Many people in history have written about ideal rulers and states and how to maintain them. Perhaps the most talked about and compared are Machiavelli's, The Prince and Plato's, The Republic. Machiavelli lived at a time when Italy was suffering from its political destruction. The Prince, was written to describe the ways by which a leader may gain and maintain power. In Plato?s The Republic, he unravels the definition of justice. Plato believed that a ruler could not be wholly just unless one was in a society that was also just. His state and ruler was made up to better understand the meaning of justice. It was not intended to be practiced like that of Machiavelli's. Machiavelli, acknowledging this, explains that it is his intention to write something that is true and real and useful to whoever might read it and not something imaginary,"?for many have pictured republics and principalities which in fact have never been known or seen?(Machiavelli 375)." Therefore, because one ruler is realistic and the other imaginary, the characteristics of Machiavelli's ruler versus Plato's ruler are distinctly different.
Machiavelli?s model for his ideal prince was Cesare Borgia, also known as Duke Valentino and son of Pope Alexander VI. He believed Cesare Borgia possessed all the qualities of a prince destined to rule and maintain power in his state. He believed that politics has a morality of its own. There is no regard of justness or unjustness, of cruelty or mercy, of approval or humiliation, which should interfere with the decision of defending the state and preserving its freedom. Therefore, the ruler/prince's single responsibilit...
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...ddle with each other (Plato 99).?
In The Prince, Machiavelli was addressing a monarchical ruler and offering advice designed to keep that ruler in power. He felt that Cesare Borgia was model for the perfect prince. He was able to give actual examples of how princes during his time ruled and how they failed or succeeded in doing so. Plato, in contrast was perhaps unrealistic. His ruler and state could only be used to better understand the meaning of justice. It could never be practiced in real life because he neglects the fact that everyone sins and fails to mention this in his ideal ruler and state.
1) Marra, James L., Zelnick, Stephen C., and Mattson, Mark T. IH 51 Source Book: Plato, The Republic, pp. 77-106
2) Nicole Machiavelli, The Prince, pp. 359-386. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, Iowa, 1998.
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