Highlands Ranch High School - Mr. Sedivy
- Advanced Placement European
What Are the Methods and Rules for a Prince?
By David Sedivy
How we live is so different from how we ought to live, that he who stops doing what is commonly done for what ought to be done, will surely bring about his own downfall. A man who wishes to be good in everything must necessarily come to trouble living among so many who are not good. Therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to stay in power, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the circumstances.
Now let me say this: every prince must desire to be considered merciful and not cruel. He must, however, take care not to misuse his mercifulness. Cesare Borgia was considered cruel, but his cruelty brought order to his lands, united them, and brought them peace. A prince, therefore, must not mind being called "cruel" for the purpose of keeping his subjects united and faithful; for his "cruelty" will be more merciful than those who, from too much tenderness, allow disorder to arise. Remember: disorder injures the whole community, while executions carried out by a prince injure only individuals.
Now another question: Is it better to be loved more than feared, or feared more than loved? The answer is this: one ought to be both feared and loved, but since it is difficult for the two to go together, it is much safer to be feared than loved, if one of the two has to be missing. Think about it! What are people like? In general they are ungrateful, overly talkative, liars, anxious to avoid danger (cowardly), and covetous of gain (greedy). As long as you benefit them, they are loyal to you and offer you their blood, their goods, their life, and their children! Of course, they are ready to give you anything as long as they don't think that they really will have to. But when it becomes clear that they really will have to sacrifice something for you, their leader, they revolt.
The Prince who has relied solely on their promises, without making other preparations, is ruined. Men have less trouble offending one who makes himself loved than one who makes himself feared; for love is a chain which (because men are selfish) is broken whenever it serves their purpose, but fear is maintained by a dread of punishment: fear never fails.
At the same time, a prince should make himself feared but must avoid being hated, for fear and the absence of hatred can go together, and will be always attained by one who keeps from interfering with the properly of his subjects or with their women. When the Prince must take the life of any one, let him do so when there is a proper justification: there should be an obvious reason for it. Above all the Prince must abstain from taking the property of others, for men forget more easily the death of their father than the loss of their inheritance. But when the prince is with his army and has a large number of soldiers under his control, then it is extremely necessary that he should not mind being thought cruel; for without this reputation he could not keep an army united or ready to do their duty.
How commendable it is for the Prince to keep his promises and live with integrity, and not with cleverness. Yet the experience of our times shows us it is the Prince who has had little regard for keeping promises who has done great things. By their cleverness they have been able to confuse men's brains, and have ultimately overcome those who have made loyalty their foundation.
You must know that there are two methods of fighting, one is by law, the other by force: the first method is that of men, the second of beasts. The first method is often insufficient, and so one must be able to use the second. It is therefore necessary for a prince to know well how to be both beast and man.
There are two beasts the Prince must imitate: the fox and the lion. The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. The Prince must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this. Therefore, a prudent ruler should not keep his promises when it would be against his interest, and when the reasons that made him make a promise no longer exist. If all men were good, this rule would not be a good one; but since men are bad and would not keep their promises to you, the Prince not bound to keep promises to them. Those princes that have been best able to imitate the fox have succeeded best, and princes capable of practicing deceit will always find subjects who allow themselves to be deceived.
A final point: It is not necessary for the Prince to have all the above-named qualities, but it is very necessary for him to seem to have them. To really possess them and always practice them is dangerous, but to appear to possess them is useful. It is good to seem merciful, faithful, humane, sincere, religious, but you must be ready to be able to change to the opposite qualities at a moment's notice if the circumstances demand it.
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Highlands Ranch High School 9375 South Cresthill Lane Highlands Ranch, Colorado 80126 303-471-7000
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| Colorado History | American Government | Advanced Placement Modern European History | Rise of Nation State England | World History |
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