And in examining their life and deeds it will be seen that they owed nothing to fortune but the opportunity which gave them matter to be shaped into the form that they thought fit; and without that opportunity their powers would have been wasted, and without their powers the opportunity would have come in vain.
He who becomes a Prince through the favour of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do, since all they ask is not to be oppressed
Therefore a wise prince ought to adopt such a course that his citizens will always in every sort and kind of circumstance have need of the state and of him, and then he will always find them faithful.
And truly it is a very natural and ordinary thing to desire to acquire, and always, when men do it who can, they will be praised or not blamed; but when they cannot, and wish to do it anyway, here lies the error and the blame.
I hold strongly to this: that it is better to be impetuous than circumspect; because fortune is a woman and if she is to be submissive it is necessary to beat and coerce her.
Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. And I shall dare to say this also, that to have them and always to observe them is injurious, and that to appear to have them is useful; to appear merciful, faithful, humane, religious, upright, and to be so, but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so, you may be able and know how to change to the opposite.
Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.
In conclusion, the arms of others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down, or they bind you fast.
Therefore the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people, for although you may have fortresses they will not save you if you are hated by the people.
Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.
Is it better to be loved or feared?
A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.
Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves
Florence which included diplomatic missions to various European courts.
It is best to be both feared and loved; however, if one cannot be both it is better to be feared than loved.
A man who wishes to profess at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.
Thus it is well to seem merciful faithful humane religious and upright and also to be so but the mind should remain so balanced that were it needful not to be so you should be able and know how to change to the contrary.
For it must be noted, that men must either be caressed or else annihilated; they will revenge themselves for small injuries, but cannot do so for great ones; the injury therefore that we do to a man must be such that we need not fear his vengeance.
It is safer to be feared than loved
A prince is also esteemed when he is a true friend and a true enemy.
When a newly acquired State has been accustomed, as I have said, to live under its own laws and in freedom, there are three methods whereby it may be held. The first is to destroy it; the second, to go and reside there in person; the third, to suffer it to live on under its own laws, subjecting it to a tribute, and entrusting its government to a few of the inhabitants who will keep the rest your friends
For on Cardinal Rohan saying to me that the Italians did not understand war, I replied that the French did not understand politics.
It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.
A prince must not have any other object nor any other thoughtà but war, its institutions, and its discipline; because that is the only art befitting one who commands.
For one change always leaves a dovetail into which another will fit.
Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.
A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it.
For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on.
Nevertheless, that our freewill may not be altogether extinguished, I think it may be true that fortune is the ruler of half our actions, but that she allows the other half or a little less to be governed by us.
A wise prince then...should never be idle in times of peace but should industriously lay up stores of which to avail himself in times of adversity so that when Fortune abandons him he may be prepared to resist her blows.
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