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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“…good and the bad in his advisor, can praise the good and punish the bad; thus the advisor cannot hope to deceive him, and is kept honest.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXII

“When you see your advisor thinking more of his own interests than of yours, and seeking to further his own goals, such a man will never make a good advisor. You will never be able to trust him. Anyone who has the affairs of state in his hands should never to think of himself, but always of his prince, and never concern himself in matters in which the prince is not involved.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXII

“To keep his servant honest the prince should be considerate to him, honour him, enrich him, doing him kindnesses, sharing with him the honours and responsibilities so he is obligated to the prince.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXII

“Let your advisor see he cannot maintain his position without you. The prince should give him so many honours that he does not want more, so many riches he cannot wish to be richer, and so many responsibilities and offices that he dreads changes to the government. When advisors and princes are thus satisfied, they can trust each other, but if not, the end will always be disastrous for one or the other.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXII

“Men are so self-complacent in their own affairs, and so willing to deceive themselves, that they are rescued with difficulty from this pest. If they wish to defend themselves they run the risk of becoming contemptible.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“There is no other way of guarding oneself from flatterers except by letting men understand that you will not be offended if they tell you the truth …” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“When everyone feels free to tell you the truth, respect for you dwindles… A wise prince should take another course: choose wise men for your advisors, and allow only them the liberty of speaking the truth to the prince, and only on matters about which you ask, and nothing else. But you should question them about everything, listen patiently to their opinions, then form your own conclusions later.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“He should listen to no one outside of these councillors, separately or collectively. He should let each of them know that, the more freely he speaks, the more he shall be respected. Then after listening, carry out your decision, and be steadfast in your resolve about it.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“He who does otherwise is either ruined by flatterers, or his mind is so often changed by conflicting opinions that he falls into contempt.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“Those things he does one day he undoes the next, and no one ever understands what he wishes or intends to do, and no one can rely on his decisions.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“A prince should always seek advice, but only when he wishes and not when others wish. He must discourage everyone from offering advice unless he asks for it. However, he should inquire constantly, and listen patiently about those things of which he inquired…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“If he discovers that anyone, on any issue, has not told him the truth, the prince should show his anger.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“A prince who is not wise himself will never take good advice, unless by chance he has put all of his affairs in the hands of one very wise person. In this case the prince may be well governed, but it would not be for long, because such a governor would take his position away from him in a short time.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“An inexperienced prince who takes counsel from more than one advisor will get conflicting advice, and will not know how to reconcile it. Each of his advisors will think of his own interests, and the prince will not know how to control them or to see through their ruses. And all advisors are like this, because men will always prove unfaithful to you unless they are kept honest by necessity.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“Therefore it must be understood that, no matter who it comes from, good advice depends on the shrewdness and understanding of the prince, and the wisdom of the prince does not depend on good advice.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIII

“The actions of a new prince are more closely observed than those of a hereditary one. When his actions are seen to be skillful, they attract more men and bind their supporters far tighter to the prince than does ancient bloodlines…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIV

“Men are more concerned with the present than with the past. When the present is good for them, they enjoy it and seek no further. The people will then make the utmost defence
for a new prince as long as he does not fail them in other things.”
— Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIV

“It will bring twice the glory to the prince who establishes a new principality, and strengthens it with good laws, good arms, reliable allies, and sets a good example…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIV

“It will be twice the disgrace to him who, although born a prince, loses his state by his lack of wisdom or his incompetence.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIV

“Princes who lost their principalities should not blame luck for their loss after so many years’ possession, but rather they should blame their own inability and indolence. In quiet times they never imagined there could be a change; it is a common fault in men not to anticipate a storm when the sea is calm. Afterwards, when the bad times came, they thought of escape, instead of defending themselves.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIV

“They hoped that the people, disgusted with the insolence of the conquerors, would later recall them.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIV

“When all else fail, it may be good to depend on others. But people do not simply fall down because they believe others will help them to stand up again.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIV

“If this happens that others restore you, it will not be for your security. Any deliverance that does not depend on your own skill does not really help you. The only reliable things are your own actions and your own ability.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXIV

“Many men believe that the affairs of the world are governed by luck and by God; that even wise men cannot control them, nor can anyone even improve things. They would have us believe that it is not necessary to toil and sweat much over things, but to let chance govern them.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXV

“Fortune may be the arbiter of one half of our actions, but she still leaves us the other half, or perhaps a little less, to our free will.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXV

“Chance is a…raging river, which floods the plains, sweeping away trees and buildings, bearing away the soil; everyone flees before it; all yield to its violence, and no one can resist it…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXV

“…make provision, constructing both defences and barriers, so when they rose again, the waters would pass by safely in a canal, and their force be neither so wild nor so dangerous.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXV

“A prince may be seen prosperous today and ruined tomorrow without having made any changes to his character.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXV

“The prince who relies entirely upon fortune is lost when his luck changes…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXV

“He who successfully adapts his actions according to the nature of the times will be successful, while he whose actions clash with the times will not be successful.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. XXV

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