Niccolo Machiavelli

(Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli)

Niccolo Machiavelli
Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Born: May 3, 1469
  • Died: June 21, 1527
  • Nationality: Italian
  • Profession: Writer









Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist, writer, playwright and poet of the Renaissance period. He has often been called the father of modern political science. For many years he was a senior official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned by Italian scholars. 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 most well-known work The Prince (Il Principe) in 1513, having been exiled from city affairs.

Quote Topics Cited
… all kinds of government are defective…. sagacious legislators, knowing the vices of each of these systems of government by themselves, have chosen one that should partake of all of them, judging that to be the most stable and solid. In fact, when there is combined under the same constitution a prince, a nobility, and the power of the people, then these three powers will watch and keep each other reciprocally in check. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
…in every city are found two diverse humors, and this arises from the fact that the common people desire neither to be commanded nor oppressed by the great, and the powerful men desire to command and oppress the people.. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
…those are called gentlemen who live idly in abundance from the returns of their possessions without having any care either for cultivation or for other necessary trouble in living. Such are pernicious in every republic and in every province, but more pernicious are those who, beyond the aforesaid fortunes, command from a castle and have subjects to obey them. Miscellaneous
…well-ordered republics have to keep the public rich and their citizens poor… Management & Managing Government
A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise. Miscellaneous
A prudent ruler cannot and should not observe faith [keep his promises] when such observance is to his disadvantage. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
A ruler must learn to be other than good. Leaders & Leadership
A wise man will see to it that his act always seems voluntary and not done be compulsion, however much he may be compelled by necessity. Management & Managing Government
A wise man will see to it that his acts always seem voluntary and not done by compulsion, however he may be compelled by necessity. Leaders & Leadership
A wise prince cannot, nor ought he to, keep faith when such observance may be turned against him, and when the reasons that caused him to pledge it exist no longer. If men were entirely good, this precept would not hold, but because they are bad and will not keep faith with you, you are not bound to observe it with them. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
All armed prophets have been victorious and all unarmed prophets have been destroyed. Arms Race & Disarmament
All human affairs are ever in a state of flux and cannot stand still, either there will be improvement or decline. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
All the armed prophets have conquered, all the unarmed have perished. Military & Veterans
Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised. Arms Race & Disarmament
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. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Being rapacious and arrogating subject's goods and women is what above all else ... renders the Prince hateful ... and leaves a mind obstinate to vengeance. Management & Managing Government
For titles do not reflect honor on men, but rather men on their titles. Detriments & Qualifications ;Public Office: Benefits
He who believes that new benefits make great men forget old injuries deceives himself. Human Nature
He who desires or attempts to reform the government of a state, and wishes to have it accepted ... must at least retain the semblance of the old forms; so that it may seem to the people that there has been no change in the institutions, even though in fact they are entirely different from the old ones. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
He who makes another powerful ruins himself. Power
He will be successful who directs his actions according to the spirit of the times, and that he whose actions do not accord with the times will not be successful Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
If the chief party ... be corrupt, you must follow their humor and indulge them, and in that case honesty and virtue are pernicious. Corruption
If we compare the present time with former ages, we find that the same tendencies and desires have at all times governed states and peoples. Human Nature
In all human affairs one notices, if one examines them closely, that it is impossible to remove one inconvenience without another emerging. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
In the course of time, however, the insolence of the nobles … induced the people to rise…. The nobility, to save a portion of their power, were forced to yield a share of it to the people. Power
Injuries should all be done together in order that men may taste their bitterness but a short time and be little disturbed. Benefits ought to be conferred a little at a time, that their flavor may be tasted better. Management & Managing Government
It is ... the duty of princes and heads of republics to uphold the foundations of the religion of their countries, for then it is easy to keep their people religious and consequently well conducted and united. Religion & God
It is essential for a prince to be on a friendly footing with his people, since, otherwise, he will have no resource in adversity. Leaders & Leadership
It is necessary that the prince should know how to color his nature well, and how to be a great hypocrite and dissembler. For men are so simple, and yield so much to immediate necessity, that the deceiver will never lack dupes. Public Relations & Image
It is of great consequences to disguise your inclination, and to play the hypocrite well. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
It is the nature of men to be bound by the benefits they confer as much as by those they receive. Human Nature
Men are more apt to be mistaken in their generalizations than in their particular observations. Miscellaneous
Men are not altogether bad or altogether good. Human Nature
Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it. Human Nature
Nature creates few men brave; industry and training makes many. Discipline in war counts more than fury. Military & Veterans
No wall exists, however thick, that artillery cannot destroy. Defense & National Security
Once a problem becomes evident, it has already passed beyond effective redress. Miscellaneous
Politics have no relation to morals. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest ;Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Republics have a longer life and enjoy better fortune than principalities, because they can profit by their greater internal diversity. They are the better able to meet emergencies. Democracies & Republics
Severities should be dealt out all at once, so that their suddenness may give less offense. Benefits ought to be handed out drop by drop, so that they may be relished the more. Public Relations & Image
The first impression that one gets of a ruler and his ability is from seeing the men that he has about him.
The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
The great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are. Public Relations & Image
The injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared. Power
The judges must be many, for, if few, they will always follow the behests of the few. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The mercenaries devoted all their professional skill to eliminating hardship and anxiety for themselves and their own troops; they did not kill one another in battle, but rather took each other prisoner. War & Peace
The prince must not mind incurring the scandal of those vices without which it would be difficult to save the state. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
The principal foundations of all states are good laws and good arms; and there cannot be good laws where there are not good arms. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The Romans never allowed a trouble spot to remain simply to avoid going to war over it, because they knew that wars don't just go away, they are only postponed to someone else's advantage War & Peace ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others. War & Peace
There never was a new prince who has disarmed his subjects; rather when he has found them disarmed, he has always armed them, because, by arming them, those arms become yours... Guns & Gun Control
This is not the time to make enemies. Diplomacy & Diplomats
Those republics which in time of danger cannot resort to a dictatorship, or some similar authority, will generally be ruined when grave emergencies occur. Power ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
To keep his servant honest the prince ought to study him, honoring him, enriching him, doing him kindnesses. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please. War & Peace
Wars begin where you will but they end where they will. War & Peace
When neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content. Human Nature ;Taxes
Whoever desires to found a nation and give it laws must begin by assuming that all men are bad and always ready to display their evil nature. Human Nature
Whoever takes it upon himself a commonwealth and prescribe laws must presuppose all men naturally bad, and that they will yield to their innate evil passions as often as they can do so with safety. Legislating & Legislative Process
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. Life
A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair.
A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests. Religion & God
Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better.
God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us. Religion & God
Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil.
He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command. Power
Hence it comes about that all armed Prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed Prophets have been destroyed.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.
I'm not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.
It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.
It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.
It is much more secure to be feared than to be loved.
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.
It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.
Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.
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.
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.
Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others.
Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries - for heavy ones they cannot.
Men shrink less from offending one who inspires love than one who inspires fear. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
Never was anything great achieved without danger.
No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution. Business, Commerce & Finance
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.
Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society. Society
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.
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.
Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.
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. Love, Romance, Marriage & Sex
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.
The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it. Life
The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all.
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.
The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.
The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.
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.
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.
There is no surer sign of decay in a country than to see the rites of religion held in contempt. Religion & God
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. Success
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. Nature
War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms. Hope ;War & Peace
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. War & Peace
We cannot attribute to fortune or virtue that which is achieved without either.
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.
Whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish it commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself.
Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times. Success