The Prince

by Niccolò Machiavelli

Other authorsNinian Hill Thomson (Translator)
Hardcover, 1913

Status

Available

Publication

Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1913. Third Edition. Revised and Corrected.

Description

Treatise on political power, statecraft, and the qualities of the ideal ruler.

Media reviews

knjigainfo.com
Kad je reč o umešnosti vladanja, ovo nezaobilazno delo bilo je i ostalo neprevaziđeno. Postalo je pojam! Delo nastalo na velikom raskršću istorije, kada se odlučno odbacuje srednjovekovno metafizičko učenje i usvajaju empirički metodi razmišljanja, predstavlja ujedno fascinantno svedočanstvo razlaza između mita i realnosti, između vere i sumnje. Ovaj biser renesansne političke misli karakteriše realistično posmatranje političkih događaja i visoke moralne pobude koje su inspirisale autora. Vladalac je samo prividno apoteoza tiranina i kodeks pravila za ubijanje, čitav traktat o vladaocu svodi se na to da se u Italiji pronađe čovek koji će je ujediniti. Život i delo ovog poznatog firentinca obeležavaju kao teoretičara o osnivanju i održavanju država.

User reviews

LibraryThing member IreneF
Other people have reviewed The Prince's content. I gave this book four stars; I would have given it five if the translation were better. This edition (Dover Thrift) is certainly economical, but the sentences are long, convoluted, and reverse subject and object. It took me a while to get through even though it runs only 71 pages. I had to sit there and wrestle with the verbiage as I went.

Otherwise, thought-provoking and a handbook of international relations.
… (more)
LibraryThing member pjsullivan
Does Machiavelli deserve his sinister reputation? Is he advocating evil in this book? Or only describing it? His focus is not on defending, but on acquiring and governing; that is, on imperial conquest and dominance over others. This book is about aggression. He claims that human conditions do not permit princes to be good, and he is right about that. They never will. But do human conditions compel people to become princes? In seizing a state, he says, cruelty is necessary. No doubt this is true, but is seizing a state necessary? Is it moral?

Machiavelli's model prince was Cesare Borgia, a ruthless imperialist, mass murderer, and rapist. Machiavelli admired him for his power, then criticized him when he lost his power. He praises King Ferdinand of Spain for his "pious cruelty," calling it an "admirable example."

Yes, Machiavelli deserves his sinister reputation. He worshipped power, believing it to be beyond good and evil. This book is a portrayal of statecraft as it is practiced in the real world, but it is also a how-to book on gaining and maintaining dominance over others. It raises interesting issues, without necessarily resolving them. It can be useful as food for thought, but don't try this at home!
… (more)
LibraryThing member CorroDonk
Looking to make a rise to power? Interested in the many ways to maintain a small province? Planning on conquering a neighboring city and winning the hearts of the people?

The Prince is for you.

By that introduction I did not mean to underplay the significance of The Prince. I found that much of what Machiavelli said on the maintaining power in provinces after war to be very relevant, an impressive accomplishment seeing as how this book dates to the 1500s. Most notably the guideline about which people are easily conquered, and the ease in which that group can be maintained falling into two distinct categories; Do they speak the same language and do they follow the same religion? While reading this book I considered America's venture into the Middle East, and was quite astonished to see the similarities. This book is practically a guide on political strategy and the acquisition of power.

If I knew how to add half a star to my review I would. :D
… (more)
LibraryThing member MrsLee
I read this because it is one of those books everyone says should be read. It wasn't terribly long, the translation was easily understandable and I thought I would give it a try.

What surprised me, was that I enjoyed it. I found Machiavelli's teaching style very good. He sets forth a principle, then illustrates it with examples from both ancient history and his times. It was easy to go from there and find examples in our modern times of most of the principles he set forth. I found myself marveling at his insight into human nature and the practicalities of leadership in a fallen world.

