121+ Best Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat, politician, historian, philosopher, humanist, writer, playwright and poet of the Renaissance period. He has often been called the father of modern political philosophy and political science. Profoundly inspirational Niccolo Machiavelli quotes will encourage growth in life, make you wiser and broaden your perspective.

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Famous Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes

Besides what has been said, people are fickle by nature; and it is a simple to convince them of something but difficult to hold them in that conviction; and, therefore, affairs should be managed in such a way that when they no longer believe, they can be made to believe by force. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it. – Niccolo Machiavelli

it is better to act and repent than not to act and regret. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Decide which is the line of conduct that presents the fewest drawbacks and then follow it out as being the best one, because one never finds anything perfectly pure and unmixed, or exempt from danger. – Niccolo Machiavelli

He who would foresee what is to happen should look to what has happened: for all that is has its counterpart in time past. – Niccolo Machiavelli

One of the great secrets of the day is to know how to take possession of popular prejudices and passions, in such a way as to introduce a confusion of principles which makes impossible all understanding between those who speak the same language and have the same interests. – Niccolo Machiavelli

You do not know the unfathomable cowardice of humanity…servile in the face of force, pitiless in the face of weakness, implacable before blunders, indulgent before crimes and patient to the point of martyrdom before all the violences of bold despotism. – Niccolo Machiavelli

He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with the greatest loss. – Niccolo Machiavelli

When neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony – Niccolo Machiavelli

A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savor of it. Let him act like the clever archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet appears too far distant, and knowing the limits to which the strength of their bow attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach by their strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with the aid of so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A prince must learn from the fox and the lion… One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Those who act simply as lions are stupid. So it follows that a prudent ruler cannot, and must not, honor his word when it places him at a disadvantage and when the reasons for which he made his promise no longer exist. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Forgiveness proceeds from a generous soul. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The best fortress which a prince can possess is the affection of his people. – Niccolo Machiavelli

For the mob is always impressed by appearances and by results, and the world is composed of the mob. – Niccolo Machiavelli

the wise man should always follow the roads that have been trodden by the great, and imitate those who have most excelled, so that if he cannot reach their perfection, he may at least acquire something of its savor. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Where the very safety of the country depends upon the resolution to be taken, no consideration of justice or injustice, humanity or cruelty, nor of glory or of shame, should be allowed to prevail. But putting all other considerations aside, the only question should be: What course will save the life and liberty of the country? – Niccolo Machiavelli

The reason is that nature has so created men that they are able to desire everything but are not able to attain everything: so that the desire being always greater than the acquisition, there results discontent with the possession and little satisfaction to themselves from it. From this arises the changes in their fortunes; for as men desire, some to have more, some in fear of losing their acquisition, there ensues enmity and war, from which results the ruin of that province and the elevation of another. – Niccolo Machiavelli

It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Republics have a longer life and enjoy better fortune than principalities, because they can profit by their greater internal diversity. They are the better able to meet emergencies. – Niccolo Machiavelli

It is necessary that the prince should know how to color his nature well, and how to be a hypocrite and dissembler. For men are so simple, and yield so much to immediate necessity, that the deceiver will never lack dupes. – Niccolo Machiavelli

And it will always happen that he who is not your friend will request your neutrality and he who is your friend will ask you to declare yourself by taking up arms. And irresolute princes, in order to avoid present dangers, follow the neutral road most of the time, and most of the time they are ruined. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Thus it is well to seem merciful, faithful, humane, sincere, religious, and also to be so; but you must have the mind so disposed that when it is needful to be otherwise you may be able to change to the opposite qualities. – Niccolo Machiavelli

To ensure victory the troops must have confidence in themselves as well as in their commanders. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A prince need trouble little about conspiracies when the people are well disposed, but when they are hostile and hold him in hatred, then he must fear everything and everybody. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The peasant wants only to be left alone to prosper in peace. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Always assume incompetence before looking for conspiracy. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Men are so stupid and concerned with their present needs, they will always let themselves be deceived. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot. – Niccolo Machiavelli

