The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli | Analysis
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Published: Tue, 19 Dec 2017
1. Key Terms:
a. auxiliary troops: additional troops that are used when needed
b. hereditary principality: A principality technically under the ruler ship of a prince, but nonetheless strongly dominated by the Church.
c. fortune: The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; luck
d. hereditary principality: A principality ruled by a prince whose family has controlled the principality for several generations. Hereditary principalities, according to Machiavelli, are generally easy to rule and maintain.
e. liberality: The quality or state of being liberal or generous.
f. mercenary troops: a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army. a person primarily concerned with material reward at the expense of ethics
g. new principality: a new territory ruled by a prince
h. virtu: the quality of being artistic, beautiful, rare, or otherwise such as to interest a collector of such objects
2. Machiavelli wrote The Prince because he wanted Lorenzo de’ Medici to restore Italy. Machiavelli knew a vast amount about princes, territories, Italy, and ruling a territory, so he thought by writing this book he could get Lorenzo to restore Italy.
3. Machiavelli supported the unification of Italy because he believed that Italy would be much stronger if it was under one rule. Italy was ruled by many different people and Machiavelli realized that Italy was being taken over easily by foreign countries. Machiavelli decided to dedicate his political treatise to the Medici for two reasons. First, he was recently arrested and he wanted to gain higher status, and secondly, he wanted the Medici family to read his treatise, learn from it, and then take over all of Italy and rule Italy with strong military support. Machiavelli believed that the church ran most of Italy, so Italy was defenseless. He wanted the Medici family to listen to him and follow what he was saying. He suggested that the family rule together and unify Italy once and for all.
4. One recurring theme in The Prince is that he must do everything he can to become a better and more powerful ruler. In The Prince, Machiavelli always talks about how the prince needs to do everything in his power to become powerful, even if it means doing acts that may be Machiavellian. He may have to kill higher rulers to get his way, but he must do this if he wants to remain prince for a long period of time. Another theme in The Prince is the prince should try and not be hated by his people, but be feared by his enemies. The prince can not be hated by his people, mostly because his people can take him down if he is not too powerful. He is considered a better and wiser ruler (and more popular) if his people trust him and like him. He should be feared by his enemies because he does not want to have compliances with other territories. 5. In chapters 6 and 7, Machiavelli suggests that to rise to power a man should use his own force (fight in wars and win battles), persuade others to do what he wants them to do, and kill other rivals that may be in the way of his rising power. Machiavelli recommends these vices because the great rulers, including Moses, Cyrus, Romulus and many more rulers have used these vices and they have worked for them.
7. The four types of armies are mercenary troops, auxiliary troops, the princes’ own troops or all of the armies together. “The mercenaries and auxiliaries are useless and dangerous…” (Machiavelli 52). As Machiavelli states, the mercenary and auxiliary troops are not useful to the prince because they will never be able to remain controllable. Machiavelli also explains that auxiliary troops are not very reliable because if they loose or win, the prince, either way, will not benefit. When a prince has his own troops fighting a war or battle of some sort, the prince would rather have his troops loose than have auxiliary troops loose. If you put all of the armies together, you have a mixed army, which may be the right solution to win a war occasionally. The role of armies is very crucial and important for the prince. If the prince holds a strong army, he will remain in rein for a longer period of time. The prince is relying on the armies to defend his position and his reputation.
8. Machiavelli warns the prince against liberality because he will then ask people for money, but the poor and the people will start to hate the prince, and will think of him as a miser. Machiavelli thinks that it is a bad idea to have that reputation that you charged your people with more money and then the prince would not be liked by any of his citizens.
9. According to Machiavelli it is better for a prince to be feared more than loved. Machiavelli believes this because if a prince is loved, he may have good friends, but in the end they will not look out for him, and will abandon him at war, and go against him. So, Machiavelli believes that a prince should be feared, so that he has his own platform, and is not being supported by others. As he says in chapter 17, “…a wise prince must build his foundation on what is his own and not on what belongs to others; he must only contrive to escape hatred, as was said” (Machiavelli 73).
10. The prince must have both popular and military supports because if the prince is not popular with the citizens of his territory, they will not respect him and they will revolt against him or will go their own ways and be independent, and not follow the rules of the prince. The prince also needs military support because then he will be able to trust his people and be able to send them off to battle, and know that he will be safe and will remain his standing as prince, with military support.
