Machiavelli: The Realistic Philosopher Essay

1188 words - 5 pages

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 and the fox does not defend itself from wolves.” Like a lion, a prince must be sly, manipulative, and cause fear to threats. Like a fox, he must be clever; all this in order to succeed in controlling his land. A prince must protect his land by driving off all enemies and potential armies that could cause threat. He must be willing to deceit those that trusted him if it will bring any incommodity to his reign. The abundance of fear in a reign allows for the execution of violence which is something every prince should have according to The Prince. Unlike Plato’s justice, he must be willing to commit evil acts to set a statement whenever necessary even as immoral as it may seem. However, he must be careful not to be deceived himself by anybody or anything. Like a fox, cleverness will avoid these traps. He must be able to act quickly in a sly manner in when called for it. Therefore, a prince must possess many qualities that would allow him complete access to his power.
Unlike Machiavelli’s approach to maintain power for a sole prince’s purpose, Plato believed in an almost utopian society where politics was used to create a well-structured, perfect society. Plato’s society was centered on the idea that the government must...

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