Machiavelli Feared Or Loved Essay Typer

Niccolò Machiavelli (May 3, 1469 – June 21, 1527) was an Italian political philosopher, historian, musician, poet, and romantic comedic playwright. Machiavelli was also a key figure in realist political theory, crucial to European statecraft during the Renaissance.


  • When evening comes, I return home and enter my study; on the threshold I take off my workday clothes, covered with mud and dirt, and put on the garments of court and palace. Fitted out appropriately, I step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where, solicitously received by them, I nourish myself on that food that alone is mine and for which I was born; where I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of their human kindness, answer me. And for four hours at a time I feel no boredom, I forget all my troubles, I do not dread poverty, and I am not terrified by death. I absorb myself into them completely.
  • Now, in order to execute a political commission well, it is necessary to know the character of the prince and those who sway his counsels; ... but it is above all things necessary to make himself esteemed, which he will do if he so regulates his actions and conversation that he shall be thought a man of honour, liberal, and sincere. The latter point is highly essential, though too much neglected, as I have seen more than one so lose themselves in the opinion of princes by their duplicity, that they have been unable to conduct a negotiation of the most trifling importance. It is undoubtedly necessary for the ambassador occasionally to mask his game; but it should be done so as not to awaken suspicion and he ought also to be prepared with an answer in case of discovery.
    • "Instructions given by Niccolo Machiavelli to Rafael Girolami, Ambassador to the Emperor," The History of Florence and of the Affairs of Italy: From the Earliest Times to the Death of Lorenzo the Magnificent; Together with The Prince, and Various Historical Tracts, H.G. Bohn, Editor, p.505–06 (1854).

      The highlighted passage is often misquoted or paraphrased out of context, as in Arthur Koestler's Darkness At Noon (1941): Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.

  • In judgingpolicies we should consider the results that have been achieved through them rather than the means by which they have been executed.
    • From an undated letter to Piero Soderini (translated here by Dr. Arthur Livingston), in The Living Thoughts of Machiavelli, by Count Carlo Sforza, published by Cassell, London (1942), p. 85

The Prince (1513)[edit]

