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.

«    3 of 13    »

“We may see a city or province furnished with free institutions by some great and wise founder, flourish for a while through his merits, and advance steadily on the path of improvement. Any one born therein at that time would be in the wrong to praise the past more than the present…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: II, Preface

“It is the duty of every good man to teach others those wholesome lessons which the malice of Time or of Fortune has not permitted him to put in practice; to the end, that out of many who have the knowledge, some one better loved by Heaven may be found able to carry them out.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: II, Preface

“Since the desires of men are insatiable, Nature prompting them to desire all things and Fortune permitting them to enjoy but few, there results a constant discontent in their minds, and a loathing of what they possess, prompting them to find fault with the present, praise the past, and long for the future, even though they be not moved thereto by any reasonable cause.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: II, Preface

“Those who study the records of ancient times will understand, that after a change in the form of a government, whether it be from a commonwealth to a tyranny or from a tyranny to a commonwealth, those who are hostile to the new order of things must always be visited with signal punishment.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III ,3

“It used to be said by those who ruled Florence from the year 1434 to 1494, that their government could hardly be maintained unless it was renewed every five years; by which they meant that it was necessary for them to arouse the same terror and alarm in men’s minds, as they inspired when they first assumed the government, and when all who offended against their authority were signally chastised.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 1

“A reminder is given either by the passing of some law whereby the members of the society are brought to an account; or else by some man of rare worth arising among them, whose virtuous life and example have the same effect as a law.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 1

“When many powerful persons are united against one, who, although no match for the others collectively, is also powerful, the chances are more in favour of this single and less powerful person, than of the many who together are much stronger… it will always happen that, by exercising a little dexterity, the one will be able to divide the many, and weaken the force which was strong while it was united.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 11

“…many citizens are found, who, envying the reputation these men have justly earned, seek to be regarded not merely as their equals but as their superiors.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 16

“All who are discontented with their prince are taught, first of all, to measure, and to weigh their strength, and if they find themselves strong enough to disclose their hostility and proclaim open war, then to take that course as at once the nobler and less dangerous; but, if too weak to make open war, then sedulously to court the favour of the prince, using to that end all such methods as they may judge needful, adapting themselves to his pleasures, and showing delight in whatever they see him delight in.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 2

“The great and admirable men of a republic are neglected in peaceful times…many citizens… envying the reputation these men have justly earned, seek to be regarded not merely as their equals but as their superiors.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 26

“… after a change in the form of a government… those who are hostile to the new order of things must always be visited with signal punishment.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 3

“The prince who would maintain his credit in his princedom must do likewise; since nothing helps so much to make a prince esteemed as to give signal proofs of his worth, whether by words or by deeds which tend to promote the public good, and show him to be so magnanimous, generous, and just, that he may well pass into a proverb among his subjects.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 34

“For as men judge of things by their results, any evil which ensues from such measures will be imputed to their author. And although if good ensue he will be applauded, nevertheless in matters of this kind, what a man may gain is as nothing to what he may lose.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 35

“Among other qualifications essential in a good captain is a knowledge, both general and particular, of places and countries, for without such knowledge it is impossible for him to carry out any enterprise in the best way. And while practice is needed for perfection in every art, in this it is needed in the highest degree.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 39

“Although in all other affairs it be hateful to use fraud, in the operations of war it is praiseworthy and glorious; so that he who gets the better of his enemy by fraud, is as much extolled as he who prevails by force.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 40

“When the entire safety of our country is at stake, no consideration of what is just or unjust, merciful or cruel, praiseworthy or shameful, must intervene. On the contrary, every other consideration being set aside, that course alone must be taken which preserves the existence of the country and maintains its liberty.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 41

“Now this incident deserves to be noted and pondered over by every citizen who is called on to advise his country; for when the entire safety of our country is at stake, no consideration of what is just or unjust, merciful or cruel, praiseworthy or shameful, must intervene. On the contrary, every other consideration being set aside, that course alone must be taken which preserves the existence of the country and maintains its liberty.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 41

“…there is no disgrace in not observing promises wrung from you by force; for promises thus extorted when they affect the public welfare will always be broken so soon as the pressure under which they were made is withdrawn, and that, too, without shame on the part of him who breaks them; of which we read many instances in history, and find them constantly occurring at the present day. Nay, as between princes, not only are such compulsory promises broken when the force which extorted them is removed, but all other promises as well, are in like manner disregarded when the causes which led to them no longer operate.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 42

“Here we are to note that when a prince would obtain something from another, he ought, if the occasion allow, to leave him no time to deliberate, but should so contrive that the other may see the need of resolving at once; as he will, if he perceive that refusal or delay in complying with what is asked of him, will draw upon him a sudden and dangerous resentment.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 44

“The captain of an army ought not to build on what seems a manifest blunder on the part of an enemy; for as men are unlikely to act with conspicuous want of caution, it will commonly be found that this blunder is cover to a fraud. And yet, so blinded are men’s minds by their eagerness for victory, that they look only to what appears on the surface.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 48

“Injuries are either to a man’s life, to his property, or to his honour… Great danger is incurred in threatening, none at all is incurred from inflicting such injuries. For the dead are past thinking of revenge.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 6

“For it may reasonably be assumed, that when a prince has drawn upon himself this universal hatred, he must also have given special offence to particular men, which they will be eager to avenge. And this eagerness will be augmented by the feeling of general ill-will which the prince is seen to have incurred.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 6

“The great majority of conspirators have been persons of position and the familiars of their prince, and that their plots have been as often the consequence
of excessive indulgence as of excessive injury…”
— Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 6

“If you gauge a man’s fidelity by his discontent with the prince, you may easily deceive yourself; for so soon as you have taken this discontented man into your confidence, you have supplied him with the means whereby he may become contented.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 6

“Men deceive themselves in respect of their own affairs, and most of all in respect of those on which they are most bent; so that either from impatience or from self-deception, they rush upon undertakings for which the time is not ripe, and so come to an ill end.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 8

“Good or bad fortune of men depends on whether their methods of acting accord with the character of the times… some men act impulsively, others warily and with caution… He, however, will make fewest mistakes, and may expect to prosper most, who, while following the course to which nature inclines him, finds, as I have said, his method of acting in accordance with the times in which he lives.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Discourses: III, 9

“Those serious, though natural enmities, which occur between the popular classes and the nobility, arising from the desire of the latter to command, and the disinclination of the former to obey, are the causes of most of the troubles which take place in cities; and from this diversity of purpose, all the other evils which disturb republics derive their origin.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Florentine Histories: III, 1

“I confess this course is bold and dangerous, but when necessity presses, audacity becomes prudence, and in great affairs the brave never think of dangers. The enterprises that are begun with hazard always have a reward at last; and no one ever escaped from embarrassment without some peril.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Florentine Histories: III, 3

“Be not deceived about that antiquity of blood by which they exalt themselves above us; for all men having had one common origin, are all equally ancient, and nature has made us all after one fashion. Strip us naked, and we shall all be found alike. Dress us in their clothing, and they in ours, we shall appear noble, they ignoble – for poverty and riches make all the difference.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Florentine Histories: III, 3

“All who attain great power and riches, make use of either force or fraud; and what they have acquired either by deceit or violence, in order to conceal the disgraceful methods of attainment, they endeavor to sanctify with the false title of honest gains.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Florentine Histories: III, 3

«    3 of 13    »

27,369 total views, 60 views today