The Prince By Machiavelli Essays Example

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Ethics, Destiny, Virtue, Machiavelli, Life, Skills, Control, Talent

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/11/25

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“It is not unknown to me how many men have had, and still have, the opinion that the affairs of the world are in such wise governed by fortune and by God that men with their wisdom cannot direct them and that no one can even help them; and because of this they would have us believe that it is not necessary to labor much in affairs, but to let chance govern themNevertheless, not to extinguish our free will, I hold it to be true that Fortune is the arbiter of one-half of our actions, but that she still leaves us to direct the other half, or perhaps a little less (Ch. 25).”

Machiavelli, The Prince.

Machiavelli’s Prince was a political treatise written in Italian and one of the first work in political philosophy. Machiavelli believed in effective truth and no in an ideal that was abstract and his is evident in his work. The Prince was written as a practical guide telling princes how to rule. The themes of virtue and fortune run through most of the book but it is in chapter 25 that Machiavelli tells the prince how he should deal with the two. Machiavelli says that virtue and fortune play important role in the success and failure of a prince and that a prince must be able to manage fortune with talent and virtue to be successful. Although he says that with virtue a person can mitigate the effects of fortune in his life, he also concludes that human control over events can never be something that is absolute as one half of a man’ life is ruled by fortune and the other left to his freewill. I agree with Machiavelli’s view that fortune is as important as virtue or talent in a prince’s life and that he ought to try and conquer one and master the other.
Machiavelli talks of virtue as the ability to do whatever is needed, something that is highly flexible in one’s pursuit of glory. It is the qualities that a prince needs to maintain his state and achieve greatness. Being evil when necessary is one of the virtues a prince must possess and moral viciousness is never out of his purview. He says that the best prince is someone who can vary his behavior from good to evil and back “as fortune and circumstances dictate”. Machiavelli says that fortune or ‘fortuna’, is the unpredictability of life and luck. He feels that virtue is needed to have a sense of control over life. He says, “For Fortune is a woman and the man who wants to hold her down must beat and bully her” (Ch.25). Machiavelli compare fortune to a destructive river that completely ruins everything in its way. Yet he also says that the furor of a raging river does not mean that its destruction is beyond human control. He says that before the rains come it is possible to divert the river so it does not inflict much damage. Machiavelli also believed that virtue could be possessed by a collective body as well as an individual and believed in a power structure that could control fortune and employ virtue and that princes and rulers were nothing more than means to brings about and promote a principled culture. He says the ravages of fortune can be overcome only if virtue and talent were in preparation of its arrival. Machiavelli states that fortune demands of the prince a violent response. He says of fortune that, “She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her (Ch. 25).”He says that if the response to it is effeminate or weak, it would take control over the person and that there needs to be a will to control fortune of the prince needs to have his way.
When talking about the role of virtue and fortune in a prince’s life, he says that a ruler who has reached the top position through his virtue would have had a difficult time getting there but would be confident of his position once he reaches it. Machiavelli says that a prince in such a case would feel safe. However he says that a prince who had got to the top through fortune would have an easy ascent but will have trouble staying in that position. Machiavelli does not use the word ‘virtu’ in the sense of a virtuous behavior. This is because he says that even cruel rulers like Agothocles and Serveus can possess virtue. Rather virtue for him was a talent or the ability to achieve a goal and one of the most important quality that a prince should possess. Although he believe that fortune rules or controls one half of the human life, he sometime also admit that if properly applied virtue can overcome fortune in certain circumstances. He says that if a prince adapted his talent or virtue to his present circumstances he definitely would be successful in his endeavors.
Machiavelli also uses the concept of virtue and fortune to investigate how much of a role these two play in the success and failure of the prince. He uses these to prove how much of a freewill a prince can have and how much of his life is determined by circumstances he cannot change. Machiavelli tells the prince that he should always act virtuous but he also caution that to act virtuous for it sake can in the long run prove detrimental to his position and his principality as a whole. Even though Machiavelli advices the prince to be virtuous, he is not against the prince employing cruelty and dishonesty if these were to serve the state. He states that these vices were beneficial to the state, then the prince should go ahead with it. Vices and virtues then should only be seen as the means to the desired end and should not be practiced for their own sake. Machiavelli say that any action that the prince takes must be thought out and should be carried out only if it is beneficial for the state and not acted upon solely for moral purposes. Machiavelli thus states that fortune and virtue both play a crucial part in the life of a prince and he should have the will and the virtue to deflect the extremities of fortune.

Works Cited

Machiavelli, Nicolo. The Prince. Trans. W.K. Marriot. Texas: Veroglyphic Publishing. 2009.

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