Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XXI.: how princes should conduct themselves to acquire a reputation. - The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 2 (The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Thoughts of a Statesman)
CHAPTER XXI.: how princes should conduct themselves to acquire a reputation. - Niccolo Machiavelli, The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings, vol. 2 (The Prince, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, Thoughts of a Statesman) 
The Historical, Political, and Diplomatic Writings of Niccolo Machiavelli, tr. from the Italian, by Christian E. Detmold (Boston, J. R. Osgood and company, 1882). Vol. 2.
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- The Prince.
- Niccolo Machiavelli to the Magnificent Lorenzo, Son of Piero De’ Medici.
- Chapter I.: How Many Kinds of Principalities There Are, and In What Manner They Are Acquired.
- Chapter II.: Of Hereditary Principalities.
- Chapter III.: Of Mixed Principalities.
- Chapter IV.: Why the Kingdom of Darius, Which Was Conquered By Alexander, Did Not Revolt Against the Successors of Alexander After His Death.
- Chapter V.: How Cities Or Principalities Are to Be Governed That Previous to Being Conquered Had Lived Under Their Own Laws.
- Chapter VI.: Of New Principalities That Have Been Acquired By the Valor of the Prince and By His Own Troops.
- Chapter VII.: Of New Principalities That Have Been Acquired By the Aid of Others and By Good Fortune.
- Chapter VIII.: Of Such As Have Achieved Sovereignty By Means of Crimes.
- Chapter IX.: Of Civil Principalities.
- Chapter X.: In What Manner the Power of All Principalities Should Be Measured.
- Chapter XI.: Of Ecclesiastical Principalities.
- Chapter XII.: Of the Different Kinds of Troops, and of Mercenaries.
- Chapter XIII.: Of Auxiliaries, and of Mixed and National Troops.
- Chapter XIV.: Of the Duties of a Prince In Relation to Military Matters.
- Chapter XV.: Of the Means By Which Men, and Especially Princes, Win Applause, Or Incur Censure.
- Chapter XVI.: Of Liberality and Parsimoniousness.
- Chapter XVII.: Of Cruelty and Clemency, and Whether It Is Better to Be Loved Than Feared.
- Chapter XVIII.: In What Manner Princes Should Keep Their Faith.
- Chapter XIX.: A Prince Must Avoid Being Contemned and Hated.
- Chapter XX.: Whether the Erection of Fortresses, and Many Other Things Which Princes Often Do, Are Useful, Or Injurious.
- Chapter XXI.: How Princes Should Conduct Themselves to Acquire a Reputation.
- Chapter XXII.: Of the Ministers of Princes.
- Chapter XXIII.: How to Avoid Flatterers.
- Chapter XXIV.: The Reason Why the Princes of Italy Have Lost Their States.
- Chapter XXV.: Of the Influence of Fortune In Human Affairs, and How It May Be Counteracted.
- Chapter XXVI.: Exhortation to Deliver Italy From Foreign Barbarians.
- Discourses On the First Ten Books of Titus Livius.
- Niccolo Machiavelli to Zanobi Buondelmonte and Cosimo Rucellai, Greeting.
- First Book.
- Chapter I.: Of the Beginning of Cities In General, and Especially That of the City of Rome.
- Chapter II.: Of the Different Kinds of Republics, and of What Kind the Roman Republic Was.
- Chapter III.: Of the Events That Caused the Creation of Tribunes In Rome; Which Made the Republic More Perfect.
- Chapter IV.: The Disunion of the Senate and the People Renders the Republic of Rome Powerful and Free.
- Chapter V.: To Whom Can the Guardianship of Liberty More Safely Be Confided, to the Nobles Or to the People? and Which of the Two Have Most Cause For Creating Disturbances, Those Who Wish to Acquire, Or Those Who Desire to Conserve?
- Chapter VI.: Whether It Was Possible to Establish In Rome a Government Capable of Putting an End to the Enmities Existing Between the Nobles and the People.
- Chapter VII.: Showing How Necessary the Faculty of Accusation Is In a Republic For the Maintenance of Liberty.
- Chapter VIII.: In Proportion As Accusations Are Useful In a Republic, So Are Calumnies Pernicious.
