|Type of paper:||Essay|
Nicolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince not long after he was dismissed office. This was during the collapse of the Florentine Republic and the return to power of the Medici family, in 1512. The book is a political treatise, which is the most remembered, and the work responsible for bringing "Machiavellian" into broad usage as a pejorative term. His views as he expounds in the book may seem extreme. Nevertheless, his whole life was spent in Florence at a time of ongoing political conflict. Machiavelli wrote the book primarily as a guide for the prince, Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, to maintain his power and solely secondarily as a guide to maintain the principality, the purpose of which was to keep the prince in power. The Prince is probably the earliest work of modern political philosophy and the first publication of the realism versus idealism school of thought. Through the book, Machiavelli urges rulers to direct their destiny and not depend on what fate or change brings. This paper analyzes The Prince by responding to various questions.
What is the historical setting of The Prince, and how might that have affected the composition of this treatise?
The Prince was written in a historical setting of a divided, invaded and humiliated Italy. Machiavelli spent his whole life in Florence at a time of continuous political turmoil. He wrote the book just after he was forced to leave Florence as a political exile. Mainly, this setting influenced his writing, which made The Prince be a political treatise.
The treatise makes an imminent break from the Western tradition of political philosophy that preceded Machiavelli. Unlike his predecessors such as Plato and Aristotle who were concerned with matters of justice, human happiness, and the creation of an ideal state, Machiavelli composed The Prince as a direct how-to manual for princes and rulers who seek to either establish and retain control of their state or to seize and control the ones they conquer. Further, this setting influences Machiavelli to explicitly avail an unsentimental analysis of human behavior and use of power. In particular, he represents things as they exist in truth, instead of as people imagine them.
Irrefutably, Machiavelli's view of the divided invaded and humiliated Italy support the advice he offers in The Prince. It compels him to end the book with an urge to liberate Italy from the barbarians by calling for a new prince to introduce a new order. He necessitates for the prince to unite and stabilize the frequently warring city-states of the Italian peninsula.
Since the publication of The Prince, Machiavelli has been demonized by many. But despite his critics who saw him as a despiser of Christian morality, Machiavelli himself claimed to be a devout Christian. How would he have made this argument?
The demonization of Machiavelli began almost immediately The Prince was published. The Catholic Church censured him for his criticism of Christianity and for the tone and content of the political advice he offered in the book. While other books exhorted princes and rules to act with Christian morality of behaving well, being kind, and doing good, The Prince advised the contrary. Consequently, Machiavelli is seen as a neo-Pagan striving to paganize rather than reform Christianity. Although critics saw him as a despiser of Christianity, Machiavelli considered himself a devout Christian.
Machiavelli thought that politics, when viewed from the confines of a Christian, is by nature always immoral. Thus, he does not separate politics and morality, but politics and Christian morality. Additionally, Machiavelli did not claim that it would be better for a society to get rid of religion altogether. Rather, he argued that Christianity happens to be rather unsuited for a well-ordered state. Although Machiavelli was utterly critical towards the Christianity of then, he did not require a pagan alternative. Machiavelli was certainly not a pagan. A more pessimistic view of humans and society was already engraved in the traditions of Christianity. However, from these too Machiavelli departed by moving the purpose of Christianity to proximate concerns. His alleged paganism is more like a rhetorical construction, which demonstrates how Christianity could be effectively used.
Further, Machiavelli thought that the present religion was badly interpreted and that there were better ways of arranging religious appeals in society. He opined that religion should be used like the ancient utilized it. Notwithstanding, Machiavelli did not demand that the religion should be similar to that of the ancients'. Hence, he was not striving for any form of resurrection of paganism. Similarly, Machiavelli detached himself from Christianity to observe it as an object of political inquiry. The reality upon which he focused was not the same reality upon which the believer focused. Thus, Machiavelli can argue that criticizing Christianity does not necessarily mean that one would favor paganism.
According to Machiavelli, what personal characteristics should a prince possess?
Machiavelli describes methods that an aspiring prince can utilize to acquire the throne, or an existing prince can employ to maintain his reign. In particular, he explains to the reader, Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, the best ways to acquire, maintain, and protect a state. First, Machiavelli argues that the greatest moral good is a virtuous and stable state. Further, he opines that actions to protect the country are thus justified even if they are cruel. Notwithstanding, Machiavelli suggests that the prince must not be hated. He states, "a wise prince should establish himself on that which is his own control and not in that of others; he must endeavor to avoid hatred, as is noted". Machiavelli also urges that a prince is to be feared. He states, "it is best to be both feared and loved; however if one cannot be both it is better to be feared than loved". Yet, a prince must ensure that he is not feared to the point of hatred.
Second, Machiavelli advises that a prince must keep his body fit. In particular, he urges the prince to frequently hunt to keep his body fit and learn the landscape surrounding his kingdom. Thus, he can learn how to best protect his territory and advance upon his enemies. The third characteristic a prince should possess is intellectual strength. Machiavelli advises the prince to study great military men so he may imitate their successes and avoid their errors. Moreover, a prince who is diligent in peaceful times will be ready in times of adversity. Likewise, he states, "A prince must have the discernment to recognize the good or bad in what another says or does even though he has no acumen himself". Intelligence enables the prince to rule with confidence and pride.
Further, according to Machiavelli, for the prince to maintain power, he must not be overly good towards his subjects. He writes. "for a man who strives after goodness in all his acts is sure to come to ruin, since there are so many men who are not good". Machiavelli's argument is although a prince must avoid a bad reputation, it is not crucial in maintaining power. Furthermore, the only ethic that matters is one that is beneficial to the prince in handling the concerns of the state. Additionally, the prince should not be over-generous to his subjects. Moreover, according to Machiavelli, generosity will make him lose appreciation and cause greed among his subjects. He summarizes that a wise prince should be more willing to be reputed a miser than being hated for it.
The Prince is a political treatise, which is the most remembered, and the work responsible for bringing "Machiavellian" into broad usage as a pejorative term. Machiavelli's views as he expounds in the book may seem extreme. However, as unearthed from this paper, his views arise from the historical setting of the book characterized by a divided, invaded and humiliated Italy. Based on this setting, Machiavelli offers the reader, Lorenzo di Piero de' Medici, advice that may seem controversial from his Christianity beliefs. He advised the prince to be feared rather than be loved. Additionally, he urged him to remain physically fit and intellectually strong to enable him to rule with confidence and pride. Further, he argued that although a prince must avoid a bad reputation, it is not crucial in maintaining power. Furthermore, the only ethic that matters is one that is beneficial to the prince in handling the concerns of the state. Although his advice was in a way in contrary to Christian morality, Machiavelli was certainly not a pagan.
Machiavelli, Niccolo. The prince. Hackett Publishing, 2008.
Cite this page
Nicolo Machiavelli's The Prince Literature Essay Sample. (2022, Dec 02). Retrieved from https://speedypaper.com/essays/nicolo-machiavellis-the-prince
If you are the original author of this essay and no longer wish to have it published on the SpeedyPaper website, please click below to request its removal:
- Law Essay Example: Brandenburg v. Ohio Case Brief
- Reasons for Doing Business Overseas, Essay Sample
- Organizational Violence, Free Essay
- Free Paper on Ego Psychology: Assessment and Intervention
- Diversity in the workplace for women
- Free Essay on the BBC Film Adaptation of Dickens' Mystery of Edwin Drood
- Benefits and Drawbacks in How the Internet Presents Information