Niccolò Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

Niccolò
Machiavelli, formally Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli
1469
1527

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

Author Quotes

Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves

War does not prevent but is postponed in favor of another.

Who creates the power of others to ruin, because such power comes from the cunning or force, and both are suspect whom became powerful.

The wise man should always follow the roads that have been trodden by the great, and imitate those who have most excelled, so that if he cannot reach their perfection, he may at least acquire something of its savor.

This again results naturally and necessarily from the circumstance that the Prince cannot avoid giving offence to his new subjects, either in respect of the troops he quarters on them, or of some other of the numberless vexations attendant on a new acquisition.

War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms.

Whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish it commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself.

The wish to acquire is no doubt a natural and common sentiment, and when men attempt things within their power, they will always be praised rather than blamed. But when they persist in attempts that are beyond their power, mishaps and blame ensue.

This lukewarm temper arises partly from the fear of adversaries who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who will never admit the merit of anything new, until they have seen it proved by the event. The result, however, is that whenever the enemies of change make an attack, they do so with all the zeal of partisans, while the others defend themselves so feebly as to endanger both themselves and their cause.

war is not so to be avoided, but is only deferred to your disadvantage

Wisdom consists in being able to distinguish among dangers and make a choice of the least harmful.

The wish to acquire more is admittedly a very natural and common thing; and when men succeed in this they are always praised rather than condemned. But when they lack the ability to do so and yet want to acquire more at all costs, they deserve condemnation for their mistakes.

This raises the question whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the contrary. My reply is that I would like to be both but as it is difficult to combine love and fear, if one has to choose between them it is far safer to be feared than loved

War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes as ability to execute, military plans.

Wisdom consists of knowing how to distinguish the nature of trouble, and in choosing the lesser evil.

Then also pretexts for seizing property are never wanting, and one who begins to live by rapine will always find some reason for taking the goods of others, whereas causes for taking life are rarer and more quickly destroyed.

This return of Republics back to their principles also results from the simple virtue of one man, without depending on any law that excites him to any execution: none the less, they are of such influence and example that good men desire to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life contrary to those examples.

Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.

You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second.

There are many who think a wise prince ought, when he has the chance, to foment astutely some enmity, so that by suppressing it he will augment his greatness.

Those modes of defense are alone good, certain and lasting, which depend upon yourself and your own worth.

We cannot attribute to fortune or virtue that which is achieved without either.

You ought never to suffer your designs to be crossed in order to avoid war, since war is not so to be avoided, but is only deferred to your disadvantage.

There are two ways to fight, and one legal, the other by force, the first and second humans to animals, and the Prince knowing methods.

Those who by valorous ways become princes, like these men ['Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, Theseus, and such like'], acquire a principality with difficulty, but they keep it with ease. The difficulties they have in acquiring it rise in part from the new rules and methods which they are forced to introduce to establish their government and its security. And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, then to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.

Author Picture
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