The Prince And His Ideas

Posted by M ws On Monday, September 17, 2012 0 comments
 Many use the term 'Machiavellian' policies etc without really understanding Niccolo Machiavelli because they may not have read his book "The Prince".

If you have not read it, you can access the test HERE. Study notes are available HERE.



According to this article:

The Prince (Italian: Il Principe) is a political treatise by the Italian diplomat, historian and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. From correspondence a version appears to have been distributed in 1513, using a Latin title, De Principatibus (About Principalities). However, the printed version was not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. This was done with the permission of the Medici pope Clement VII, but "long before then, in fact since the first appearance of the Prince in manuscript, controversy had swirled about his writings".

Although it was written as if it were a traditional work in the mirrors for princes style, it is generally agreed that it was especially innovative. This is only partly because it was written in the Vernacular (Italian) rather than Latin, a practice which had become increasingly popular since the publication of Dante's Divine Comedy and other works of Renaissance literature.

The Prince is sometimes claimed to be one of the first works of modern philosophy, especially modern political philosophy, in which the effective truth is taken to be more important than any abstract ideal. It was also in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines of the time concerning how to consider politics and ethics.

Although it is relatively short, the treatise is the most remembered of his works and the one most responsible for bringing the word "Machiavellian" into wide usage as a pejorative term. It also helped make "Old Nick" an English term for the devil, and even contributed to the modern negative connotations of the words "politics" and "politician" in western countries.In terms of subject matter it overlaps with the much longer Discourses on Livy, which was written a few years later. In its use of near contemporary Italians as examples of people who perpetrated criminal deeds for politics, another lesser-known work by Machiavelli which The Prince has been compared to is the Life of Castruccio Castracani.

The descriptions within The Prince has the general theme of accepting the aims of princes; such as glory, and indeed survival, can justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends.

The following is a list of selected Machiavellian quotations taken from his book "The Prince."

There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.

A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.

A man who wishes to profess at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.

A prince is also esteemed when he is a true friend and a true enemy.

A prince must not have any other object nor any other thoughtà but war, its institutions, and its discipline; because that is the only art befitting one who commands.

A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it.

A wise prince then...should never be idle in times of peace but should industriously lay up stores of which to avail himself in times of adversity so that when Fortune abandons him he may be prepared to resist her blows.

And although one should not reason about Moses, as he was a mere executor of things that had been ordered for him by God, nonetheless he should be admired if only for that grace which made him deserving of speaking with God.

And in examining their life and deeds it will be seen that they owed nothing to fortune but the opportunity which gave them matter to be shaped into the form that they thought fit; and without that opportunity their powers would have been wasted, and without their powers the opportunity would have come in vain.

And truly it is a very natural and ordinary thing to desire to acquire, and always, when men do it who can, they will be praised or not blamed; but when they cannot, and wish to do it anyway, here lies the error and the blame.

Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.

Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.

For it must be noted, that 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.

For on Cardinal Rohan saying to me that the Italians did not understand war, I replied that the French did not understand politics.

For one change always leaves a dovetail into which another will fit.

-Quotations by Niccolo Machiavelli taken from "The Prince"-

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