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Essay/Term paper: The prince

Essay, term paper, research paper:  History

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The Prince

Governing countries and states properly has been a difficult task from the

beginning of time. In every country there will be people to who are unhappy

and will disagree with your rule, causing your system to fail. So, century after

century, people have tried new ways to make their politics suffice everyone"s

needs. However, the art of politics is a complicated and challenging issue that

will always be needed to be dealt with. There have been many ways in which

people have preached their ideas on politics, but none were better than those of

Niccolo Machiavelli. Born in 1469, Niccolo was adamant in creating a master

plan for seizing and controlling power. He voiced these themes on what it takes

to be a prince of a state in his magnificent book, The Prince. In his book many

themes were expressed in order to fulfill the role of a prince. These themes

ranged from human nature to military force and most importantly virtue.

Machavelli believed that the state is the highest achievement of man and

one should love the state more than his own soul. Being the perfect prince is

clearly a difficult task, but if done correctly, it can be very rewarding. Machiavelli

also believed that human nature does not change. In general Machiavelli

thought people were ungrateful, selfish, and insincere people, who only care

about themselves. Therefore the government must take account for man"s true

nature and use his qualities for its purposes. Machiavelli also explained that a

ruler who intends to be successful must be prepared to do bad things when

necessary. He must sometimes caress, sometimes hurt, sometimes forgive, and

sometimes punish. This requirement must override all moral judgments, and

when making the decision, the ruler must act without hesitation. Hesitation

would project "false wisdom".

Another, and probably the most important concept of political success is

the idea of virtue. Virtue means strength, intelligence, and courage, the

necessary qualities of any human being. Machiavelli felt that the quality of virtue

was found in some of the world"s most important leaders; Moses, Cyrus, and

Romulus to name a few. Governments ruled by an individual depends upon this

leaders virtue. Without it, the political success will crumble.

Aside from virtue there is fortune or fate as we sometimes put it. Although

Machiavelli feels that the quality of virtue is necessary for a states success,

chance or luck also has an affect. He feels that in life no matter how much

intelligence and strength you have, there is a part of life in which you have little

or no control over. Virtue being a powerful quality, Machiavelli saw its potential

to build a defense against fortune. However, fortune is inconsistent and variable

so, you must treat it like a woman. Machiavelli states, and I quote, "fortune is

woman, and it is necessary, if you wish to master her, to conquer her by force".

His point is that when you encounter fortune, you must approach it aggressively.

Machiavelli said that the ruler must be able to imitate both the lion and the

fox. He is saying that the qualities of a ruler must show the bravery and strength

of a lion, but also, the slyness of the fox. These characteristics are imperative

for a new ruler especially. That way he can get the respect from the people right

away. An example of one ruler who showed both the qualities of a lion and a fox

was Septimus Serverus, a Roman emperor from 193-211 A.D. Another quality of

a ruler should be that he is both loved and feared. In actuality, it is almost

impossible to be both those, so it is better to be feared. Love can lose

effectiveness because of human nature. When something conflicts, love can

easily be overcome for one"s own private interests. And fear on the other hand

is maintained by the dread of punishment, which is always present. Machiavelli

made it very clear why it is better to be feared than loved. Another quality of a

prince is that it is better to be considered merciful than cruel, but mercy must

never be misused.

Machiavelli declared that the art of war was the subject of most

importance to the ruler. A prince can be attacked in two ways: internally, by

conspiracies, and externally, by enemies. A prince can defend himself from

external attacks by having good armed forces and good friends. He can defend

himself from conspiracies by avoiding hatred. Machiavelli also stated that no

prince should disarm his subjects or else he will have to resort to mercenary

troops. This would mean you would have to depend on the help of foreign

countries. These mercenaries are not fighting for their country so they don"t

care whether they win of lose. They are in it for the money so they are not

reliable. Machiavelli says the only way to have security is raising troops within

the country. They would be loyal soldiers who would be defending their home

and families. He also felt it was necessary to study history. This way he can

focus on successful rulers" victories and defeats and analyze them for his own

well being. Alexander the Great studied and imitated the rule of Achilles and

went on to become one of the most successful rulers ever. Machiavelli felt that

these were necessary means in becoming a successful ruler. He also felt

fortifications had little importance, stating "the best fortress is to be found in the

love of the people".

In Niccolo Machiavelli"s The Prince, we have read numerous aspects of

becoming an effective and successful ruler. He focused on all aspects of life

and discussed each in great detail. He studied human nature, fortune, military

tactics, virtue, and personal qualities of past rulers and analyzed why each one"s

rule collapsed. He found out the ruler with both the lion and the fox qualities, he

was able to have a successful rule. Machiavelli was creating some sort of

machine that would be able to conquer fortune, human nature, conspiracies,

battle, and the test of to time to rule a politically unified Italy. The themes in The

Prince have changed views on politics and leadership to this day. 

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