- Free Essays, Term Papers & Book Notes

Machiavelli's Prince

By:   •  Essay  •  990 Words  •  November 18, 2009  •  622 Views

Page 1 of 4

Essay title: Machiavelli's Prince

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 study the victories and losses of these great, historical men, and here, Cyrus is named again along with Alexander the Great and Caesar.

Two qualities that he says an ideal prince needs are: the ability to be mean when necessity dictates, and often, that is necessary to acquire and maintain his title, and that the prince must desire and be willing and capable to do what it takes to achieve his goals. A major point in The Prince, that Machiavelli reinforces constantly, is that “the ends justify the means”. In chapter 15, Machiavelli says, “it is necessary to a prince, if he wants to maintain himself to be able to not be good” (Prince, page 61). Machiavelli is not advocating immorality, but that there are times when the prince has to be evil. However, Machiavelli cautions in Chapter 16, that while it is safer to be feared than loved, men are self-interested creatures, and because of that the ideal prince must not be hated (Prince, Page 65). The best example of this, is Cesare Borgia, who was believed to be cruel, but his cruelty united Romagna. While trying to unify Romagna, Borgia hired Remirro de Orco to perform his so called “dirty work”. But once the city was unified, Borgia was murdered at Cesare’s word, and his slain body was left in the the center of the village. Allowing the villagers to see what he was capable of, people feared Cesare.

Some men, like Petrarch, disputed what Machiavelli had

Continue for 3 more pages »  •  Join now to read essay Machiavelli's Prince and other term papers or research documents
Download as (for upgraded members)
Citation Generator

(2009, 11). Machiavelli's Prince. Retrieved 11, 2009, from's-Prince/9054.html

"Machiavelli's Prince" 11 2009. 2009. 11 2009 <'s-Prince/9054.html>.

"Machiavelli's Prince.", 11 2009. Web. 11 2009. <'s-Prince/9054.html>.

"Machiavelli's Prince." 11, 2009. Accessed 11, 2009.'s-Prince/9054.html.