The Art of War by Niccolò Machiavelli

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According to the text, the Prince should be mainly concerned with the art of war, its conditions and its discipline as war is the only art that belongs to a ruler. War not only protects the rule of individuals who are born princes but also enables ordinary men to rise from being a private station to being a prince. Princes who have embraced the thought of peace instead of war have often lost their principalities. Francesco Sforza is a good example. He welcomed fighting, and that enabled him to rise from a private person to the Duke of Milan. His sons, however, stayed away from the challenges of arms, and that saw them descend from Dukes to private persons. Among other disadvantages, being unarmed leads to one being despised; a disgrace that a Prince must avoid.

When it comes to principles that guide the conduct of a Prince towards his populace and friends, Niccolo Machiavelli insists that it is vital for a Prince to know how to execute vices; when to use it (a vice) as well as when to refrain from it based on necessity.  This is because one who acts solely out of virtue is soon destroyed by that which is mainly evil. A prince should, however, conceal the vices because if they were to be known publicly, they threaten to ruin his reputation.

Machiavelli is also of the opinion that it is better to be feared than loved as it is hard for a Prince to maintain the two. He argues that friendships may be earned, but they are often not secured thus in the time of crisis, one cannot depend on them. He further states that men have less hesitation in offending an individual who is loved as opposed to a person who is feared as love is maintained by connection of obligation, which based on men’s lack of moral principles, is broken at any chance of their advantage while fear protects a Prince as subjects would try to avoid an inevitable punishment. It is important to note that the writer insists that a prince should inspire fear in a manner that avoids hatred as well.

Work Cited

"Internet History Sourcebooks Project." Sourcebooks.Fordham.Edu, 2018, https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/prince-excerp.asp. Accessed 16 Nov 2018.

November 13, 2023
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