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Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Prince [Niccolò Machiavelli]

The Prince (Italian: Il Principe) is a political treatise by the Florentine public servant and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli. Originally called De Principatibus (About Principalities), it was originally written in 1513, but not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. The treatise is not representative of the work published during his lifetime, but it is the most remembered, and the work responsible for bringing "Machiavellian" into wide usage as a pejorative term.

The Prince examines the acquisition, perpetuation, and use of political power in the western world. Not intending the writing to be a scholarly treatise on political theory, Machiavelli wrote The Prince to prove his proficiency in the art of the state, offering advice on how a prince might gain and keep power.

Machiavelli justified rule by force rather than by law. Accordingly, The Prince seems to justify a number of actions done solely to perpetuate power. It is a classic study of power—its acquisition, expansion, and effective use.

He also makes a point of declaring that he will not discuss republics, stating, "Of Republics I shall not now speak, having elsewhere spoken of them at length. Here I shall treat exclusively of Principalities, and, filling in the outline above traced out, shall proceed to examine how such States are to be governed and maintained." Machiavelli goes on to describe his view of Republican rule in his work titled "The Discourses" which is longer but less famous. He does, however, include republics in The Prince - he uses Rome many times as an example of a warlike and domestically stable regime.





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