Machiavelli’s PrinceThe Prince, written in 1513 by Niccolo Machiavelli is regarded as one of themost crucial yet controversial works in the field of political science. It holdsMachiavelli’s observations and reflections on Italian political history. It waswritten in response to the decay of the Italian states system. This book wasdesigned specifically to captivate and transform its readers to analyze andadopt Machiavelli’s perspective as it was initially written and dedicated toLorenzo De Medici, the ruler of Florence.
Although this book was written in the15th century, the ideas are very much applicable in today’s societies. Machiavelli’s goals and views as perceived by the readers of this book seem tobe in contrast with the humanist beliefs and teachings of his time. As in hisbook he promotes a secular society and felt morality should be set aside as itobstructed power. He reflects that a prince should not consider whether his actsare moral or immoral while he acts in the favor of the state. To achieve that,states goals must be the primary focus for a prince. If a prince acts immorallyto achieve the states’ goals, then it does not reflect his personal standards orbeliefs, as it is a role that he plays for the state.
The effect of fortune ongovernment and the course of humanity is an important theme in the book. AsMachiavelli believed that fortune played a major part in at least half of men’sactions. The force of fortune was so strong that it was mentally in the back ofevery men’s mind, but their were steps that could be taken to lower the effect. Furthermore, Machiavelli holds a very low opinion of most people and thinks theyhave been selfish towards the state. He concludes from his observations that menare “ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers.
” He points out that theywill accompany you when you are privileged and abandon or turn against you atthe time of danger. A prince therefore must be cautious while interacting withthe people but should have a favorable standing amongst them. “ThePrince” was written and completed by Machiavelli in response to Italy’spersistent political problems and the emergence of a new rule in Florence. Therefore with these two situations at hand, Machiavelli carefully devised”The Prince” and primarily focused on the responsibilities, aims andobjectives that a “new prince” should concentrate upon. To explain hisarguments, Machiavelli draws out examples from various historical episodes andhis political experience.
He stresses in his book that political leaders shouldseek solutions from the past in order to cure current problems. His opinionrevolved around that fact that instead of evolution and progress there wasrepetition as a recurring cycle of events shaped history. This can be seenreflected in most of Machiavelli’s arguments in “The Prince,” whichweakens his arguments to an extent. He further concludes that men throughouthistory have been selfish and cheats. They are not worthy of any lenience andtherefore should be treated with the same measures as in the past.
The Prince,has been criticized both in a positively and negatively. Some have praisedMachiavelli for his realism and irony in a subtle manner. On the other hand heis acclaimed for having his work seen as supporting a republican form ofgovernment by exposing the faults of princedoms, and praise his ability toseparate political from moral issues. Machiavelli can also be seen as na?ve,promoting fraud, force and immorality in politics, using beneficial ends tojustify evil means, and betraying republican ideals. There is also a departurefrom classical models to a more humanist approach, when Machiavelli urges rulersto take on the characteristics of animals by using force when the situationrequires.
Although Machiavelli refers to classical accounts of rulers beingtrained by centaurs, his suggestion that rulers be less than fully humancritical challenges the humanist tradition which would never have humans behaveas beasts. The Prince, is often referred to as a ‘book inspired by the devil. ‘This piece of literature is very interesting not only for Political Sciencestudents but also for everyone part of a society. It gives an excellent insightto understanding the qualities of human kind. In the 500 years since this bookhas been written it has been a major source of contention and debate.
Inaddition this book is highly recommended and enjoyable to read.