The Prince

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The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli provides an analysis on how to govern and maintain power in a principality. In thefirst five chapters, he defines the three ways a monarch can acquire his dominion: either he inherits it, whether he creates a new one, or annexes territories, and further discusses how to govern them. Machiavelli states that hereditary principalities are less problematic than the mixed ones since newly acquired dominion tend to be more rebellious. The ruler must therefore colonize them and allow citizen to keep their laws or annihilate the governmental structure. In order to illustrate his point, he analyses the success of Alexander the Great conquest in Iran. He then considers five possible ways to acquire power and become a prince (Ch. VI-XI). First, a private citizen can become a ruler due to his own qualities or virtues, like Cyrus or Romulus. A second way to become a ruler is through other's power or favor. Hence a man like Cesare Borgia gained power due to his father support, but lost it when the latter died. For Machiavelli, getting power so quickly can be dangerous since the new monarch might lack knowledge on how to govern. In the third case, he uses the example of Agathocles of Sicily to illustrate power gained through murders. In his opinion, the conqueror must decide if his crimes will help him establish power and then commit them all at once so that he can later reestablish the confidence of his subjects. The fourth method is called civil principality, people basically choose the ruler, and this enables him to maintain power. The last possibility is to be elected pope and Machiavelli provides a brief overview of the religious order. Next, he explores (Ch. XII- XIV) which arms are best to defend a principality and states that a ruler can chose to use "his own, or mercenaries, or auxiliaries or a mixture of all three." From Chapter XV throughout Chapter XIX, Machiavelli proposes to describe ho…

The Prince

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Although Niccolo Machiavelli did not succeed in his attempt to appease Lorenzo De Medici, perhaps he provided society a politically correct looking glass that one could use in order to judge, and peer into the souls of men. Sometimes with humor, and sometimes with pomp arrogance Machiavelli's novel meant to play on men's tainted morals, and other wise cowardly, backstabbing human nature as a means of example. An example for a prince to follow, in order to rule with absolute power. As was the case with Hobbes and Locke, Machiavelli tells his own, honest views of human nature, and it is the ability to understand, breakdown, and deal with this definition of human nature that is Machiavelli's greatest gift to the reader.
The prince's ultimate goal is to maintain the state at all costs. It so follows with an understanding of Machiavelli's definition of Human Nature, that of benevolence and cruelty the latter is more reliable. However, one must understand that Machiavelli never condones cruelty for its own sake. He condones it only in the interests of the ultimate end of statecraft.
Machiavelli asserts that a number of traits are inherent in human nature, and the ability to seek these out, to understand human nature and bend it to your will that is the key to maintaining a kingdom. People are generally self-interested, although their affection for others can be won and lost. They are content and happy; so long they are not victims of something terrible. They may be trustworthy in prosperous times, but they will quickly turn selfish, deceitful, and profit-driven in times of adversity.