And above all you ought to guard against leading an army to fight which is afraid or which is not confident of victory. For the greatest sign of an impending loss is when one does not believe one can win. – Niccolo Machiavelli

You know better than I that in a Republic talent is always suspect. A man attains an elevated position only when his mediocrity prevents him from being a threat to others. And for this reason a democracy is never governed by the most competent, but rather by those whose insignificance will not jeopardize anyone else’s self-esteem. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Speaking generally, men are ungrateful, fickle, hypocritical, fearful odanger and covetous ogain. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A battle that you win cancels any other bad action of yours. In the same way, by losing one, all the good things worked by you before become vain. – Niccolo Machiavelli

For that reason, let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state, the means will always be considered honest, and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it; and in the world there are only the vulgar, for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on. – Niccolo Machiavelli

For among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible; which is one of those disgraceful things which a prince must guard against. – Niccolo Machiavelli

There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires. – Niccolo Machiavelli

When every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove themselves elsewhere. – Niccolo Machiavelli

One arises from a low to a high station more often by using fraud instead of force. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms. – Niccolo Machiavelli

It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to arrange, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes. The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. Their support is lukewarm … partly because men are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Whoever is the cause of another becoming powerful, is ruined himself. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The prince must be a lion, but he must also know how to play the fox. – Niccolo Machiavelli

One should never fall in the belief that you can find someone to pick you up. – Niccolo Machiavelli

God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Results are often obtained by impetuosity and daring which could never have been obtained by ordinary methods. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions. – Niccolo Machiavelli

How perilous it is to free a people who prefer slavery. – Niccolo Machiavelli

It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free. – Niccolo Machiavelli

An armed republic submits less easily to the rule of one of its citizens than a republic armed by foreign forces. Rome and Sparta were for many centuries well armed and free. The Swiss are well armed and enjoy great freedom. Among other evils caused by being disarmed, it renders you contemptible. It is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed; or that any unarmed man will remain safe among armed servants. – Niccolo Machiavelli

If the chief party, whether it be the people, or the army, or the nobility, which you think most useful and of most consequence to you for the conservation of your dignity, be corrupt, you must follow their humor and indulge them, and in that case honesty and virtue are pernicious. – Niccolo Machiavelli

For, besides what has been said, it should be borne in mind that the temper of the multitude is fickle, and that while it is easy to persuade them of a thing, it is hard to fix them in that persuasion – Niccolo Machiavelli

It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Women are the most charitable creatures, and the most troublesome. He who shuns women passes up the trouble, but also the benefits. He who puts up with them gains the benefits, but also the trouble. As the saying goes, there’s no honey without bees. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it; but when they are free to choose and can do just as they please, confusion and disorder become rampant. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Necessities can be many, but the one that is stronger is that which constrains you to win or to die. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Knowing how to fight made men more bold, because no one fears doing what it seems to him he has learned to do. Therefore, the ancients wanted their citizens to be trained in every warlike action. – Niccolo Machiavelli

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding danger (it’s impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively. Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not the strength to suffer. – Niccolo Machiavelli

He who has once begun to live by rapine always finds reasons for taking what is not his. – Niccolo Machiavelli

So far as he is able, a prince should stick to the path of good but, if the necessity arises, he should know how to follow evil. – Niccolo Machiavelli

When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty clothes of everyday, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death; I pass indeed into their world. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The wish to acquire more is admittedly a very natural and common thing; and when men succeed in this they are always praised rather than condemned. But when they lack the ability to do so and yet want to acquire more at all costs, they deserve condemnation for their mistakes. – Niccolo Machiavelli

God creates men, but they choose each other. – Niccolo Machiavelli

If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared. – Niccolo Machiavelli

it is much safer to be feared than loved because 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. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Politics have no relation to morals. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil. – Niccolo Machiavelli

For this is the tragedy of man circumstances change, but he does not. – Niccolo Machiavelli

To be feared is much safer then to be loved. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Never was anything great achieved without danger. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Although deceit is detestable in all other things, yet in the conduct of war it is laudable and honorable; and a commander who vanquishes an enemy by stratagem is equally praised with one who gains victory by force. – Niccolo Machiavelli

