Machiavellian Perception of Reality

1282 words 6 pages
Machiavellian Perception of Reality

Introduction Written almost five centuries ago during Italy’s era of fractious chaos, Niccolo Machiavelli’s, The Prince became the “How-To” book for the effective acquisition, governance, and retainment of power over principalities. Within the pages of this political treatise, Machiavelli duly explains the qualities of a successful prince. However, he also explains how the importance of these very qualities affect the prince’s public image and reputation and how these play a vital role in the retention of power while keeping others from conspiring and rising against him. The ideal prince should be virtuous in that in that he should be “merciful, faithful, humane, religious and upright”
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“Therefore it is wiser to have a reputation for meanness which brings reproach without hatred, than to be compelled through seeking a reputation for liberality to incur a name for rapacity which begets reproach with hatred” (Machiavelli, Chapter XVI, 2012). Moreover, it is best for the prince to be miserly with his own treasury but instead be free and lavish with the wealth taken from others during wartime. This will give him the reputation for generosity and liberality without cost to him. If the prince does not have this extra wealth, Machiavelli advises the prince to abandon the idea of liberality in the concern of practicality. Additionally, every prince should want the reputation for being clement and not cruel. Nevertheless, this is merely part of the perception of reality regarding this public image and reputation. “Therefore a prince, so long as he keeps his subjects united and loyal, ought not to mind the reproach of cruelty; because…he will be more merciful than those who, through too much mercy, allow disorders to arise, from which follow murder or robberies” (Machiavelli, Chapter XVII, 2012). The people are willing to forgive a little cruelty if it keeps the peace, guarantees their safety, and upholds the law. At last, Machiavelli’s infamous question arises, “whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved?” (Machiavelli, Chapter XVII, 2012) The ideal answer would be for the prince to be