Needless to say, I now feel myself prepared to take on the leadership of any minor principality which would have me. World, beware!
… (more)
LibraryThing member SaraPoole
Some authors make the bestseller lists; some win Nobel prizes; only a precious few are eternalized in the language itself. Machiavelli earned his place in our consciousness and our vocabulary with a single work, “The Prince”, at once a shocking, rivetting, thought-provoking and ultimately unforgettable portrayal of power politics in the Renaissance that remains as fresh and relevant now as it was in the early 16th century. Machiavelli wrote from internal exile after losing his government position with the dissolution of the Florentine republic and the return to power of the Medicis. Having survived imprisonment and torture, he was allowed to retire to his farm where he grappled with the sudden change in his fortunes and took refuge in a study of the lessons he had learned while in government. The result was “The Prince”, essentially a master plan for attaining and holding power. Most infamous for Machiavelli’s refusal to bow to either sentiment or idealism, the handbook for the mega-ambitious stresses the essentially practical reality of power and warns that "it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state."… (more)
LibraryThing member jwhenderson
I have read this several times over the last twenty years, in the Basic Program and with an independent study group. That it is still relevant and worth rereading is because it is considered by most to be the authoritative text on statesmanship and power (how to obtain it as well as an illustration of its trappings), although certainly a shrewd one.
From this arises an argument: whether it is better to be loved than feared. I reply that one should like to be both one and the other; but since it is difficult to join them together, it is much safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.
Essentially, Machiavelli advocates letting your people have their property and women, but making sure that they know what you are capable of doing if they step out of line. His seemingly amoral approach lends a modern realistic touch to this masterpiece that shows how little humanity has changed over the centuries.
… (more)
LibraryThing member homeofharris
Everyone relates this book as explaining how to be an unethical (possibly immoral) self-centered person to attain success by back-stabbing and the like. It gives tips on how to play people against one another, etc.I must say that honestly it is really just common sense stuff. Obviously these are all undesirable traits to find in someone, and in fact I avoid people who live their lives with any resemblance to the methods in the book, but none of this is new. Basically it is all just politics as usual. Watch a group of how teenage girls interact with one another, ostracize a friend for a while, steal each other's boyfriends, etc. You'll learn everything you need to know about The Prince.… (more)
LibraryThing member datrappert
It's easy to be a cynic about this book, but there is some very good psychological advice here. Such as, after a victory, make friends with your enemies, and you'll be able to trust them more than your allies, who now that you have won, will be looking to take advantage of you or overthrow you. Your enemies, on the other hand, will be grateful for your mercy.… (more)
LibraryThing member watertiger
Some things never change, and so it is with The Prince by Machiavelli. Completely deplete of any moral concerns, this short book is the complete "how-to" manual in governing the masses through manipulation, cruelty and random acts of beneficence. A must read for anyone interested in the realms of politics. Scary stuff.
LibraryThing member Mithalogica
Machiavelli, and his best-known work were and remain deeply misunderstood. It is common to hear Machiavelli's Prince described as being without or above 'ordinary moral of ethical concerns.' This is absolutely an incorrect, and frankly, careless reading of the text.

Yes, Machiavelli says that the Prince cannot afford to place his own personal virtue ethics above the good of the state. However, this is not to say Machiavelli would have the Prince be with immoral, or amoral. Rather, Machiavelli demands that the Prince always put the greater good of the state, and it's people before his own, personal priorities. In every case, he condemns tyranny, needless cruelty, and the pursuit of personal power and wealth in the part of the ruler. He likewise consistently commends the actions of those who place the public good above their own.

Machiavelli's treatise acknowledges the sad fact that, given the failings of human nature, a good ruler may have to do things or act in ways which a good private citizen would not. After all, a private citizen may refrain from killing another individual, but a servant of the state may often have to do just that. Consider soldiers, officers of the law, or employees of corrections facilities where the death penalty is enforced. We do not condemn these individuals because we recognize that they are acting on the behalf of a larger entity, with larger interests. Machiavelli is utterly clear that the Prince is the servant of the state, never the other way around. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Prince never to shrink from an odious task that is in the best interests of the state. As such, his own personal ethics (which Machiavelli encourages, as long as they do not prevent him from acting in the best interests of the state) must be set aside to allow for a much higher ethical burden.

I do not, however, think this is the best translation of The Prince. I recommend Skinner's translation, in the Cambridge series on political thought.
… (more)
LibraryThing member RGazala
As has been true the past 500 years, any would-be power monger's bedside table unadorned with a copy of this slim treatise is shamefully naked. This is an excellent translation by Peter Constantine, filled with helpful footnotes and capped by a solid bibliography.
LibraryThing member surreality
The original Italian text and German translation in parallel print. Allusions and references to most events and people given as examples are added to facilitate reading.