- Chapter IX.: To Found a New Republic, Or to Reform Entirely the Old Institutions of an Existing One, Must Be the Work of One Man Only.
- Chapter X.: In Proportion As the Founders of a Republic Or Monarchy Are Entitled to Praise, So Do the Founders of a Tyranny Deserve Execration.
- Chapter XI.: Of the Religion of the Romans.
- Chapter XII.: The Importance of Giving Religion a Prominent Influence In a State, and How Italy Was Ruined Because She Failed In This Respect Through the Conduct of the Church of Rome.
- Chapter XIII.: How the Romans Availed of Religion to Preserve Order In Their City, and to Carry Out Their Enterprises and Suppress Disturbances.
- Chapter XIV.: The Romans Interpreted the Auspices According to Necessity, and Very Wisely Made Show of Observing Religion, Even When They Were Obliged In Reality to Disregard It; and If Any One Recklessly Disparaged It, He Was Punished.
- Chapter XV.: How the Samnites Resorted to Religion As an Extreme Remedy For Their Desperate Condition.
- Chapter XVI.: A People That Has Been Accustomed to Live Under a Prince Preserves Its Liberties With Difficulty, If By Accident It Has Become Free.
- Chapter XVII.: A Corrupt People That Becomes Free Can With Greatest Difficulty Maintain Its Liberty.
- Chapter XVIII.: How In a Corrupt State a Free Government May Be Maintained, Assuming That One Exists There Already; and How It Could Be Introduced, If None Had Previously Existed.
- Chapter XIX.: If an Able and Vigorous Prince Is Succeeded By a Feeble One, the Latter May For a Time Be Able to Maintain Himself; But If His Successor Be Also Weak, Then the Latter Will Not Be Able to Preserve His State.
- Chapter XX.: Two Continuous Successions of Able and Virtuous Princes Will Achieve Great Results; and As Well-constituted Republics Have, In the Nature of Things, a Succession of Virtuous Rulers, Their Acquisitions and Extension Will Consequently Be Very G
- Chapter XXI.: Princes and Republics Who Fail to Have National Armies Are Much to Be Blamed.
- Chapter XXII.: What We Should Note In the Case of the Three Roman Horatii and the Alban Curatii.
- Chapter XXIII.: One Should Never Risk One’s Whole Fortune Unless Supported By One’s Entire Forces, and Therefore the Mere Guarding of Passes Is Often Dangerous.
- Chapter XXIV.: Well-ordered Republics Establish Punishments and Rewards For Their Citizens, But Never Set Off One Against the Other.
- Chapter XXV.: Whoever Wishes to Reform an Existing Government In a Free State Should At Least Preserve the Semblance of the Old Forms.
- Chapter XXVI.: A New Prince In a City Or Province Conquered By Him Should Organize Everything Anew.
- Chapter XXVII.: Showing That Men Are Very Rarely Either Entirely Good Or Entirely Bad.
- Chapter XXVIII.: Why Rome Was Less Ungrateful to Her Citizens Than Athens.
- Chapter XXIX.: Which of the Two Is Most Ungrateful, a People Or a Prince.
- Chapter XXX.: How Princes and Republics Should Act to Avoid the Vice of Ingratitude, and How a Commander Or a Citizen Should Act So As Not to Expose Himself to It.
- Chapter XXXI.: Showing That the Roman Generals Were Never Severely Punished For Any Faults They Committed, Not Even When By Their Ignorance and Unfortunate Operations They Occasioned Serious Losses to the Republic.
- Chapter XXXII.: A Republic Or a Prince Should Not Defer Securing the Good Will of the People Until They Are Themselves In Difficulties.
- Chapter XXXIII.: When an Evil Has Sprung Up Within a State, Or Come Upon It From Without, It Is Safer to Temporize With It Rather Than to Attack It Violently.
- Chapter XXXIV.: The Authority of the Dictatorship Has Always Proved Beneficial to Rome, and Never Injurious; It Is the Authority Which Men Usurp, and Not That Which Is Given Them By the Free Suffrages of Their Fellow-citizens, That Is Dangerous to Civil L
- Chapter XXXV.: The Reason Why the Creation of Decemvirs In Rome Was Injurious to Liberty, Notwithstanding That They Were Created By the Free Suffrages of the People.