One can generally say this about men: that they are ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger, greedy for gain; and while you work for their good they are completely yours, offering you their blood, their property, their lives, and their sons when danger is far away; but when it comes nearer to you, they turn away. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated, but it is very necessary to appear to have them. – Niccolo Machiavelli

One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A prudent man must behave like those archers who, if they are skillful, when the target seems too distant, know the capabilities of their bow and aim a good deal higher than their objective, not in order to shoot so high but so that by aiming high they can reach the target. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Princes should delegate to others the enactment of unpopular measures and keep in their own hands the means of winning favors. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Delusion gives you more happiness than truth gives to me. For injuries ought to be done all at one time, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; benefits ought to be given little by little, so that the flavor of them may last longer. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Therefore the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people, for although you may have fortresses they will not save you if you are hated by the people. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A sign of intelligence is an awareness of one’s own ignorance. – Niccolo Machiavelli

He who builds on the people, builds on the mud – Niccolo Machiavelli

Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage. – Niccolo Machiavelli

It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Hence it comes that all armed Prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed Prophets have been destroyed. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Change has no constituency. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not to suffer. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The world has always been the same; and there is always as much good fortune as bad in it. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The nature of man is such that people consider themselves put under an obligation as much by the benefits they confer as by those they receive. – Niccolo Machiavelli

I hold it to be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words toward anyone, for neither diminishes the strength of the enemy. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Power is the pivot on which everything hinges. He who has the power is always right; the weaker is always wrong. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Prudence therefore consists in knowing how to distinguish degrees of disadvantage. – Niccolo Machiavelli

In the armies and among every ten men there is one of more life, of more heart, or at least of more authority, who with his courage, with words and by example keeps the others firm and disposed to fight. – Niccolo Machiavelli

He who desires or attempts to reform the government of a state and wishes to have it accepted, must at least retain the semblance of the old forms; so that it may seem to the people that there has been no change in the institutions, even though in fact they are entirely different from the old ones. For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities. – Niccolo Machiavelli

When settling disputes between his subjects, he should ensure that his judgement is irrevocable; and he should be so regarded that no one ever dreams of trying to deceive or trick him. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him. – Niccolo Machiavelli

One can make this generalization about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceivers, they shun danger and are greedy for profit; while you treat them well, they are yours. They would shed their blood for you, risk their property, their lives, their children, so long, as I said above, as danger is remote; but when you are in danger they turn against you. – Niccolo Machiavelli

People should either be caressed or crushed. If you do them minor damage they will get their revenge; but if you cripple them there is nothing they can do. If you need to injure someone, do it in such a way that you do not have to fear their vengeance. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A wise ruler ought never to keep faith when by doing so it would be against his interests. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many. – Niccolo Machiavelli

I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it. – Niccolo Machiavelli

I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven. In the former I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles – Niccolo Machiavelli

Good order makes men bold, and confusion, cowards. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Appear as you may wish to be – Niccolo Machiavelli

The leader should know how to enter into evil when necessity commands. – Niccolo Machiavelli

The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Nothing feeds upon itself as liberality does. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A wise man will see to it that his acts always seem voluntary and not done by compulsion, however much he may be compelled by necessity. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A wise prince then should never be idle in times of peace but should industriously lay-up stores of which to avail himself in times of adversity so that when fortune abandons him he may be prepared to resist her blows. – Niccolo Machiavelli

All the armed prophets conquered; all the unarmed ones perished. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Whoever takes it upon himself to establish a commonwealth and prescribe laws must presuppose all men naturally bad, and that they will yield to their innate evil passions as often as they can do so with safety. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A wise prince will seek means by which his subjects will always and in every possible condition of things have need of his government, and then they will always be faithful to him. – Niccolo Machiavelli

A government which does not trust its citizens to be armed is not itself to be trusted. – Niccolo Machiavelli

There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless. – Niccolo Machiavelli

Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results. – Niccolo Machiavelli

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