The Prince and Machiavelli’s favorite author of Tyrants
Niccolo Machiavelli dedicated his life to his literature after being released from jail on the charge of conspiracy against the Medici family. Machiavelli wrote The Prince in hopes of influencing future princes on the ideal process of how to control a monarch successfully. He also wanted to obtain a place of power in the Medici government. Machiavelli’s work was questioned due to his unethical and immoral ideas that were unlike other works at the time because he dealt with reality while advising future rulers of Florence. Through his work, he expressed that for the preservation of the government, all means were justified.
Machiavelli’s view of humanity tended to match the views of Renaissance humanists while still differing in some ways. Renaissance humanists admired the classical style of all things at this time. Machiavelli introduces many historical figures such as Theseus in order to express their achievements through their methods of ruling. Machiavelli also references to others that were thought to be cruel which also meant that they were viewed as strong and respected. At this time, this was unheard of. Machiavelli used these rulers as an example for people to understand that these men should not have been condemned but rather been used as sources to learn from. This also deviated usual Renaissance humanistic beliefs because he used these examples from reality instead of forming his writing from ethical principles. Renaissance humanists wrote their works based off of perfect states which hadn’t yet existed. Machiavelli’s view of humanity agreed with other Renaissance humanists because neither thought that the church should have any part in the government. Machiavelli’s realistic view in The Prince differed from the humanistic works of others that were religiously based. Machiavelli states, “And since they are sustained by superior causes which transcend human understanding, I will not discuss them”. Machiavelli describes his confusion with why the church rules one of the states by saying that no one could know why the church has power in the government.
The Prince was also compatible with individualism. Individualists believed that an independent mind set solely on the importance of self interest is the most beneficial way to rule. Machiavelli discussed the importance that individualism had on efficiently maintaining control of a state. He recommended that it was better to be consumed with self interest rather than wanting to benefit everybody. He believed that if the prince tried to be beneficial to everyone, then it could end up ruining his reign because he wouldn’t be able to keep up with the benefits that the people wanted. The only way to keep up with these benefits would be to charge them higher taxes, which would anger the people and cause trouble.
Most humanists during this time were conservatives who did not want change to the existing government. Machiavelli contradicts these beliefs in The Prince when he is advising new princes on how to rule a new principality that is foreign to the new prince. Machiavelli’s advice is to move to the new state. By moving to the new state, the prince is able to handle problems going on in the state more quickly. This is also important as the prince can see who his real allies are while also stopping any plans of overthrowing his reign. By stopping these issues in their tracks, the prince will be viewed as a serious leader who deserves the respect of his people. If the prince is viewed this way, then there will be less attempts at overthrowing his reign.
Machiavelli’s cruel and violent advice are incompatible with lots of church teachings at the time. Machiavelli’s famous quote “It is better to be feared than loved”, expresses this because he believed that the means used to hold the state by the prince were understandable as long as the only reason he used these means was for the better of the state. The best way he thought to be feared by the people was through violent acts against people who betrayed him. Although he thought this, he also thought that the acts had to have reason for the cruelty or else the people would be filled with hatred for the prince. At this time, the church was primarily focused on teaching of forgiveness. Machiavelli thought that if the prince showed too much of a compassionate side, as to forgive the law breakers, then from there would be more criminal acts. This also shows why Machiavelli thought it best to be feared because by being feared, it is easier to have order in the state.
Machiavelli also contradicts other humanists at the time through his usage of realism. Realism is the accepting of a problem and being ready to handle it accordingly. Machiavelli expresses that it is sometimes impossible to use morals when handling some situations if the prince wishes to keep control of his state. During these times, people thought of some rulers to be immoral. Machiavelli agrees with this but also thinks that it is absurd to believe that being moral is the best route for a ruler to take. The humanists of this time had not wrote their literature with the usage of realism. They used ethical and moral principles to establish their idealistic worlds, while Machiavelli focused on reality and used it to advise the princes on the most efficient way to rule and stay in rule of their states. Machiavelli’s usage of his experiences and studies from the past make his advice seem much more cruel. Machiavelli believes that these pieces of cruel advice are the most beneficial way to rule because he takes the mistakes made by other princes in order to correctly advise the future princes on how to rule.
About Words And Deeds
Machiavelli’s The Prince is a story about results rather than the intent or the process of getting to the end. From the other stories, we have read thus far, “Virtue” is a major part of the overall meaning. It was mentioned that through the translation of the story that “Virtue” has been to many other words in the English language. This story discusses is the role of virtue in a ruler or the prince’s ideas not in a sense that we have seen before in other philosophers.The interpretation of “virtue” or virtu in The Prince is on the basics of the Prince maintaining his reign, how to act, why he acts, and the result at the end. They see his virtue as everything that pertains to him staying in control over his reign and controlling those who follow them. If he can change and plan his virtue to fit the circumstances he will be a successful and powerful prince.
Virtu in this context of the story doesn’t necessarily contain goodness, or good behavior, but includes everything from life, that goes against fortune. “he need not make himself uneasy at incurring a reproach for those vices without which the state can only be saved with difficulty, for if everything is considered carefully, it will be found that something which looks like virtue, if followed, would be his ruin; whilst something else, which looks like vice, yet followed brings him security and prosperity”. This quote shows that the prince must do bad evil things to contain his reign and power because if he tries to be good, and never evil, he will not remain prince for long. This goes against the Christian and Greek view of the world because he is saying virtue is not the golden mean, or the vitreous behavior, but everything that goes against fortune. He believes that is it ok to do things wrong, as long as the ends justify the means. Virtu is necessary for a prince to have because it also is the talent or ability that can be put forward to accomplish certain objectives or ambition.
In The Prince, there is also a strong connection between virtu and fortune, or Fortuna, in chapter 25, is where it is most prevalent, although throughout the whole story. Fortuna and fortune are not seen as wealth, money, or other things in large amounts, but in the context of this story as luck or chance. That means that fortune is everything that the Prince can’t control, whether that be a natural force, or by the will of God. “So, it happens with fortune, who shows her power where valour has not prepared to resist her, and thither she turns her forces where she knows that barriers and defences have not been raised to constrain her”. This shows that no one can control fortune or fate and that she will rage on like “raving rivers”, and take what she will and what she chooses. As the people, we must see fortune and hope for the best, but we cannot plan for it, and we cannot stop it.
