The Source Of A Princes Happiness And Misery

1852 words - 8 pages

Augustine’s City of God and Aquinas’s On Kingship ideas on how a prince should rule contrast with Niccolo Machiavelli’s described The Prince. Augustine breaks down the true source of a prince’s happiness as revolving around God while Machiavelli focuses on the prince’s material lusts. In On Kingship, Aquinas describes the sources of a prince’s misery being suspicion, jealousy and lust. Machiavelli disagrees, saying those emotions makes a prince happy.
Augustine talks about a prince’s happiness in book 5 chapter 24 in the City of God. He states five goals that do not lead to happiness: ruling a long time, dying a peaceful death, having a successor, conquering ones enemies, or guarding their ...view middle of the document...

Founders are men who have created a great empire. Even if a prince falls short of a founder’s example, he will still achieve much. All founders Machiavelli praises are those that are full of virtue. Machiavelli describes virtue throughout The Prince as doing whatever it takes to obtain and sustain your every lust. Virtue comes through a prince relying on his own actions. Machiavelli sees founders like Moses as weak because he begged to and relied on God in all that he did. A true prince needs to abandon God and his commands, relying on his own actions. Founders like Romulus, Theseus and Cyrus relied on their own abilities and virtues and were able to achieve happiness for themselves and their fatherland.
Machiavelli strays away from Augustine’s advice for a prince to be humble. A prince must be admired and praised by his subjects to sustain the happiness a prince has gained through their actions and virtue. Chapter 19 describes how a great ruler, Septimius Severus, “was always able to rule happily because his virtues made him so admirable in the sight of the soldiers and the people”. Admiration comes from being feared and loved by the people. A prince founding his power on the support of the people gains the love of the people, because all they require is to be protected from the great. This will allow him to be admired by the many and safe from the great trying to take his power from fear of the people revolting against them. To uphold the people’s love, a prince needs to appear to be generous without actually giving.
The people’s love will be strong in times of peace, but when trouble strikes, a kingdom based on love alone will fall apart. A prince needs to instill fear in his people to know that they will stay loyal to him through the good and bad times. Machiavelli describes the most effective way of instilling fear in the people by being cruel to the few and merciful to the many. By causing sever harm to a few select individuals, a prince will cause the multitude of people to be afraid of what the prince can do and will love him for not causing them harm.
A prince is allowed to be immoral because he is in charge, but he wants his people to be moral and religious. . He motives differ from Augustine’s though because he is only using religion to sustain his happiness. Machiavelli talks about the importance of religious principalities in chapter 11, saying that “[r]ulers have been sustained by religion…only these principalities are secure and happy.” (45) Religion provides rulers a means to control the people. Through their love of God or fear of eternal damnation, a religious people will do whatever they can to uphold their kingdom if it supports religion. The loyalty of the people can only be sustained if they believe their prince is also religious. Machiavelli emphasizes the importance of pretending to have to have faith. In chapter 18, he warns that actually observing and having faith is harmful to a prince. (70) A prince that makes the...

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