1572 Dall Agocchie (eng).pdf


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art in defense of one’s own life, as in those examples which one reads in so many
histories, and sees every day. Therefore I tell you that one cannot be grounded nor
perfect in the art of the militia who doesn’t have this portion, considering that nothing is
called perfect whenever one owes to or can add to it; and if one has to add to the art of
combat the knowledge of how to defend his own person, which is indeed its fundamental
principle, then he, lacking this art, will never be able to be called “perfect.”
This is the principle that I owe to you, which I will prove via its nobility,
[5verso] which must be preferred above all else. And I say (leaving aside spiritual
matters for now) that even as the human body is nobler than all other things, thus one
must rationally learn to defend it before the city and the armies, as these were ordained
for human defense. And needing to place one’s self among any sort of militia, one will
necessarily have to provide that for any occasion. Nor should you believe that this
assertion of mine conflicts with that great philosopher Solon, who wished that one must
place the defense of his own country before his own life, for he did not mean by this the
material country, built of stone, but rather that assembly of men for whom the material
city was built.
Now, these who defend themselves against their enemies, simultaneously beating
aside their insolence instead with art and mastery, are properly said to be protecting
themselves when it comes to pass that they utterly save themselves and the republic.
And in this action prudence holds the chief place. While on the contrary, whoever
faces his enemy’s fury without art or mastery, always ending up rashly overcome, finds
himself not defended, but rather derided for it. Accordingly, if you do not grant prudence
a place of honor, rather holding it in no esteem, then this art, which is founded and based
on prudence, will usually be seen to hold little value for you.
Lep. Your answer pleases me greatly. Nonetheless, it doesn’t relieve me of every
trouble of my spirit, since at times we’ve seen inexpert people, without experience or any
understanding of fencing, to have overcome and defeated those who have. Whereas if
your arguments were true, it would follow [6recto] that one skilled in this art would
always emerge superior to one inexpert.
Gio. To this difficulty, Meser Lepido, one can reply in more ways than one. One is
that one particular incident does not render a universal rule invalid. The other is that the
defeat that was suffered by those whom you say to be professors of this exercise was not
made by them as fencers, seeing as how it is impossible that they, as such, were defeated.
But it can indeed happen to them as lazy, unjust, or base persons, and then they cease to
be fencers, and are soon wounded. {Components that one looks for in the good fencer.}
Because many components are looked for in a good fencer, and far more so in one who
conducts himself to combat, such as: reason, boldness, strength, dexterity, knowledge,
judgment, and experience. And beyond these and other such, the divine judgment
intervenes over all, secret to and hidden from us.
Lep. It seems to me that the confusion in your argument stems from this conclusion of