The Prince brings an interesting perspective to virtue, and fortune that has yet to be seen. He explains the real world, and not ideal or made up worlds, and because of that nothing is good, and evil must also be used by the powerful. In order for them to stay powerful, and keep their regime going.
Tyrannies And Tyrant in “The Prince” By Niccolò Machiavelli
Tyrannies are ruled by a Tyrant, or in our society better know as a dictator. They offer cruel and unfair treatment, as well as power over others. This power belongs to one person and is completely invested in a singular individual. Once a Tyrant is in control, they have an obligation to keep the society/ civilization happy by forming improvements, such as the city walls. This helps in the creation of a better image of the Tyrant so the Tyrant can still be in power. Maintaining power is thought to be done, one of two ways, either by concealing Tyranny as the form of Kingship or maintaining a consistent rule of oppression, mentioned by Aristotle. The Tyrant must always be in power if they want to keep being a Tyrant, if they lose power, they need to gain it again. The Tyrant needs to maintain and create new rules and laws to make individuals fear him and help him gain power. A Tyrant is a leader who takes over a government illegally and abuses that power, but they are extremely dangerous because they would do anything to keep power, because they have an excessive amount of freedom, and they don’t listen to the citizens because they are selfish and act in their own best interest. The definition of Tyranny is an extreme form of both oligarchy and democracy, that both serve their own private selfish needs. The rise of popular leaders that were chosen and trusted because of slanders against the nobles, but the hatred and anger always exists during their reign.
Machiavelli’s Price focuses strongly on the second advice given by Aristotle on how a Tyrant should keep power, by maintaining a constant rule of oppression. This brings us back to the aspect of being feared over being loved. The theory of being feared over being loved does connect to human nature, because when an individual fears you, they are less likely to rebel against you. Individuals are easily manipulated but others choose to deceive to gain power, when no fear is involved in the equation. “Wretched creatures who will not keep their word to you”. Wanting to gain or maintain power does not always come with acting nice, but deceiving is necessary. The connection between Aristotle’s advices on how a Tyrant should keep power is linked to Machiavelli’s Prince. The Prince is essentially summarized in the idea that a ruler should be feared over being loved by its citizens. Machiavelli continues to explain that the prince or the ruler needs to prioritize the aspects of his agenda in order to keep power and should ignore factors simply for the ideals. Machiavelli’s prince revolves around political power and how to act as a ruler, stressing on the aspect of being feared and respected over being liked. Being feared is preferred when ruling because it keeps people disciplined. The Prince is an absurd illustration of sovereignty and seeking power is not always converging toward morality and freedom. Machiavelli’s work revolves around political deception and advised Tyrants to be frugal, cruel and break promises if it serves their self-interest. The man looks for self-interest and to deceive, but the tyrant is aware of the problems and is able to balance the deception, but be feared and crafty at the same time.
The Tyrant stands in power only when the government has made its citizens completely unconscious and ignorant of the power they posses as a joint unit. Trust is another important factor, because kingships are preserved in that manner, but in tyrannies, the deceiving is constant amongst people they consider friends. Through Aristotle’s view, flatters have the potential to be grand rulers because the subservient citizens such as the woman and slaves value the tyrant’s method of ruling. More importantly, the tyrant desires that the citizens have complete distrust in one another, because in this manner they are powerless to take the step towards political action. The main difference between Aristotle and Machiavelli, in the concept of making a tyranny last is citizens must feel awe in comparison to fearing the ruler. The main aim of The Prince is the ideologies concerning the exercise of power and moral norms. The argument targets how the prince should not pay attention to norms or laws, and should only occupy his time with power and authority. The only rule of the prince is to lead with the preservation of power, because the stable state is considered the highest good. This power is connected to politics because there is no stability without power that is acquired through the immoral execution of power. In order for the Prince to maintain his state, the ruler must rely on personal characteristics to direct power and is constantly vulnerable to the loss of the state. When the king’s power is protected but limited, this is the method of how Kingships are maintained. However the Tyrannies method of preservation works by completely getting rid of any other rivals that may have power. Tyranny consists of many of the same aspects that and an extreme democracy does, such as the tyrant having complete control of command and requires military virtue. However the ruler needs to have moderation when conducting with someone of the opposite sex and demonstrate to other that he/she is caring of the gods. The method the Tyrant uses to maintain ruling for a long period of time, while not being completely vicious consists of no preferential treatment of others, regardless of financial situation, but needs to honour the individuals of the city and command that other officials under his rule penalize the wrongdoers, as well as placing resources that aid the city, such as new building.
Political Ideas Of Niccolo Machiavelli
Modern Political Ideas in Machiavelli’s The Prince
Machiavelli’s The Prince presents many political ideas that are still relevant in modern politics. He argues on topics such as whether it’s better to be loved or feared, whether to be generous or stingy, and how virture can be manipulated. Machiavelli references well known figures of literature and history to drive several of his points such as Caesar, Achilles, and Alexander VI. Although these essays from The Prince were meant to serve as advice for princes back in Machiavelli’s day, he presents political ideas that are aligned with modern conservatives, and these ideas are still very much seen today.
One of Machiavelli’s arguments is that it is better to be stingy than to be generous. Although he agrees that liberalty can earn earn you a good reputation, “the generosity that earns you that reputation can do you great harm” (1610). He argues that a prince with the reputation of liberality will “immediately be labelled a miser” if he decides to stop his generous ways (1610). He also believes that it is not in the public interest for a prince to be generous, because this will result in higher taxes in order to fund the prince’s donations, while a more stingy prince is able to keep taxes down because he isn’t spending as much. As such, Machiavelli believes that stinginess, not generosity, will ultimately give you a reputation of generosity. The two sides of this argument—liberality and stinginess—can be easily aligned with modern liberal and conservative beliefs, respectively. Machiavelli’s idea of donating money and being generous very much resembles a liberal tax plan—higher taxes that fund welfare programs, which provide for the poor. Machiavelli, however, aligns himself with a more conservative tax plan, believing that higher taxes will “rob his subjects,” and lower taxes are for the greater good (1611). Machiavelli does seem to have strong support for conservative economics, and this is an idea still applies today.
