Short and Sweet Reviews // The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

Written in 1513 by Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince has been a book surrounded by controversy ever since it’s publication. Written as a sort of job application of sorts, an appeal to the current ruler to place him in an advisory role in the Florentine government such as the one he had under the previous ruler. He never would get back that power, not under any ruler of Italy. It seemed no matter what he did he would appear too closely associated with the previous ruler to be trusted fully under the new one.

“If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.”

// Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

The book and the man have a reputation for being immoral, evil, and wicked. I actually found the book refreshing. It did not sugar coat any of its points and sought to expose the worst of human natural behavior.

It is a book on political philosophy that outlines and illustrates how to take control of a nation, maintain that control, and how to conduct and protect yourself against those who mean to do you harm. It reads almost like a textbook, a series of maxims, or truths, with examples that agree with and sometimes contradict the lesson Machiavelli is trying to teach.

“A prudent man will always try to follow in the footsteps of great men and imitate those who have been truly outstanding, so that, if he is not quite as skillful as they, at least some of their ability may rub off on him.”

// Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

The book has been dubbed immoral because Machiavelli is no idealist and teaches not the way things ought to be, but the way things are. The world is a harsh place. Even back then the ones who were smart, who had the courage and the focus to do what needed to be done were the ones who obtained and maintained their power.

The whole time I read it I kept picturing Machiavelli standing behind me and every time I would scrunch up my face at a particularly nasty revelation he would shrug and remind me not to hate the player, but to hate the game.

The rulers of this world have been cutthroat, sleazy, cruel, lying liars since the beginning of humankind. Machiavelli didn’t invent these rules, all he did was study the history of what worked and what didn’t for the prominent princes of history and put down the best advice for those who with to play the game of kings.

“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.”

// Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

I can’t blame the man, this book was a guaranteed way to make sure history would never forget you.

All in all, I highly recommend the you read it. It is, after all, a classic, and I can see that is for a reason. Even if you don’t plan on taking over a nation anytime soon it is a great history lesson. The book really isn’t as bad as everyone makes it out to be. Well, it isn’t if you remember that Machiavelli is only writing about what people were doing long before he put pen to paper.

This is the way people are, whether you will face it or not.

“Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.”

// Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

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Lisa

Hello! My name is Lisa. I find the human condition fascinating and I often write stuff about that. I blog at zenandpi.com but you can also find me on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram, and if you like what I do, consider signing up for my newsletter. Thanks :)

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