il principe Niccoló Machiavelli

Niccoló Machiavelli

-Born in Florence, Italy in 1469 and died in Florence in 1527

-Politician, Artist, & Philosopher

-Heavily studied the classics

-Appointed "Second Chancery of the Republic" & was a well respected political figure in Florence by 1502

"As chancellor and secretary to the Ten of Liberty and Peace, a sensitive government agency dealing chiefly with warfare and foreign affairs, Machiavelli participated both in domestic politics and in diplomatic missions to foreign governments. These posts afforded him innumerable opportunities over the next fourteen years to closely examine the inner workings of government and to meet prominent individuals, among them Cesare Borgia, who furnished the young diplomat with the major profile in leadership for The Prince."

-1512: Spain invaded Italy & the Florentine Republic was replaced with an Autocratic regime.

"Machiavelli was purged from office, jailed and tortured for his well-known republican sentiments, and finally banished to his country residence in Percussina."

Historical Background

The Prince falls into the Modern Era. This time frame also contains the Renaissance, Age of Discovery, Reformation, Age of Reason & Enlightenment

Modernity praises Mastery

Logos: our ability to think & speak

Ancient World Logos: the divine spark in us. The faculty we use to act justly or unjustly.

Classical World Logos: exalts this normative feature of logos: judgement / resourcing

Modern World Logos: Prizes instrumental reason

il Principe


takes "Mirror for Princes" genre and inverts it

"So it is necessary for a ruler, if he wants to hold on to power, to learn how not to be good, and to know when it is and when it is not necessary to use this knowledge."

Master Theme: Mastery

"Every ruler should read history books, and in them he should study the actions of admirable men."

Artwork: Physical Representation of Mastery


"The prime reason for losing power is neglect of military matters; while being an expert soldier opens the way to the acquisition of power."

Surgical Violence: Borgia

Economy of violence: household management of violence


"For many authors have constructed imaginary republics and principalities that have never existed in practice and never could; for the gap between how people actually behave and how they out to behave is so great that anyone who ignores everyday reality in order to live up to an ideal will soon discover he has been taught how to destroy himself, not how to preserve himself."

"Of course, if all men were good, this advice would be bad; but since men are wicket and will not keep faith with you, you need not keep faith with them. Nor is a ruler ever short of legitimate reasons to justify breaking his word."

Cultural Significance: Machiavelli was one of the first realists. This writing style and ideal created a brand that followed him for the rest of his life.

Qualities of a Prince

"Is it better to be loved than feared, or vice versa? My reply is one ought to be both loved and feared; but since it is difficult to accomplish both at the same time, I maintain that it is much safer to be feared than loved, if you have to do with the two."

"So you must be a fox when it comes to suspecting a trap, and a lion when it comes to making the wolves turn tail. Those who simply act like a lion all the time do not understand their business."

"So a ruler need not have all the positive qualities I listed earlier, but he must seem to have them. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that if you have them and never make any exceptions, then you will suffer for it; while if you merely appear to have them, they will benefit you."


1. What is the meaning of Virtù?

2. What is the relationship between Virtù and Fortuna?

3. Is this piece of literature still applicable to everyday politics?

What is your favorite Quote from The Prince and why?


Created with images by djedj - "firenze florence italy" • Moyan_Brenn - "Florence" • Mariamichelle - "florence italy duomo" • ndev - "dome florence italy" • francesco sgroi - "il grano2" • Justin LaBerge - "Tirol" • SHAWSHANK61 - "civitella del tronto italy abruzzo"

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