The Prince - Niccolo Machiavelli

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“The Prince”
Niccolo Machiavelli

So – you want to know what it is to be a Prince? Whether through blood, of family or war, money, or power you find yourself in the incredible position of a Prince. If you're looking for a 'handbook' or 'Prince for Dummies' look no further than Machiavelli's “The Prince”. This book is chock full of advice for you on all matters. The book serves as a guide for what characteristics the ideal ruler of a country would hold. Machiavelli's advice comes from first-hand observation of Cesar Borgia, Duke Valentino, that he sees as the epitome of Princedom as he states, “I can give a new prince the example of Duke Valentino's actions”1.

His biggest advice to all princes is to “avoid getting a bad name”, that “he need only take pains in avoiding hatred”2. A prince “should not depart from what is morally right, if he can observe it, but should know how to adopt what is bad, when he is obliged to”3. Machiavelli is not advocating immorality, but that there are times when the prince has to be evil. Borgia is the classic example of this as he, himself, was a very cruel man but through his actions as ruler was able to unify Romagna and 'he... laid the foundations for future power”4. According to Machiavelli, a prince doesn’t have to have all the qualities that he talks about, but it is in his best interest to appear to have them. He insinuates that as long as the ruler is able to adapt to new situations easily, “his fortune wold not be altered”5 . Machiavelli's also says that “Men in general judge more by their eyes than by their hands … Everyone sees how you appear, few touch what you are.”6. Because so few people take interest in what is below the exterior, as long as the prince has the “ideal” exterior to offer to his citizens, an exterior that is cold and unmoral, willing to “justify the end by the means”, the ruler could be seen as the ideal prince.
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