A coldly pragmatic look at power play and its tools. Chilling at times, but rational and also clever. It's a very practical approach to the philosophy of power, and despite almost all examples being Machiavelli's contemporaries, the ideas still hold true. A fascinating text to read.… (more)
LibraryThing member Sandydog1
Cold, calculating, and objectively cruel. You can't help but to think about today's political leaders.
LibraryThing member soylentgreen23
Could it be that we have Machiavelli wrong? Is he really the devil? Having read his short treatise on what he suggests a newly crowned prince to do to maintain control of his territory, I admit that some of what he suggests is harsh, but I don't think he's evil. Not by a long shot.
LibraryThing member jkepler
I can see how it had a huge influence in humanistic politics--it lends itself to realpolitik.
LibraryThing member TadAD
Despite the aura that has grown up around this book, I don't think it's as shocking to readers in the 21st century as it evidently was to those in the early 16th; it seems pretty much "politics as usual." In fact, it seems refreshingly honest about politics, never attempting to obscure the acquisition and maintenance of power with claims of high or noble purposes.

I also found it interesting that...at least as far as I was concerned...there was a connotation to the term 'Machiavellian' that was a bit more self-interested than the philosophy he actually espouses.

This is definitely a book worth recommending.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Mithalogica
Machiavelli, and his best-known work were and remain deeply misunderstood. It is common to hear Machiavelli's Prince described as being without or above 'ordinary moral of ethical concerns.' This is absolutely an incorrect, and frankly, careless reading of the text.

Yes, Machiavelli says that the Prince cannot afford to place his own personal virtue ethics above the good of the state. However, this is not to say Machiavelli would have the Prince be with immoral, or amoral. Rather, Machiavelli demands that the Prince always put the greater good of the state, and it's people before his own, personal priorities. In every case, he condemns tyranny, needless cruelty, and the pursuit of personal power and wealth in the part of the ruler. He likewise consistently commends the actions of those who place the public good above their own.

Machiavelli's treatise acknowledges the sad fact that, given the failings of human nature, a good ruler may have to do things or act in ways which a good private citizen would not. After all, a private citizen may refrain from killing another individual, but a servant of the state may often have to do just that. Consider soldiers, officers of the law, or employees of corrections facilities where the death penalty is enforced. We do not condemn these individuals because we recognize that they are acting on the behalf of a larger entity, with larger interests. Machiavelli is utterly clear that the Prince is the servant of the state, never the other way around. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the Prince never to shrink from an odious task that is in the best interests of the state. As such, his own personal ethics (which Machiavelli encourages, as long as they do not prevent him from acting in the best interests of the state) must be set aside to allow for a much higher ethical burden.

Skinner's translation (one of the Cambridge series on political thought) is superb, possibly the most faithful to Machiavelli's original, and includes additional material that lay the text open to a fresh and balanced reading.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Tullius22
I *think* this book is wicked, and I *hope* that all who choose to read it choose to see its wickedness.

And I do *not* feel guilty for saying a book is Bad when I believe that its ideas would be harmful if employed against human beings.

There is nothing heroic about being immoral, no matter what Shrewd Policies say so, or what Glorious Nation says so.

Also, comparing Machiavelli to Baldassare Castiglione, as is often done, seems to me to be quite mad. Would it not be better to compare him with Hitler or Stalin or Mussolini or Nero or *any other Caesar*? Were not all these men Princes with a Capital P?

I mean, if I were rating him based on how well he does as a propaganda writer for an imaginary dictatorship, I'd have said that he's done rather well with *all that*. But being a propaganda writer for an imaginary dictatorship is worthless, and being a real propaganda writer for a real dictorship is worse than worthless, is it not?

But, oh, wait, I forgot, since it's written in a good style in some foreign original, and since its ideas would have helped the Florentine elite out-flank the Papacy and the French several eternities ago, we must surely make ourselves forget what fair flowers are trampled down into the earth by this kind of thinking.