Another topic that Machiavelli covers is whether it’s better to be feared or loved. He explains that it is better to be feared, because men will serve a prince that they love “so long as the danger is remote” (1612). However, Machiavelli continues, “when the danger is close at hand, they turn against you” (1612). Machiavelli strongly believes that it is better to be feared than to be loved, but he also makes a big point on being feared but not hated. He says that a prince can avoid hate by keeping his hands off of his citizens’ property and shedding blood only when necessary. Here it is clear that Machiavelli is in support of the death penalty, but he says that it should only be carried out with “a strong justification and manifest cause” (1612). However, Machiavelli doesn’t provide any more elaboration on what would be such an act that can be justified with the death penalty. This is where the debate still lies today, as there are many different perspectives on where to draw the lines between the crimes that are punishable by death and those that are not. This debate involves many different variables, including the age and mental state of the criminal, the context of the situation, and plenty of other factors. However, there is a larger debate on whether or not to even have a death penalty at all, and it is clear that Machiavelli is in support of such a penalty. Machiavelli’s own justification of the death penalty as a punishment is that “men are quicker to forget the death of a father than the loss of a patrimony” (1613). Perhaps property was worth much more back in Machiavelli’s time, but this idea that life is worth less than property may not apply in today’s society. Nonetheless, Machiavelli continues to align himself with the modern conservative in asserting his belief in a death penalty.
There are some non-partisan ideas that Machiavelli presents in his essays. Machiavelli says that it is not worthwhile actually being virtuous, a prince only needs to appear virtuous to his subjects. This is because he believes a prince “cannot possibly exercise all those virtues for which men are called ‘good’” (1614). A prince must be willing to “do things against his word” sometimes in order for his own best interest and the best interest of his state. Machiavelli also claims that princes should only keep their word when it is their best interest. He says that “a prince will never lack for legitimate excuses to explain away his breaches of faith” (1614). He essentially says that a prince must be a great liar, because “men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived” (1614). These two points—on appearing virtuous and keeping promises—are very much an issue in modern politics. Almost every politician in office has broken promises before, and the president gets the most flack for not keeping their word. Many politicians do their best to appear virtuous, despite having a skeleton in the closet. Some politicians have gone out of their way, lying and performing unethical acts in order to hide some “non-virtuous” acts of their past. Notable examples of this would be Nixon and the Watergate Scandal, or Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, but these are examples where their efforts have failed. Machiavelli’s ideas about lying and appearing virtuous are also seen on presidential debates. Each candidate will try to expose the others and find cases where someone has gone back on their promises, but each candidate accused of lying will always manage up an excuse or counterclaim, and in the end, one of them will end up in office.
Machiavelli’s timeless ideas in The Prince are still very much relevant in the modern political scene. He presents his thoughts on whether it’s better to be stingy or generous, and whether it’s better to be loved or feared. Through these essays, Machiavelli comes off as what would be considered a modern conservative. His thoughts on lying and virtuosity are still a major concern with modern politicians, because most of them are seasoned deception artists trying to appear more virtuous than they actually are. Machiavelli has surpassed the boundaries of time with his political ideas, and despite writing about how a prince should run his kingdom, many of his beliefs are still held with the politicians that run their countries.
The Prince: A Guide To Ruling A Kingdom
Throughout his life, Niccolὸ Machiavelli writes a collection of works and within those works he creates a well-known book known as The Prince. This novel sheds light on modern philosophy and gives an in-depth analysis on how to acquire and maintain political power. Most importantly, this book was an effort to provide a guide for political action based on what’s happened in history and Machiavelli’s own experiences. One theme Machiavelli introduced in The Prince is the role of laws & armies. He touches on how a Prince must lay a strong foundation for both to create a strong state. There cannot be good laws without good arms, therefore focusing on arms is paramount for a ruler. Arms come in the representation of a prince’s troops and if a prince desires to rule on the battlefield, he must acquire his own troops. Mercenaries and auxiliaries are not trustworthy and damage will occur from the inside-out if a ruler gives these certain types of soldiers a chance within their army. Looking closely at The Prince, it is clear the influence a ruler can have if they possess good arms. This depiction of “good arms” is based on the idea that a prince should fortify his cities and attack his enemies with his own troops. Dealing with the unreliable natures of mercenaries and auxiliaries would be counter-productive to laying a strong foundation for an army. So if a ruler wants to uphold political power, they must listen to these statements presented in The Prince.
In The Prince, Machiavelli has concern for rulers using mercenary and auxiliary forces because they never give a ruler certainty in what role they will play in their army. Mercenaries are simply sell-swords or better known as soldiers for hire. They are motivated by monetary gains while offering their services to the highest bidder. Their loyalty is based off money and they can easily focus on their own prestige instead of fighting for the cause they were paid for. Machiavelli describes the nature of basing their state off of mercenaries by saying, “Mercenaries are auxiliary forces that are useless and dangerous, and anyone whose state is based on mercenary arms will never be established or safe, for mercenaries are disunited, ambitious, lacking in discipline and untrustworthy” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 77). This means that rulers who can’t secure their own troops will certainly be more at risk to watch their lands crumble when left in the hands of mercenaries. Mercenaries are troublesome, and simply cannot be trusted in dire times. Most will stick by their buyer’s side until war ensues and if war does actually happen, they will cower away from the fight. Machiavelli reinforces this point of mercenaries being cowards by saying, “They are well disposed to be your soldiers so long as you do not declare war, but with the coming of battle they either take flight or desert” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 78). This statement is true and important because of the nature of fighting in wars during this time period. A payment is not enough for a mercenary to risk their life for their employer. Also, the Prince may never know what kind of soldier he is getting when he hires a mercenary. A mercenary can be very skilled on the battlefield or very incompetent but both will affect a ruler’s army. The skilled mercenary can easily become selfish and increase their power at the prince’s expense, while the unskilled one would simply not be reliable in battle. Altogether, with the introduction of mercenary forces, rulers must know that if they join forces with a talented mercenary, they will never be safe due to the fact that mercenaries cannot be trusted or relied on.
