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Quotes

Quote #1

Analysing their lives and achievements, we notice that the only part luck played was in giving them an initial opportunity: they were granted the raw material and had the chance to mould it into whatever shape they wanted. Without this opportunity their talent [virtù] would have gone unused, and without their talent [virtù] the opportunity would have gone begging. (6.3)

Both luck and virtù seem crucial to success, but what happens if you only have one?

Quote #2

Borgia was so ruthless and so talented [virtù], he knew so well that you have to win over people or destroy them … (7.13)

Sometimes we just think Machiavelli would define virtù as anything Cesare Borgia did.

Quote #3

Agathocles was a Sicilian. From being a private citizen, one of the lowest of the low in fact, he became King of Syracuse. Born a potter's son, he lived a life of depravity from start to finish. All the same, mixed with that depravity were such excellent mental and physical qualities [ virtù ] that, having joined the Syracusan army, he rose through the ranks and eventually became commander-in-chief. (8.2)

Maybe virtù means being smart (or skillful) and strong here, because of Agathocles' "excellent mental and physical qualities." No way a guy living a life of depravity can been seen as virtuous.

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