- Chapter XXXVI.: Citizens Who Have Been Honored With the Higher Offices Should Not Disdain Less Important Ones.
- Chapter XXXVII.: What Troubles Resulted In Rome From the Enactment of the Agrarian Law, and How Very Wrong It Is to Make Laws That Are Retrospective and Contrary to Old Established Customs.
- Chapter XXXVIII.: Feeble Republics Are Irresolute, and Know Not How to Take a Decided Part; and Whenever They Do, It Is More the Result of Necessity Than of Choice.
- Chapter XXXIX.: The Same Accidents Often Happen to Different Peoples.
- Chapter Xl.: of the Creation of the Decemvirs In Rome, and What Is Noteworthy In It; and Where We Shall Consider Amongst Many Other Things How the Same Accidents May Save Or Ruin a Republic.
- Chapter Xli.: It Is Imprudent and Unprofitable Suddenly to Change From Humility to Pride, and From Gentleness to Cruelty.
- Chapter Xlii.: How Easily Men May Be Corrupted.
- Chapter Xliii.: Those Only Who Combat For Their Own Glory Are Good and Loyal Soldiers.
- Chapter Xliv.: a Multitude Without a Chief Is Useless; and It Is Not Well to Threaten Before Having the Power to Act.
- Chapter Xlv.: It Is a Bad Example Not to Observe the Laws, Especially On the Part of Those Who Have Made Them; and It Is Dangerous For Those Who Govern Cities to Harass the People With Constant Wrongs.
- Chapter Xlvi.: Men Rise From One Ambition to Another: First, They Seek to Secure Themselves Against Attack, and Then They Attack Others.
- Chapter Xlvii.: Although Men Are Apt to Deceive Themselves In General Matters, Yet They Rarely Do So In Particulars.
- Chapter Xlviii.: One of the Means of Preventing an Important Magistracy From Being Conferred Upon a Vile and Wicked Individual Is to Have It Applied For By One Still More Vile and Wicked, Or By the Most Noble and Deserving In the State.
- Chapter Xlix.: If Cities Which From Their Beginning Have Enjoyed Liberty, Like Rome, Have Found Difficulties In Devising Laws That Would Preserve Their Liberties, Those That Have Had Their Origin In Servitude Find It Impossible to Succeed In Making Such L
- Chapter L.: No Council Or Magistrate Should Have It In Their Power to Stop the Public Business of a City.
- Chapter Li.: a Republic Or a Prince Must Feign to Do of Their Own Liberality That to Which Necessity Compels Them.
- Chapter Lii.: There Is No Surer and Less Objectionable Mode of Repressing the Insolence of an Individual Ambitious of Power, Who Arises In a Republic, Than to Forestall Him In the Ways By Which He Expects to Arrive At That Power.
- Chapter Liii.: How By the Delusions of Seeming Good the People Are Often Misled to Desire Their Own Ruin; and How They Are Frequently Influenced By Great Hopes and Brave Promises.
- Chapter Liv.: How Much Influence a Great Man Has In Restraining an Excited Multitude.
- Chapter Lv.: Public Affairs Are Easily Managed In a City Where the Body of the People Is Not Corrupt; and Where Equality Exists, There No Principality Can Be Established; Nor Can a Republic Be Established Where There Is No Equality.
- Chapter Lvi.: the Occurrence of Important Events In Any City Or Country Is Generally Preceded By Signs and Portents, Or By Men Who Predict Them.
- Chapter Lvii.: the People As a Body Are Courageous, But Individually They Are Cowardly and Feeble.
- Chapter Lviii.: the People Are Wiser and More Constant Than Princes.
- Chapter Lix.: Leagues and Alliances With Republics Are More to Be Trusted Than Those With Princes.
- Chapter Lx.: How the Consulates and Some Other Magistracies Were Bestowed In Rome Without Regard to the Age of Persons.
- Second Book.
- Chapter I.: The Greatness of the Romans Was Due More to Their Valor and Ability Than to Good Fortune.
- Chapter II.: What Nations the Romans Had to Contend Against, and With What Obstinacy They Defended Their Liberty.