Original Italian title: Il Principe (written c. 1505). Full text.
  • A cognoscer bene la natura de' popoli bisogna esser Principe, ed a cognoscer bene quella de' Principi conviene essere popolare.
    • To understand the nature of the people it needs to be a prince, and to understand that of princes it needs to be of the people.
    • Dedication
  • Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.
    • Ch. 3; Variant translation: Never do any enemy a small injury for they are like a snake which is half beaten and it will strike back the first chance it gets.
  • The Romans never allowed a trouble spot to remain simply to avoid going to war over it, because they knew that wars don't just go away, they are only postponed to someone else's advantage. Therefore, they made war with Philip and Antiochus in Greece, in order not to have to fight them in Italy... They never went by that saying which you constantly hear from the wiseacres of our day, that time heals all things. They trusted rather their own character and prudence — knowing perfectly well that time contains the seeds of all things, good as well as bad.
    • Ch. 3 (as translated by RM Adams). Variants [these can seem to generalize the circumstances in ways that the translation above does not.]: The Romans, foreseeing troubles, dealt with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them come to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only put off to the advantage of others.
      There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.
  • If someone puts up the argument that King Louis gave the Romagna to Pope Alexander, and the kingdom of Naples to Spain, in order to avoid a war, I would answer as I did before: that you should never let things get out of hand in order to avoid war. You don't avoid such a war, you merely postpone it, to your own disadvantage.
    • Ch. 3 (as translated by RM Adams)
  • ...debbe un uomo prudente entrare sempre per vie battute da uomini grandi, e quelli che sono stati eccellentissimi, imitare...
    • A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent.
    • Ch. 6
  • It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.
  • Hence it comes that all armed prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed prophets have been destroyed.
  • Chi crede che ne' personaggi grandi beneficii nuovi faccino dimenticare l'ingiurie vecchie, s'inganna.
    • He who believes that new benefits will cause great personages to forget old injuries is deceived.
    • Ch. 7
  • Chi fonda in sul populo fonda in sul fango.
    • He who builds on the people, builds on the mud.
    • Ch. 9
  • La natura degli uomini è, così obligarsi per li beneficii che essi fanno, come per quelli che essi ricevono.
    • It is the nature of men to be bound by the benefits they confer as much as by those they receive.
    • Ch. 10
  • The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws.
  • A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art.
    • Ch. 14; Variant: A prince should therefore have no other aim or thought, nor take up any other thing for his study but war and it organization and discipline, for that is the only art that is necessary to one who commands.
  • Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.
  • Because there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be secure among armed servants. Because, there being in the one disdain and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together.
    • Ch. 14; Variant: There can be no proper relation between one who is armed and one who is not. Nor it is reasonable to expect that one who is armed will voluntarily obey one who is not.
  • And therefore a prince who does not understand the art of war, over and above the other misfortunes already mentioned, cannot be respected by his soldiers, nor can he rely on them. He ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and in peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in war; this he can do in two ways, the one by action, the other by study.
  • Molti si sono immaginate Repubbliche e Principati, che non si sono mai visti nè cognosciuti essere in vero; perchè egli è tanto discosto da come si vive, a come si doveria vivere, che colui che lascia quello che si fa per quello che si doveria fare, impara piuttosto la rovina, che la preservazione sua.
    • Many have imagined republics and principalities which have never been seen or known to exist in reality; for how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather bring about his own ruin than his preservation.
    • Ch. 15
  • Un uomo che voglia fare in tutte le parti professione di buono, conviene che rovini fra tanti che non sono buoni.
    • A man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil.
    • Ch. 15; Variant: A man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many men who are not good.
  • È necessario ad un Principe, volendosi mantenere, imparare a potere essere non buono, ed usarlo e non usarlo secondo la necessità.
    • It is necessary for a prince wishing to hold his own to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according to necessity.
    • Ch. 15
  • I say that every prince must desire to be considered merciful and not cruel. He must, however, take care not to misuse this mercifulness. … A prince, therefore, must not mind incurring the charge of cruelty for the purpose of keeping his subjects united and confident; for, with a very few examples, he will be more merciful than those who, from excess of tenderness, allow disorders to arise, from whence spring murders and rapine; for these as a rule injure the whole community, while the executions carried out by the prince injure only one individual. And of all princes, it is impossible for a new prince to escape the name of cruel, new states being always full of dangers. … Nevertheless, he must be cautious in believing and acting, and must not inspire fear of his own accord, and must proceed in a temperate manner with prudence and humanity, so that too much confidence does not render him incautious, and too much diffidence does not render him intolerant. From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved more than feared, or feared more than loved. The reply is, that one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be wanting. For it may be said of men in general that they are ungrateful, voluble, dissemblers, anxious to avoid danger, and covetous of gain ; as long as you benefit them, they are entirely yours; they offer you their blood, their goods, their life, and their children, as I have before said, when the necessity is remote; but when it approaches, they revolt. And the prince who has relied solely on their words, without making other preparations, is ruined, for the friendship which is gained by purchase and not through grandeur and nobility of spirit is merited but is not secured, and at times is not to be had. And men have less scruple in offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is held by a chain of obligation which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.
    • Ch. 17, as translated by Luigi Ricci (1903)
    • Variant translations of portions of this passage:
    • From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both: but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
    • He ought to be slow to believe and to act, nor should he himself show fear, but proceed in a temperate manner with prudence and humanity, so that too much confidence may not make him incautious and too much distrust render him intolerable.
    • The prince who relies upon their words, without having otherwise provided for his security, is ruined; for friendships that are won by awards, and not by greatness and nobility of soul, although deserved, yet are not real, and cannot be depended upon in time of adversity.
  • Still, a prince should make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he at any rate avoids hatred; for fear and the absence of hatred may well go together, and will be always attained by one who abstains from interfering with the property of his citizens and subjects or with their women. And when he is obliged to take the life of any one, to do so when there is a proper justification and manifest reason for it; but above all he must abstain from taking the property of others, for men forget more easily the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony. Then also pretexts for seizing property are never wanting, and one who begins to live by rapine will always find some reason for taking the goods of others, whereas causes for taking life are rarer and more quickly destroyed.
  • How laudable it is for a prince to keep good faith and live with integrity, and not with astuteness, every one knows. Still the experience of our times shows those princes to have done great things who have had little regard for good faith, and have been able by astuteness to confuse men's brains, and who have ultimately overcome those who have made loyalty their foundation. You must know, then, that there are two methods of fighting, the one by law, the other by force: the first method is that of men, the second of beasts; but as the first method is often insufficient, one must have recourse to the second. It is therefore necessary to know well how to use both the beast and the man. This was covertly taught to princes by ancient writers, who relate how Achilles and many others of those princes were given to Chiron the centaur to be brought up, who kept them under his discipline; this system of having for teacher one who was half beast and half man is meant to indicate that a prince must know how to use both natures, and that the one without the other is not durable. A prince being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from snares, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognise snares, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this. Therefore, a prudent ruler ought not to keep faith when by so doing it would be against his interest, and when the reasons which made him bind himself no longer exist. If men were all good, this precept would not be a good one; but as they are bad, and would not observe their faith with you, so you are not bound to keep faith with them. ...those that have been best able to imitate the fox have succeeded best. But it is necessary to be able to disguise this character well, and to be a great feigner and dissembler.
    • Ch. 18
    • Variant translations of portions of this passage:
    • Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word.
      • Ch. 18. Concerning the Way in which Princes should keep Faith (as translated by W. K. Marriott)
    • A prince being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.
    • You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second.
  • Sono tanto semplici gli uomini, e tanto ubbidiscono alle necessità presenti, che colui che inganna, troverà sempre chi si lascerà ingannare.
    • Men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.
    • Ch. 18
  • A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.
  • ognuno vede quello che tu pari, pochi sentono quello che tu se; e quelli pochi non ardiseano opporsi alla opinione di molti che abbino la maestà dello stato ch li difenda:...
    • Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them.
    • Variant trans: Everybody sees what you seem, but few know what thou art.
    • Ch. 18
  • The prince must consider, as has been in part said before, how to avoid those things which will make him hated or contemptible; and as often as he shall have succeeded he will have fulfilled his part, and he need not fear any danger in other reproaches. It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways. It makes him contemptible to be considered fickle, frivolous, effeminate, mean-spirited, irresolute, from all of which a prince should guard himself as from a rock; and he should endeavour to show in his actions greatness, courage, gravity, and fortitude; and in his private dealings with his subjects let him show that his judgments are irrevocable, and maintain himself in such reputation that no one can hope either to deceive him or to get round him. That prince is highly esteemed who conveys this impression of himself, and he who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against; for, provided it is well known that he is an excellent man and revered by his people, he can only be attacked with difficulty.
    • Ch. 19: 'That one should avoid being despised and hated'
  • A prince ought to have two fears, one from within, on account of his subjects, the other from without, on account of external powers. From the latter he is defended by being well armed and having good allies, and if he is well armed he will have good friends, and affairs will always remain quiet within when they are quiet without, unless they should have been already disturbed by conspiracy; and even should affairs outside be disturbed, if he has carried out his preparations and has lived as I have said, as long as he does not despair, he will resist every attack.
    • Ch. 19; Variant: Against foreign powers, a prince can defend himself with good weapons and good friends; if he has good weapons, he will never lack for good friends. (as translated by RM Adams)
  • Gli stati bene ordinati, e li Principi savi hanno con ogni diligenza pensato di non far cadere in disperazione i grandi e di satisfare al popolo, e tenerlo contento.
    • Well-ordered states and wise princes have taken every care not to drive the nobles to desperation, and to keep the people satisfied and contented, for this is one of the most important objects a prince can have.
    • Ch. 19
  • Si deve notare che l'odio si acquista così mediante le buone opere, come le triste; e però, come io dissi di sopra, volendo un Principe mantenere lo Stato, è spesso forzato a non esser buono.
    • It should be noted that hatred is acquired as much by good works as by bad ones, therefore, as I said before, a prince wishing to keep his state is very often forced to do evil.
    • Ch. 19
  • Queste simili morti, le quali seguitano per deliberazione di un animo deliberato e ostinato, non si possono da' Principi evitare, perchè ciascuno che non si curi di morire, lo può fare.
    • Such-like deaths, which are deliberately inflicted with a resolved and desperate courage, cannot be avoided by princes, because any one who does not fear to die can inflict them.
    • Ch. 19
  • La migliore fortezza che sia, è non essere odiato da' popoli.
    • The best possible fortress is—not to be hated by the people.
    • Ch. 20: 'Are fortresses, and many other things to which princes often resort advantageous or hurtful?' Variant translation: The best fortress which a prince can possess is the affection of his people.
  • Nè creda mai alcuno Stato poter pigliare partiti sicuri... La prudenza consiste in saper cognoscere la qualità degli inconvenienti, e prendere il manco tristo per buono.
    • Never let any Government imagine that it can choose perfectly safe courses... Prudence consists in knowing how to distinguish the character of troubles, and for choice to take the lesser evil.
    • Ch. 21
  • The first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them. (as tranlsated by W. K. Marriott)
    • Ch. 22. Variant translation: The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
  • Sono di tre generazioni cervelli; l'uno intende per sè, l'altro intende quanto da altri gli è mostro, il terzo non intende nè sè stesso nè per dimostrazione d'altri. Quel primo è eccellentissimo, il secondo eccellente, il terzo inutile.
    • There are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, and the third is useless.
    • Ch. 22
  • There is no other way of guarding oneself against flattery than by letting men understand that they will not offend you by speaking the truth; but when everyone can tell you the truth, you lose their respect.
  • Conchiudo adunque, che, variando la fortuna, e gli uomini stando nei loro modi ostinati, sono felici mentre concordano insieme, e come discordano sono infelici. Io giudico ben questo, che sia meglio essere impetuoso, che rispettivo, perchè la Fortuna è donna; ed è necessario, volendola tener sotto, batterla, ed urtarla; e si vede che la si lascia più vincere da questi che da quelli che freddamente procedono.
    • I conclude, then, that so long as Fortune varies and men stand still, they will prosper while they suit the times, and fail when they do not. But I do feel this: that it is better to be rash than timid, for Fortune is a woman, and the man who wants to hold her down must beat and bully her. We see that she yields more often to men of this stripe than to those who come coldly toward her.
    • Ch. 25 (as translated by RM Adams)
  • Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.
  • God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.

