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Quotes

Quote #4

On the other hand, we can hardly describe killing fellow citizens, betraying friends and living without loyalty, mercy or creed as signs of talent [virtù]. Methods like that may bring you power, but not glory. (8.3)

For once something goes too far for Machiavelli. But what makes this list of deeds any different from the ones he approves of?

Quote #5

If you consider Agathocles' ability to take risks [virtù] and come out on top, and his remarkable spirit when it came to facing and overcoming obstacles, it's hard to see why he isn't rated as highly as the most outstanding military leaders. But his brutality, cruelty and inhumanity, together with the endless crimes he committed, mean he has no place among the men we most admire. In conclusion, we can't attribute Agathocles' achievements to luck or to positive qualities [virtù], since he needed neither. (8.3)

So that's weird. Agathocles has virtù, but he's also terrible. So, he used terribleness to overcome obstacles, not luck or virtue? We're confused. Do you get it?

Quote #6

We can call this a monarchy with public support and to become its king you don't have to be wholly brilliant [virtù] or extraordinarily lucky, just shrewd in a lucky way. (9.1)

Some guys have all the luck. Not these guys, of course. But some guys. That's okay, we guess, because they don't have just virtù or just fortune but a little bit of both. Sometimes fortune and virtù even seem to be at war with each other.

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