- Chapter III.: Rome Became Great By Ruining Her Neighboring Cities, and By Freely Admitting Strangers to Her Privileges and Honors.
- Chapter IV.: The Ancient Republics Employed Three Different Methods For Aggrandizing Themselves.
- Chapter V.: The Changes of Religion and of Languages, Together With the Occurrence of Deluges and Pestilences, Destroy the Record of Things.
- Chapter VI.: Of the Manner In Which the Romans Conducted Their Wars.
- Chapter VII.: How Much Land the Romans Allowed to Each Colonist.
- Chapter VIII.: The Reasons Why People Leave Their Own Country to Spread Over Others.
- Chapter IX.: What the Causes Are That Most Frequently Provoke War Between Sovereigns.
- Chapter X.: Money Is Not the Sinews of War, Although It Is Generally So Considered.
- Chapter XI.: It Is Not Wise to Form an Alliance With a Prince That Has More Reputation Than Power.
- Chapter XII.: Whether It Is Better, When Apprehending an Attack, to Await It At Home, Or to Carry the War Into the Enemy’s Country.
- Chapter XIII.: Cunning and Deceit Will Serve a Man Better Than Force to Rise From a Base Condition to Great Fortune.
- Chapter XIV.: Men Often Deceive Themselves In Believing That By Humility They Can Overcome Insolence.
- Chapter XV.: Feeble States Are Always Undecided In Their Resolves; and Slow Resolves Are Invariably Injurious.
- Chapter XVI.: Wherein the Military System Differs From That of the Ancients.
- Chapter XVII.: Of the Value of Artillery to Modern Armies, and Whether the General Opinion Respecting It Is Correct.
- Chapter XVIII.: According to the Authority of the Romans and the Example of Ancient Armies We Should Value Infantry More Than Cavalry.
- Chapter XIX.: Conquests Made By Republics That Are Not Well Constituted, and Do Not Follow In Their Conduct the Example of the Romans, Are More Conducive to Their Ruin Than to Their Advancement.
- Chapter XX.: Of the Dangers to Which Princes and Republics Are Exposed That Employ Auxiliary Or Mercenary Troops.
- Chapter XXI.: The First Prætor Sent By the Romans Anywhere Was to Capua, Four Hundred Years After They Began to Make War Upon That City.
- Chapter XXII.: How Often the Judgments of Men In Important Matters Are Erroneous.
- Chapter XXIII.: How Much the Romans Avoided Half-way Measures When They Had to Decide Upon the Fate of Their Subjects.
- Chapter XXIV.: Fortresses Are Generally More Injurious Than Useful.
- Chapter XXV.: It Is an Error to Take Advantage of the Internal Dissensions of a City, and to Attempt to Take Possession of It Whilst In That Condition.
- Chapter XXVI.: Contempt and Insults Engender Hatred Against Those Who Indulge In Them, Without Being of Any Advantage to Them.
- Chapter XXVII.: Wise Princes and Republics Should Content Themselves With Victory; For When They Aim At More, They Generally Lose.
- Chapter XXVIII.: How Dangerous It Is For a Republic Or a Prince Not to Avenge a Public Or a Private Injury.
- Chapter XXIX.: Fortune Blinds the Minds of Men When She Does Not Wish Them to Oppose Her Designs.
- Chapter XXX.: Republics and Princes That Are Really Powerful Do Not Purchase Alliances By Money, But By Their Valor and the Reputation of Their Armies.
- Chapter XXXI.: How Dangerous It Is to Trust to the Representations of Exiles.
- Chapter XXXII.: Of the Method Practised By the Romans In Taking Cities.
- Chapter XXXIII.: The Romans Left the Commanders of Their Armies Entirely Uncontrolled In Their Operations.
- Third Book.
- Chapter I.: To Insure a Long Existence to Religious Sects Or Republics, It Is Necessary Frequently to Bring Them Back to Their Original Principles.
- Chapter II.: It May At Times Be the Highest Wisdom to Simulate Folly.
- Chapter III.: To Preserve the Newly Recovered Liberty In Rome, It Was Necessary That the Sons of Brutus Should Have Been Executed.
- Chapter IV.: A Prince Cannot Live Securely In a State So Long As Those Live Whom He Has Deprived of It.