Discourses on Livy (1517)[edit]

Quotes from translations of Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio; 3 vols. published between 1512–1517 (Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius)
  • As all those have shown who have discussed civil institutions, and as every history is full of examples, it is necessary to whoever arranges to found a Republic and establish laws in it, to presuppose that all men are bad and that they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity; and if such malignity is hidden for a time, it proceeds from the unknown reason that would not be known because the experience of the contrary had not been seen, but time, which is said to be the father of every truth, will cause it to be discovered.
    • Book 1, Ch. 3 Variant portion: Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.
  • Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it; but when they are free to choose and can do just as they please, confusion and disorder become rampant.
    • Book 1, Ch. 3 (as translated by LJ Walker and B Crick)
  • The demands of a free populace, too, are very seldom harmful to liberty, for they are due either to the populace being oppressed or to the suspicious that it is going to be oppressed... and, should these impressions be false, a remedy is provided in the public platform on which some man of standing can get up, appeal to the crowd, and show that it is mistaken. And though, as Tully remarks, the populace may be ignorant, it is capable of grasping the truth and readily yields when a man, worthy of confidence, lays the truth before it.
    • Book 1, Ch. 4 (as translated by LJ Walker and B Crick)
  • For as when much superfluous matter has gathered in simple bodies, nature makes repeated efforts to remove and purge it away, thereby promoting the health of these bodies, so likewise as regards that composite body the human race, when every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove elsewhere, every region being equally crowded and over-peopled, and when human craft and wickedness have reached their highest pitch, it must needs come about that the world will purge herself in one or another of these three ways, to the end that men, becoming few and contrite, may amend their lives and live with more convenience.
    • Book 1 Ch. 5 (as translated by Ninian Hill Thomson)
  • So in all human affairs one notices, if one examines them closely, that it is impossible to remove one inconvenience without another emerging.
    • Book 1, Ch. 6 (as translated by LJ Walker and B Crick)
  • I am firmly convinced, therefore, that to set up a republic which is to last a long time, the way to set about it is to constitute it as Sparta and Venice were constituted; to place it in a strong position, and so to fortify it that no one will dream of taking it by a sudden assault; and, on the other hand, not to make it so large as to appear formidable to its neighbors. It should in this way be able to enjoy its form of government for a long time. For war is made on a commonwealth for two reasons: to subjugate it, and for fear of being subjugated by it.
    • Book 1, Ch. 6 (as translated by LJ Walker and B Crick)
  • The people resemble a wild beast, which, naturally fierce and accustomed to live in the woods, has been brought up, as it were, in a prison and in servitude, and having by accident got its liberty, not being accustomed to search for its food, and not knowing where to conceal itself, easily becomes the prey of the first who seeks to incarcerate it again.
  • It was the verdict of ancient writers that men afflict themselves in evil and weary themselves in the good, and that the same effects result from both of these passions. For whenever men are not obliged to fight from necessity, they fight from ambition; which is so powerful in human breasts, that it never leaves them no matter to what rank they rise. The reason is that nature has so created men that they are able to desire everything but are not able to attain everything: so that the desire being always greater than the acquisition, there results discontent with the possession and little satisfaction to themselves from it. From this arises the changes in their fortunes; for as men desire, some to have more, some in fear of losing their acquisition, there ensues enmity and war, from which results the ruin of that province and the elevation of another.
    • Book 1, Ch. 37 Variant: Nature has so contrived that to men, though all things are objects of desire, not all things are attainable; so that desire always exceeds the power of attainment, with the result that men are ill-content with what they possess and their present state brings them little satisfaction. Hence arise the vicissitudes of their fortune. (as translated by LJ Walker and B Crick)
  • Anyone who studies present and ancient affairs will easily see how in all cities and all peoples there still exist, and have always existed, the same desires and passions. Thus, it is an easy matter for him who carefully examines past events to foresee future events in a republic and to apply the remedies employed by the ancients, or, if old remedies cannot be found, to devise new ones based upon the similarity of the events. But since these matters are neglected or not understood by those who read, or, if understood, remain unknown to those who govern, the result is that the same problems always exist in every era.
  • It is enough to ask somebody for his weapons without saying 'I want to kill you with them', because when you have his weapons in hand, you can satisfy your desire.
    • Book 1, Ch 44 (as translated by Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella)
  • When Scipio became consul and was keen on getting the province of Africa, promising that Carthage should be completely destroyed, and the senate would not agree to this because Fabius Maximus was against it, he threatened to appeal to the people, for he knew full well how pleasing such projects are to the populace.
    • Book 1, Ch. 53 (as translated by LJ Walker and B Crick)
  • It is truly a marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Athens arrived in the space of one hundred years after she freed herself from the tyranny of Pisistratus; but, above all, it is even more marvelous to consider the greatness Rome reached when she freed herself from her kings. The reason is easy to understand, for it is the common good and not private gain that makes cities great. Yet, without a doubt, this common good is observed only in republics, for in them everything that promotes it is practised, and however much damage it does to this or that private individual, those who benefit from the said common good are so numerous that they are able to advance in spite of the inclination of the few citizens who are oppressed by it.
  • The end of the republic is to enervate and to weaken all other bodies so as to increase its own body.
    • Book 2, Ch. 3 (translation by Mansfield and Tarcov)
  • Cunning and deceit will every time serve a man better than force to rise from a base condition to great fortune.
  • I assert once again as a truth to which history as a whole bears witness that men may second their fortune, but cannot oppose it; that they may weave its warp, but cannot break it. Yet they should never give up, because there is always hope, though they know not the end and more towards it along roads which cross one another and as yet are unexplored; and since there is hope, they should not despair, no matter what fortune brings or in what travail they find themselves.
    • Book 2, Ch. 29 (as translated by LJ Walker and B Crick)
  • This return of Republics back to their principles also results from the simple virtue of one man, without depending on any law that excites him to any execution: none the less, they are of such influence and example that good men desire to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life contrary to those examples.
  • It is not titles that make men illustrious, but men who make titles illustrious.

