"The Prince" by Niccolo Machiavelli

Essay by num1qutie October 2007

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The notorious Niccolo Machiavelli guides us on how to be a successful ruler in his novel, The Prince. Machiavelli explains the best ways for a prince or any ruler to rule a territory, prosper the society, and maintain their position. The book was intentionally just for Prince Lorenzo The Magnificent, a ruling member of the Medici family, but today, anyone can read this book to get some pointers on political issues. Since Machiavelli had ideas that were referable to evil and brutality, he raised a lot of eyebrows, and was called the devil by many. He believes that a new ruler's main focuses should be conquering, remaining in control of the people, and to always keep war in mind.

Machiavelli acknowledged that the only focus for a ruler is to study the art of war. He apprehended that the development of this art was gaining and keeping power, and neglecting art of war would result in losing power.

"A prince must have no other objective, no other thought, nor take up any profession but that of war, its methods and its discipline, for that is the only art expected of a ruler. And it is of such great value that it not only keeps hereditary princes in power, but often raises men of lowly condition to that rank." This quote from Chapter XIV highlights warcraft as both an academic discipline that can be studied through historical examples and as a matter of practical experience. For Machiavelli, all affairs of government are viewed through a military lens, because the ultimate goal of a government is self-preservation; military defense, diplomacy, and geography. Machiavelli believes that security could only be obtained by establishing a body of troops within one's own country, loyal soldiers who would be defending their own homes and families.