- Chapter V.: Of the Causes That Make a King Lose the Throne Which He Has Inherited.
- Chapter VI.: Of Conspiracies.
- Chapter VII.: The Reasons Why the Transitions From Liberty to Servitude and From Servitude to Liberty Are At Times Effected Without Bloodshed, and At Other Times Are Most Sanguinary.
- Chapter VIII.: Whoever Wishes to Change the Government of a Republic Should First Consider Well Its Existing Condition.
- Chapter IX.: Whoever Desires Constant Success Must Change His Conduct With the Times.
- Chapter X.: A General Cannot Avoid a Battle When the Enemy Is Resolved Upon It At All Hazards.
- Chapter XI.: Whoever Has to Contend Against Many Enemies May Nevertheless Overcome Them, Though He Be Inferior In Power, Provided He Is Able to Resist Their First Efforts.
- Chapter XII.: A Skilful General Should Endeavor By All Means In His Power to Place His Soldiers In the Position of Being Obliged to Fight, and As Far As Possible Relieve the Enemy of Such Necessity.
- Chapter XIII.: Whether an Able Commander With a Feeble Army, Or a Good Army With an Incompetent Commander, Is Most to Be Relied Upon.
- Chapter XIV.: Of the Effect of New Stratagems and Unexpected Cries In the Midst of Battle.
- Chapter XV.: An Army Should Have But One Chief: a Greater Number Is Detrimental.
- Chapter XVI.: In Times of Difficulty Men of Merit Are Sought After, But In Easy Times It Is Not Men of Merit, But Such As Have Riches and Powerful Relations, That Are Most In Favor.
- Chapter XVII.: A Person Who Has Been Offended Should Not Be Intrusted With an Important Administration and Government.
- Chapter XVIII.: Nothing Is More Worthy of the Attention of a Good General Than to Endeavor to Penetrate the Designs of the Enemy.
- Chapter XIX.: Whether Gentle Or Rigorous Measures Are Preferable In Governing the Multitude.
- Chapter XX.: An Act of Humanity Prevailed More With the Faliscians Than All the Power of Rome.
- Chapter XXI.: Why Hannibal By a Course of Conduct the Very Opposite of That of Scipio Yet Achieved the Same Success In Italy As the Latter Did In Spain.
- Chapter XXII.: How Manlius Torquatus By Harshness, and Valerius Corvinus By Gentleness, Acquired Equal Glory.
- Chapter XXIII.: The Reasons Why Camillus Was Banished From Rome.
- Chapter XXIV.: The Prolongation of Military Commands Caused Rome the Loss of Her Liberty.
- Chapter XXV.: Of the Poverty of Cincinnatus, and That of Many Other Roman Citizens.
- Chapter XXVI.: How States Are Ruined On Account of Women.
- Chapter XXVII.: Of the Means For Restoring Union In a City, and of the Common Error Which Supposes That a City Must Be Kept Divided For the Purpose of Preserving Authority.
- Chapter XXVIII.: The Actions of Citizens Should Be Watched, For Often Such As Seem Virtuous Conceal the Beginning of Tyranny.
- Chapter XXIX.: The Faults of the People Spring From the Faults of Their Rulers.
- Chapter XXX.: A Citizen Who Desires to Employ His Authority In a Republic For Some Public Good Must First of All Suppress All Feeling of Envy: and How to Organize the Defence of a City On the Approach of an Enemy.
- Chapter XXXI.: Great Men and Powerful Republics Preserve an Equal Dignity and Courage In Prosperity and Adversity.
- Chapter XXXII.: Of the Means Adopted By Some to Prevent a Peace.
- Chapter XXXIII.: To Insure Victory the Troops Must Have Confidence In Themselves As Well As In Their Commander.
- Chapter XXXIV.: How the Reputation of a Citizen and the Public Voice and Opinion Secure Him Popular Favor; and Whether the People Or Princes Show Most Judgment In the Choice of Magistrates.
- Chapter XXXV.: Of the Danger of Being Prominent In Counselling Any Enterprise, and How That Danger Increases With the Importance of Such Enterprise.
- Chapter XXXVI.: The Reason Why the Gauls Have Been and Are Still Looked Upon At the Beginning of a Combat As More Than Men, and Afterwards As Less Than Women.
