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Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #4

Everyone will appreciate how admirable it is for a ruler to keep his word and be honest rather than deceitful. However, in our own times we've had examples of leaders who've done great things without worrying too much about keeping their word. Outwitting opponents with their cunning, these men achieved more than leaders who behaved honestly. (18.1)

Honesty is overrated. Sure, if you somehow can manage to rule and be honest, too, more power to you. But, despite what those other books say, it's not necessary.

Quote #5

Since a ruler has to be able to act the beast, he should take on the traits of the fox and the lion; A ruler who just plays the lion and forgets the fox doesn't know what he's doing. (18.2)

Here, Machiavelli pulls out his favorite beasty trope to drive home his favorite point: lies are integral to being a good ruler. Not just violence. Never forget.

Quote #6

Anyway, a ruler will never be short of good reasons to explain away a broken promise. (18.3)

It's okay to lie, but you have to make up a better excuse than "I'm washing my hair," or things might get ugly.

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