Who is Niccolò Machiavelli
Niccolò Machiavelli was a diplomat for 14 years in Italy’s Florentine Republic during the Medici family’s exile. When the Medici family returned to power in 1512, Machiavelli was dismissed and briefly jailed. He then wrote The Prince, a handbook for politicians on the use of ruthless, self-serving cunning, inspiring the term “Machiavellian” and establishing Machiavelli as the “father of modern political theory.” He also wrote several poems and plays. He died on June 21, 1527, in Florence, Italy.
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy, on May 3, 1469 — a time when Italy was divided into four rival city-states and, thusly, was at the mercy of stronger governments throughout the rest of Europe.
The young Machiavelli became a diplomat after the temporary fall of Florence’s ruling Medici family in 1494. He served in that position for 14 years in Italy’s Florentine Republic during the Medici family’s exile, during which time he earned a reputation for deviousness, enjoying shocking his associates by appearing more shameless than he truly was.
Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes
1. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.
2. If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.
3. The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.
4. The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
5. There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.
6. Never was anything great achieved without danger.
7. Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.
8. It is much safer to be feared than loved because …love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails.
9. I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.
10. People should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge; but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do. If you need to injure someone, do it in such a way that you do not have to fear their vengeance.
11. Men are driven by two principal impulses, either by love or by fear.
12. All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer.
13. Because there are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, the third is useless.
14. It is not titles that honour men, but men that honour titles.
15. How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation.
16. Men in general judge more by the sense of sight than by the sense of touch, because everyone can see but few can test by feeling. Everyone sees what you seem to be, few know what you really are; and those few do not dare take a stand against the general opinion.
17. Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.
18. Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved
19. The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.
20. Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.
21. A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.
22. He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command
23. There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.
24. A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it.
25. Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.
26. Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.
27. And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
28. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.
29. It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.
30. Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.
31. Wisdom consists of knowing how to distinguish the nature of trouble, and in choosing the lesser evil.
32. The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.
33. It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.
34. Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration.
35. Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves
36. When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death: I pass indeed into their world.
37. There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy.
38. He who becomes a Prince through the favour of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do, since all they ask is not to be oppressed
39. Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.
40. In conclusion, the arms of others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down, or they bind you fast.
41. He who builds on the people, builds on the mud
42. Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.
43. Everyone who wants to know what will happen ought to examine what has happened: everything in this world in any epoch has their replicas in antiquity.
44. A prince must not have any other object nor any other thought… but war, its institutions, and its discipline; because that is the only art befitting one who commands.
45. Half of these aren’t even Machiavelli.
Some are Plato, Thucydides etc….doesnt anyone check these?
46. Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it; but when they are free to choose and can do just as they please, confusion and disorder become rampant.
47. Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many.
48. Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.
49. It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.
50. One can say this in general of men: they are ungrateful, disloyal, insincere and deceitful, timid of danger and avid of profit…Love is a bond of obligation that these miserable creatures break whenever it suits them to do so; but fear holds them fast by a dread of punishment that never passes.
51. The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all.
52. When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed on the food that alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them.
53. One should never fall in the belief that you can find someone to pick you up.
54. My view is that it is desirable to be both loved and feared; but it is difficult to achieve both and, if one of them has to be lacking, it is much safer to be feared than loved.
55. I hold strongly to this: that it is better to be impetuous than circumspect; because fortune is a woman and if she is to be submissive it is necessary to beat and coerce her.
56. I conclude therefore that, fortune being changeful and mankind steadfast in their ways, so long as the two are in agreement men are successful, but unsuccessful when they fall out. For my part I consider that it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly. She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her.
57. It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.
58. Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony
59. For one change always leaves a dovetail into which another will fit.
60. Therefore the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people, for although you may have fortresses they will not save you if you are hated by the people.