An exegetical review of Machiavelli's The Prince

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Machiavelli's The Prince, as he writes in his Dedication is a book of practical value containing insights to political affairs. One of the insights that prove to be of value from this book, as given in his introductory statement is Machiavelli's view on the role of fortune in political affairs…

Introduction

In this regard, as this essay will argue, Machiavelli sees fortune as a force, that plays a large part in the life of a prince as well as his subjects, both as an obstacle that must be defeated, and as an aid that must be utilized to its full potential.
True to his times, where a ruler's power is determined by the size of his territory and his ability to conquer others, Machiavelli identifies the means by which territories are acquired "either by the arms of the prince himself, or of others, or else by fortune or by ability" (14). While he recognizes the fact that all the aforementioned means will face difficulties in governing, he distinguishes dominions acquired through good fortune as the one challenged with most difficulties. He writes "it is clear that one or other of these things will mitigate in some degree many difficulties. Nevertheless, he who has relied least on fortune is established the strongest" (28). Hence, he cautions those who gain power through fortune alone because such means to power, he argues, are established through "inconstant and unstable things" (30), because while "they have not any difficulties on the way up, because they fly, but they have many when they reach the summit" (30). ...
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