46.'We ought not therefore to act hastily out of a mistaken reliance on the security which
the1 penalty of death affords.Nor should we drive our rebellious subjects to despair; they must not think that there
is no place for repentance, or that they may not at any moment give up their mistaken
Consider: at present, although a city may actually have revolted, when she becomes
conscious of her weakness she will capitulate while still able to defray the cost of the
war and to pay tribute for the future; but if we are too severe, will not the citizens
make better preparations, and, when besieged, resist to the last, knowing that it is all
the same whether they come to terms early or late?Shall not we ourselves suffer?
For we shall waste our money by sitting down before a city which refuses to surrender;
when the place is taken it will be a mere wreck, and we shall in future
lose the revenues derived from it2; and in these revenues lies our military strength.
Do not then weigh offences with the severity of a judge, when you will only be injuring
yourselves, but have an eye to the future; let the penalties which you impose on
rebellious cities be moderate, and then their wealth will be undiminished and at your
service.Do not hope to find a safeguard in the severity of your laws, but only in the vigilance
of your administration.At present we do just the opposite;
a free people under a strong government will always revolt in the hope of independence;
and when we have put them down we think that they cannot be punished too severely.
But instead of inflicting extreme penalties on free men who revolt, we should practise
extreme vigilance before they revolt, and never allow such a thought to enter their
minds.When however they have been once put down we ought to extenuate their crimes as much as
The threat of severe punishment will make rebels fight to the last, and, if we
succeed, we shall only gain a ruined city. Our true policy is prevention, not
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