by Lucius from Orange
Men are ungrateful, fickle, and decietful, therefore if a Prince wishes to hold on to his territory and his power he must make the people fear, not love him, because love is based on mutual favours
Machiavelli was an Italian political theorist. He was a secretary of state for the Medici family of Florence. He however lost favour and was eventually fired. Later in his life he compiled his political theories in a book known as The Prince. He sent this book back to the Medicis to regain favour.
The Prince focused around two events: "It is better to be feared than loved" and "the ends justify the means." These theories would become a guide for monarchs for centuries to come.
The idea that it is better to be feared than loved when you are a monarch makes very good sense. If you make people love you, and as we know already people tend to be selfish, decietful, fickle, and ungrateful because of human nature then having them love you would mean you would have to repay them. Machiavelli states that people who feel that you love them will believe that you are weak and will try to take your power away. An excellent example of this is demonstrated with teachers. I have seen many students take advantage of a "nice" teacher who tried to hold his/her power by making students love him/her. While if one is feared then who will oppose him? People know that if they oppose one who tends to be strict and quick to punish those who are troublesome then he/she will be defeated easily. Such an example is Peter the Great (another of my heroes). Peter the Great was a very intellegent man. He also was never afraid to get his hands dirty or too arrogant to work on manual labour. He was an exceptional ruler. However, if anyone dared to oppose him he would crush them. Early in his reign, his half-sister, Sofia murdered many of Peter's family members and made him her own puppet-tsar. Peter was much smarter than her and knowing that she was a threat he gained support of the military and had her arrested. she spent the rest of her life as a nun. If Peter made her love him she would continue to take advantagge of him because she was a compete power-hungry, caniving, wicked person.
The other element of Machiavelli's theory is "the ends justifies the means." This means that the if the end result is good for you it does not matter what you had to do to get there. Now of course this is very unethical to say, but let us take a look at how this applies to a historical figure. An excellent example of how this works is when Julius Caesar was ordered to give up his army. Caesar was not stupid. If his army was given up Gnaeus Pompey (his rival) would have him assasinated. Caesar then took up arms against his home country and crossed the Rubicon, invading Rome. He saved his life, became powerful, and is remembered as one of the best rulers of Rome.
Now of course in the Renisance this political behavior was acceptable. Today it is not. Today it is wrong because of Democracy, before it was decent because of the theory of monarchy.
Page created on 8/10/2004 12:00:00 AM
Last edited 8/10/2004 12:00:00 AM
The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.
Machiavelli in his writings did not celebrate the best of humanity. His philosophy is very different from the heroes that we have featured on this web site, as Machiavelli believed that people need to be ruled by fear. We disagree.
This essay written by Lucas from Orange represents his opinion.
After reading this essay you may want to reflect on How Do We Choose Our Heroes? Then add your thoughts to this forum.