Portrait of NiccolÃ² Machiavelli by Santi di Tito
3 May 1469|
Florence, Republic of Florence
|Died||21 June 1527
Florence, Republic of Florence
|School||Renaissance humanism, political realism, classical republicanism|
|Politics and political philosophy, military theory, history|
Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot.
Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.
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.
War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms.
No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
There is no surer sign of decay in a country than to see the rites of religion held in contempt.
Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked.
When you disarm the people, you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both of these opinions generate hatred.
Hence it comes about that all armed Prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed Prophets have been destroyed.
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.
Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others.
The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
The one who adapts his policy to the times prospers, and likewise that the one whose policy clashes with the demands of the times does not.
Men shrink less from offending one who inspires love than one who inspires fear.
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
Whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish it commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself.
Severities should be dealt out all at once, so that their suddenness may give less offense; benefits ought to be handed ought drop by drop, so that they may be relished the more.
I'm not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.
A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair.
God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.
A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.
The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all.
Nature that framed us of four elements, warring within our breasts for regiment, doth teach us all to have aspiring minds.
We cannot attribute to fortune or virtue that which is achieved without either.
There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.
Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society.
Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better.
War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes as ability to execute, military plans.
To understand the nature of the people one must be a prince, and to understand the nature of the prince, one must be of the people.
Since it is difficult to join them together, it is safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.
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.
The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.
Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.
One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.
There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.
Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared.
It is necessary for him who lays out a state and arranges laws for it to presuppose that all men are evil and that they are always going to act according to the wickedness of their spirits whenever they have free scope.
The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love.
The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.
A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests.
For among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible; which is one of those disgraceful things which a prince must guard against.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.