The Prince By Niccolo Machiavelli, Chapter 18

1138 words - 5 pages

The French term 'renaissance' translated into English literally means 'rebirth'. This is precisely what was happening in Europe by the end of the fourteenth century as the old, dark days of the Middle Ages gradually came to a close. There was a desire to be rid of the old superstitions and illiteracy and general primitiveness and backwardness of the Middle Ages, and a thirst for the way things used to be. A desire to return to the old classical culture of Ancient Greece and Rome. The Prince, published in 1513 at the decline of the Renaissance and written by Italian statesman and humanist thinker Niccolo Machiavelli, discusses how to successfully, some may say amorally, use power politics ...view middle of the document...

The ghastly effect it had on Europe was responsible, in part, for the shift in focus. The Black Death, along the Great Schism of 1378 which resulted in the establishment of a second papacy in Avignon, France, resulted in many questioning their faith and the authority of the pope. Many began to realize that the needed to enjoy living. Italy, which at this time was made up of various city-states including Florence, Milan, Naples, Rome and Venice, was a center for trade and strongly benefited, financially and culturally, from their experiences trading with various countries along the Mediterranean. In particular, the de Medici family of Florence, who ruled Florence for most of the fifteenth century and into the sixteenth century, were enormously wealthy political leaders as well as patrons of the arts who sponsored renaissance artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Donatello. They helped to transform Florence into the booming, flourishing renaissance metropolis that it soon became.
For a short amount of time near the beginning of their centuries long rule, around the turn of the sixteenth century, the Medici family was forcibly removed from Florence and sent into exile. It was during this time that Niccolo Machiavelli worked for the government in Florence, led by the rivals of the Medici. When the Medici family rose back to power in 1512, Machiavelli tired desperately to win their favor, but to no avail. He was thrown into exile where he penned The Prince, probably in an effort to show how effective he could be should they offer him a position in government.
According to Machiavelli, to be a successful prince one must “know how to make good use of the natures of both the beast and the man” (Machiavelli). The qualities of man are not sufficient on their own, and so it is often necessary for a prince to turn to the beast side of his nature. He must be possess the qualities of both the fox and the lion; you must be sly like a fox, yet powerful and strong like a lion. Machiavelli than asserts that this rule was taught by the “writers of antiquity” (Machiavelli). He makes several references to Greek mythology, for example to Chiron the centaur (half man, half horse) and Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War. Achilles was also featured in Homer's The Iliad. The fact that he was so well verse in Greek mythology and ancient works of literature, such as the Iliad, is very...

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