The Prince

Introduction by Anthony Grafton
Translated by George Bull
Notes by George Bull
Look inside
Machiavelli's highly influential treatise on political power

The Prince shocked Europe on publication with its advocacy of ruthless tactics for gaining absolute power and its abandonment of conventional morality. Niccoló Machiavelli drew on his own experience of office under the turbulent Florentine republic, rejecting traditional values of political theory and recognizing the complicated, transient nature of political life. Concerned not with lofty ideal but with a regime that would last, The Prince has become the bible of realpolitik, and it still retains its power to alarm and to instruct. In this edition, Machiavelli's tough-minded and pragmatic Italian is preserved in George Bull's clear, unambiguous translation.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a Florentine statesman who was later forced out of public life. He then devoted himself to studying and writing political philosophy, history, fiction, and drama. View titles by Niccolo Machiavelli
ChronologyMapIntroductionTranslator's NoteSelected BooksMachiavelli's Principal WorksLetter to the Magnificent Lorenzo de Medici1IHow many kinds of principality there are and the ways in which they are acquired5IIHereditary principalities5IIIComposite principalities6IVWhy the kingdom of Darius conquered by Alexander did not rebel against his successors after his death13VHow cities or principalities which lived under their own laws should be administered after being conquered16VINew principalities acquired by one's own arms and prowess17VIINew principalities acquired with the help of fortune and foreign arms20VIIIThose who come to power by crime27IXThe constitutional principality31XHow the strength of every principality should be measured34XIEcclesiastical principalities36XIIMilitary organization and mercenary troops39XIIIAuxiliary, composite, and native troops43XIVHow a prince should organize his militia47XVThe things for which men, and especially princes, are praised or blamed49XVIGenerosity and parsimony51XVIICruelty and compassion; and whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse53XVIIIHow princes should honour their word56XIXThe need to avoid contempt and hatred58XXWhether fortresses and many of the other present-day expedients to which princes have recourse are useful or not67XXIHow a prince must act to win honour71XXIIA prince's personal staff75XXIIIHow flatterers must be shunned76XXIVWhy the Italian princes have lost their states78XXVHow far human affairs are governed by fortune, and how fortune can be opposed79XXVIExhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians82Glossary of Proper Names86Notes99
Seventeenth Chapter: Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than Feared

...Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed, they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince, who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or by nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails....

Twenty-First Chapter: How a Prince Should Conduct Himself So as to Gain Renown

...A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a downright enemy, that is to say, when, without any reservation, he declares himself in favour of one party against the other; which course will always be more advantageous than standing neutral; because if two of your powerful neighbours come to blows, they are of such a character that, if one of them conquers, you have either to fear him or not. In either case it will always be more advantageous for you to declare yourself and to make war strenously; because, in the first case, if you do not declare yourself, you will invariably fall a prey to the conqueror, to the pleasure and satisfaction of his who has been conquered, and you will have no reasons to offer, nor anything to protect or to shelter you. Because he who conquers does not want doubtful friends who will not aid him in the time of trial; and he who loses will not harbour you because you did not willingly, sword in hand, court his fate....

“[Machiavelli] can still engage our attention with remarkable immediacy, and this cannot be explained solely by the appeal of his ironic observations on human behaviour. Perhaps the most important thing is the way he can compel us to reflect on our own priorities and the reasoning behind them; it is this intrusion into our own defenses that makes reading him an intriguing experience. As a scientific exponent of the political art Machiavelli may have had few followers; it is as a provocative rhetorician that he has had his real impact on history.” –from the Introduction by Dominic Baker-Smith

About

Machiavelli's highly influential treatise on political power

The Prince shocked Europe on publication with its advocacy of ruthless tactics for gaining absolute power and its abandonment of conventional morality. Niccoló Machiavelli drew on his own experience of office under the turbulent Florentine republic, rejecting traditional values of political theory and recognizing the complicated, transient nature of political life. Concerned not with lofty ideal but with a regime that would last, The Prince has become the bible of realpolitik, and it still retains its power to alarm and to instruct. In this edition, Machiavelli's tough-minded and pragmatic Italian is preserved in George Bull's clear, unambiguous translation.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Author

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a Florentine statesman who was later forced out of public life. He then devoted himself to studying and writing political philosophy, history, fiction, and drama. View titles by Niccolo Machiavelli

Table of Contents

ChronologyMapIntroductionTranslator's NoteSelected BooksMachiavelli's Principal WorksLetter to the Magnificent Lorenzo de Medici1IHow many kinds of principality there are and the ways in which they are acquired5IIHereditary principalities5IIIComposite principalities6IVWhy the kingdom of Darius conquered by Alexander did not rebel against his successors after his death13VHow cities or principalities which lived under their own laws should be administered after being conquered16VINew principalities acquired by one's own arms and prowess17VIINew principalities acquired with the help of fortune and foreign arms20VIIIThose who come to power by crime27IXThe constitutional principality31XHow the strength of every principality should be measured34XIEcclesiastical principalities36XIIMilitary organization and mercenary troops39XIIIAuxiliary, composite, and native troops43XIVHow a prince should organize his militia47XVThe things for which men, and especially princes, are praised or blamed49XVIGenerosity and parsimony51XVIICruelty and compassion; and whether it is better to be loved than feared, or the reverse53XVIIIHow princes should honour their word56XIXThe need to avoid contempt and hatred58XXWhether fortresses and many of the other present-day expedients to which princes have recourse are useful or not67XXIHow a prince must act to win honour71XXIIA prince's personal staff75XXIIIHow flatterers must be shunned76XXIVWhy the Italian princes have lost their states78XXVHow far human affairs are governed by fortune, and how fortune can be opposed79XXVIExhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians82Glossary of Proper Names86Notes99

Excerpt

Seventeenth Chapter: Concerning Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than Feared

...Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, it is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed, they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life, and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you. And that prince, who, relying entirely on their promises, has neglected other precautions, is ruined; because friendships that are obtained by payments, and not by greatness or by nobility of mind, may indeed be earned, but they are not secured, and in time of need cannot be relied upon; and men have less scruple in offending one who is beloved than one who is feared, for love is preserved by the link of obligation which, owing to the baseness of men, is broken at every opportunity for their advantage; but fear preserves you by a dread of punishment which never fails....

Twenty-First Chapter: How a Prince Should Conduct Himself So as to Gain Renown

...A prince is also respected when he is either a true friend or a downright enemy, that is to say, when, without any reservation, he declares himself in favour of one party against the other; which course will always be more advantageous than standing neutral; because if two of your powerful neighbours come to blows, they are of such a character that, if one of them conquers, you have either to fear him or not. In either case it will always be more advantageous for you to declare yourself and to make war strenously; because, in the first case, if you do not declare yourself, you will invariably fall a prey to the conqueror, to the pleasure and satisfaction of his who has been conquered, and you will have no reasons to offer, nor anything to protect or to shelter you. Because he who conquers does not want doubtful friends who will not aid him in the time of trial; and he who loses will not harbour you because you did not willingly, sword in hand, court his fate....

Praise

“[Machiavelli] can still engage our attention with remarkable immediacy, and this cannot be explained solely by the appeal of his ironic observations on human behaviour. Perhaps the most important thing is the way he can compel us to reflect on our own priorities and the reasoning behind them; it is this intrusion into our own defenses that makes reading him an intriguing experience. As a scientific exponent of the political art Machiavelli may have had few followers; it is as a provocative rhetorician that he has had his real impact on history.” –from the Introduction by Dominic Baker-Smith

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