The PrinceHere is the world's most famous master plan for seizing and holding power. Astonishing in its candor, The Prince even today remains a disturbingly realistic and prophetic work on what it takes to be a prince...a king...a president.
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August 01, 1984
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Excerpt from The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
THOSE WHO wish to win favor with a prince customarily offer him those things which they hold most precious or which they see him most delight in. Very often, therefore, we see princes presented with horses, weapons, cloth of gold, precious gems, or similar ornaments worthy of their greatness. Wishing, then, to present myself to Your Highness with some mark of my duty to you, I have been unable to find anything I possess that I hold so dear or esteem so highly as my knowledge of the actions of great men, learned from long experience in modern affairs and from constant reading of ancient ones. Having long examined and reflected upon these matters with great diligence and having now set them down in a small volume, I send it to Your Highness. Though I judge this work unworthy to be presented to you, nevertheless, I am very confident that, because of your benevolence, you will accept it, considering that there can come no greater gift from me than the means to understand in a very short time all that which I, after many years, through many labors and dangers, have come to know and understand. I have not adorned this work with fine phrases, with swelling, pompous words, or with any of those blandishments or external ornaments with which many set forth and decorate their matter. For I have chosen either that nothing at all should bring it honor or that the variety of its material and the gravity of its subject matter alone should make it welcome. Nor do I wish it thought a presumption that a man of low and poor estate dare consider and set forth regulations for the rule of princes. For as those who draw landscapes set themselves on the plain to examine the character of hills and of high places and set themselves on the summits to examine the lowlands, so in order thoroughly to understand the nature of the populace one must be a prince, and in order thoroughly to understand the nature of a prince one must be of the people. Therefore, may Your Highness accept this little gift in the spirit with which I send it. If you will diligently read and consider it, you will detect in it one of my deepest desires, which is that you will come to that greatness which fortune and your own qualities promise you. And if from your great height Your Highness will sometimes cast a glance below to these lowly places, you will see how undeservedly I endure the heavy and relentless malice of fortune.