Niccolò Machiavelli and “The Prince”

Niccolò Machiavelli was an Italian known by the popular writing of The Prince. I personally think that we have judged this book with a prejudiced and biased mind, we’ve judge him harshly. The truth is that before this time, I had only read some passages of it, and because of this I had never realized that, as crude as it may sound, it is full of truths. I’ve found that this book contains teachings that go further than “the end justifies the means”. Here I share some of the phrases/ideas that struck me while I was reading it.

“Any harm you do to a man should be done in such a way that you need not fear his revenge.”

“You have to keep an eye, not only on present trouble, but on those of the future, and make every effort to avoid them.”

“The man who makes another powerful ruins himself.”

“A prudent man should always follow the footsteps of the great and imitate those who have been supreme.”

“For men injured others either through fear or hate.”

“For there is no way to protect yourself from flattery except by letting men know that you will not be offended at being told the truth.”

But the one that had the greater impact on me reads as follows:

“Here the question arises: is it better to be loved than feared, or vice versa? I don’t doubt that every prince would like to be both; but since it is hard to accommodate these qualities, if you have to make a choice, to be feared is much safer than to be loved.”

From my point of view, Machiavelli was right. He was right in this very situation; we need to consider that he is talking about politics and that he is backing up every idea that he presents. It is well known that history tents to repeat, either we learn from the past or we suffer in the future. Also, I really want to point out that he says that being feared is safer, not better, than to be loved.

Even though this was true at some point, I would consider it as invalid for today’s politics. The world has changed and so the people. Nowadays we have more power than people back in those days had. Fear is still used to govern over a lot of countries around the world, and politics are corrupted almost everywhere; however we do not live under a regimen of fear.

We can learn a lot about Machiavelli’s good advices and wisdom. His teachings may be out of context, but we can always find a way to apply them to our lives. 

5 thoughts on “Niccolò Machiavelli and “The Prince”

  1. I definitely agree with you that Machiavelli gets a bad rap. I also found myself agreeing with many of his statements, although some are indeed outrageous, but I didn’t say I agreed with him on everything! It is important to look at his philosophies in context, and I would be so bold as to say that sometimes it is better (or safer) to be feared than loved! Think of mothers as an example, do they always get their kids home on time because of their love? No. Sometimes they need to strike fear into their hearts to correct their delinquent teens. But, that being said, an increase of love should always follow.

  2. I agree that it is safer but not better. Certainly in today’s politics it is not true, since no one man has all the power. Today’s nationalism is based on love for one’s country or at least duty, not fear of punishment.

  3. I thought it was interesting how you brought out the statements that you thought were true. Most people just pointed out the ways they believe he was wrong. I think your strongest point was that Machiavelli doesn’t just make bold statements and expect you to believe them – he proves them to you.

  4. I liked your selection of phrases from the book. We could spend lots of time meditating about each of those and how we could apply it. I also think that even though being feared is easier and safer, being loved is always better. Being feared will most likely get you what you want, but a feared leader will create feelings of hate and resentment on people most of the time. Good thing that today we can find leaders that use love and still achieve their goals.

  5. That’s an interesting point about fear being *safer* than love. I don’t think fear is *better* than love for sure. But fear has proven itself an effective way of controlling people. Kim Jung Il controlled his populace with fear all the way until the day he died. However, rule by fear can sometimes lead to violent uprisings. It’s hard to say which would truly be safer for the ruler. Leaders who rule by love, such as President Lincoln, sometimes also get assassinated. Maybe neither one is really that safe.

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