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The Prince

The Prince

by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince Chapter 17 Summary

Cruelty and compassion. Whether it is better to be feared or loved

  • So generosity was a no-go. And compassion? Well, you guessed it: compassion isn't really conducive to the sort of warlike ruler Machiavelli advocates and might actually destroy a nation.
  • Just like it's better to be a little mean than nice for the sake of the nation, it's better to be feared than loved because people seem to react better to punishment than love.
  • Again, Machiavelli keeps telling us not to become hated, which is easy enough if you lay off people's families and lands.
  • In Machiavelli's example section, he tells us how Hannibal was super awesome because he was insanely cruel. We mean, there's a reason why that scary dude from Silence of the Lambs was named Hannibal.
  • Guess who almost wasn't awesome? This guy called Scipio who was all mushy touchy feely and didn't want to punish people. Lucky for him, other people covered up his namby-pamby nature. But everyone is not so lucky.
  • Anyway, in the end, since the people choose if they like you or not, don't worry about it. Just make sure that they don't hate you.

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