Machiavelli's "The Prince" chapter 18--In What Way Princes Should Keep Their Word

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Although frankness is praised over craftiness, history shows that leaders who practiced

deceit overcame those that lived by their pledges. There can be identified two ways of

fighting: by law, which is proper for men and by force, which is proper for animals. A prince

must know how to fight both ways in order to be successful. Furthermore a price is competing

as an animal both sly and fierce. He should break promises when they are against his interest

as men are naturally bad and will break their promises to him. He must exude charity,

integrity, humanity, uprightness, and especially piety. They are judged by appearance and

results. Once he wins he will be thought honorable and the means he used to get their will be


To support his point of view, Machiavelli looks through the writers of ancient Greece

and to the story of how Achilles, the Greek mythological hero, was trained by Chiron, the

centaur (half man and half beast).

This is to show that a warrior needs to be trained in the

fighting ways of both men and animals. So a prince must know and understand when to act

like a man and like a beast, as circumstances require both - just one is not enough.

In addition, a prince must have qualities of both the fox and the lion; one is useless

without the other. Lions cannot defend themselves against traps, and foxes cannot defend

themselves against wolves. You have to be like a fox to see traps, and like a lion to terrify the

wolves. If all people was always totally trustworthy you only had to be like a lion. In reality

you have to be like a cunning fox at times. Princes that are cunning...