Machiavelli: the Prince

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Virtue 1: Machiavelli, in dedicating the work to Lorenzo de' Medici, reminds the young prince that greatness awaits him because he is endowed with both fortune and admirable qualities. Machiavelli uses the term "virtue" to describe the positive qualities of a prince. In Daniel Donno's notes, he writes that virtue is a word which "implies physical and mental capacity-intelligence, skill, courage, vigor-in short, all those personal qualities that are needed for attainment of one's own ends." (p. 125) The last part is an important qualifier because virtue is very much related to getting end results. Virtue, in the Machiavellian sense, does not carry a moral tone.

Chapter 1

Virtue 2: In speaking about principalities, Machiavelli introduces two main factors that determine the fate of a ruler-fortune and abilities. Machiavelli states that it does not take virtue to attain a hereditary principality, but it is required in order to acquire a new principality.

Chapter 3

Virtue 3: When a new territory does not share the same language and culture as the prince's original territory, the prince must have the wisdom and ability to assimilate the new territory. The prince must settle the new territory. He can do this most effectively by residing in it. The prince must be competent in maintaining the balance of different powers. He must protect his weaker neighbors while preventing powerful ones from gaining more power. Moreover, the prince must have the courage to confront problems before it becomes too late. A prince should not hesitate in using force or going to war.

Chapter 6

Virtue 4: Machiavelli writes that for a private citizen to become a prince, he needs to have fortune or ability. Among those who became princes through ability, Machiavelli cites Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, and Theseus. Using them as examples, Machiavelli states that an important component of ability is recognizing an opportunity and acting on it. A new prince who comes to rule over a new principality faces the pressure to implement new ways of doing things. However, people who oppose change are always more vocal than those who benefit from change. Therefore, Machiavelli advocates the use of force. All of the princes mentioned above maintained power through the use of arms.

Chapter 7

Virtue 5: Machiavelli examines the two ways a prince can attain power. Franceso Sforza is an example of a prince who rose to power by his abilities. Cesare Borgia is an example of a prince who inherited power from his father. Even though Borgia had great abilities and did everything right, he nevertheless lost power because of a bad turn of fortune. However, Machiavelli urges any prince of ambition to imitate the actions of Borgia because his life shows how to utilize one's abilities to attain success.

Chapter 8

Virtue 6: Here, Machiavelli makes it clear that virtue or ability is related more to statecraft than morality. A prince who comes to power by evil means is said to have neither fortune nor ability. Such a prince may gain power, but not glory. By "evil means," Machiavelli is referring to proper and improper uses of cruelty. Cruelty is considered proper if utilized at one time in order to achieve some necessary goal. Improper cruelty is repetitive and achieves no purpose than to instill constant fear into the citizens. Therefore, the proper use of force can be a virtue.

Chapter 10

Virtue 7: An important virtue for a prince is his ability to relate to his citizens. Machiavelli stresses the importance of gaining the support of the people because that is essential in times of trouble. A prince does not have to be loved by the people, but he must not be hated. A prince with virtue may not be loved but he is always respected. In times of trouble, such as a siege, a prince must know how to keep up the morale of his people. This takes both wisdom and courage.

Chapter 11

Virtue 8: Machiavelli further demonstrates that virtue does not fall under a...
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