The Art of War (1520)[edit]

Quotations from translations of Dell'arte della guerra — also known as On the Art of War
  • I believe that it is possible for one to praise, without concern, any man after he is dead since every reason and supervision for adulation is lacking.
  • No proceeding is better than that which you have concealed from the enemy until the time you have executed it. To know how to recognize an opportunity in war, and take it, benefits you more than anything else. Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many. Discipline in war counts more than fury.
    • Book 7; Variant translation: No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
      Nothing is of greater importance in time of war than in knowing how to make the best use of a fair opportunity when it is offered.

      Few men are brave by nature, but good discipline and experience make many so.
      Good order and discipline in an army are more to be depended upon than ferocity.
      • As translated by Neal Wood (1965)

Florentine Histories (1521–1525)[edit]

Original Italian title: Istorie Fiorentine
  • It may be observed, that provinces amid the vicissitudes to which they are subject, pass from order into confusion, and afterward recur to a state of order again; for the nature of mundane affairs not allowing them to continue in an even course, when they have arrived at their greatest perfection, they soon begin to decline. In the same manner, having been reduced by disorder, and sunk to their utmost state of depression, unable to descend lower, they, of necessity, reascend; and thus from good they gradually decline to evil, and from evil again return to good. The reason is, that valor produces peace; peace, repose; repose, disorder; disorder, ruin; so from disorder order springs; from order virtue, and from this, glory and good fortune.
  • If you only notice human proceedings, you may observe that all who attain great power and riches, make use of either force or fraud; and what they have acquired either by deceit or violence, in order to conceal the disgraceful methods of attainment, they endeavor to sanctify with the false title of honest gains. Those who either from imprudence or want of sagacity avoid doing so, are always overwhelmed with servitude and poverty; for faithful servants are always servants, and honest men are always poor; nor do any ever escape from servitude but the bold and faithless, or from poverty, but the rapacious and fraudulent. God and nature have thrown all human fortunes into the midst of mankind; and they are thus attainable rather by rapine than by industry, by wicked actions rather than by good. Hence it is that men feed upon each other, and those who cannot defend themselves must be worried.
  • Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.
    • Book III, Chapter 7. Variant translation: Wars are begun at will but not ended at will.

The Mandrake (1524)[edit]

Quotations in English are taken from The Essential Writings of Machiavelli, trans. Peter Constantine (Random House, 2009), ISBN 978-0307419996
  • Non è mai alcuna cosa sì disperata, che non vi sia qualche via da poterne sperare.
    • No circumstance is ever so desperate that one cannot nurture some spark of hope.
    • Act I, scene i
  • Le più caritative persone che sieno sono le donne, e le più fastidiose. Chi le scaccia, fugge e fastidii e l'utile; chi le intrattiene, ha l'utile ed e fastidii insieme. Ed è 'l vero che non è el mele sanza le mosche.
    • Women are the most charitable creatures, and the most troublesome. He who shuns women passes up the trouble, but also the benefits. He who puts up with them gains the benefits, but also the trouble. As the saying goes, there's no honey without bees.
    • Act III, scene iv
  • In terra di ciechi chi vi ha un occhio è signore.
    • In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.
    • Act III, scene ix
  • El fine si ha a riguardare in tutte le cose.
    • One must never forget to look at the aim of a matter.
    • Act III, scene xi
  • Sono maggiori li spaventi ch'e mali.
    • Fear of evil is greater than the evil itself.
    • Act III, scene xi
  • Le cattive compagnie conducono gli uomini alle forche.
    • Bad company will lead a man to the gallows!
    • Act IV, scene vi


  • When Machiavelli came to the end of his life, he had a vision shortly before giving up the ghost. He saw a small company of poor scoundrels, all in rags, ill-favoured, famished, and, in short, in as bad plight as possible. He was told that these were the inhabitants of paradise, of whom it is written, Beati pauperes, quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum.[1] After they withdrew, innumerable serious and majestic personages appeared, who seemed to be sitting in a senate-house and dealing with the most important affairs of state. Among them he saw Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Plutarch, Tacitus, and others of similar character; but he was told at the same time that those venerable personages, notwithstanding their appearance, were the damned, and the souls rejected by heaven, for Sapientia huius saeculi, inimica est Dei.[2]. After this, he was asked to which of the groups he would choose to belong; he answered that he would much rather be in Hell with those great geniuses, to converse with them about affairs of state, than be condemned to the company of the verminous scoundrels that he had first been shown.
    • This account of Machiavelli's "Dream" was not published until a century after his death, in Etienne Binet's Du salut d'Origene (1629).[3]
    • There is an earlier but more oblique reference in a letter written by Giovambattista Busini in 1549: "Upon falling ill, [Machiavelli] took his usual pills and, becoming weaker as the illness grew worse, told his famous dream to Filippo [Strozzi], Francesco del Nero, Iacopo Nardi and others, and then reluctantly died, telling jokes to the last.".[4]
    • The "Dream" is commonly condensed into a more pithy form, such as "I desire to go to hell, and not to heaven. In the former place I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings, and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks, hermits, and apostles".[5]


  • War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms.
    • This is a quotation of Titus Livius IX:1 iustum enim est bellum quibus necessarium, et pia arma ubi nulla in armis spes est) that Machiavelli uses in Ch. 24 of Discourses on Livy; Machiavelli similarly writes that "The justice of the cause is conspicuous; for that war is just which is necessary, and those arms are sacred from which we derive our only hope." (The Prince, Ch. 26)
  • I am not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.
  • Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
    • This has sometimes been attributed to Machiavelli, but more often to Sun Tzu, though there are no published sources yet found which predate its use by "Michael Corleone" in The Godfather Part II (1974), written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola: My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

Quotes about Machiavelli[edit]

