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This Essay Argues That Machiavelli Was Not Evil, But A Patriotic Citizen.

1737 words - 7 pages

There is good reason to believe that Machiavelli taught evil. One has only to open the book to find Machiavelli advising the use of violence in defense of the prince's power. In Chapter 3 he says, " . . . if [the prince] wants to hold [acquired principalities] he must have two concerns: one, that the bloodline of [the principalities] ancient prince be eliminated. . ."(9), and in Chapter 19 he states, "And here one should note that hatred is acquired through good deeds as well as bad ones . . . a prince who wants to maintain his state is often forced not to be good." (77). It is easy to see in light of these passages, and many more like them, how one might interpret The Prince as a "Ruthless Dictating for Dummies." However, when these statements are examined in the context of The Prince in its entirety and in the context of history, it is plain to see that the well being of his homeland, and I would submit the common man, is Machiavelli's only concern.Machiavelli lived in 15th century Italy. At this time, Italy was politically divided and its wealth was being plundered by numerous squabbles among Italian principalities and by foreign principalities hoping to take advantage of Italy's state of affairs. These wars left no one time to rule. The people were impoverished by these battles and rule of law was left for anarchy. If this state of affairs wasn't bad enough, the Church was also appropriating the wealth of Italy with its own armies and with the Inquisition. The Inquisition not only was a great source of income for the Church, it was also the chief executor of torture. Italy could never protect itself from invaders as long as it was fighting amongst itself, nor could it hope to stand up to the Inquisition on behalf of its people. I believe The Prince directs its efforts at both of those aims.On the subject of 'evil', on what basis could one compare the methods that Machiavelli endorsed, eliminating a bloodline, to those readily applied by the Church, or any other ruler of the day for that matter? When one considers that Inquisitors raped women and small children, tortured the accused with use of hot irons, the rack, spiked vises, burning alive, and probably many other forms of torture, of which I am gratefully ignorant, it seems laughable that there would be any action deemed "evil" in comparison. Furthermore, while it appears that Inquisitors tortured for pleasure (since accused were relieved of their assets before trial, and accused were rarely found not-guilty -- meaning there was no need for torture) Machiavelli does not endorse torture, and does not endorse killing for its own sake, but specifically in connection with achieving an end that is beneficial to the prince, and therefore the state. He states his case for this rather plainly throughout the book, but the passages suffice to summarize his viewpoint, first regarding the issue of war he states, "Thus, the Romans . . . knew that war may not be avoided but is deferred to the advantage...

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