* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
Dismiss
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
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.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement