Philosopher, Author, Politician
1469 – 1527
Who was Niccolò Machiavelli?
Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned in the Italian language. He was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power. He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence.
"Machiavellianism", is a widely used negative term to characterize unscrupulous politicians of the sort Machiavelli described in The Prince. The book itself gained enormous notoriety and wide readership because the author seemed to be endorsing this evil behavior.
- A wise man will see to it that his acts always seem voluntary and not done by compulsion, however much he may be compelled by necessity.
- Men shrink less from offending one who inspires love than one who inspires fear.
- The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.
- The main foundations of every state, new states as well as ancient or composite ones, are good laws and good arms you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow.
- I consider it a mark of great prudence in a man to abstain from threats or any contemptuous expressions, for neither of these weaken the enemy, but threats make him more cautious, and the other excites his hatred, and a desire to revenge himself.
- Men are more apt to be mistaken in their generalizations than in their particular observations.
- It should be noted that when he seizes a state the new ruler ought to determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He should inflict them once and for all, and not have to renew them every day.
- No one should be astonished if in the following discussion of completely new princedoms and of the prince and of government, I bring up the noblest examples. Because, since men almost always walk in the paths beaten by others and carry on their affairs by imitatingeven though it is not possible to keep wholly in the paths of others or to attain the ability of those you imitatea prudent man will always choose to take paths beaten by great men and to imitate those who have been especially admirable, in order that if his ability does not reach theirs, at least it may offer some suggestion of it; and he will act like prudent archers, who, seeing that the mark they plan to hit is too far away and knowing what space can be covered by the power of their bows, take an aim much higher than their mark, not in order to reach with their arrows so great a height, but to be able, with the aid of so high an aim, to attain their purpose.
- 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.
- Because just as good morals, if they are to be maintained, have need of the laws, so the laws, if they are to be observed, have need of good morals.
We need you!
Help us build the largest biographies collection on the web!
- May 3, 1469
- Also known as
- Niccolo Machiavelli
- Niccolò Machiavelli
- Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli
- Nicolas Machiavel
- Marietta Corsini
(1502 - 1527/06/21)
- Marietta Corsini
- Lived in
- Jun 21, 1527
on July 23, 2013
Use the citation below to add to a bibliography:
"Niccolò Machiavelli." Biographies.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 29 May 2022. <https://www.biographies.net/people/en/niccolo_machiavelli>.