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Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

(1469 - )

    Biography:

    Italian Florentine Statesman, Political Philosopher, Historian, Humanist and Writer

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    A general rule is drawn which never or rarely fails: that he who is the cause of another becoming powerful is ruined; because that pre-dominancy has been brought about either by astuteness or else by force, and both are distrusted by him who has been raised to power.
    A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.
    A man who wants to act virtuously in every way comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.
    A man who wishes to profess at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.
    A man's wisdom is most conspicuous where he is able to distinguish among dangers and make choice of the least.
    A multitude is strong while it holds together, but so soon as each of those who compose it begins to think of his own private danger, it becomes weak and contemptible.
    A prince being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from snares, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize snares, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this.
    A prince is further esteemed when he is a true friend or a true enemy, when, that is, he declares himself without reserve in favor of some one or against another. This policy is always more useful than remaining neutral.
    A Prince is likewise esteemed who is a stanch friend and a thorough foe, that is to say, who without reserve openly declares for one against another, this being always a more advantageous course than to stand neutral. For supposing two of your powerful neighbours come to blows, it must either be that you have, or have not, reason to fear the one who comes off victorious. In either case it will always be well for you to declare yourself, and join in frankly with one side or other. For should you fail to do so you are certain, in the former of the cases put, to become the prey of the victor to the satisfaction and delight of the vanquished, and no reason or circumstance that you may plead will avail to shield or shelter you; for the victor dislikes doubtful friends, and such as will not help him at a pinch; and the vanquished will have nothing to say to you, since you would not share his fortunes sword in hand.
    A prince must be prudent enough to know how to escape the bad reputation of those vices that would lose the state for him, and must protect himself from those that will not lose it for him, if this is possible; but if he cannot, he need not concern himself unduly if he ignores these less serious vices.
    First Name: 
    Niccolò
    Last Name: 
    Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli
    Birth Date: 
    1469
    Death Date: 
    1527
    Bio: 
    Italian Florentine Statesman, Political Philosopher, Historian, Humanist and Writer