    • With such a name, there is no need for eulogy.
      • Inscribed on Machiavelli's tomb
  • We are much beholden to Machiavelli and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do. For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with the columbine innocency, except men know exactly all the conditions of the serpent; his baseness and going upon his belly, his volubility and lubricity, his envy and sting, and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil. For without this, virtue lieth open and unfenced. Nay, an honest man can do no good upon those that are wicked, to reclaim them, without the help of the knowledge of evil.
  • When Machiavelli advises the Prince to carry out the Machiavellian scheme of action, he invests those actions with no sort of morality or beauty. For him morality remains what it is for everyone else, and does not cease to remain so because he observes (not without melancholy) that it is incompatible with politics. … For him evil, even if it aids politics, still remains evil. The modern realists are the moralists of realism. For them, the act which makes the State strong is invested with a moral character by the fact that it does so, and this whatever the act may be. The evil which serves politics ceases to be evil and becomes good.
  • What has been shown by Machiavelli, who is often (like Nietzsche) congratulated for tearing off hypocritical masks, brutally revealing the truth, and so on, is not that men profess one thing and do another (although no doubt he shows this too) but that when they assume that the two ideals are compatible, or perhaps are even one and the same ideal, and do not allow this assumption to be questioned, they are guilty of bad faith (as the existentialists call it, or of “false consciousness,” to use a Marxist formula) which their actual behavior exhibits. Machiavelli calls the bluff not just of official morality—the hypocrisies of ordinary life—but of one of the foundations of the central Western philosophical tradition, the belief in the ultimate compatibility of all genuine values. His own withers are unwrung. He has made his choice. He seems wholly unworried by, indeed scarcely aware of, parting company with traditional Western morality.
  • Perhaps the most influential book ever written on the characteristics of men in politics is The Prince, by the great Renaissance Italian Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527). Despite its enduring popularity, fascination, and authority it is extremely one-sided and unsystematic.
  • In attempting to teach the prince how to achieve, maintain, and expand power, Machiavelli made his fundamental and celebrated distinction between "the effective truth of things" and the "imaginary republics and monarchies that have never been seen nor have been known to exist." The implication was that moral and political philosophers had hitherto talked exclusively about the latter and had failed to provide guidance to the real world in which the prince must operate. This demand for a scientific, positive approach was extended only later from the prince to the individual, from the nature of the state to human nature. Machiavelli probably sensed that a realistic theory of the state required a knowledge of human nature, but his remarks on that subject, while invariably acute, are scattered and unsystematic.
  • The cool cynicism of Machiavelli’s teaching is impressive. Not only does he recommend to princes absolute unscrupulousness; his advice is based on the assumption that all their subjects are gullible and guided solely by self-interest. Some have been shocked by the book’s immorality; others have found its lack of humbug refreshing. Few, however, have been persuaded to admire the models held up by Machiavelli, such as Pope Alexander VI and his son Cesare Borgia.
    • Anthony Kenny, A New History of Western Philosophy, Vol. III. The Rise of Modern Philosophy (2006), Ch. 9. Political Philosophy
  • There is really very little of Machiavelli's one can accept or use in the contemporary world. The one thing I find interesting in Machiavelli is his estimate of the prince's will. Interesting, but not such as to influence me. If you want to know who has influenced me most, I'll answer with two philosophers' names: Spinoza and Kant. Which makes it all the more peculiar that you choose to associate me with Machiavelli.
    • Henry Kissinger, in interview with Oriana Fallaci, The New Republic (December 16, 1972)
  • Machiavelli is the complete contrary of a machiavellian, since he describes the tricks of power and “gives the whole show away.” The seducer and the politician, who live in the dialectic and have a feeling and instinct for it, try their best to keep it hidden.
  • My vacation, my preference, my cure for all things Platonic has always been Thucydides. Thucydides, and perhaps Machiavelli's Principe are most closely related to me in terms of their unconditional will not to be fooled and to see reason in reality, - not in 'reason', and even less in ‘morality’...
  • It has been said that the project of Machiavelli was to expound a science of politics, but this, I think, misses the significant point. [...] The project of Machiavelli was, then, to provide a crib to politics, a political training in default of a political education, a technique for the ruler who had no tradition. He supplied a demand of his time; and he was personally and temperamentally interested in supplying the demand because he felt the 'fascination of what is difficult'. The new ruler was more interesting because he was far more likely than the educated hereditary ruler to get himself into a tricky situation and to need the help of advice. But, like the great progenitors of Rationalism in general (Bacon and Descartes), Machiavelli was aware of the limitations of technical knowledge; it was not Machiavelli himself, but his followers, who believed in the sovereignty of technique, who believed that government was nothing more than 'public administration' and could be learned from a book. And to the new prince he offered not only his book, but also, what would make up for the inevitable deficiencies of his book - himself: he never lost the sense that politics, after all, are diplomacy, not the application of a technique.
    • Michael Oakeshott, "Rationalism in Politics" (1947), published in Rationalism in Politics and other essays (1962)
  • Machiavelli was the first philosopher to define politics as treachery. This is not to say that he approved of treachery, only that he wished to describe politics as various forms of it. That he set out to do so, however, is no doubt why for almost five hundred years the single most influential of all modern political thinkers, as this biography hopes to show, has himself been described as revolting, nauseating, unprincipled and evil.
    • Paul Oppenheimer, Machiavelli: A Life Beyond Ideology (2011), "Introduction: Modern Evil and The Sack of Rome"
  • It is this that Samuel insisted on to the Hebrews; it is this that Machiavelli clearly demonstrated. While pretending to give lessons to kings, he gave great ones to peoples. The Prince of Machiavelli is the book for republicans.
  • Machiavelli was an honorable man and a good citizen; but, attached to the house of the Medici, he was forced, during the oppression of his country, to conceal his love for liberty. The mere choice of his execrable hero sufficiently manifests his secret intention; and the opposition between the maxims of his book the Prince and those of his Discourses on Titus Livius and his History of Florence shows that this profound politician has had hitherto only superficial or corrupt readers. The court of Rome has strictly prohibited his book; I certainly believe it, for it is that court which he most clearly depicts.
  • This misfortune occurred to Machiavelli, who, had he been a Machiavellian, would sooner have written an edifying book than his ill-reputed Prince. In actuality, Machiavelli was on the defensive as was also his country, Italy, which in the sixteenth century had been invaded by Germans, Frenchmen, Spaniards, and Turks. At the beginning of the nineteenth century the situation of the ideological defensive was repeated in Germany-during the revolutionary and Napoleonic invasions of the French. When it became important for the German people to defend themselves against an expanding enemy armed with a humanitarian ideology, Machiavelli was rehabilitated by Fichte and Hegel.
  • In the case of a prince whose sole motive is lust for power, the means he must employ to strengthen and preserve his state have been described at some length by that keen observer, Machiavelli, but with what purpose appears uncertain. If he did have some good purpose in mind, as one should believe of so wise a man, it must have been to show how foolish are the attempts so often made to get rid of a tyrant while yet the causes that have made the prince a tyrant cannot be removed; on the contrary, they become more firmly established as the prince is given more grounds for fear.
  • Call me a dreamer, but one day, my name will become an adjective for everything cynical and untrustworthy in human nature.
  • The founder of modern political philosophy is Machiavelli. He tried to effect, and he did effect, a break with the whole tradition of political philosophy. He compared his achievement to that of men like Columbus. He claimed to have discovered a new moral continent. His claim is well founded; his political teaching is "wholly new." The only question is whether the new continent is fit for human habitation.
    • Leo Strauss, "What is Political Philosophy?", published in What is Political Philosophy? And Other Studies (1959)
  • Niccolò Machiavelli was the restorer of the Roman conception of politics as civil wisdom—that is, the idea of politics as the wisdom of the citizen whose aim is to preserve the civil life—and the founder of the theory of modern republicanism based pon this conception. He was a founder, but in a very different sense from the usual meaning of the word, and most of the pompous titles which have been attributed to him should be put aside, beginning with the least justified of all, that of founder of the modern science of politics.
    • Maurizio Viroli, Machiavelli (1998), "Introduction"
  • The elements of Realpolitik, exhaustively listed, are these: The ruler's, and later the state's, interest provides the spring of action; the necessities of policy arise from the unregulated competition of states; calculation based on these necessities can discover the policies that will best serve a state's interests; success is the ultimate test of policy, and success is defined as preserving and strengthening the state . Ever since Machiavelli, interest and necessity — and raison d'état, the phrase that comprehends them-have remained the key concepts of Realpolitik. From Machiavelli through Meinecke and Morgenthau the elements of the approach and the reasoning remain constant. Machiavelli stands so clearly as the exponent of Realpolitik that one easily slips into thinking that he developed the closely associated idea of balance of power as well . Although he did not, his conviction that politics can be explained in its own terms established the ground on which balance-of-power theory can be built.
    • Kenneth Waltz, Theory of International Politics (1979) Chapter 6. Anarchic Structures and Balances of Power
  • If one desires to learn at one blow, to what degree of hideousness the fact can attain, viewed at the distance of centuries, let him look at Machiavelli. Machiavelli is not an evil genius, nor a demon, nor a miserable and cowardly writer; he is nothing but the fact. And he is not only the Italian fact; he is the European fact, the fact of the sixteenth century. He seems hideous, and so he is, in the presence of the moral idea of the nineteenth..


