Cruelty In Niccolo Machiavelli's 'The Prince'

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Niccilò Machiavelli’s political philosophy writing, The Prince, is a piece of writing that intends to teach an upcoming prince an approach of ruling that can guarantee a lasting period of power. Machiavelli states that the number one characteristic that a prince must posse that of virtue. Machiavelli defined virtue as a way that a prince acquires power over a dominion, and later goes on to add to the define by stating that “it is necessary for a prince if he wishes to maintain himself, to learn to be able to be not good.” (Machiavelli 87), which highlights an aspect of cruelty that Machiavelli then contradicts with an example of the wicked Agathocles. Machiavelli’s inclusion of cruelty in his definition of virtue and his contradicting examples demonstrate his dispassionate analysis and overall apathetic perception on 16th century rulers. Machiavelli begins his agreement by stating that a proper prince is able to gain power with the use of his virtue, but in order to maintain in power he must “be able to be not good (Machiavelli 87). Machiavelli states that a prince must know when it is appropriate to use acts of cruelty in order to maintain himself at a level greater than his people and above other men that are not good. For if a …show more content…
Machiavelli used the example of Agathocles the Sicilian in order to discuss wicked deeds; these deeds include murdering all the senators and rich men in order to obtain power. Machiavelli praised Hannibal’s ability to employ cruelty in order to plant fear into his people and mixed armies, but he says that Agathocles’ actions “cannot call it virtue to kill one’s fellow citizens” (Machiavelli 66). The hasty discrepancy of Machiavelli’s examples in order to define virtue expresses the dispassion of clearly wanting to guide the present and future

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