The prince - book review - Essay Example

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The Prince is a book about how to obtain and keep political power. It was written by Niccolo Machiavelli in 1513 but was not published until after the author’s death. Machiavelli was a man of many talents. He published poems, plays and books on the history of the Roman Republic…
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Download file to see previous pages He narrowly escaped severe punishment and was actually able to endear himself to the new rulers of Florence. Part of his strategy to get back into their good graces was the writing of The Prince. Machiavelli hoped that he could help influence the Medici rulers of Florence in a manner that would consolidate their power enough to push foreign invaders out of Italy. The ideas expressed in The Prince shocked others in Europe because they advocated a secular response to real life situations rather than a theocratic response to hypothetical situations. The Prince is organized into brief chapter, each with a specific topic that is indicated in the title. Subsequent chapters build some of the chapters upon while other chapters seem to be one-off chapters, having little or no connection with the chapters that follow. Machiavelli gives advice to princes and would-be princes on how to get and keep power. Much of his advice centers on a do-it-yourself attitude towards kingdom building. For example, he advises against borrowing soldiers from other princes to keep your people in line. He also advises against hiring mercenaries. The best solution, therefore, is to have you own trained, loyal men-at-arms keep order for you. But what if you do not have this available? Never fear, Machiavelli offers many ways to keep power without the strength of arms. Some of his most famous advice is given in response to the question of whether it is best to be feared or loved as a ruler. Machiavelli makes it clear that being loved is the best, but only if you have sufficient control over the people. This often requires the ruler to implement tactics that induce fear first. He advises that cruelty and public punishments are advisable if they are done the proper way. They must be intended to teach a lesson to the population. The lesson should always be the same, namely, I am in charge as your ruler and will punish you if you break my rules. Cruelty for the sake of being cruel is ill advised because this will eventually enrage the population and much more effort will be required to hold onto you power. In other words, a ruler’s cruelty should be tempered by, “prudence and humanity.” The real point of his advice in the book is to obtain and hold onto power in as effortless a way as possible. To illustrate his many points to this end, he appeals to prominent historical figures such as Alexander the Great and Antiochus, as well as contemporary rulers such as Ferdinand of Aragorn. Machiavelli is a strong believer in free will. He states that two things must happen if a prince is to come into power. One is good fortune. This is out of the hands of the prince, but his own preparation and talent allow him to take advantage of good fortune when it arises. He says that if you are prepared, and fortune turns against you, you may be able to overcome ill fortune due to your preparedness. In this way he shows that he does not believe in divine destiny for rulers. He believes that the smartest and most prepared can seize power, with a little bit of good fortune thrown in. This book is truly one of the classics of medieval literature. It is brutal in some ways, for it espouses the use of violence to intimidate and control citizens. But there are so many times that Machiavelli stresses that humanity needs to be shown in a ruler through generosity and a giving heart, but only after control has been established and only if kindness will not result in a loss of control. I do not agree with the cruelty ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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An exegetical review of Machiavelli's The Prince
In this sense, fortune is described as a double-edged sword. On one hand, there exist those like 'the Prince' whom "fortune and your own qualities promise" greatness (13); while on the other hand, are lowly people like Machiavelli who "endure its relentless malice" (13).
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