Time Spent With the Harvard Classics – The Prince – Niccolo Machiavelli

“He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation.”

The 16th century political theorist Niccolo Machiavelli wrote the treatise, The Prince.  It was then published with the permission of one of his hugest fans, the Medici pope, Clement VII.  It is whispered very loudly that Clement had put much of this work to practice.

One certainty is that the treatise was in direct conflict with the dominant Catholic and scholastic doctrines at the time pertinent to politics and ethics.  Yet, this work of modern political philosophy has survived on the tip of more tongues through the ages since than have the works that dominated that age.  Perhaps this is true because it sought to deal in terms of effective truth and not abstract ideals.

This work is relatively short when contrasted with Machiavelli’s other works.  Its central themes revolve around the premise that the glory and survival of any prince can justify the use of immoral means to achieved those ends.  From this jaded perception, realistic or not, “Machiavellian” has come to be perceived as a pejorative and in my opinion rightly so.

Chapter X of this treatise deals with how to judge the strength of a princedom.  Wisely written, it is clear to see that this is not just a matter of ability to defend or whether the princedom need to depend on its allies.  Even where the prepared and people trained, a prince is also at risk where he is hated.  President Trump would do well to review and reflect on this premise.


Alternatively, this may be listened to in its audiobook format at:



About alohapromisesforever

Writer, poet, musician, surfer, father of two princesses.
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