Although I'll say that I personally found it to be basically boring (especially the random-Renaissance history-of-backstabbing stuff that I found difficult to care about) and sometimes stupid (the citizens of a conquered republic will want to get their lost freedom back, but if you go to live in the same city as them, your semi-divine presence will magically make them lose their desire for freedom), stupid even from his own point of view. (If you do this, nothing good will happen for you, but if you only do this, nothing but good things will happen. It's like he's one of those guys trying to sell you a watch--like he's going to open up his coat and it'll be full of watches, and he'll say, 'Wanna buy a watch? A watch like one of these will make you powerful and strong, so that nothing bad will happen to you.' He's like a tinker or a knacker who thinks he's the Grand Doge of Doge-land.)

It's also so abstract that it can't be anything other than theory (somehow I think it would have to be different to be social or political science), and yet it is so mucked up in details and precedents and examples that it's hardly good as theory, either. Not to mention the fact that he never even explains what you'd want a prince for, or what good a prince is meant to aim at. If "every art...seems to aim at some good" and all arts have some purpose (Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, first sentence) what is the purpose of the prince's art, and what good does he aim at? Machiavelli almost doesn't have an answer, and he doesn't even bother to address the question, except for the nationalist agitprop bit at the end, which I hope no-one mistakes for philosophy.

Also, the odd forays into military matters are to me little more than tokens that this man did not really know what sort of book he wanted to write, or what purpose he was trying to accomplish. A dilettante, if I may use the Italian word. Although I suppose that even a dilettante, armed with delusions of gradeur and with guns in his hands, might be dangerous and harmful enough, but I certainly do not see what good might ever have come from this.

Furthermore, some people seem to think that Machiavelli was good to be amoral (read that phrase again) because he 'liberated' politics from religion and morality and so on. My only reply is that no-one can compel you to read Aristotle's 'Nicomachean Ethics' before you read his 'Politics', or force you to read Epictetus before trying to get through John Locke--and yet anyone who seriously thinks that politics has no connection at all, whatsoever, with ethics, needs their head examined for holes, or dents. Or, better yet, such people should be encouraged to read a few books about the Nazis or something. 'Be generous with other people's money,' says Machiavelli. 'Well, yeah, that's what the Jews are for,' says Hitler. 'And that's what the unwashed barbarians are for,' says Caesar. (See how I paired a modern and an ancient example, just like old Nicc-y. I guess that makes it all okay, somehow.) And as for his famous dictum that, concerning fear and love, that is it best to be both feared and loved, but, that if one must choose, it is safer to be feared than loved--well, if I point out that both Hitler and Stalin, and every other Caesar and proponent of Caesarism, would agree with this statement--having said that, does it make anyone who did not already so believe understand the necessity of subordinating politics to ethics in philosophy, and, indeed, in real life?

I was also amused, and yet somehow, also unsurprised, to see the brave, good, "unarmed prophet" Machiavelli, so describe the "great feats" of Ferdinand of Aragon, in a chapter called "Of What A Prince Should Do To Acquire Prestige", that the reader, unless he or she were previously informed of the matter, would walk away without the slightest impression that there was a certain girl named Isabella in the mighty monarch's life, a woman who, my sources tell me, may have been of some slight importance in the history of Spain, and the killing of Jews and Muslims and other such acts of "pious cruelty" which brought the noble Ferdinand "much honor". He also goes through the next chapter, "Of The Advisers Of Princes" without once correcting his mistake.

I can only wonder how many students of ethics would accept the phrase "pious cruelty" as being valid. But perhaps I might venture an informed guess...

It is certain, however, and good to mention, that it is a blessing that we live in a free society, where we are free to read this non-sense if we choose to. In any real tyranny, I suppose that this sort of thing would surely be swiftly suppressed.

~eh, but we were just trying to have fun.

THEN READ A NOVEL!!

(5/10)
… (more)
LibraryThing member charlie68
Very gritty, earthy book on the means of gaining and holding power. Deals with humans as they are as the introduction points out. A lot of the points made in the book are in use in todays politics eventhough people may not want to think so. Like every book that I think in general misses the mark, there is substantial grains of truth in it.… (more)
LibraryThing member stunik
Who has power, who keeps power, and why?
LibraryThing member Wprecht
This is a classic and available in many translations. The one pictured above isn’t the one that I have, but it is probably close enough. Avoid ones with lots of commentary and dreck added. Read the true Nick and think for yourself. I first read this while in college, but for pleasure (don’t go there). Then I reread it for a history course several years later. I think that I got more out of it the second time around making it one of those fairly rare books with true reread potential. There is probably more here than I got out of it, but it isn’t my main period and there are other fish to fry...

