The Prince

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