- Chapter XXXVII.: Whether Skirmishes Are Necessary Before Coming to a General Action, and How to Know a New Enemy If Skirmishes Are Dispensed With.
- Chapter XXXVIII.: What Qualities a Commander Should Possess to Secure the Confidence of His Army.
- Chapter XXXIX.: A General Should Possess a Perfect Knowledge of the Localities Where He Is Carrying On a War.
- Chapter Xl.: Deceit In the Conduct of a War Is Meritorious.
- Chapter Xli.: One’s Country Must Be Defended, Whether With Glory Or With Shame; It Must Be Defended Anyhow.
- Chapter Xlii.: Promises Exacted By Force Need Not Be Observed.
- Chapter Xliii.: Natives of the Same Country Preserve For All Time the Same Characteristics.
- Chapter Xliv.: Impetuosity and Audacity Often Achieve What Ordinary Means Fail to Attain.
- Chapter Xlv.: Whether It Is Better In Battle to Await the Shock of the Enemy, and Then to Attack Him, Or to Assail Him First With Impetuosity.
- Chapter Xlvi.: the Reasons Why the Same Family In a City Always Preserves the Same Characteristics.
- Chapter Xlvii.: Love of Country Should Make a Good Citizen Forget Private Wrongs.
- Chapter Xlviii.: Any Manifest Error On the Part of an Enemy Should Make Us Suspect Some Stratagem.
- Chapter Xlix.: a Republic That Desires to Maintain Her Liberties Needs Daily Fresh Precautions: It Was By Such Merits That Fabius Obtained the Surname of Maximus.
- Thoughts of a Statesman.
- Prefatory Note.
- Niccolo Machiavelli to His Son Bernardo.
- Chapter I.: Religion.
- Chapter II.: Peace and War.
- Chapter III.: The Admirable Law of Nations Born With Christianity.
- Chapter IV.: Vices That Have Made the Great the Prey of the Small.
- Chapter V.: Laws.
- Chapter VI.: Justice.
- Chapter VII.: Public Charges.
- Chapter VIII.: Of Agriculture, Commerce, Population, Luxury, and Supplies.
- Chapter IX.: The Evils of Idleness.
- Chapter X.: Ill Effects of a Corrupt Government.
- Chapter XI.: Notable Precepts and Maxims.
- Chapter XII.: Beautiful Example of a Good Father of a Family.
- Chapter XIII.: The Good Prince.
- Chapter XIV.: Of the Ministers.
- Chapter XV.: The Tyrant Prince.
- Chapter XVI.: Praise and Safety of the Good Prince, and Infamy and Danger of the Tyrant.
how princes should conduct themselves to acquire a reputation.
Nothing makes a prince so much esteemed as the undertaking of great enterprises and the setting a noble example in his own person. We have a striking instance of this in Ferdinand of Aragon, the present king of Spain. He may be called, as it were, a new prince; for, from being king of a feeble state, he has, by his fame and glory, become the first sovereign of Christendom; and if we examine his actions we shall find them all most grand, and some of them extraordinary. In the beginning of his reign he attacked Granada, and it was this undertaking that was the very foundation of his greatness. At first he carried on this war leisurely and without fear of opposition; for he kept the nobles of Castile occupied with this enterprise, and, their minds being thus engaged by war, they gave no attention to the innovations introduced by the king, who thereby acquired a reputation and an influence over the nobles without their being aware of it. The money of the Church and of the people enabled him to support his armies, and by that long war he succeeded in giving a stable foundation to his military establishment, which afterwards brought him so much honor. Besides this, to be able to engage in still greater enterprises, he always availed himself of religion as a pretext, and committed a pious cruelty in spoliating and driving the Moors out of his kingdom, which certainly was a most admirable and extraordinary example. Under the same cloak of religion he attacked Africa, and made a descent upon Italy, and finally assailed France. And thus he was always planning great enterprises, which kept the minds of his subjects in a state of suspense and admiration, and occupied with their results. And these different enterprises followed so quickly one upon the other, that he never gave men a chance deliberately to make any attempt against himself.