Within chapter XIII of the novel, Machiavelli quickly criticizes the use of auxiliary forces just as he did with mercenary forces. They are simply borrowed troops from a more powerful state which creates a greater threat to the Prince and his rule. A ruler would be in a lose-lose situation if he possessed auxiliary forces. This predicament is explained by Machiavelli when he states, “However, they are almost always harmful to those who have recourse to them, as if they lose, you are undone; if they win, you become their prisoner” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 82). This gives an image that if the auxiliaries are unsuccessful, the ruler is left defenseless. If the auxiliaries are successful which is a likely outcome, then the prince owes his victory to someone else’s power. This makes a ruler indebted to a more powerful ruler, which eventually would lead to internal ruin. A prince could never be comfortable if his success was at the hands of auxiliary forces. Machiavelli makes this point clear by saying, “I conclude, therefore, that no principality is secure without its own army. Indeed, it is wholly dependent upon fortune, having no strength that can be relied upon to defend it in times of adversity” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 85). He is saying that, there will be no trust in an army if it’s dependent on foreign troops. Along with the loss of trust, the prince’s reputation would falter due to the use of outside armies. Enemies would know that certain prince is weak and his success is not based off his own strength. This would expose a weakness and would make nearby enemies want to continue to attack the prince because they know he is not as strong as his reputation may be. This would altogether lead to the demise of a prince because his principality would be based merely off of fortune and uncertainty.
A wise prince creates strong laws and accompanies those strong laws with a strong military presence. Prince’s must be self-sufficient in their ways and not show any forms of weakness because weakness will lead to their downfall. It is better for a prince to lose with his own troops and rely on his virtὺ as a ruler because fortuna can bring about unexpected results. Throughout The Prince, Machiavelli brings up examples of rulers that prospered and rulers that failed. He mentions Charles VII as a ruler who prospered and states that, “Charles VII, father of King Louis XI, recognized the necessity of arming himself with his own forces when he freed France from the English through a combination of good fortune and personal ability [virtὺ]” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 84). This shows that Machiavelli is right when he mentions that rulers have to realize how much better off they are with their own reliable forces. If the people know that their ruler is someone who prides themselves on maintaining and developing their kingdom, they can have full confidence in him. The Kingdom of France was no longer in need of the English forces. Once they were freed, it could be inferred that a weight was lifted off the Kingdom’s shoulders. Along with that, reputation is very important in sustaining someone’s seat on the throne, therefore, if someone’s reputation is tarnished they must find ways to repair their reputation or they risk giving off the perception that they are weak. Cesare Borgia had to learn through experience that the only way to grow in strength on the battlefield is to be in command of his own forces because everything else is threatening and unsafe. Machiavelli speaks on his adapting ways by saying, “Each time he grew in strength, and at no stage was he more highly rated than when everybody saw that he was in complete command of his own forces” (Machiavelli, The Prince, 84). This speaks on Borgia’s transition from using French auxiliary arms, to various mercenaries that proved dangerous and then his own troops which increased his reputation. This is important because had Borgia not deemed these forces unreliable and untrustworthy, he would have led his Kingdom into certain peril and his legacy would thus be tarnished. Based off Machiavelli’s examples, the immense impact that rulers can have by commanding their own troops lifts the morale of their people and lets their troops know that they have trust in an ideal military with no outsiders.
One of Machiavelli’s most familiar works, The Prince, can be seen as a guide to ruling a Kingdom. In chapters 12 and 13, Machiavelli speaks on the different types of soldiers within an army. Those three groups being mercenaries or soldiers for hire, auxiliaries or borrowed soldiers and lastly, a Prince’s own soldiers. The only group that Machiavelli recommends is a Prince’s own soldiers, as expected. In dealing with people that aren’t their own, princes interact with people that have ulterior motives. Mercenaries are undisciplined and cowardly in the face of the enemy. Their only motivations are money and due to that fact, they have no loyalty’s and can turn on any prince. Auxiliaries normally come from allied forces but they are even more dangerous than mercenaries. They possess good fighting skills and can be beneficial in a war effort, but once the war is over, win or lose, the auxiliaries have no ties to that prince. They all are united and under the control of formidable leaders so once again, they show no loyalty. Altogether this shows how important a prince’s own troops will be to his principality. They are loyal win or lose, and built upon strong foundations which creates a picture of what Machiavelli means by good arms. If a ruler wants to rule for a long time in a stable Kingdom, they must be able to limit their liabilities by surrounding themselves with strong authority amongst their armies.
Power Issues in Machiavelli’s The Prince
In Chapter Twenty of Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince, several important tactics for maintaining power are discussed. Some of the methods that Machiavelli discusses for maintaining power include the armament or disarmament of citizens, the elimination of divisons within the principality, the achievement of greatness through opportunities, and the concept of fortresses. According to Machiavelli, there are virtuous and non-virtuous approaches to each of these four topics that aid a prince in the maintaining of power.
Machiavelli lays out several different scenarios for treating newly acquired subjects. This includes the armament of subjects. According to Machiavelli, a prince can choose not to arm his subjects, but this will cause the citizens to feel as though the prince does not trust them and, as Machiavelli puts it, “generate hatred against you.” A prince can also choose to arm his citizens. In doing this, the citizens become his arms. Machiavelli says that this option is the virtuous one. Not only does it provide you with arms and prevent you from having to use mercenaries, which are not at all virtuous, but it also provides you with subjects rallying behind you in your endeavors.
Another important topic that Machiavelli discusses is his belief that divisions are harmful to a prince. Machiavelli says that he, unlike those scholars who came before him, believes that divisions within a principality do more harm to it than good. When an enemy is preparing to strike against a prince, the enemy aligns with the foreign and domestic enemies of a prince. These foreign enemies can be states that a prince has wronged or offended at some point. A prince’s domestic enemies are the subjects who reside in towns that are not treated equally by him. Divisions may be helpful in times of peace in order to prevent subjects from rising up against a prince, but they are not at all helpful in times of war when they serve no purpose other than to weaken the prince.
