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The Prince

The Prince

by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince Chapter 25 Summary

The role of luck in human affairs, and how to defend against it

  • Let's talk about luck. People feel like the world is just a Wheel of Fortune and they might as well give up because they can't do anything to change their luck.
  • Well, Machiavelli says yeah, fortune is a real force, but just like we dam rivers and create earthquake resistant buildings, we can prepare for when bad luck strikes.
  • The only people who get hit by "bad luck" are the ones who aren't prepared. That's how Italy got where it is.
  • If they were prepared, it wouldn't matter if bad luck in the form of an occupation came knocking on their door. They would have been ready to deal with it.
  • Some people might say that luck is what makes some people trying the same technique fail and others succeed. Nope. Machiavelli says that's just the circumstances.
  • Sometimes certain techniques are good for certain circumstances, and sometimes they are not. It's up to a smart ruler to tell the difference, but that almost never happens.
  • Look at Pope Julius II, our warrior pope. He jumped into everything he's ever done, and in his circumstances that was great. But what if circumstances changed? Things might not have turned out so well for him.
  • Machiavelli ends with a weird sexist-style note about dominating fortune. Bottom line: when in doubt, be impulsive.

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