See also[edit]

The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.
It is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved? It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both: but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
The prince must consider, as has been in part said before, how to avoid those things which will make him hated or contemptible … when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways.
A prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice.
Il tempo si caccia innanzi ogni cosa, e può condurre seco bene come male, male come bene. Time drives everything before it, and is able to bring with it good as well as evil, and evil as well as good.
Whenever men are not obliged to fight from necessity, they fight from ambition; which is so powerful in human breasts, that it never leaves them no matter to what rank they rise.
Anyone who studies present and ancient affairs will easily see how in all cities and all peoples there still exist, and have always existed, the same desires and passions.
Machiavelli is the complete contrary of a machiavellian, since he describes the tricks of power and “gives the whole show away.” The seducer and the politician, who live in the dialectic and have a feeling and instinct for it, try their best to keep it hidden. ~ Maurice Merleau-Ponty
We are much beholden to Machiavelli and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do. ~ Francis Bacon
Perhaps the most influential book ever written on the characteristics of men in politics is The Prince, by the great Renaissance Italian Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527). Despite its enduring popularity, fascination, and authority it is extremely one-sided and unsystematic. ~ Robert A. Dahl
  1. ↑Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven
  2. ↑The wisdom of this world is the enemy of God
  3. Binet, Estienne (1629) (in French). Du Salut D'Origene. Paris: Sebastien Cramoisy. pp. 359-361. . Original French: On arrive à ce detestable poinct d'honneur, où arriva Machiauel sur la fin de sa vie: car il eut cette illusion peu deuant que rendre son esprit. II vit un tas de pauures gens, comme coquins, deschirez, affamez, contrefaits, fort mal en ordre, & en assez petit nombre, on luy dit que c'estoit ceux de Paradis, desquels il estoit ecrit: "Beati pauperes, quoniam ipsorum est regnum cælorum". Ceux-cy estans retirez, on fit paroistre vn nombre innombrable de personnages pleins de grauité & de majesté, on les voyoit comme un Senat, où on traitoit d'affaires d'estat, & fort serieuses, il entrevid Platon, Aristote, Seneque, Plutarque, Tacite, & d'autres de cette qualité. II demanda qui estoient ces Messieurs-là si venerables, on luy dit que c'estoient les damnez, & que c'estoient des ames reprouuées du Ciel, "Sapientia huius sæculi, inimica est Dei". Cela estant passé, on luy demanda desquels il vouloit estre. II respondit, qu'il aymoit beaucoup mieux estre en enfer auec ces grands esprits, pour deuiser auec eux des affaires d'Estat, que d'estre auec cette vermine de ces belistres qu'on luy auoit fait voir.
  4. Busini, Giovanni Battista; Gaetano Milanese (ed.) (1860) (in Italian). Lettere di Giovambattista Busini a Benedetto Varchi. Florence: Felice le Monnier. pp. 84-85. . Original Italian: Ammalato cominciò a pigliar di queste pillole, ed a indebolire ed aggravar nel male; onde raccontò quel tanto celebrato sogno a Filippo, a Francesco del Nero ed a Iacopo Nardi, e ad altri, e cosi si morì malissimo contento, burlando.
  5. Marvin, Frederic Rowland (1902). The Last Words (real and Traditional) of Distinguished Men and Women. Revell. p. 178. 

First published in 1515

Translated by W. K. Marriott in 1908.

Machiavelli was born in Florence on May 5th, 1469. In his early years he was exposed to an extremely chaotic time period with popes leading armies, powerful city-states falling one after another to foreign powers, and governments changing within the space of just weeks. As a student, Machiavelli was educated by the humanist ideals of the Renaissance and hence The Prince seems to be set with these ideals. Later in life Machiavelli pursued a career within the government, where he was first a clerk, then an ambassador and finally on a council responsible for diplomatic negotiations and military matters. He was placed in charge of the Florentine militia and was trusted with the protection of the city. Machiavelli did not trust mercenaries or paid armies and was much more comfortable with a citizen militia. He believed citizens would possess more loyalty and would not be motivated by money. Machiavelli was very devoted to the Florentine Republic and served it for many years.

Machiavelli’s The Prince has been incredibly influential since it was published 5 years after his death in 1532. It was written during the European Renaissance when intellect and the discussion of new ideas was a widespread them of the era. Machiavelli did not write The Prince to become famous but instead wrote his book to achieve a position in the new Italian government formed by the Medici family. The Prince was written as a political handbook for rulers and has been used this way for many centuries. The book has caused passionate debates and controversy since the day it was published and it appears that it will continue to do so. When The Prince was published, Italy was not a unified country but a compilation of city states that were all fighting to gain power over one another. Machiavelli was greatly influenced and interested in the complicated nature of European politics.

Originally, Machiavelli played a large role in the anti-Medici government. When they came back into power Machiavelli was arrested and charged with conspiracy. He denied having anything to do with this and was eventually released. He retired to his estate in Sant’Andrea, Percussina and began writing The Prince in an effort to compel the Medici government to reassess his allegiance to their political beliefs.

Machiavelli’s ideas contained in The Prince are relatively straight forward, as he strove to provide practical, easily understood advice to Lorenzo De’Medici, to whom the book is dedicated. He did not write The Prince for literary acknowledgement but alternatively wrote it to prove his proficiency on government in the western world and to offer advice on how to gain power and keep it efficient. Machiavelli strongly believed in the requirement of a strong leader in order to maintain domination for the benefit of citizens and not for individual advancement.

One of the main questions discussed in the book “is it better for a Prince to be loved or feared?” Machiavelli’s short answer is that it would be preferable to be loved and feared; however the two simply can’t exist together. As a result, he says that it would be best to be feared and not loved. It is better to be feared then loved because as a leader it is your responsibility is to control and run the state and Machiavelli feels that to do so you need complete obedience from your people. Machiavelli does not believe in cruelty and he only warrants it for military use. This is because he believes that if you have a good military then you will have good laws. One of his most famous quotes helps explain this theory, “the presence of sound military forces indicates the presence of sound laws.” Although the author believes it is better to be feared than loved, he recognized that a leader cannot be hated or it will lead to his downfall. Machiavelli advises that Princes should avoid being hated or despised, as the people’s allegiance is a better defense than building a fortress.

Machiavelli was a traditional yet flexible thinker and writer who raised strong emotions in his literary works. He developed very insightful political concepts and theories outlined in The Prince. His theories on governing people have influenced historical and modern leaders. The word Machiavellian, which came from this book and from Machiavelli’s theories, means to be crude, cunning and deceitful and this is exactly how Machiavelli thought the new prince should act.--Submitted by Josh Boyer

Perhaps one of the most influential and controversial books in history, Machiavelli’s The Prince raises issues that are still debated centuries after its publication. Born in Florence in 1469, Machiavelli was intrigued with Florentine politics and government. His state administrative work in Florence took him on diplomatic missions to France and Rome. Outside the influence of the Medici family, Florence was ripe for Machiavelli to develop his political and military theories. In 1503, Machiavelli was given charge over Florence’s civilian army, and his military strategies proved their worth in a victory over Pisa. This victory was short-lived; Pope Julius II led a Medici invasion in 1512. Machiavelli was arrested and tortured, and he remained in prison for a year before being exiled to his estate just outside of Florence.

With the hope of gaining recognition and a position in the Medici regime, Machiavelli began work on his political treatise, The Prince. He had witnessed much upheaval in the local and foreign political arena. This, he believed, gave him a unique perspective and allowed him to evaluate and comment on governmental affairs. The theories he developed in The Prince were derived from his observation of the successes and failures of the ruling class.

The Prince is a practical guide for newly appointed rulers. In particular, Machiavelli advises rulers to cultivate favourable public opinion, secure the support of the people, and achieve specific goals. His ultimate goal was remarkable--unification of the Italian city states. While it is commonly believed that Machiavelli said, “The end justifies the means,” this is, in fact, an over-simplification and misstatement of his thesis. Machiavelli does not counsel rulers to be arbitrary and cruel for the purpose of personal gain. He was highly critical of foreign rulers, such as King Ferdinand of Spain, who were needlessly brutal to their subjects. Such conduct may lead to power, but not glory. Machiavelli argues that loyalty, trust, and obedience cannot be fostered if rulers mistreat their subjects over a long period of time. It is only justifiable to use extensive means if there are clear benefits in sight.

To Machiavelli, The Prince was certainly a failure because it did not result in the praise and respect he expected from the ruling class. The book was promptly confiscated. The Medicis did not acknowledge his intellectual discourse nor did they grant him political favours. Furthermore, his book was not published until five years after his death and Italy did not unite for another 350 years. This does not, however, minimize the impact of his thesis. Since publication, ruthless political leaders, such as Hitler and Stalin, have cited the text to justify the most heinous conduct. Many have described President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq as “Machiavellian.” And, in many contemporary business and social circles, Machiavelli stands for the principle that winning is all that matters, however that is achieved. A Machiavellian is someone who is cunning, devious, unethical, deceiving, dishonest … the list goes on. Machiavelli himself may not have been stereotypically “Machiavellian” but his thesis has gained popular support among those who seek power at any expense.

Although Machiavelli did not intend his treatise to raise complex ethical questions, it has remained the subject of debate since its publication in 1532. While his ideas were offered as practical advice to new rulers, they have since been used to rationalize ruthless political and business ventures. Does the end always or ever justify the means? Are there acts that we must not commit, as a human being or as a nation, whatever positive result we hope to achieve? These are questions that we must ask ourselves, at every opportunity.--Submitted by Luca Willmer

“Men must either be caressed or else annihilated; they will revenge themselves for small injuries, but cannot do so for great ones; the injury therefore that we do to a man must be such that we need not fear his vengeance.” (37, Machiavelli).

Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince is an exceedingly truthful political treatise written in the 15th century. Although it was written as a tribute to Lorenzo The Magnificent to re-establish Machiavelli back into nobility, it is regarded as one of the most thoughtful and to-the-point political pieces of all time. The Prince is one of the few works that has survived the test of time and is now more widely popular than it was back then. Machiavelli takes political science to the next level, as he is the first to take on politics at this magnitude. Machiavelli has shrewd political views with little morals or ethics yet still logical and sensible as demonstrated here: “one ought to be both feared and loved, but as it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved…for love is held by a chain of obligation which, men being selfish, is broken whenever it serves their purpose; but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment which never fails.”(90, Machiavelli). This gave birth to the word we all associate with deceitful and unscrupulous yet astute: Machiavellian.

Niccolo Machiavelli lived from 1469-1527 as a Florentine diplomat, politician and a philosopher. He was made head of the Second Chancery at the young age of twenty-nine. This position gave him first hand experience and remarkable knowledge with warfare and foreign affairs, as he was able to engage in domestic politics and in diplomatic missions to foreign governments. He was given the opportunity to examine meticulously the mechanics of government and to meet well-known political figures like Cesare Borgia. These encounters influenced him greatly as it was Cesare Borgia who Machiavelli looked up to for inspiration as seen throughout the book, where he is cited and praised constantly for his actions. Unfortunately for Machiavelli, the previous rulers of Florence, the Medici, were able to rise up to power yet again, and took Florence instantaneously. Machiavelli, because of unsuccessfully taking up arms against the Medici, was subsequently jailed, tortured and ultimately banished from Florence to a small piece of property in Percussina. It was here where Machiavelli wrote his most famous piece, The Prince.