“Without doubt, princes become great when they overcome difficulties made for them and opposition made to them.” In saying this, Machiavelli means that a prince is able to rise up and become even more powerful and successful through the defeat of his enemies and by overcoming obstacles put in his path. Machiavelli also discusses this idea of rising to greatness through opportunity in Chapter Six in regards to Moses, Theseus, Romulus, and Cyrus. He again discusses another series of men who rose to greatness by seizing opportunities presented to them by fortune in Chapter Thirteen, this time naming David, Hero of Syracuse, and Cesare Borgia. All of these men, Machiavelli believes, have rose to greatness by making the most of unfortunate circumstances that have been presented to them. Therefore, according to Machiavelli, a prince’s enemies are not really there to destroy him and to claim his principality as their own, but they are actually an opportunity for the prince to “climb higher on the ladder that his enemies have brought to him” and enable him to aspire to an even more elevated level of greatness.
Yet another method presented by Niccolo Machiavelli for maintaining a principality is the idea of fortresses. In this regard, Machiavelli is referring to not only brick walls surrounded by moats with crocodiles and ramparts and drawbridges, but also to armed citizens. Physical fortresses, Machiavelli explains, do nothing to maintain power in times of peace. Instead, the only act to guard you from your own people. Fortresses are only necessary if a prince’s enemies are his own people. Instead, it is better for a prince’s own people to be his fortress. As previously mentioned, it is better for a prince to arm his people. Again, Machiavelli here argues that the arming of a prince’s own people will benefit the prince and act as a defense to foreign enemies and better protect the principality than any crocodile-invested, moat-surrounded fortress ever could. Machiavelli again sheds more light onto the story of Francesco Sforza- who is arguably the main character of the narrative Machiavelli relays throughout the course of his book- saying that the Sforza castle in Milan caused nothing but trouble to the Sforza family. Fortresses, Machiavelli says, serve no purpose other than to foster feelings of hatred among the people. Hatred, Machiavelli says, is a feeling that you do not want the citizens to feel toward a prince. “The best fortress there is, is not being hated by the people,” Machiavelli tells the reader, because if the people hate their prince, they will be more likely to take up arms against him rather than for him.
Machiavelli’s The Prince is riddled with different modes and advice for the acquisition and maintaining of principalities. Chapter Twenty of the book details different approaches for the question of whether or not to arm citizens, how to eliminate divisions within the principality, rising to greatness through opportunity, and different types of fortresses and the problems that can stem from them. Some of the methods that Machiavelli describes throughout the chapter are virtuous approaches while others are not.
Analysis of Niccolo Machiavelli’s Book the Prince: A Still Relevant Cheat Sheet for Managers
Nocolo Machiavelli’s book The Prince was published in 1532, five years later of his death. He left noteworthy facts and tips about leadership qualities one should possess who was given a responsibility to rule some land or territory and for someone who was given a lead for a managerial position. The content he wrote in his book reflected the experiences he tasted during several roles he played in his life including being a senior diplomat, commander and also a traitor for the country he served. This book was written as a sort of advice for the kings and politicians recommending a long list of cunning schemes to sustain their front running position. Moreover, this advice was found to be helpful yet unethical for sustaining a monarchy and for general politicians of his time. It has been known widely how The Prince attempts to separate power from ethics, and that having good character is not sufficient for leadership, people may find it harsh but Machiavelli was a crystal-clear realist who understood the art of limitations and use of power. His writings are now considered an important fragment of European art and literature also being studied around the globe for educational and practical purpose displaying how a leader can perform effectively, labelled as a 16th-century political treatise providing guidance on today’s competitive environment.
When considering the modern politics on several leadership platforms, this book has been working as a hideous cheat sheet for the ones who don’t care about the consequences. This book is a must-read for the CEOs and Managers who are in a need of coming up with strategies and tactics to have a leading or competitive edge over their employees, as there are nuggets of wisdom hidden inside this book for several situations. There are aspects of Machiavelli’s teachings that are certainly controversial and should be viewed in the light of historical context. Below are some of the cunning yet influential advises in a managerial context given by Machiavelli being implemented and practiced by several project managers or leaders as a great helping tool for their management capabilities,
It is not titles that honour men, but men that honour titles
This statement proves how much anyone has to work hard in proving himself as the deserved one for the level he is currently working on. This advice from Machiavelli was to someone who is supposed to be getting promoted to lead something bigger than himself. A leader cannot maintain his prominent role unless he is too lazy to work hard for it. When looking at the evil side of Machiavelli’s proposition of sustaining leadership, one must go as far as he can to maintain his image among the people he’s surrounded with. (Anderson, n.d.)
Distrust Mercenaries and Auxiliaries
This suggestion from Machiavelli is completely applicable and close to the truth in 21st century. You would understand more clearly if you have been appointed as a leading manager for some project and you’ve been supplied with a team of externals to lead, the externals might not perform that swiftly than the internals who are more loyal to you and the firm they are working for. It’s a proven fact of how using an external force for help or management has always led to disastrous conditions for a project and its managers. Although, most of the context in Machiavelli’s The Prince should be discarded because of the unethical advice in usage of power or for attainment of power is wrong. But this droplet of wisdom is clearly very helpful and fruitful when implemented in project management strategies. (Peeters, n.d.)
It’s better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both
In project management, the idea of having fear for the project leader might be much more beneficial when it comes to the outcomes. Machiavelli recommended how a ruler should be polite and loved by his people but also, he must be feared by the same people or his monarch will soon be eaten up by his own people. Same goes with a project management strategies where a manager having a kind appearance with strict methodology of getting his work done is preferred than a manager who is either way too polite with his team or always behaves strictly. Only the one sustains who works with moderation in between politeness and being strict with his team at the same time. (Ratner, n.d.)
The end justifies the means
The above written line is quoted by Machiavelli, he explains how nobody cares for what you went through to achieve your current position you are at now, everybody cares about is what you own right now. So, if you need to get your hands dirty to achieve what you desire, you’re most welcome to do it. This statement explains what most of the content in Machiavelli’s book is about, these cunning and selfish statements are what kept his writings unexplored by thousands.
Somehow, Machiavelli’s work has been more perceived in making grand strategies for politics and diplomacy, but this work was generated back in the 16th century and this not the world we live in today. Obama, being one of the successful presidents in the history of USA was recommended to read the price in order to understand the tactics and monopolies of politics to complete his tenure as a president. This recommendation shows the value The Price carries of sustaining a certain leading position. But at the same time, this book only carries the dark path to success for only Princes and Kings to justify their glory and survival. Using Machiavelli’s content to justify the use of immoral means to achieve those ends is completely wrong in terms of the politics in today’s society. (Davis, n.d.)
