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Quotes

Quote #1

And I'm sure we'd all agree that it would be an excellent thing if a ruler were to have all the good qualities mentioned above and none of the bad; but since it's in the nature of life that you can't have or practise all those qualities all of the time, a ruler must take care to avoid the disgrace that goes with the kind of failings that could lose him his position. (15.3)

Notice that Machiavelli buffers what he's going to say with the first part of the sentence. Yeah, we can all get behind a ruler having good qualities. Then, just when we're nodding our head in agreement, he sneaks in to tell us it won't happen, and even worse, to just make sure we don't get in trouble for it.

Quote #2

In our own times the only leaders we've seen doing great things were all reckoned mean. The others were failures. (16.2)

Really? There wasn't a single nice ruler out there? Not one? Machiavelli really seems to put the ancient past up on a pedestal.

Quote #3

[…] A ruler in power and a man seeking power are two different things. For the ruler already in power generosity is dangerous; for the man seeking power it is essential. (16.3)

Machiavelli hasn't talked a lot about this part of reputation-building, just kissing up to make sure that people like you. He focuses not on diplomacy or politicking, but war. Wouldn't it be interesting if there were a chapter on this, too?

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