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Niccolo Machiavelli

  • Italian writer
  • Born May 3, 1469
  • Died June 21, 1527

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (, Italian: [nikkoˈlɔ mmakjaˈvɛlli]; 3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist, writer, playwright and poet of the Renaissance period. He has often been called the father of modern political philosophy and political science. For many years he served as a senior official in the Florentine Republic with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned by historians and scholars.


Before all else, be armed.




The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.




Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.




Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked.




Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared.




A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.




The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.




It is necessary for him who lays out a state and arranges laws for it to presuppose that all men are evil and that they are always going to act according to the wickedness of their spirits whenever they have free scope.




Since it is difficult to join them together, it is safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.




The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love.




Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others.




Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better.




One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others.




I'm not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.




A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.




Never was anything great achieved without danger.




Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.




If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.




A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair.




A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests.




There is no surer sign of decay in a country than to see the rites of religion held in contempt.




Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society.




The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.




There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.




Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil.




There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.




The main foundations of every state, new states as well as ancient or composite ones, are good laws and good arms you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow.




It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.




No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.




He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.




God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.




The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.




We cannot attribute to fortune or virtue that which is achieved without either.




To understand the nature of the people one must be a prince, and to understand the nature of the prince, one must be of the people.




There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.




War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms.



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