Philosophy Hammer
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The Prince
By: Nicolò Machiavelli
Major Topic: Politics
Minor Topic: Diplomacy

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         Chapter Twenty

         Concerning five issues that may be good or bad depending on the particular circumstances of the state.

         1) Every new prince who has found his new subjects disarmed has armed them because in so doing those arms belong to the prince and distrust is mitigated. However if they are armed and the prince disarms them then they are offended and they may grow to hate the prince. This further weakens the prince since he will have need of mercenaries and all the evils they cause.

         The one exception is a new state that is added as a province to the prince's home dominion. These should be disarmed and the old soldiers replaced by loyal soldiers. [interestingly Machiavelli does not seem to feel he needs to give a reason or an example for this curious advice.]

         2) It may be possible and useful to hold a city by dividing it into factions, however as a general rule this is a bad idea. For a strong foreigner can make headway into the city or state by supporting one side against the other. If a foreigner is allowed to do this the city is quickly lost. This strategy is a sign of weakness in the principality which may work for a short time during peaceful times but if war comes the city will be lost.

         3) A new prince can strengthen his position by overcoming a great trial. Earning glory and prestige is a good and worthy but dangerous goal. A wise prince, with deviousness, and at the best opportunity, ought to ferment an opposition against himself. Then by crushing it the prince can gain renown.

         4) It is a common phenomenon that those who create a bad first impression often work harder to overcome it than someone who has been steadfast. So it is often the case that princes find better ministers and advisor among the people that were at first distrusted. This advice, off course, varies with individuals and so a prince must inquire as to their motivations. If the motivation was discontent with the former government then the person is difficult to satisfy but if the person has tied his affairs to the prince then such a person will likely be a very loyal subject.

         5) Fortresses are usually both useful and useless. For if they help the prince in one way they can also hurt the prince in another. A prince who fears the people needs a fortress but it will further alienate him from the people. If the prince fears foreigners he should not build fortresses because the best fortress is not to be hated by the people


         Chapter Twenty-One

         A prince should seek a glorious reputation. Concerning friends and enemies the prince should be clear. Neutrality is not befitting a great man. Therefore the prince should declare his support for one side against another. By siding with one side the prince builds a bond that can be useful in victory and/or defeat. Neutrality is never useful in either victory or defeat. One maxim to help a prince in the decision of who to support is: “He who is not your friend will demand your neutrality, whist he who is your friend will entreat you to declare yourself with arms.”

         Additionally, the prince should avoid making alliances with states that are more powerful for the purpose of attacking others. Sowing discord among the foreigners is a good strategy but allying with a stronger side will tend to minimize the benefits to the prince and maximize them for the more powerful ally.

         A prince will always be faced with dubious choices. The prudent prince must learn to know how to distinguish the nature of various tribulations, and choose the lesser evil.

         A prince should encourage and support excellence in all fields including art, economic development, and learning.

         A prince should be seen and linked to popular events. He should sponsor parties, festivals, parades to celebrate the city, the countryside and the industry of his dominion.


         Chapter Twenty-Two

         The first impression that a prince creates is often in his choice of ministers. Their skills and quality reflect well or poorly on the prince. For a prince to test his ministers there is a test that always rings true: does the servant think only of the prince's interest or not? If not, such a man will never make a good servant and the prince should not trust him with affairs of state.

         When a good servant is found the prince should study him then bestow all sorts of honor, wealth and kindness but in such a way that the servant will continuously be dependent on the prince for his boons. Only in such a way will the servant remain honest.


         Chapter Twenty-Three

         All men fall easily into the traps of flattery, but for a prince it is both easier and more dangerous to fall into this snare. A prince needs accurate information and has the problem of getting the information without the flattery that is natural for men to try to give to those in authority.

         The wisest of princes will give only to a select group of the wisest men in his dominion the freedom to speak the truth to him. However, these counselor must speak only on the topic requested by the prince and must not be permitted to speak on other subjects. The prince in his turn must inquire about everything, then listen to them speak their minds. Later the prince ought to reflect and form his own judgment.

         With these men the prince should not promote his superiority of position rather he should behave with humility, that is in ways that encourage them to speak freely and honestly.

         Outside of his ministers and counselors the prince should listen to no one. Once the prince makes a decision he must never change his mind. Else the prince risks deception and overthrow from flatters or he falls into disdain.

         If ever the prince finds a lie, then the lying counselors and/or ministers must be made to feel the full force of his anger.




         Chapter Twenty-Four

         Concerning the mistakes that the princes of Italy have made, the first and most common mistake is in the choice of soldiers used. Mercenaries should be avoided. A second mistake has been the failure to secure the people and/or the nobles. The last mistake was to rely too much on fortune.


         Chapter Twenty-Five

         Fortune is the decider of only half of a mans actions. A prince who relies only on her is lost. But the truly great prince will lead his actions in accordance with the spirit of the times. If the times call for caution he must act with caution. If the times call for bold action he must act with fearless courage. Machiavelli believes that at his time it was better to act with boldness than caution.


         Chapter Twenty-Six

         This is the time for the House of Medici to take up the task to drive the foreigners out of Italy. They are disunited and the people of Italy are of one mind against them. All they need is worthy leadership. All the signs point to the House of Medici and all fortune concurs.

Added on: 2010-05-29 07:01:25
Text Crawl by: James Jeff McLaren
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