11. The quote in Chapter 15 that reads, “My intention being to write something useful for whoever understands it, it seemed to me more appropriate to pursue the effectual truth of the matter rather than its imagined one” is very important quote because it changes the way the reader looks at the book. It gives a new definition for why Machiavelli wrote this novel. He wants people to read his book, understand it, and learn from it. He also does not want people to think that the truth is like you would imagine, he wants to make it so that it is real, and different than a regular person’s perspective. He wants people to use his book to help them, and does not want people to read his book, and think that reading it was a waste of time. In this chapter, he talks about how a prince should have certain qualities, but he could not have all of them, because it is not possible for a person to be that perfect. He wants people to realize that even princes can not strive to be everything that you’d expect them to be.
12. Machiavelli sees the art of government as the most difficult task for a prince because he is risking his reputation based on the people he chooses to be his ministers and his advisors. He may look foolish if he chooses the minister who is dull and unprepared for his job. When choosing advisors, he needs to choose the ones that listen to him, and do not talk out of order. So, choosing his ministers and advisors is a strenuous job to do, considering his reputation is on the line.
13. Machiavellian, according to thefreedictionary.com, means cleverly deceitful and unscrupulous. So, leaders who are Machiavellian are clever in their ways of getting into higher power, and will do anything, including lie, to have a higher status. So, leaders who do what ever is needed to obtain their goals could be called Machiavellian because the leaders have to be deceitful and unscrupulous because a man may be in the way of obtaining their goals.
14. In Brunelleschi’s Dome, Giangaleazzo Viscounti followed what Machiavelli supported. Machiavelli believed that a prince should be feared and should do everything he must do to become a more powerful ruler. Giangaleazzo killed his uncle (who was also his father-in-law), threatened the Florentines, bribed the emperor and was strongly feared by surrounding territories. Machiavelli would approve the ways of this prince.
15. An analogy that can be made to fortune and the Arno is fortune can change and so can the rivers. Depending on the season, the rivers may be relatively stable to travel on, however, at times the rivers become almost impossible to use as a source for traveling. Fortune is something you can not change with force, just like a river. As Machiavelli states, “…she shows her power where there is no force…” (Machiavelli 105). Fortune and rivers both change and no one can personally control the way they act.
16. The role of fortune in human affairs is major. Fortune is considered, according to Machiavelli, half of a human’s actions. Machiavelli states, “…a prince who relies entirely on Fortune comes to ruin as she changes” (Machiavelli 106). He believes that a prince should rely on fortune, but also rely on the other half of human actions which is freewill. To alter the course of fortune, men can rely more on freewill than on fortune, than fortune will lessen and vice versa.
17. One national leader in North Korea, that can be considered Machiavellian, is Kim II Sung. Kim II Sung ruled over North Korea for forty-six years. He had two main goals which were: take over South Korea and rebuild North Korea. To accomplish his goal of taking over the South, he had to declare war. After declaring war, Kim II Sung still did not accomplish his task of taking over the South. To accomplish his goal of rebuilding the North, Kim II Sung created a rule in which he had absolute power. He controlled everything that went on in North Korea. In the end, Kim II Sung tries to state that he did not start the war that caused many casualties. Kim II Sung left his people with nothing, and took the wealth he earned and used it for himself, while his people suffered. He was rich and ruled North Korea, while his people were poor and miserable. I would consider this leader to be Machiavellian because he treated his people by being cruel and selfish. He started a war which caused many deaths and sadness all over Korea. Using his sly acts, he ruled North Korea with wealth by his side.
18. The Prince still is studied today in history and political science classes because it is basically to stop people from doing the wrong things that leaders have done before, and instead do something different and succeed. Also, this book describes great rulers who may be known for their actions and will help people understand history and the past.
19. The Prince was an interesting novel to read. I think that Machiavelli’s ideas definitely will help princes become more powerful and wiser leaders. He is right when he states that “Nevertheless, a prince must make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he does avoid hatred, for to be feared and not to be hated can go very well together, and this will always achieve if he does not touch the goods and the women of his citizens and subjects” (Machiavelli 72). Machiavelli is definitely right when he says that a prince should be feared because then the prince will be wiser and will be known for his great power and no one would fight a prince who was so-called, feared. Another interesting statement that Machiavelli believes is that the prince should not be hated by his people. He gives an example of a prince who was loved by his people to prove his point. “Messer Annibale Bentivogli, prince of Bologna…was killed by the Canneschi, who conspired against him…Immediately after that murder, the people rose up and killed all the Caneschi. This came about because of the good will that the house of Bentivogli had at that time with the people…” (Machiavelli 81). As you can see, Machiavelli proves his point by saying that the Bentivogli’s people stood up for him, and killed the man who killed him, because the people loved their prince. The people have power to turn against their prince, and the prince would be taken down if the majority of the people disliked him. I agree with Machiavelli’s ideas because they are the right choices. As I do not know a lot about princes, Machiavelli proved the ways that a prince should go, and I believe that he convinced me that his ways were the best.
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