Quotes from Machiavelli

These are the quotations taken from Machiavelli’s works, used in this book. I used the public domain versions of his books for most of my sources, however some of the wording and punctuation may be updated or altered for clarity and modernity. See the Bibliography for details on sources.

In the book, quotations from The Prince are shown entirely in bold.

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“I have not found among my possessions anything which I hold more dear than, or value so much as, my knowledge of the actions of great men, acquired by long experience in contemporary affairs, and a continual study of antiquity. Having reflected upon it with great and prolonged diligence, I now send, digested into this little volume, to your Magnificence.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Dedication to The Prince

“But the duke’s soldiers, not being content with having pillaged the men of Oliverotto, began to sack Sinigalia, and if the duke had not repressed this outrage by killing some of them they would have completely sacked it.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Description Of The Methods Adopted By The Duke Valentino

“…the only inference to be drawn from his conduct, as Xenophon describes it, is, that the prince who would accomplish great things must have learned how to deceive.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses, Book II, 13

And if your conduct were in every respect upright, your demeanor amiable, and your judgments equitable, all these would be insufficient to make you beloved. If you imagine otherwise, you deceive yourself; for, to one accustomed to the enjoyment of liberty, the slightest chains feel heavy, and every tie upon his free soul oppresses him. — Niccolo Machiavelli, History of Florence, Book II, 8

“And if your conduct were in every respect upright, your demeanor amiable, and your judgments equitable, all these would be insufficient to make you beloved. If you imagine otherwise, you deceive yourself; for, to one accustomed to the enjoyment of liberty, the slightest chains feel heavy, and every tie upon his free soul oppresses him.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, History of Florence, Book II, 8

“When many suffer, few seek vengeance; for general evils are endured more patiently than private ones. To increase the number of misdeeds will, therefore, make forgiveness more easily attainable, and will open the way to secure what we require for our own liberty.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, History of Florence, Book III, 3

“Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, instructions to diplomat Raffaello Girlami

“Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, instructions to diplomat Raffaello Girlami

“When evening comes, I return home and go to my study. On the threshold, I strip naked, taking off my muddy, sweaty work day clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and, in this graver dress, I enter the courts of the ancients, and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death; I pass indeed into their world.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Letter to Francesco Vettori

“And through this study of mine, were it to be read, it would be evident that during the fifteen years I have been studying the art of the state I have neither slept nor fooled around, and anybody ought to be happy to utilize someone who has had so much experience at the expense of others.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, letter to Francesco Vettori, 1513

“I love my native city, more than my own soul.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Letter to Francesco Vettori, 1527,

“It is better to act and repent, than not to act and regret.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Quoted in Viroli: Niccolò’s Smile, Ch. 16

“…is an exceedingly dangerous path that leads to defeat… If a prince remains neutral when two others are fighting, he allows himself to be hated and despised: hated by the combatant who believes the prince is obliged to side with him (in the name of an old friendship or in return for favours granted or performed); and despised by the other combatant, who will consider him timid and indecisive, an enemy not to be feared.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, quoted in Viroli: Niccolò’s Smile, Ch. 17

“The reason why Florence has always so often changed its government has been because it has never been a Republic or a Principality of the proper kind; for that Principate cannot be called stable where things are done according to the desires of an individual but are decided by the consent of the many; nor can it be believed that that Republic will endure where those moods of the people are not satisfied, and which, if they are not satisfied, cause the ruin of the Republic…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Reforming the State of Florence

“The reason why all these governments have been defective, is that their Reforms have not been made to satisfy the common good, but for the security and confirmation in power of one of the Parties; which security, however, has not been found, because one Party has always been discontent and it has been a powerful instrument to whoever has desired change.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Reforming the State of Florence

“It pains me much when I hear that out of conscience many of you repent the deeds that have been done and that you wish to abstain from new deeds… if this is true, you are not the men I believed you to be, for neither conscience nor infamy should dismay you, because those who win, in whatever mode they win, never receive shame from it… We have no business to think about conscience…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, Speech quoted in the Florentine Histories: III: 3

“I will be much content to tell you what I know of all that you ask me; whether it be true or not, I will leave to your judgement.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War: Book 1

“Whoever is more vigilant in observing the designs of the enemy in war, and endures much hardship in training his army, will incur fewer dangers, and can have greater hope for victory.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War: Book VII

“What benefits the enemy, harms you; and what benefits you, harms the enemy.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War: Book VII

“Whoever is more vigilant in observing the designs of the enemy in war, and endures much hardship in training his army, will incur fewer dangers, and can have greater hope for victory.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War: Book VII

“Never lead your soldiers into an engagement unless you are assured of their courage, know they are without fear, and are organized. Never make an attempt unless you see they hope for victory.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War: Book VII

“It is better to defeat the enemy by hunger than by steel; in such victory fortune counts more than prowess.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War: Book VII

“…love peace but know how to wage war…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War: I, 12

“Our princes…used to believe it was enough for them to know how to … write a beautiful letter, to show wit and promptness in sayings and in his words, know how to weave a deception, ornament himself with gems and gold, to sleep and eat with greater splendor than others, to keep many lascivious persons around, to conduct himself avariciously and haughtily toward his subjects, to become rotten with idleness, hand out appointments at his will, express contempt for anyone who may have demonstrated any praiseworthy manner…These little men were unaware that they were preparing themselves to be the prey of anyone who assaulted them” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Art of War: VII

“The vices of our age are the more odious in that they are practised by those who sit on the judgment seat, govern the State, and demand public reverence.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourse: II, preface

“Men commonly deceive themselves in respect of the love which they imagine others bear them, nor can ever be sure of it until they have put it to the proof.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses III, 6

“Let not princes complain of the faults committed by the people subjected to their authority, for they result entirely from their own negligence or bad example.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses, III, 29

“All who contribute to the overthrow of religion, or to the ruin of kingdoms and commonwealths, all who are foes to letters and to the arts which confer honour and benefit on the human race (among whom I reckon the impious, the cruel, the ignorant, the indolent, the base and the worthless), are held in infamy and detestation.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: I, 10

“The Church, therefore, never being powerful enough herself to take possession of the entire country, while, at the same time, preventing any one else from doing so, has made it impossible to bring Italy under one head; and has been the cause of her always living subject to many princes or rulers, by whom she has been brought to such division and weakness as to have become a prey, not to Barbarian kings only, but to any who have thought fit to attack her.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: I, 12

“While the laws of a city are altered to suit its circumstances, its institutions rarely or never change; whence it results that the introduction of new laws is of no avail, because the institutions, remaining unchanged, corrupt them.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: I, 18

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