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
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.
God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.
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.
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.
Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot.
How perilous it is to free a people who prefer slavery.
To be feared is much safer then to be loved.
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.
Forgiveness proceeds from a generous soul.
Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony
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.
Never was anything great achieved without danger.
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.
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.
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.
Necessities can be many, but the one that is stronger is that which constrains you to win or to die.
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.
God creates men, but they choose each other.
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.
The best fortress which a prince can possess is the affection of his people.
The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms.
For the mob is always impressed by appearances and by results, and the world is composed of the mob.
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?
When neither their property nor their honor is touched, the majority of men live content.
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
For this is the tragedy of man circumstances change, but he does not.
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.
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.
Inspirational Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes
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.
He who would foresee what is to happen should look to what has happened: for all that is has its counterpart in time past.
It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.
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.
If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.
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.
When every province of the world so teems with inhabitants that they can neither subsist where they are nor remove themselves elsewhere.
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.
Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society.
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.
Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil.
Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.
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.
He who blinded by ambition, raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with the greatest loss.
Always assume incompetence before looking for conspiracy.
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.
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.
Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.
To ensure victory the troops must have confidence in themselves as well as in their commanders.
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.
Whoever is the cause of another becoming powerful, is ruined himself.
it is better to act and repent than not to act and regret.
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.
The peasant wants only to be left alone to prosper in peace.
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.
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.
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.
Speaking generally, men are ungrateful, fickle, hypocritical, fearful odanger and covetous ogain.
He who has once begun to live by rapine always finds reasons for taking what is not his.
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.
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.
Top Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes
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.
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.
One should never fall in the belief that you can find someone to pick you up.
Princes should delegate to others the enactment of unpopular measures and keep in their own hands the means of winning favors.
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.
One arises from a low to a high station more often by using fraud instead of force.
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.
Results are often obtained by impetuosity and daring which could never have been obtained by ordinary methods.
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.
The prince must be a lion, but he must also know how to play the fox.
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.
Men are so stupid and concerned with their present needs, they will always let themselves be deceived.
Politics have no relation to morals.
The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.
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.
One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.
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.
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.
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.
Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration.
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.
Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.
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.