Machiavellianism, preferring reality over idealism to solve real problems makes this book more debatable as it is bringing a transformation in the political world of position management. People have died making this world a more livable and ideal place but the current situation of this modern world looks more disturbing than the previous ones. So maybe, up to some context, Machiavelli, founded solution to the modern political theory. On the other hand, as a writer, Machiavelli also warned us about the tactics people could use to when looking for their interest. These warnings might be helpful to come up with more defensive and stronger strategies to look out for competitors. Sometimes, you actually can take an advantage over your opponents by losing control of your moral values, this is helpful in getting rid of the cheap tactics the rivals make. Machiavelli wrote all these advices because he thought these was necessary, realizing your mistakes might be the only solution to get back to your place inside your market. (Anon., n.d.)
The Prince can be a thorough guide for people who are having bad intentions of over taking your position inside the market, providing a step by step philosophical guide in ruining their competitors business with immoral approaches. A person reading his writings may have dealt through a harsh personal background regarding family or work, persuading him to hurt somebody physically or mentally to achieve what he might have never received from the society. (Anon., n.d.)
Problems and Dangers
Machiavelli didn’t only advise the conversion of idealism into realism, he explained each and every step to be taken thoroughly, in this modern political environment where everyone is trying to defeat their competitors, this book full of philosophical wisdom might get in the wrong hands and the wrong interpretation of it might lead to huge disasters like murders. About the quote of preferring fearfulness over mercy, this modern world has left the practice of being feared way past behind. Nothing can be conquered here by fear but politeness seems to be the answer. Taking an example, in a competitive market where two same products are competing with same pace cannot blackmail their competitors to leave but with leveraging dialogues between the two parties might help them come with a better strategy together to rule the entire market. Machiavelli suggest leaders to be double faced, which might when realized, raise anger among their audience worsening the situation than the hypothetical situation leader assumed by being honest.
The neglecting fate of the Prince shows why some of the utopian societies built in this world preferred realism over idealism, one cannot bend reality over an ideal hypothetical place. In my opinion, what Machiavelli wrote was advice for a practical action that was maybe the only way he saw at his time. Although, it can be used in a really evil way, what determines it is who is applying these advices and in which context, more than the advices itself.
Machiavelli’s The Prince is an ambitious attempt to outline the steps necessary to ensuring success in leadership. The work dissects the elements of power; it identifies the sources from which it springs and the tactics required for its maintenance. His position rests on the claim that power is “acquired either through the arms of others or with one’s own, either by fortune or virtue” (Ch. 1, pg. 6), and he asserts that success in politics cannot exist outside of this basic framework. Centuries later, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. would rise from the masses as a leader, armed only with the candor of his objectives and their means. King is generally accepted by those who are familiar with his career in politics as a successful leader – one who’s ends were steadily achieved through the perserverence of his spirit and the support of his people. Yet Machiavelli states plainly that “all the armed prophets conquered, and the unarmed ones were ruined” (Ch.6, pg. 24). Machiavelli’s failure to account for the success of a leader as antithetical to his beliefs as King betrays a fundamental flaw in the former’s reasoning. Machiavelli’s understanding of true leadership and success is limited; he is short-sighted in assuming that all power must be absolute power, and fails to acknowledge that the oppressed and the great can ofttimes converge to strive toward an end greater than mere material acquistion.
King manifests none of the qualities Machiavelli identifies as virtuous. Rather than relying on cunning and ingenuity to manipulate or eliminate his adversaries and constituents, King achieves his goals “openly, lovingly…with a willingness to accept the penalty” (pg.294). Machiavelli would then assert that his rise would necessarily have to be precipitated by fortune. As he states, “the result of becoming a prince from private individual presupposes either virtue or fortune” (Ch. 6, pg. 22). Yet again, King neither relies on his own wealth, nor is he funded by any outside party throughout the entire duration of his career. And he certainly does not invoke the use of arms. King’s basic guideline for response is “non-violent direct action.” King emerges from the people as a leader, which at once distinguishes him from any of Machiavelli’s princes. According to Machiavelli, the interests of the governed are only important insofar as they affect the governor’s ability to lead. King however, rather than using the backs of the people as stepping stones, takes their burden on his shoulders and brings then to the forefront of public attention. Thus he is loved by the people he leades. Machiavelli warns leaders against this supposed danger. According to him, love can only be maintained through the continous expenditure of the leader on his people, their affections are bought. Yet, as he states,” friendships that are acquired at a price…are bought, but they are not owned and when the time comes cannot be spent…Love is held by a chain of obligation, which, because men are wicked, is broken at every opportunity for their own utility”(Ch. 17, pg. 66-67). However, the esteem King’s followers hold him in is different from that which Machiavelli warns leaders of; its perpetuation is not dependant on generosity and the doling out of material goods. King inspires a sort of love that is unconditionlal because it is based on intangibles. It is a genuine appreciation for the efforts and leadership provided by one of their own. When a leader such as King undertakes the struggle for such intangible conditions as justice and freedom, and for the exclusive benefit of the poplulace, he becomes endeared to the people, and thus gains a fortune that Machiavelli fails to identify: the undying, unconditional support of the masses.
As these two types of leaders originate from two opposite ends of the social spectrum, their views on fundamental elements of politics also differ drastically. Machiavelli and King differ almost antithetically in their views on positive law. To the prince, laws are but tools used to control the masses, not codes by which leaders must themselves abide. Furthermore, the existence of laws allows a means by which the Prince can both impress and terrify the populace through the callous breaking of them. The ability to transcend law makes the prince an awesome and powerful image to the people. King, on the other hand, holds laws in the highest possible respect: “In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law…an individual who breaks a law his conscience tells him is unjust, and willingly accepts the penalty…is in reality expressing the very highest respect for the law” (pg.294). King endeavors only to break unjust laws after carefully examining whether they truly ought to be broken. He operates within the bouds of the law, establishing himself further as a man of the people.
