The Prince – Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince is a political treatise written by a Florentine diplomat, Niccolo Machiavelli. In a time of foreign invasion and rule of the different parts of Italy, Machiavelli wrote this treatise and dedicated it to Lorenzo di Piero de’ Medici of the Medici family in the hope that one strong ruler will emerge from that powerful house and drive the foreign rulers away from Italy.

This treatise is mainly concerned with the acquisition and preservation of power. It contains Machiavelli’s detailed advice to the Princes on how to gain power and preserve it, enabling them to rule the kingdom for a lifetime and in glory.

Machiavelli, being a former diplomat and also a military commander for the Florentine Republic, wrote this based on his personal expertise. Thus one can see a comprehensive account of all the areas of concern that a ruler should consider when he comes to power, for according to Machiavelli, gaining power is easier than preserving it. However, the advice given by this treatise is controversial, for it advocates that to achieve glory the Prince must acquire power, and to survive being in power needs to resort to any means of conduct, even though they would be base and immoral. For example, Machiavelli says that the Prince must only be careful not to be hated and despised and that if he should choose between love and fear of his subjects that he should choose fear, for that will help him more to be in power. He also says what appears to the eyes of the subjects is what matters and to keep the appearance of being good, merciful, and religious. Machiavelli further says a good prince should be a good liar and a deceiver! Reading The Prince I wondered if all the leaders around the world had read this 16th-century treatise and taken Machiavelli’s advice to heart.

As a normal “subject”, I don’t agree with Machiavelli’s views. Then again, I’m no politician or any big shot who thinks of acquiring power. I’m only a disinterested reader. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, there is some truth in Machiavelli’s wisdom. Overall, it was an interesting read (despite its contents) and I really enjoyed reading the many historical events referred to in it.

Rating: 3/5

About the author

Piyangie Jay Ediriwickrema is an Attorney-at-Law by profession. Her devotion to literature has taken shape in reading and reviewing books of various genres set in different periods of time. She dabs at a little poetry and fiction of her own and hopes to share her work with the readers in the future.

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