It is also important for a prince to give striking examples of his interior administration, (similar to those that are related of Messer Bernabo di Milano,) when an occasion presents itself to reward or punish any one who has in civil affairs either rendered great service to the state, or committed some crime, so that it may be much talked about. But, above all, a prince should endeavor to invest all his actions with a character of grandeur and excellence. A prince, furthermore, becomes esteemed when he shows himself either a true friend or a real enemy; that is, when, regardless of consequences, he declares himself openly for or against another, which will always be more creditable to him than to remain neutral. For if two of your neighboring potentates should come to war amongst themselves, they are either of such character that, when either of them has been defeated, you will have cause to fear the conqueror, or not. In either case, it will always be better for you to declare yourself openly and make fair war; for if you fail to do so, you will be very apt to fall a prey to the victor, to the delight and satisfaction of the defeated party, and you will have no claim for protection or assistance from either the one or the other. For the conqueror will want no doubtful friends, who did not stand by him in time of trial; and the defeated party will not forgive you for having refused, with arms in hand, to take the chance of his fortunes.
When Antiochus came into Greece, having been sent by the Ætolians to drive out the Romans, he sent ambassadors to the Achaians, who were friends of the Romans, to induce them to remain neutral; whilst the Romans, on the other hand, urged them to take up arms in their behalf. When the matter came up for deliberation in the council of the Achaians, and the ambassadors of Antiochus endeavored to persuade them to remain neutral, the Roman legate replied: “As to the course which is said to be the best and most advantageous for your state, not to intervene in our war, I can assure you that the very reverse will be the case; for by not intervening you will, without thanks and without credit, remain a prize to the victor.”
And it will always be the case that he who is not your friend will claim neutrality at your hands, whilst your friend will ask your armed intervention in his favor. Irresolute princes, for the sake of avoiding immediate danger, adopt most frequently the course of neutrality, and are generally ruined in consequence. But when a prince declares himself boldly in favor of one party, and that party proves victorious, even though the victor be powerful, and you are at his discretion, yet is he bound to you in love and obligation; and men are never so base as to repay these by such flagrant ingratitude as the oppressing you under these circumstances would be.
Moreover, victories are never so complete as to dispense the victor from all regard for justice. But when the party whom you have supported loses, then he will ever after receive you as a friend, and, when able, will assist you in turn; and thus you will have become the sharer of a fortune which in time may be retrieved.
In the second case, when the contending parties are such that you need not fear the victor, then it is the more prudent to give him your support; for you thereby aid one to ruin the other, whom he should save if he were wise; for although he has defeated his adversary, yet he remains at your discretion, inasmuch as without your assistance victory would have been impossible for him. And here it should be noted, that a prince ought carefully to avoid making common cause with any one more powerful than himself, for the purpose of attacking another power, unless he should be compelled to do so by necessity. For if the former is victorious, then you are at his mercy; and princes should, if possible, avoid placing themselves in such a position.
The Venetians allied themselves with France against the Duke of Milan, an alliance which they could easily have avoided, and which proved their ruin. But when it is unavoidable, as was the case with the Florentines when Spain and the Pope united their forces to attack Lombardy, then a prince ought to join the stronger party, for the reasons above given. Nor is it to be supposed that a state can ever adopt a course that is entirely safe; on the contrary, a prince must make up his mind to take the chance of all the doubts and uncertainties; for such is the order of things that one inconvenience cannot be avoided except at the risk of being exposed to another. And it is the province of prudence to discriminate amongst these inconveniences, and to accept the least evil for good.
A prince should also show himself a lover of virtue, and should honor all who excel in any one of the arts, and should encourage his citizens quietly to pursue their vocations, whether of commerce, agriculture, or any other human industry; so that the one may not abstain from embellishing his possessions for fear of their being taken from him, nor the other from opening new sources of commerce for fear of taxes. But the prince should provide rewards for those who are willing to do these things, and for all who strive to enlarge his city or state. And besides this, he should at suitable periods amuse his people with festivities and spectacles. And as cities are generally divided into guilds and classes, he should keep account of these bodies, and occasionally be present at their assemblies, and should set an example of his affability and magnificence; preserving, however, always the majesty of his dignity, which should never be wanting on any occasion or under any circumstances.