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The Prince

The Prince


by Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince Theme of Fortune

Fortune and virtù go hand in hand so much in The Prince that the two words pop up almost equally in each other's theme sections. They're around each other all the time, but what is their relationship? Is virtù or fortune the boss around here? Are they best friends working together to make awesomeness? Are they enemies trying to destroy one another? Maybe it's one, two, or even all three. Just like we expect, fortune is running amok, ruining everyone's best-laid plans. But how to deal with it? Tradition tells us virtù will rein in fortune, but we're not so sure about that. If you notice a lot of question marks in the Quotes and Thoughts, it's because Machiavelli kind of leaves us hanging.

Questions About Fortune

  1. What is the relationship between virtù and fortune in The Prince? Is that relationship stable, or can it change depending on the person?
  2. According to Machiavelli, what is the best way to deal with the ups and downs of fortune?
  3. Who has luck in The Prince? Who has virtue? What is the difference between these people? Is it better to have one or the other?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Machiavelli insists that nothing can control Fortune.

According to the examples in The Prince, virtù allows rulers to make fortune do their bidding in The Prince. Bad luck never outsmarts the best rulers.

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