Appendix D

The Art of War1

[Fabrizio and his audience]

When Fabrizio Colonna returned from Lombardy, where he had long been campaigning for the Catholic king with great glory to himself, he decided, as he was passing through Florence, to rest some days in that city in order to visit His Excellency the Duke and to see again some gentlemen with whom in the past he had been acquainted. Hence Cosimo thought it proper to invite him to a banquet in his gardens [Oricellari], not so much to exercise his own liberality as to have a reason for speaking with him at length, and from him hearing and learning various things such as from a man of that sort can be hoped for, since it seemed to Cosimo a chance to spend a day in talking about those matters that brought satisfaction to his own spirit. So Fabrizio came as Cosimo wished and was received by him along with other faithful friends, among whom were Zanobi Buondelmonti, Batista della Palla and Luigi Alamanni, all young men loved by him and zealous in the same studies, whose good qualities, because every day and every hour they are their own praise, we shall omit. Fabrizio, then, according to the times and the place, was by all of them honoured with the greatest possible honours.

[The ancients to be imitated in vigour]

But when the pleasures of the banquet were over, and the tables were cleared and every sort of festivity had been concluded – something that in the presence of noble men whose minds are intent on honourable thoughts is concluded quickly – since the day was long and the heat great, Cosimo thought that in order better to satisfy his desire it would be well, using the excuse of escaping the heat, to go to the most secluded and shady part of his garden. When they had arrived there and taken seats, some on the grass, which is very fresh in that place, some on the seats arranged in those spots under the shade of very tall trees, Fabrizio praised the spot as delightful, and observing the trees closely and failing to recognise some of them, he was puzzled. Observing this, Cosimo said: `You perhaps do not know some of these trees; but do not think it strange, because some of them were more renowned by the ancients than today they are by common custom.' And having told him their names and how Bernardo his grandfather had busied himself with such cultivation, he was answered by Fabrizio: `I was thinking that it might be as you say, and this place and this avocation were making me remember some princes of the kingdom, to whom these ancient plantings and shades give pleasure.' And pausing in his remarks at this point and sitting for a while as though inwardly intent on something, he added: `If I thought I should not give offence, I would tell you my opinion of it, but I do not believe I shall offend, since I am speaking with friends, and in order to discuss things and not in order to censure them. How much better they would have done (be it said with due respect to all) to seek to be like the ancients in things strong and rough, not in those delicate and soft, and in those that are done in the sun, not in the shade, and to take their methods from an antiquity that is true and perfect, not from that which is false and corrupt, because as soon as activities of this sort satisfied my Romans, my native land went to ruin.' To which Cosimo replied – but to escape the bother of having to repeat so many times He said and The other answered, I shall give only the name of him who speaks, without repeating anything else. So then said

[Men imitating antiquity would be thought peculiar]

COSIMO: You have opened the way to a discussion that I was wishing for, and I pray you to speak without reservation, because without reservation I shall question you. And if in asking or replying I excuse or accuse anybody, it will not be for the sake of excuse or accusation but to learn from you the truth.

FABRIZIO: And I shall be very glad to tell you what I understand of all you ask; as to whether it be true or not, I shall resign myself to your judgment. And to me it will be pleasant to have you ask, because I am just as ready to learn from you when you ask as you are from me when I answer, because many times a wise questioner makes one consider many things and come to know many others which, if one had not been asked about, one would never have known.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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