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Niccolo Machiavelli

The Prince is an extended analysis of how to acquire and maintain political power. In The Qualities of a Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli discusses the attributes that he believes make for a good leader. Although Machiavelli wrote The Qualities of a Prince centuries ago, some of the qualities he advises a prince to have can be adapted to the leaders of today. Some of these qualities include being generous and being feared by the public.

Machiavelli’s philosophy is basically to become a good leader you must do anything even it is immoral and wrong. He first writes that a prince’s duty concerning military matter must always think of war only, even in times of peace. They must know their surroundings exactly so they can defend and make effective strategies to counter the enemy’s attack. They must also know historical battles so they will be able to learn their tactics and improve on it. He then talks about the prince’s path: should the prince be generous or a miser. He is saying that it is better to be known as a greedy prince than a generous prince because if the prince follows the good path it will only lead him to destruction while being greedy will result in his safety. To be able to be generous, the prince must lower taxes which will lead to insufficient funds for the army to defend the state while being called greedy the prince will be able to defend the state and wage war on other states without worrying about funding. He then talks about, should a prince be loved or feared. He is saying that it is much safer to be feared because people don’t want to be punished while the people around a loved prince can be broken and lead to betrayal. But Machiavelli also says that a feared prince must also avoid being hated because this will lead to conspiracy. To avoid being hated the prince must not harm his subjects and to only do things that can improve the state as a whole.

Niccolò Machiavelli was born in Florence on May 3, 1469 and died on June 21, 1527. In 1498, when Florence became a republic, he obtained a position in the government as a clerk and quickly rose through the government ranks, soon being made head of the second chancery. A chancery is a public office, consisting of a committee in charge of some the city-state's policies.

According to Machiavelli the Prince is unique, not because it explains how to take control of other lands and how to control them, but because it gives advice that often disregards all moral and ethical rules. The Prince is different from other books about creating and controlling principalities because it doesn't tell you what an ideal prince or principality is, but Machiavelli explains through examples, which princes are the most successful in obtaining and maintaining power. Machiavelli draws his examples from personal observations made while he was on diplomatic missions for Florence and from his readings in ancient history. He explains the types of principalities, heredity, mixed, and what he calls "new". New principalities are principalities that have just been created and their leaders are not hereditary. Mixed principalities are like those of the Pope or the sultan, he explains, for they have been established for a long time (like a hereditary principality), but the leadership does not pass from father to son (like a new principality).

Next, Machiavelli explains how to rule the different principalities and what challenges are presented to the ruler in each case. He says that hereditary leaders have an easier time than new princes because the people are already accustomed to their hereditary leaders and accept their power, but a new prince has to work hard to be accepted by his people. There are four ways that he discusses to acquire more land: 1) your own arms and virtue, 2) fortune, 3) others' arms, and 4) inequity. The first is the best way in his opinion because land acquired that way is the easiest to hang on to after you have conquered it, because you will still have your loyal militia, not mercenaries, and your own virtues to rule the principality wisely. To Machiavelli, the word virtues does not have the same meaning as it does to us, to him it means manliness and strength. Principalities that are acquired by fortune, either for money or as a gift, are one of the hardest to hang onto

The types of principalities

Machiavelli lists four types of principalities:
  • Hereditary principalities, which are inherited by the ruler
  • Mixed principalities, territories that are annexed to the ruler's existing territories
  • New principalities, which may be acquired by several methods: by one's own power, by the power of others, by criminal acts or extreme cruelty, or by the will of the people (civic principalities)
  • Ecclesiastical principalities, namely the Papal States belonging to the Catholic church
The types of armies

A prince must always pay close attention to military affairs if he wants to remain in power. Machiavelli lists four types of armies:
  • Mercenaries or hired soldiers, which are dangerous and unreliable
  • Auxiliaries, troops that are loaned to you by other rulers—also dangerous and unreliable
  • Native troops, composed of one's own citizens or subjects—by far the most desirable kind
  • Mixed troops, a combination of native troops and mercenaries or auxiliaries—still less desirable than a completely native army
The character and behavior of the prince

Machiavelli recommends the following character and behavior for princes:
  • It is better to be stingy than generous.
  • It is better to be cruel than merciful.
  • It is better to break promises if keeping them would be against one's interests.
  • Princes must avoid making themselves hated and despised; the goodwill of the people is a better defense than any fortress.
  • Princes should undertake great projects to enhance their reputation.
  • Princes should choose wise advisers and avoid flatterers.

What are the qualities of the Prince according to Machiavelli? Elaborate.

The Qualities of the Prince is a short essay taken out from The Prince. In this essay, he gives some of the good qualities of the prince. A prince should have deterministic nature at the time of war, he must be feared by most of the people, he shouldn’t be very generous, he shouldn’t be in the extremes, and he should avoid being despised and hatred.

When a prince values personal luxuries; he may not be able to control the state. Even at the time of peace, he must make his soldiers ready for war. Readiness must be physical as well as mental. He must have the knowledge about hill, valley, village and city. People may talk about the prince but as far as possible the prince must escape from the bad reputation. As far as generosity is concerned, he should not be too generous and too miser. Too generous people may offend many. So in the name of generosity and miserliness the prince should not offend anyone. Generally people like to be loved than to be feared. However, a prince must not make himself feared in such a manner that he will be hatred. The prince shouldn’t grab other’s property because people are ready to forget the murder of their father but they are not ready to forget the person who grabbed their property.

A prince must know how to use wisely the nature of beast and the man. It means the prince must be half beast and half man. He should be able to maintain a distance so that his reality may not be found by all. He should speak less and act more. Only means of the maintenance of power, the prince should move forward. He must have two fears: one his people and the other foreign powers. Only by maintaining these two powers: the power of the country and the power of foreign country, it is possible to rule the state.

Machiavelli is suggestive because he gives some of the suggestions about how it is possible to rule the state maintaining power. He gives in detail about what a prince should do and what he should not do.

What is the duty of a prince about military matters?

In the essay The Qualities of the Prince, Machiavelli recommends some of the instructions to the prince. About military matters he gives fruitful suggestions to the prince.

The prince shouldn’t give importance to the personal luxuries rather he should give importance to the arms. When he is disarmed, he is hated by all. His soldiers should completely trust him. Even at the time of peace, the readiness should be there about action and mind. Moreover, the prince should have the knowledge about geographical location of the nation. By reading the historical events and the deeds of the great people, he must show his intellectuality. It means the prince should never think that there is peace in the nation.

Machiavelli suggest that the price must be a good leader of the army and soldiers. When it is necessary, he should be able to rob the people in front of the soldiers at the time of war.

Discuss Machiavelli’s Rhetoric.

The Qualities of the Prince is a suggestive essay written by Machiavelli. Aphorism, historical analogy (drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in some respect), allusion (passing reference or indirect mention) and presentation of opposites are the different rhetoric devices used by him.

Machiavelli’s sentences are pithy (concise and full of meaning) but they deserve meaning, such sentences are proverbial. For example: a penny saved is a penny earned. Similarly, to support his point he borrows different historical events. Mythical and historical persons and places are brought so as to justify his concept. But this is done in a forceful way. Machiavelli doesn’t deal with only one side of the issue. He discusses both sides presenting strengths and weaknesses. While talking about the art of war and art of life, he takes the example of fox and lion.

The Qualities of the Prince is a popular essay mostly because of its rhetoric devices like aphorism, analogy and examples. This is how this essay has become a memorable piece by means of these rhetoric devices.


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