sanza porre uno dazio estraordinario a’ sua, solum perché alle superflue spese ha sumministrato la lunga parsimonia sua. El re di Spagna presente, se fussi tenuto liberale, non arebbe fatto né vinto tante imprese.     Therefore, a prince, not being able to exercise this virtue of liberality in such a way that it is recognized, except to his cost, if he is wise he ought not to fear the reputation of being mean, for in time he will come to be more considered than if liberal, seeing that with his economy his revenues are enough, that he can defend himself against all attacks, and is able to engage in enterprises without burdening his people; thus it comes to pass that he exercises liberality towards all from whom he does not take, who are numberless, and meanness towards those to whom he does not give, who are few. We have not seen great things done in our time except by those who have been considered mean; the rest have failed. Pope Julius the Second was assisted in reaching the papacy by a reputation for liberality, yet he did not strive afterwards to keep it up, when he made war on the King of France; and he made many wars without imposing any extraordinary tax on his subjects, for he supplied his additional expenses out of his long thriftiness. The present King of Spain would not have undertaken or conquered in so many enterprises if he had been reputed liberal.
    Per tanto, uno principe debbe esistimare poco, per non avere a rubare e’ sudditi, per potere defendersi, per non diventare povero e contennendo, per non essere forzato di diventare rapace, di incorrere nel nome del misero; perché questo è uno di quelli vizii che lo fanno regnare. E se alcuno dicessi: Cesare con la liberalità pervenne allo imperio, e molti altri, per essere stati et essere tenuti liberali, sono venuti a gradi grandissimi; rispondo: o tu se’ principe fatto, o tu se’ in via di acquistarlo: nel primo caso, questa liberalità è dannosa; nel secondo, è bene necessario essere tenuto liberale. E Cesare era uno di quelli che voleva pervenire al principato di Roma; ma, se, poi che vi fu venuto, fussi sopravvissuto, e non si fussi temperato da quelle spese, arebbe destrutto quello imperio. E se alcuno replicassi: molti sono stati principi, e con li eserciti hanno fatto gran cose, che sono stati tenuti liberalissimi; ti respondo: o el principe spende del suo e de’ sua sudditi, o di quello d’altri; nel primo caso, debbe essere parco; nell’altro, non debbe lasciare indrieto parte alcuna di liberalità. E quel principe che va con li eserciti, che si pasce di prede, di sacchi e di taglie, maneggia quel di altri, li è necessaria questa liberalità; altrimenti non sarebbe seguíto da’ soldati. E di quello che non è tuo, o di sudditi tua, si può essere più largo donatore: come fu Ciro, Cesare et Alessandro; perché lo spendere quello d’altri non ti toglie reputazione, ma te ne aggiugne; solamente lo spendere el tuo è quello che ti nuoce. E non ci è cosa che consumi sé stessa quanto la liberalità: la quale mentre che tu usi, perdi la facultà di usarla; e diventi, o povero e contennendo, o, per fuggire la povertà, rapace et odioso. Et intra tutte le cose di che uno principe si debbe guardare, è lo essere contennendo et odioso; e la liberalità all’una e l’altra cosa ti conduce. Per tanto è più sapienzia tenersi el nome del misero, che partorisce una infamia sanza odio, che, per volere el nome del liberale, essere necessitato incorrere nel nome di rapace, che partorisce una infamia con odio.     A prince, therefore, provided that he has not to rob his subjects, that he can defend himself, that he does not become poor and abject, that he is not forced to become rapacious, ought to hold of little account a reputation for being mean, for it is one of those vices which will enable him to govern. And if any one should say: Caesar obtained empire by liberality, and many others have reached the highest positions by having been liberal, and by being considered so, I answer: Either you are a prince in fact, or in a way to become one. In the first case this liberality is dangerous, in the second it is very necessary to be considered liberal; and Caesar was one of those who wished to become pre-eminent in Rome; but if he had survived after becoming so, and had not moderated his expenses, he would have destroyed his government. And if any one should reply: Many have been princes, and have done great things with armies, who have been considered very liberal, I reply: Either a prince spends that which is his own or his subjects’ or else that of others. In the first case he ought to be sparing, in the second he ought not to neglect any opportunity for liberality. And to the prince who goes forth with his army, supporting it by pillage, sack, and extortion, handling that which belongs to others, this liberality is necessary, otherwise he would not be followed by soldiers. And of that which is neither yours nor your subjects’ you can be a ready giver, as were Cyrus, Caesar, and Alexander; because it does not take away your reputation if you squander that of others, but adds to it; it is only squandering your own that injures you. And there is nothing wastes so rapidly as liberality, for even whilst you exercise it you lose the power to do so, and so become either poor or despised, or else, in avoiding poverty, rapacious and hated. And a prince should guard himself, above all things, against being despised and hated; and liberality leads you to both. Therefore it is wiser to have a reputation for meanness which brings reproach without hatred, than to be compelled through seeking a reputation for liberality to incur a name for rapacity which begets reproach with hatred.
    ―Niccolò Machiavelli, Il Principe, Capitolo 16     ―translated by W. K. Marriott March

One thought on “notes on hatred as a political instrument”

  1. When a prince throws largesse to the crowd, the ones who pick the greatest share may well be the least worthy ones, for a decent man will be hampered by his scruples. That well may be wise council that Machiavelli gives. But this is not the council that is appropriate to the present situation here, in Russia. The “prudent” liberals who seem to be running the show here starve the education and the health care, while selling more oil then necessary to cover the current payments. The government stores the proceeds brought by selling the appreciating commodities in depreciating dollars. Great deal for our friends the Americans, I am sure. As for me, I reread with comprehension Misha Verbitsky’s calls to execute the ministers and Duma deputies. The sorrier and more repellent lot had never burdened the country.

    BTW, I appreciate your opening of the friends-only livejournal entries for my perusal.

    Michael Kagalenko

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