A dozen gems from Niccolo Machiavelli

  • Niccolò_Machiavelli_by_Santi_di_Tito“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.”
  • “He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.”
  • “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.”
  • “Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are… in the actions of men… the end justifies the means.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.”
  • “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”
  • “There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.”
  • “A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.”
  • “It is not titles that honour men, but men that honour titles.”
  • “It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.”


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