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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“The prince of a city attacked by a conspiracy, if not slain …almost always attains to a greater degree of power, and very often has his good disposition perverted to evil. The proceedings of his enemies give him cause for fear; fear suggests the necessity of providing for his own safety, which involves the injury of others; and hence arise animosities, and not unfrequently his ruin. Thus these conspiracies quickly occasion the destruction of their contrivers, and, in time, inevitably injure their primary object.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Florentine Histories: VIII, 1

“(Castruccio) having put to death a citizen of Lucca who had been instrumental in raising him to power, and being told that he had done wrong to kill one of his old friends, he answered that people deceived themselves; he had only killed a new enemy.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Life Of Castruccio Castracani Of Lucca

“(Castruccio) was accustomed to say that men ought to attempt everything and fear nothing; that God is a lover of strong men, because one always sees that the weak are chastised by the strong.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Life Of Castruccio Castracani Of Lucca

“Such dominions… are acquired either by the arms of the prince himself, or by the arms of others, or else by fortune or by ability.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. I

“There are fewer difficulties in holding hereditary states, and those long accustomed to the family of their prince, than new ones. For even a prince of average powers to maintain himself in his state he only needs to not diverge from the customs of his ancestors, and to deal prudently with circumstances as they arise….” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. II

“And if he should be so deprived of it, whenever anything sinister happens to the usurper, he will regain it.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. II

“A hereditary prince has less cause and less necessity to offend; hence it happens that he will be more loved; and unless extraordinary vices cause him to be hated, it is reasonable to expect that his subjects will be naturally well disposed towards him; and in the antiquity and duration of his rule the memories and motives that make for change are lost, for one change always leaves one toothing for another.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. II

“Men change their rulers willingly, hoping to better themselves, and this hope leads them to take up arms against him who rules. But in this, they are deceived, because they afterwards discover they have gone from bad to worse.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“You make enemies in all those whom you have injured in seizing that principality, and you are not able to keep those friends who put you there because of your not being able to satisfy them in the way they expected. You cannot take strong measures against them, feeling indebted to them.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“For, although one may be very strong in armed forces, yet in entering a province one always needs the goodwill of the natives.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“After acquiring rebellious provinces a second time, they are not so lightly lost again afterwards, because the prince, with little reluctance, takes the opportunity of the rebellion to punish the offenders, to clear out the suspects, and to strengthen himself where he is the weakest.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“It is enough to have destroyed the family of the prince who was ruling them… He who has annexed them, if he wishes to hold them, has only to bear in mind two considerations: the one, that the family of their former ruler is extinguished; the other, that neither their laws nor their taxes are altered. In a very short time they will become entirely one body with the old principality.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“He who has acquired new states should go and reside there… if one is on the spot, disorders are seen as they spring up, and one can quickly remedy them; but if one is not at hand, they hear of them only when they can no longer remedy them.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“Thus, wishing to be good, they have more cause to love him, and wishing to be otherwise, to fear him.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“He who would attack that state from the outside must have the utmost caution; as long as the prince resides there it can only be wrested from him with the greatest difficulty.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“The other and better course is to send colonies to one or two places, which may be as keys to that state, for it is necessary either to do this or else to keep there a great number of cavalry and infantry.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“A prince does not spend much on colonies, for with little or no expense he can send them out and keep them there, and he offends a minority only of the citizens from whom he takes lands and houses to give them to the new inhabitants; and those whom he offends, remaining poor and scattered, are never able to injure him; whilst the rest being uninjured are easily kept quiet, and at the same time are anxious not to err for fear it should happen to them as it has to those who have been dispossessed.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“Men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they will readily avenge themselves of slight grievances, but not more serious ones. Therefore the injury that is done to a man ought to be of a kind that cannot incur revenge.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“Through the shifting of the garrison up and down all become acquainted with hardship, and all become hostile, and they are enemies who, whilst beaten on their own ground, are yet able to do hurt…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“A prince… ought to make himself the head and defender of his weaker neighbours, and to weaken the more powerful among them, taking care that no foreigner as powerful as himself shall, by any accident, get a footing there…” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“Such a one will be introduced by those who are discontented, either through excess of ambition or through fear, as one has seen already… as soon as a powerful foreigner enters a country, all the subject states are drawn to him, moved by the hatred which they feel against the ruling power.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“He has only to take care that they do not get hold of too much power and too much authority, and then with his own forces, and with their goodwill, he can easily bring down the more powerful of them, so as to remain entirely the master in the country.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“He who does not properly manage this business will soon lose what he has acquired, and whilst he who does hold it will have endless difficulties and troubles.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“…keep their eyes not only on present troubles, but also on the lookout for future ones, for which they must prepare with every energy. When problems are foreseen, it is easy to remedy them; but if you wait until they have arrived, it is too late to administer the medicine, because the problem has become incurable.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“When the evils that arise have been foreseen (which it is only given to a wise man to see), they can be quickly redressed, but when, (through not having been foreseen) they have been permitted to develop in such a way that everyone can see them, it is too late for a remedy.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“Time drives everything before it, and is able to bring with it good as well as evil, and evil as well as good.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“The wish to acquire is in truth very natural and common, and men always do so when they can, and for this they will be praised, not blamed; but when they cannot do so, yet wish to do so by any means, then there is folly and blame.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“He who is the cause of another becoming powerful is ruined; because that power has been brought about either by astuteness or else by force, and both are distrusted by him who has been raised to power.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. III

“Principalities… are governed in two different ways: either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favour and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. IV

“Those states that are governed by a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him. If they yield obedience to another, they do it as to a minister or an official, but they do not bear him any particular affection.” — Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch. IV

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