The Ideal Prince

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Machiavelli's "Prince" is a unique historical work, as a letter written to Lorenzo Medici, but most of the work is meant for anyone who is able to understand. While the book was meant to serve as a guide for what characteristics the ideal ruler of a country would hold, he also hoped that the letter would bring him back in favor of the Medici's who had previous exiled him. Machiavelli never dictates what or who the ideal prince is, but he continually offers examples and advice, which is often immoral and unethical, on how someone would become the ideal prince. Machiavelli was naturally pessimistic about the human race, and that heavily influenced this work, with negative connotations flowing freely. One of the first suggestions Machiavelli makes in the book is that it is much easier if the prince is taking over a new principality due to heredity. The "subjects" will transition much easier because they are accustomed to how the rest of the family has ruled. However, if a the new ruler has gained his position through hard work and virtu, if people revolt, he can quickly gain the respect and fear by punishing the leaders of the revolt, this reinforces that he is not playing games, and that he is a strong leader, not afraid to make enemies. Machiavelli's wisdom is woven into the work, and it alone offers ideas that leaders should take into account. In chapter six, he says, "a prudent man should always enter on the paths beaten by great men and imitate those who have been most excellent…" (Prince, page 22). He offers up several examples of great leaders, including Moses and Cyrus. The "ideal prince" must also be schooled in the art of war, and Cyrus is brought up again later in the book when Machiavelli insinuates that a prince must have good intellect, and he can acquire that by reading "histories and consider in them the actions of excellent men, should see how they should conduct themselves in wars…" (Prince, page 60), he continues on, instructing that one should...
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