The most fundamental difference however, lies in each man’s definition of success, their ultimate end. To Machiavelli, the prince himself is his own end. Machiavelli’s ultimate goal is to find the means of securing stability throught the entire region of italy, and ensure its security. He believes this is only accomplished through the establishment of a powerful absolute sovereign. Thus, he guides his prince to use fortune and virtue to look out for himself at all costs, so as to rise above all obstacles to achieve total power. This definition of success is measured largely in material acquisition; the prince is to acquire and maintain control over a body of land, and it is the essence of his nature to do so: “…it is a very natural and ordinary thing to acquire, and always, when men do it who can, they will be praised or not blamed” (Ch.3, pg. 14). In such a political atmosphere, the prince operates alone: all others with any ambition toward leadership are but competitors after the same set of acquireable goods, and any objectors to his methods are obstacles to his goals. Thus rivals are eliminated and the people are terrified or manipulated into silence. To King, however, the people are an end in themself. According to him, “law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice” (pg. 295), so that the people may enjoy the highest degree of happiness in a society that treats all men as equal. He fights to bring justice and equality to the most oppressed sector of the population, and his success is measured by intangibles: the exposure of injustice, and the establishment of a “substance-filled positive peace” in which his people are recognized as equal members of society; in other words: justice. King’s end is entirely outside of himself, he is but an agent of and for the people; any ideas of personal gain are subjugated to the benefit of the greater good. By this definition, and through the knowledge of all that he did accomplish, Martin Luther King Jr. was indeed successful.
Machiavelli’s problem lies in that he identifies but two humors: “the people desire neither to be commanded nor oppressed by the great, and the great desire to command and oppress the people”(Ch.9, pg.39). From this conflict of interests stems the constant state of distrust between leaders and their people.
However, Machiavelli does not presuppose any condition in which the people might wish to work in harmony with a leader; namely, that instance in which a leader promises to rescue the oppressed from further injustice at the hands of the great. In such a case, the people do in fact desire to be commanded by a leader who does not ultimately wish to oppress them. King is the prime example of such a case. His end was genuine, just, and for the people, and the willing masses provided enough reinforcement even in the absence of fortune and Machiavellian virtue, that as an unarmed prophet he was able to succeed.
A Comparative Analysis of The Prince and Julius Caesar: Pragmatism over Morality
A comparative study of two texts reveals context as the primary influence upon the interplay between pragmatism and personality morality in an individual’s pursuit and consolidation of power. Driven by an overarching contextual desire for stable government, Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513) and William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (1599) demonstrates the incompatibility of personal morality and political success across their respective discussions of effective authority. Implementing his extensive diplomatic experience among Italy’s warring city-states, Machiavelli’s didactic treatise operates within a value system supremely favoring ruthless pragmatism over ethics in establishing and maintaining authority. While the relative liberality of the form enables Shakespeare to problematize Machiavelli’s binary perceptions of human nature, his ultimate desire to preserve the stability achieved under Elizabeth I’s reign leads him to favor pragmatism over morality in exercising authority. Therefore despite depictions of human nature nuanced by differing purposes, shared contextual priorities drive these composers to present aligned intertextual perspectives privileging pragmatism over morality in an individual’s pursuit of power.
Due to the volatile nature of politics, a leader’s success in maintaining authority is determined by their ability to suppress moral reservations and make calculated decisions to ensure political advancement. Upon the observation of Italy’s warring oligarchies rife with espionage and shifting alliances, Machiavelli offers opportunistic pragmatism as an infallible approach to maintaining authority to the treatise’s dedicatee, Lorenzo de Medici, in an attempt to re-enter Florence’s diplomatic elite. He dictates that a ruler “must pamper people or destroy them”, with high modality tone typical of an advisory handbook demonstrating Machiavelli’s binary perceptions of human conduct. He instructs his reader to “eliminate the family of the previous ruler” in a bid to establish authority over mixed monarchies, a euphemism detaching the moral implications of murder from the political advancement it yields. To palliate these controversial claims in his predominately Catholic context, he cites “Hannibal’s tremendous cruelty” as the leading factor in the general’s immovable authority, an allusion providing historical validation for his violation of the virtues espoused by leaders in the ‘Mirror of Princes’ genre.
Faced with a differing contextual purpose to both entertain and stimulate his seasoned theatrical audience, Shakespeare problematizes Machiavelli’s binary depictions of human nature. Brutus is referred to frequently with the epithet, “honourable”, endearing him to the audience for the very moral character that Machiavelli rejects. Furthermore Brutus struggles to suppress his innate morality, stating that he is “with himself at war”, a military metaphor demonstrating the complexities of negotiating pragmatism and morality. However Shakespeare, impressed with Queen Elizabeth’s ethically unsound methods of securing authority such as the legalization of torture against disobedient subjects, demonstrates the ultimate failure of leaders guided by blind idealism. Brutus makes a plea to spare Antony, calling for the conspirators to be “sacrificers, not butchers”, with this religious lexical choice signifying his politically unwise attempt to idealize Caesar’s assassination. Brutus’ trusting nature foolishly pushes him to permit Antony to address the plebeians, with Cassius pointing out, “Know you how much the people may be moved…?” This rhetorical question emphasizes and foreshadows the failure of Brutus’ idealism in the face of fickle public support. Therefore while differing purposes and forms present nuanced views of human nature, a shared value for the primacy of stable authority pushes both composers to value pragmatism over personal morality.
While the adherence to blind moral idealism is a hindrance to maintaining authority, an impression of it is necessary to preserve the symbiotic relationship between a ruler and his subjects. As civilian and interfamilial hostility spelled the downfall of many Italian oligarchies, Machiavelli suggests that a leader’s duplicitous nature is integral to maintaining authority over subjects. A ruler must “seem and sound wholly compassionate, wholly loyal…wholly religious.” Repetition of “wholly” amplifies the depth of public deception Machiavelli perceives as paramount for maintaining power. A leader should give the “impression of greatness, spirit, seriousness and strength”, a tetracolon of qualities Machiavelli believes a leader should display but not put into practice. He advises leaders to “overcome obstacles by force or fraud…(by studying) the politics of Cesare Borgia”, a contemporary allusion demonstrating his respect for Borgia’s reputable cunning, which Machiavelli keenly observed firsthand upon years of service in his court.