Even though Machiavelli was never a military commander, his grasp of the essentials of political strategy and it’s sometimes necessary extension, military force is excellent. This book is not for the whifty, politically correct whiners in the crowd, however. One must place this treatise in the context in which it was written, Machiavelli wrote this after being kicked out of office by Lorenzo de’ Medic in 1512. The Italy of his time was a collection of small city states at nearly constant war.

The following quote sums things up quite nicely:

"It must be understood, that a prince ... cannot observe all of those virtues for which men are reputed good, because it is often necessary to act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state."
… (more)
LibraryThing member clfisha
I do not often (or um ever) find myself reading political treatises but the evils of Machiavellian politics is so hyped I was intrigued.

Broken down into different methods of acquiring, then keeping land, then to turning to discuss various details such the merits of fear or how to gain nobility its a short, eminently readable and fascinating account of politics of a very different time.

Its not really evil, more that the morality question is just ignored. Take his wonderful advice on keeping your word: Don't (although the trick is you must always been seen to be keep it). So immoral and it cynical maybe (whether meant as a satire or not I cannot comment) but I found it hard to be offended by it, especially if viewed in a historical context and it definitely needs that context otherwise it would be a much poorer book.
… (more)
LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
His very name has become, like that of Hobbes and Nietzsche, a byword for a cold, brutal ruthlessness. It's even said on the Wiki that he helped make "Old Nick" a term for the Devil (something the introduction to my edition denies) and political philosopher Leo Strauss called him "the teacher of evil." His book The Prince is one of the most influential books of all time and is known as the Bible of realpolitik, and Machiavelli is seen by some as the father of political science. In a letter Machiavelli claimed his "little work" (it's less than a hundred pages in paperback) was designed to examine the state, "discussing what a principality is, what kinds there are, how they are acquired, how they are maintained, why they are lost." The heart of his advice to the ruler is to be "prepared to vary his conduct as the winds of fortune and changing circumstances constrain him and … not deviate from right conduct if possible, but be capable of entering upon the path of wrongdoing when this becomes necessary." Thus The Prince can be said to be at the other end of the scale to utopian thinking; it's utterly pragmatic. And given my lack of sympathy for utopian schemes, you'd think this would be more to my taste. Yet in some ways I see both approaches as similar. Both sorts of thinking believe that ends justify the means. Utopian schemes from Plato to Mao willingly bend humans like pretzels to fit their ideals--Machiavelli wants his rulers to manipulate, deceive, and force his subjects to his ends, without worrying about whether the means are moral. Without caring about principles, what's left is just naked power.

So why rate this so high? Well, I at least appreciate Machiavelli's style compared to that of so many political thinkers. One thing at least all commentators agree on is that his writing is succinct and lucid--and memorable. Hard to forget such precepts as "politics has no relation to morals" and "it is better to be feared than loved" and "a prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise" and "Fortune is a woman, and if you want to stay on top of her, you have to knock her around." The man can turn a phrase. Fun and chilling to read at the same time--and great insight into politics and the minds of many politicians. And given Machiavelli's experience as a diplomat and head of a militia, and his deep pragmatism, it's not like even principled statesman working for their ideals should ignore his advice--if only as a warning.
… (more)
LibraryThing member Angelic55blonde
This is an excellent book. It is straightforward and easy to read. It was a political treatise that offered advice on how a prince could gain and keep power. The book is actually dedicated to one of the Medici family members. Many people belive the reason he did this was to win favor of Lorenzo de’ Medici, then-governor of Florence. Machiavelli was involved with politics but had lost his job so he had hoped to land a position within the Florentine government. Unfortuantely, this plan did not work for him. This is a great book and everyone should read it.… (more)
LibraryThing member BrianDewey
Machievelli, Niccholo. The Prince. e-book, 2000. Great meditation on the nature of power.

Language

Original language

Italian

Barcode

8025
Page: 0.4032 seconds