Nicolò Machiavelli's The Prince

Read Chapters I-XVII of The Prince. In many ways, Machiavelli is considered the first modern political scientist. In The Prince, Machiavelli argues that successful statecraft requires tools that many traditional philosophical and political ideals simply could not provide, and he sees politics as a public responsibility that cannot be based upon the same ethics that guide private life.

Study Guide Questions:

  1. What is Machiavelli's view of human nature?
  2. Is Machiavelli's approach to government similar to or different from Plato's idealized vision in The Republic, and how so?
  3. How is Machiavelli's concept of virtue similar to or different from that of Aristotle?
  4. Machiavelli questions whether it is better for the prince to be loved by the people or feared by the people. He argues that both are important, and if possible, the prince should be equally feared and loved. However, he also calls this an unattainable ideal, and finally concludes that the prince should choose to be feared, rather than loved, by the people. Is Machiavelli right?