Machiavelli Essay, Research Paper
Machiavelli had a true and abiding love for Florence. He wanted to make Florence great and also find himself a job, as he lost his when the Medici family came into power. He dedicated his book on political science, The Prince, to Lorenzo Medici in the hopes that Lorenzo would be impressed and offer him a job. However, Lorenzo ignored the book and Machiavelli.
The Prince is a didactic examination of political power, how to achieve it, maintain it, and expand it. Machiavelli does not take into consideration what is morally right, or amoral, only what is useful and useless. The book is more like a technical manual, and technical manuals only state the facts. The book defines what turns a mere man into a great ruler and what turns a great ruler into a mere man.
Machiavelli s book of politics is unique because it is so realistic. He does not place man in a false utopia where man live in eternal peace and harmony, everyone doing good to one another for the good of the public whole. Rather, he writes a manual where there are political conflicts and tensions. Machiavelli writes how a prince should deal with these conflicts and tensions. He condones cruelty, punishment, religion, rewards, compassion, and integrity to achieve power. Whatever means to achieve the end.
2. Discuss Machiavelli s heroes . Select one and discuss the traits that he finds admirable in that person. Be specific.
Machiavelli s heroes are Moses, Cyrus, Romulus and Theseus. They all formed civilizations. When Machiavelli talks about his heroes he is speaking of how to acquire a princedom. As Isiah Berlin says in his essay, Machiavelli admired these heroes because they were high-minded, tough, and tough enough to use brutality against the few, to help the public good of the princedom.
He especially admired Moses because he was worthy to talk to God. Moses had the opportunity to create a new civilization with the Israelites because they were being treated badly by the Pharoah. Therefore, Moses took advantage of their discontent with their new master and led them in a revolt. Eventually creating a new civilization. Machiavelli admired Moses because of his strength of character that carried him through the difficult trouble of gaining power.
3. Discuss Machiavelli s opinions on the uses of cruelty to accomplish certain goals.
The Prince is about the ways to achieve political power, with no preference for the way in which it is achieved. Machiavelli does not advocate unnecessary cruelty. His book is only about how to obtain and keep a princedom. Machiavelli believes that cruelty is sometimes necessary to aquire or/and keep political power. Machiavelli recognized that in the time he lived a political ruler would have to use cruelty, he writes, The new prince, above all princes, cannot possibly avoid the name of cruelty . He also states in Chapter VIII that cruelty may be useful sometimes in achieving certain ends, but it would bring no glory.
1. What does Machiavelli think of the people in the course of human history?
Machiavelli refers to the people as the masses , lots of times. He realizes that the people are a dominant force in politics, whether it is a democracy or a republic. When a princedom is added to an already established kingdom, he writes that the customs must be the same between the two and that no new taxes or laws should be enacted. To do so would cause the people to revolt and the recently acquired princedom would be in jeopardy. Machiavelli realizes a prince cannot keep political power if his people hate him. A hostile population may abandon him or turn against him when hostile noble attack, then the prince will lose the kingdom. Machievelli also believed that a prince may make an example of a very few be execution of severe punishment, but that letting the population bring disorder among themselves was bad for the whole community. Therefore, Machiavelli was wary of mob rule . Machiavelli realizes that the people have to be relatively happy for a princedom to be healthy.
4. In general, what is Machiavelli telling his Prince with regard to the use of power?
Machiavelli s entire book is about power. How to achieve a princedom with power. Power over the people with cruelty (or punishment); power over other princes with deceit or a bigger army or powerful friends; power over the army with cruelty and/or money. He speaks of control over captured cities by dividing them into factions, disarming the people or forming hostilities among the people. All of these things achieve power. A prince must also be more powerful than his counselors, listening and gleaning knowledge but making his own decisions; because a weak prince will do whatever his counselors tell him and then his counselors will take over the princedom.
EVALUATION OF BOOK
I think this is one of the most interesting books I ve read in a while. It s dry, realistic, terse, and to the point. It s also very easy to read (I was pleasantly surprised). All of the historical connotations are especially interesting. I read that Hitler, Mussolini, and Lenin found Machiavelli valuable reading; I would like to delve more into that one!!
In the Renaissance religion and learning were beginning to be thought of as separate and Machiavelli was a man of his time. His book was entirely didactic and did not have a trace of religion. He spoke of cruelty and deceit in matter-of-fact tones and kept his book strictly a manual, with no judgements. In our modern time, we have to discern his book in the same manner that he wrote it. If we do not, we will not understand what he was writing.