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The Prince
The Prince
by Niccolò Machiavelli
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The Prince Theme of Morality and Ethics

It's nice to be nice, right? Eh. Sort of. In the world of The Prince, it's nice to be seen as a nice. Really, that's probably all anyone wants. Being moral can even get you in trouble sometimes, so why take the risk? It's not our fault that we're bad anyway, since circumstances force us to do bad things. Being moral is doing what you have to do for your kingdom. Ethics: who needs them? Not Machiavelli. Nope. Not ever. Not even a tiny bit.

Questions About Morality and Ethics

  1. Think of the traditional vices, then think of the traditional virtues (if you're having trouble check here). How do you think Machiavelli would say each of these sins and virtues could be advantageous or disadvantageous to his rulers?
  2. Were any of the successful rulers in The Prince moral? Who? How were they able to be successful?
  3. Can you identify a moment in the text that Machiavelli makes a moral judgment?

Chew on This

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

It's not that Machiavelli wants rulers to do bad things; it's just that they have to in order to survive.

Machiavelli advises his rulers to be depraved. He is opposed to the very idea of morality.

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