Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Ph.D.A+, November 1996

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In The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli presents a view of governing a state that is

drastically different from that of humanists of his time. Machiavelli believes the

ruling Prince should be the sole authority determining every aspect of the state and

put in effect a policy which would serve his best interests. These interests were

gaining, maintaining, and expanding his political power.1 His understanding of human

nature was a complete contradiction of what humanists believed and taught. Machiavelli

strongly promoted a secular society and felt morality was not necessary but in fact

stood in the way of an effectively governed principality.2 Though in come cases

Machiavelli's suggestions seem harsh and immoral one must remember that these views

were derived out of concern Italy's unstable political condition.3

Though humanists of Machiavelli's time believed that an individual had much to offer to

the well being of the state, Machiavelli was quick to mock human nature.


believed that 'An individual only 'grows to maturity- both intellectually and morally-

through participation' in the life of the state.'4 Machiavelli generally distrusted

citizens, stating that ' time of adversity, when the state is in need of it's

citizens there are few to be found.'5 Machiavelli further goes on to question the

loyalty of the citizens and advises the Prince that '...because men a wretched

creatures who would not keep their word to you, you need keep your word to them.'6

However, Machiavelli did not feel that a Prince should mistreat the citizens. This

suggestion once again to serve the Prince's best interests.

If a prince can not be both feared and loved, Machiavelli suggests, it would be better

for him to be feared bey the citizens within his own principality. He makes the

generalization that men are, '...ungrateful, fickle, liars,