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Concerning

Cruelty
By: Niccolo
Machiavelli

Niccolo
Machiavelli
Most famous line:
the ends justifies
the means
(Machiavellianis
m)

The father of modern political theory


a Florentian historian, politician,
diplomat, philosopher,humanist, and
writer during theRenaissance
He was for many years an official in
theFlorentine Republic, with
responsibilities in diplomatic and
military affairs.

The Prince
Machiavelli's best-known book
It is thought to be based on the life
of Cesare Borgia, whom Machiavelli
served as an adviser
an approach embodied by the saying
that "the ends justify the
means."

Summary
Concerning
Chapter XVII:

Cruelty: Whether
It Is Better to Be
Loved Than to Be
Feared, or the

Compassion, like generosity, is usually


admired. But a prince must be careful
that he does not show compassion
unwisely. If a prince is too
compassionate, and does not
adequately punish disloyal subjects, he
creates an atmosphere of disorder,
since his subjects take the liberty to do
what they pleaseeven to the
extremes of murder and theft.

Crime harms the entire


community, whereas executions
harm only the individuals who
commit crimes. Some measure of
cruelty is necessary to maintain
order. But a prince should be
careful in his exercise of cruelty,
tempering it with humanity and
prudence.

Machiavelli then asks whether being


feared or loved is preferable. Ideally, a
prince should be both loved and feared,
but this state of affairs is difficult to
attain. Forced to make a choice, it is
much better to be feared than loved.
This is because men, by nature, are
ungrateful, fickle, dissembling,
anxious to flee danger, and covetous of
gain.

In times of remote danger, they are


willing to take risks for their prince, but
if the danger is real, they turn against
their prince. It is easy to break a bond
of love when the situation arises, but
the fear of punishment is always
effective, regardless of the situation.
When inducing fear, however, a prince
must be careful to avoid inducing
hatred. He must make sure that any
executions are properly justified.

Above all, a prince should never


confiscate the property of his subjects
or take their women, since these
actions are most likely to breed hatred.
If a prince must confiscate property, he
must make sure he has a convincing
reason. With ones army, however,
there is no such thing as too much
cruelty. Keeping an army disciplined
and united requires cruelty, even
inhuman cruelty.

Anal
ysis

Literary Criticism and


Philosophy