Machiavelli: The Realistic Philosopher Essay

Machiavelli: The Realistic Philosopher Essay

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Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian diplomat in the early 16th century. While in exile, Machiavelli spent most of his time educating himself in Roman history and writing political treatise. In this time, he wrote a letter to Lorenzo de Medici in hopes of perishing his exile and gaining approval from the Medici family. This message was interpreted as a guide to becoming a successful ruler. Machiavelli’s The Prince discusses the way of life a prince should live in order to maintain power. He believed that giving the Medici family an idea of how to gain and keep complete authority would be very useful in affecting the politics in Italy of the age. Although Plato allows us to see how justice should be the main admiration of a ruler, Machiavelli’s Prince provides a more realistic explanation of the better ruler because power is gained through balancing empathy with fear, strong arms, and setting a strong reputation.
Niccolo Machiavelli sets Chiron the centaur as the suggested principle educator to rulers. Chiron the centaur is the ideal educator because of what he represents. As defined in Webster’s II New College Dictionary, a centaur is “one of a race of monsters having the head, arms, and trunk of a man and the body and legs of a horse.” “To have a teacher a half beast, half man means nothing other than that a prince needs to know how to use both natures; and the one without the other is not lasting.” The particular creature symbolizing the balance and stability needed for power by representing each with a fox and a lion, whom cannot live without the other. “Thus, since a prince is compelled of necessity to know well how to use the beast, he should pick the fox and the lion, because the lion does not defend itself from snares an...


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Ultimately, I believe that Machiavelli has a more realistic suggestion to how rulers can gain and maintain power. Because of his obstacles throughout his exile, Machiavelli learned to look at what would happen in a society rather than what could happen. He was a realist, unlike Plato. Machiavelli provided a better definition of a ruler than Plato because he believed that with a balance in empathy and fear, strong arms, and a set reputation was the key to the greatest power.



Works Cited

“Niccolo Machiavelli Biography”, A+E Networks, accessed February 20, 2014, http://www.biography.com/people/niccol%C3%B2-machiavelli-9392446
“Webster’s II New College Dictionary”, Houghton Mifflin Company, published 1999, 181
Niccolo Machiavelli, translated by Harvey C. Mansfeld, “The Prince”, The University of Chicago Press, published 1998, 69

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