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The Prince

The Prince

by Niccolò Machiavelli

Violence Quotes Page 2

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

With this in mind, he appointed Remirro de Orco, a cruel, no-nonsense man, and gave him complete control. In a short while de Orco pacified and united the area, establishing a considerable reputation for himself in the process. At this point the duke decided that such draconian powers were no longer necessary and might cause resentment … he decided to show that if the regime had been cruel, that was due to the brutal nature of his minister, not to him. So as soon as he found a pretext, he had de Orco beheaded and his corpse put on display one morning in the piazza in Cesena with a wooden block and a bloody knife beside. The ferocity of the spectacle left people both gratified and shocked. (7.8)

Let's recap. Cesare Borgia is the one appointing Remirro de Orco to his brand new state, Romagna, in order to whip it into shape. Remirro was not a nice guy, so the whipping got done pretty quick. Borgia figured that he didn't want to get in trouble for that cruelty so he put all the blame on Remirro. This isn't the last time we'll see a scapegoat.

Quote #5

And as with Agathocles, it would have been very hard to unseat Oliverotto, had he not let himself be fooled by Cesare Borgia, when, as explained earlier on, Borgia lured the Orsini and Vitelli men to Senigallia. Oliverotto went with them and so, just a year after killing his uncle, he was strangled along with Vitellozzo Vitelli, his mentor in courage and crime. (8.7)

We keep talking about rulers using violence on other people, but remember: if you don't watch out, a ruler can be a victim, too.

Quote #6

I think it's a question of whether cruelty is well or badly used. Cruelty well used (if we can ever speak well of something bad) is short-lived and decisive, no more than is necessary to secure your position and then stop; you don't go on being cruel but use the power it has given you to deliver maximum benefits to your subjects. Cruelty is badly used when you're not drastic enough at the beginning but grow increasingly cruel later on, rather than easing off. (8.7)

Machiavelli removes morality from the whole topic. He's the first guy to do it, and it raises a question that we still ask today: is morality ever relevant? Do big banks have an ethical responsibility to the world, or do they just need to make as much money as possible?