One of the first and main topics discussed in The Prince outlines the rest of the issues mentioned in the books, which are the various kinds of government and how they are established. He explains how there are two types of government: hereditary and newly acquired states. A hereditary state is one that has been passed down and as he describes a much easier position to be governed than a newly acquired state as the citizens have become accustomed to the laws and systems. A ruler that has just obtained a new state will find it more difficult to govern, as he does not know the people as well, in addition to the citizens having high expectations for a new ruler. When these expectations are not met, the people will readily revolt against him. Machiavelli then writes about how to prevent this from happening with old and new kingdoms when setting up new order. He describes how setting up new order is most dangerous as individuals who benefited from the old system will harshly object while ones who benefit after will only offer luke-warm support. Machiavelli also gives advice about invading other countries with native troops, mercenaries and militia. One key point he mentions is that a ruler should avoid using troops of another country at all costs because they will not be fighting for their own country’s pride or will they be willing to die for the ruler’s country. If the auxiliary troops were to be defeated, the ruler would be defenceless, and even if he were to win, the ruler would still owe part of the victory to the other country from whom he borrowed from. Machiavelli also gets to the point of gaining reputation and how important it is to not be despised or hated upon. In the final chapters of the book he reflects on historical events relating to previous rulers and how they failed. Machiavelli ends the treatise with a promising future for Lorenzo the Magnificent if he were to accept The Prince.--Submitted by Edison Jyang

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Is it Better to Be Feared, Than to Be Loved?

A question that rings throughout the entire work of Machiavelli's The Prince; this ever existent thought has readers questioning the morals of rulng parties in both the past, and present. To indulge deeper into this question, we must break down the very fabric of human nature. First of all, are we more likely to follow someone that we fear, or love? I myself, would not doubt that fear would cause me to become a victim of extortion. Someone that I love, could not force me to be at their will. So, it all comes down to whether your goal is to be oppresive, or sympathetic. To rule with an iron fist, or be pushed around, as though you are a spinless insect. So all in all, if we are to be totally honest, fear is the more politically stable choice, while love can bring you down in the end. In addition, it is easier for one to be loved, and then soon make a wrong move, and end up on the bad side of one, or many. But fear is not so easily resolved. It's like trying to convince a child that there isn't a monster in their closet. They may say that they believe you, but when night time comes, they'll still be checking before they turn out the lights. Fear will always be present in our society, it's inevitable. But love can be dissolved, and forgotten. So if a conclusion has to be made, on whether it is better to be feared, or loved, the sensible choice is feared. It's a stable situation, no matter how much you are loathed as a human being. In order to maintain your strength, you must first strike fear into the hearts of those around you. Of course, this is only my opinion. Feel free to question it, as you will. :boxing_smiley:

Posted By Theatricality at Wed 5 Nov 2014, 3:03 PM in The Prince || 0 Replies


When I first read the Prince I took all the text at face value, and interpreted it as a handbook, a book providing instructions for a ruler on the best ways to gain and maintain power. However, I recently read that the book was intended as a satire. The possibility of this didn't even enter my head while reading the book as there are no real hints to this being the case within it. But, if you read some of Machiavelli's other work it becomes clear that what he believes is the best way to act as a ruler is indeed the polar opposite to what he seemingly advocates in The Prince. He wrote in an earlier work,Discorsi: "We know by experience that states have never signally increased either in territory or in riches except under a free government. The cause is not far to seek, since it is the well-being not of the individuals but of the community which makes the state great, and without question this universal well-being is nowhere secured save in a republic.... Popular rule is always better than the rule of princes" This contradicts some of the main points he appears to be making in The Prince. This isn't an isolated quote; it is this belief that is prevalent throughout his work, not the extolling of what we would call "Machiavellian" virtues. Did you take The Prince at face value or read it as a satirical work? If the book was truly intended as a satire, I find it most depressing that it has been misunderstood. It makes you think what underhand and cruel actions have been performed under the instruction of a manual that may turn out to be advocating the exact opposite. After all, Stalin famously wouldn't travel without it.

Posted By RaoulDuke at Tue 18 May 2010, 3:42 PM in The Prince || 1 Reply

Applications of "The Prince" Throughout History: Please help!

Hi, I'm just wondering if anyone could help me in coming up with a few applications of The Prince throughout history after the work was written. Anything social, political or civil is fine. for example, I've noted that some slightly secularized ideals within the prince could have possibly influenced the front-runners during the Protestant Reformation (i.e. Jan Hus and John Calvin). I need at least ten examples of such application of this work throughout history, so any help is appreciated :)

Posted By M1991 at Fri 29 Aug 2008, 10:23 AM in The Prince || 1 Reply

Principles/ Rules

Can someone please list the Machiavellian Rules to being a good ruler for me! I need them reasonably soon!!!!!!! Thank you so much!!!!!!

Posted By SkylineRomance at Sun 21 Oct 2007, 8:10 AM in The Prince || 0 Replies

please help......anything please!

In what ways do machavelli's guildlines for leadership depart from or violate Christian ethics??/ Thank you for the help!:D

Posted By showjumper1231 at Tue 14 Aug 2007, 2:30 PM in The Prince || 2 Replies

Machiavelli (Please I need help as soon As poosible)

Hi, I am foreign students who spends hours translating, neverheless, got good grades always. I got this essay Question which is very very hard for me please if you can help , please do I got four days from now. I almost give up. (What practical problems do you think arise in the way Machiavelli suggests that power in aquired and maintained, and the way a ruler should deal with furtune). I wrote 800 word already I am working very hard on it, but still it is extremly hard. Please Help.:blush: .

Posted By Lovely.Angel at Sun 29 Apr 2007, 8:57 PM in The Prince || 3 Replies

Can you give me a hand?

I would appreciate if you would help me in this essay that i have to do. My topic is about the qualities of a prince. What are the qualities of a prince mentioned by Niccolo Machiavelli? What characteristics should a prince posses, and how should a prince behave? If you help me i would appreciate it like i said before. I have written part of my essay but i need more information on it. Thank you!!! answer ASAP!! ;) :) :thumbs_up

Posted By gemelochapin100 at Sun 10 Dec 2006, 10:51 AM in The Prince || 2 Replies

Help me with my essay

I have to write an essay for my history class, the topic is how did the idea of machiavelli influence events in world history between 1640-1914???? Please Help Me!!!!

Posted By whoami2233 at Wed 21 Jun 2006, 7:46 PM in The Prince || 0 Replies

Can anyone help Me?

I need help with my paper I'm writing a paper on machiavelli. This is what my professor posted: Machiavelli has espoused a philosophy that asserts the notion that the concept of "power" is to integral to understanding the political behavior of integral in fact, that perhaps "power" and politics cannot be conceptually separated. Can Machiavelli's assertion stand without challenge? Formulate a coherent challenge to the machiavellian assertion that power should be the unit of measure by which all public policy directives should analyze. Can anyone give me a little direction here? I just need a little guidance on where to look for information on machiavelli's thoughts on power and politics.

Posted By poliscigirl at Wed 16 Nov 2005, 8:33 PM in The Prince || 1 Reply

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