The Prince

Contradiction in The Prince

Throughout The Prince, Niccoló Machiavelli explores human nature in the context of ruling and being ruled. In the letter to Lorenzo dé Medici that prefaces the text, Machiavelli explains that he has greatly studied “the deeds of great men” and is well acquainted with “contemporary affairs and a continuous study of the ancient world” (Machiavelli 3). From these studies of history and the nature of both the common man and the princes, Machiavelli has concluded that the surest way to hold on to a city or territory is to raze it to the ground, and that men sooner forget the loss of their father than the loss of their patrimony. Both of these claims are concerned with the seizing of wealth and resources; however, they contradict each other in the aspect that destroying an entire city is the same as taking a person’s wealth, which is something men do not quickly forget. As a result, and although scattered and lacking resources, the refugees from the demolished city will become bitter toward the prince and will seek revenge.

In chapter seventeen, Machiavelli states “above all, a prince must abstain from the property of others; because men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony” (55). The reason for...

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