The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

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Machiavelli, Niccolò. The Prince. New York: Penguin, 1961.

The Prince, written by Niccolò Machiavelli, was, and is still considered today, one of the most influential and controversial publications of all time. Written during his political demise, Machiavelli dedicated The Prince to Lorenzo de’ Medici, in hopes that he would use his work as a practical guide for ruling Florence, Italy. Throughout his work, Machiavelli addresses a wide range of topics, which are intended to instruct and advise the prince on his use of power and political conduct. Considered the father of modern political thought, Niccolò Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469, in Florence, Italy. In 1498, Machiavelli entered the service of the Florentine republic as both an administrator and a diplomat. Unfortunately, fifteen years later, his official political life ended with the return of the Medici family to power. Thus, with the restoration of the Medici, Machiavelli was forced to give up one of the most influential aspects in his life- politics. It was during this period that Machiavelli wrote The Prince, now one of the most famous pieces of literature ever written, but at the time of the Renaissance, considered one of the most diabolical. One of the most controversial themes of The Prince was Machiavelli’s intended separation of politics and ethics. The Prince itself is not a guide with instruction over creating the ideal ruling government; it is a guide on how to gain and hold power. By using examples set by great rulers of the past, Machiavelli explains how a ruler can acquire and perpetuate his power through their own prowess. However, Machiavelli urges the prince to gain this power at any means necessary, even if it entails immoral actions. “The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous. Therefore if a prince wants to maintain his rule he must be prepared not to be virtuous” (50). Unlike...
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