Shakespeare consummates Machiavelli’s precepts in his characterization of Antony, whose stirring public rhetoric finds its roots in the cult of individuality and propaganda perpetuated by the “Virgin Queen” as a highly effective measure of unifying the English embittered by years of religious conflict under the unified authority of her image. However, Shakespeare presents Antony as a morally ambivalent character as he pleads with Caesar’s corpse in a preceding soliloquy to “pardon (him)” for his false civility with the conspirators. Imperative demonstrates that Antony too is subject to stings of morality which Machiavelli disregards nonchalantly as a factor affecting humans seeking political authority. However Shakespeare supremely exalts Antony’s political cunning as he repeats emphatically is his oration to the plebeians that “Brutus is an honourable man”. Antistrophe allows Antony to project an impression of his own virtue while simultaneously undermining Brutus and the conspirators’ motives. Shakespeare includes stage directions to “come down from the pulpit”, placing Antony in close proximity to his audience, enhancing his plea to them as “friends” and thus equals. The success of Antony’s false virtue in seizing political authority is exemplified by the plebeians’ reaction, “Revenge! Seek! Burn! Slay!” This series of exclamations exemplify the success of Antony’s manipulations through rhetoric, echoing reactions to Elizabeth’s ‘Tilbury speech’. Therefore, like instances of civilian dissension in their respective contexts push both composers to advocate for false displays of virtue as paramount to preserving authority.
The overarching desire for stable government across the contexts of both Machiavelli’s The Prince and Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar negates the effects of their differing purposes and forms to present aligned intertextual perspectives promoting pragmatism over morality for an individual’s acquisition and exercise of authority. Perhaps the nuanced discussions of human and morality across both texts constitute a true testament to the endless complexities of negotiating human nature in an individual’s pursuit of power.
Antithesis in 4th Soliloquy. The Prince’s Scale of Metaphysical Valance
Antithesis is a rhetorical device in which two contrasting words or concepts are juxtaposed within a parallel grammatical structure (literarydevices.com). In this case, the repeated use of this literary convention and the balanced structure it employs is meant to highlight the irony of the fact that Hamlet himself can’t seem to find a healthy balance: between anger and depression, reason and emotion, thought and action. Therefore, the use of antithesis in his fourth soliloquy serves to illustrate the uncertainty and dissymmetry that are defining aspects of his character. In the case of this soliloquy one of the most prominent effects of using antithesis is to accentuate the instability of Hamlet’s mindset.
Throughout the play, Hamlet proves himself unable to think evenly. He either idealizes a person or concept, or demonizes them; he sees no grey area, no in-between. A perfect example of this is how Hamlet vilifies his mother for marrying Claudius, partly because has a completely romanticized idea of what marriage should be. Hamlet’s inability to find balance is exemplified in the very beginning of the soliloquy. Hamlet, elaborating on his earlier query of “to be or not to be”, poses another question: “Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them?” (3.1.65-68) Hamlet is a man of extremes, and this is one of the key reasons why he cannot seem to find any semblance of inner peace. In his mind, there are only two options: live a life dogged by misery and ill luck, or rebel against cruel fate by committing suicide. He does not stop to consider that not everyone’s life abounds in suffering, or that perhaps killing oneself is not the only way to find peace. This is why he is so keen to use antithesis in this example, for such a literary device only allows for the presentation of two courses of action. It also helps to convey his warped view of what it means to take action.
By using the word “suffer” when speaking of life, he implies that humans are helpless beings at the mercy of fate. Yet he describes the act of suicide as taking up “arms”, as if killing oneself is actually an act of fighting back, even though it is usually seen as an act of cowardice. The irrationality of Hamlet is so prevalent throughout the play, that he himself is a walking paradox; he exemplifies the concept of antithesis itself. One reason Hamlet is not able to bring himself to act is because he is caught between righteous anger, crippling devastation, and cerebral thought. Using this parallel grammatical structure, he heaps the possible consequences that come with choosing either life or death like a merchant heaping weights upon a balancing scale, and yet still finds himself unable to come to any sort of conclusion. Hamlet gives voice to this concern when he says, “And thus the native hue of resolution/ Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,” (3.1.92-93). By going back and forth between whether it is better “to be or not to be” he is arguing himself into the ground.
Hamlet is, by nature, a man who adheres to reason. Gentry-born and well-educated, he has been taught to think logically and rationally. Therefore, he is not comfortable letting himself be guided purely by emotion. Whenever he seems to experience powerful feelings, whether due to anger, depression, or disgust, he reasons himself out of passion, and talks himself down from taking action. This self-entrapment is thrown into stark relief by the use of antithesis. What is interesting about this particular speech is that even though Hamlet is ostensibly contemplating suicide, he never actually uses the words “I” or “me” throughout the passage. He talks about death in an impersonal, general sense, and airs his thoughts on the merits of self-murder as if speaking on the behalf of all humanity, as shown by his repeated use of the words “we” and “us”. One can see this especially in lines 86-90: “But that the dread of something after death …puzzles the will And makes us rather bear those ills we have Than fly to others that we know not of?” (3.1.86,88-90) This conveys in a way, a sense of arrogance, as he assumes that everyone would commit suicide to escape their troubles were it not for fear of the unknown. However, it also suggests that he knows that the question he posed in the first line of the soliloquy is one that he cannot answer. It is easier to accept this lack of closure if he pretends that he is only presenting the issue as a matter of abstract philosophical debate, because he cannot accept the fact that there is no easy solution to his problems. This is an established tendency of Hamlet: he thinks himself into circles, posing metaphysical quandaries that he knows he cannot solve. He cannot even bring himself to answer the inquiry that he himself asked, proven by the fact that he ends line 90 with a question mark.
Considering the purpose of antithesis is to emphasize the differences between opposite ideas, using this device to weigh his options should make the question of “to be or not to be” easier to answer. However, it does just the opposite. Hamlet is getting nowhere by following this train of thought, except reasoning himself into paralysis. Shakespeare adeptly wields antithesis in order to depict the disequilibrium that is Hamlet’s troubled psyche and convey the extent of his confusion.
Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. ED.
Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2012. Print. Folger Shakespeare Library.
“Antithesis Examples and Definition – Literary Devices.” Literary Devices. N.p., 31 Dec. 2014. Web. 27 Feb. 2016.
“Hamlet”To Be or Not to Be….”” Shakespeare Resource Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Feb. 2016.