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Jan 09

Quote of the day

But we now come to the case where a citizen becomes prince not through crime or intolerable violence, but by the favor of his fellow-citizens… To attain this position depends not entirely on worth or entirely on fortune, but rather on cunning assisted by fortune.. One attains it by help of popular favor or by the favor of the aristocracy. For in ever city these two opposing parties are to be found, arising from the desire of the populace to avoid the oppression of the great, and the desire of the great to command and oppress the people… He who becomes prince by help of the nobility has greater difficulty in maintaining his power than he who is raised by the populace, for he is surrounded by those who think themselves his equals, and is thus unable to direst or command as he pleases. But one who is raised to leadership by popular favor finds himself alone, and has no one, or very few, who are not ready to obey him. Besides which, it is impossible to satisfy the nobility by fair dealing and without inflicting injury on others, whereas it is very easy to satisfy the mass of the people in this way… It must be added that the prince can never insure himself against a hostile populace on account of their number, but he can against the hostility of the great, as they are but few.
Niccolo Machiavelli
“Of the Civic Principality”: The Prince

5 comments

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  1. Sassy

    Manolo, off topic, but your search button isn’t working.

  2. fencesitter

    if anybody would be too kind to share her/his thoughts, I’d appreciate a clarification about the meaning of the first line of the quote. Because it looks to me like one can become a prince through violence and intolerable crime.

  3. Jon Mariano

    Violence & Intolerable crime = assassination? Putting down the legitimate “prince” to grab the position? That’s what came to my mind when I read the quote.

  4. mlq3

    Well, you’re dealing with Machiavelli who was taking a clinical look at power. So he dealt with all the methods, fair or foul, power can be taken, kept, or taken away.

  5. fencesitter

    Thank you, Jon and Mlq3. Oo nga pala Machiavelli – “the end justifies the means”. It doesn’t make sense to me if one should catapult to power by means of crime and intolerable violence or by any cunning scheme like cheating.

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