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Machiavelli’s Fortuna in The Prince Niccolo Machiavelli was a central political figure during the Renaissance in Florence, Italy. Living in a period of political instability around him and religion corruptions, his ideas reflected these issues. He was against political leaders who came into power just because of birth/family and went against the belief of the Divine Right of King–which was a popular belief in the Classics and Medieval time which preached connection between religion and monarchy. Machiavelli was a realist–he had great respect for individuals who rose to power and had an outstanding rule with “Machiavellian” characteristics. In addition to the general Machiavellian characteristics, Machiavelli discussed a fairly new concept that was developed during the Renaissance–the idea of fortune/luck/fate. He believed that all successful rulers mastered their destiny, which he referred to as “fortuna,” in The Prince . He preached that there are certain things that are under our control and those that aren’t and people who can change the circumstance can ultimately survive. His views were popularized not only during Renaissance times in politics and religion from Shakespeare to Julius II, but also can be seen in modern times ranging from Hitler to Carnegie. The Prince was meant to be a guideline of a successful ruler dedicated to Prince Lorenzo the Magnificent Medici, whose family practically built Florence. The Medici family was the patron of Machiavelli so he couldn’t really directly insult the people that were supporting his works, but he wrote The Prince and described a successful ruler to everything that Lorenzo wasn’t. Machiavelli’s prince should be a militaristic, authoritative leader who should be able to adapt to any situation that society hands to him. To gain understanding, the prince can learn through reason and logic in order to be multi-faceted–which Machiavelli crucially points out as important: “One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves” (23).
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In addition to summing up his views on the vast characteristics a prince should have, he also brings up another crucial trait–fear. Although Machiavelli believes that a ruler should be loved and feared at the same time, he recognizes the difficulties of achieving both. So, he said, “Since it is difficult to join them together, it is safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking. ..it is much more secure to be feared than loved” (56). The reason why he believed being feared is better than being loved is because he understood the general state of men: we are “ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous” (57). As a realist, Machiavelli understood that when a state was at its height, everyone would be happy and would listen to the ruler and still have order in the state, but when the state was at its low, there would be chaos and possible rebels against the ruler if he was only loved. However, if the ruler was feared rather
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This essay was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course GSP 101 taught by Professor Antonini during the Spring '07 term at Tampa.

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first paper - Machiavelli's Fortuna in The Prince Niccolo...

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