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The Prince

The Prince


by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince Fortune Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Chapter.Paragraph)

Quote #1

So let's start by saying that when it comes to entirely new regimes where a new ruler has seized the state, the ease or difficulty of his staying in power will be in proportion to his abilities or failings [virtuoso]. And since you can't go from being an ordinary citizen to a ruler without either talent [virtù] or favourable circumstances, we must suppose that one or the other of these factors will be offsetting, at least in part, a great many difficulties. That said, those who haven't relied too much on lucky circumstances have lasted longer. (6.2)

So you're not supposed to rely too much on luck, but what about Julius II? He's totally lucky and life seems to be awesome for him. Why can't we follow his example?

Quote #2

Analysing their lives and achievements, we notice that the only part luck played was in giving them an initial opportunity: they were granted the raw material and had the chance to mould it into whatever shape they wanted. Without this opportunity their talent would have gone unused, and without their talent [virtù] the opportunity would have gone begging. (6.3)

Virtù and luck are best friends—or maybe business partners. You need both to make stuff happen.

Quote #3

So, if Moses hadn't found the people of Israel in Egypt, enslaved and oppressed and in need of a leader to get them out of the situation, they would never have been willing to follow him. If Romulus hadn't been abandoned at birth and chosen to leave Alba Longa, how could he have become king and founder of Rome? […] These opportunities made these men's fortunes and it was because of their remarkable qualities that they were able to recognize and grasp the opportunities, bringing glory and even greater good fortune to their countries. (6.4)

Machiavelli is using virtù pretty traditionally here. Virtù lets you see when you're lucky and then make yourself even luckier. So do unlucky people have no virtù by default? What about the B-man, Borgia?

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