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.
“Every man achieves results by various methods; one with caution, another recklessly; one by force, another by skill; one by patience, another by haste. Each one succeeds in reaching his goal by a different approach. One can also see with two cautious men, that one will attain his goal, but the other will fail. Similarly, a cautious man and an impetuous man will prove equally successful in reaching their goals. The reason for these results is nothing more than whether or not these men adapt their methods to what is best suited to the spirit of the times.”
“A man is seldom sufficiently shrewd to know how to adapt to change, both because he cannot deviate from his own nature, and also because he always prospered by acting in one way, so he can’t be persuaded that it is wise to change. A cautious man, when it is time to be adventurous, does not know how to behave, so he is ruined.”
“When fortune changes and men continue to be steadfast in their ways, while the two are in agreement, men will prosper. But men will be unsuccessful when these clash.”
“It is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman who… allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more cautiously.”
“Fortune varies, but men go on, regardless.”
“There is great justice with our cause, because when it is a necessary war, that war is just; and weapons are hallowed when there is no other hope but in those weapons.”
“In so many campaigns, it has always appeared as if military ability was exhausted. This is because the old institutions were not good, and none of us have known how to establish a new one. When a new prince rises to power, nothing honours him more than to establish sound new laws and create new institutions.”
“Look closely at the duels and the hand-to-hand combats, how superior the Italians are in strength, dexterity, and subtlety. But when it comes to armies they cannot compare, and this is entirely the fault of the weakness of the leaders…”
“Those who are capable are not obeyed, and each one seems to consider himself competent and want to go his own way. None is so distinguished, either by talent or by fortune, he can dominate the rest.”
“It is possible, therefore, knowing the defects of both these armies, to invent a new kind, which will resist cavalry and not be afraid of infantry; this need not create a new order of arms, but a variation upon the old. This will bring a new prince greatness and prestige.”
“Nor can one express the love with which he would be received in all those provinces which have suffered so much from these foreign humiliations… What door would be closed to him?”
“Let, therefore, your illustrious house take up this task with that courage and hope with which all just enterprises are undertaken, so that under its standard our municipality may be ennobled…”
“…I have not found among my possessions anything which I hold more dear than, or value so much as, the knowledge of the actions of great men, acquired by long experience in contemporary affairs, and a continual study of antiquity; which, having reflected upon it with great and prolonged diligence…”
“Nor do I hold with those who regard it as a presumption if a man of low and humble condition dare to discuss and settle the concerns of princes; because, just as those who draw landscapes place themselves below in the plain to contemplate the nature of the mountains and of lofty places, and in order to contemplate the plains place themselves upon high mountains, even so to understand the nature of the people it needs to be a prince, and to understand that of princes it needs to be of the people.”
“In judging policies, we should consider the results that have been achieved through them, rather than the means by which they have been executed.”
- Machiavelli and Sejanus - October 14, 2022
- A Meeting of the Minds? - July 3, 2021
- Machiavelli’s Prince as satire - June 8, 2017
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