What, according to Machiavelli in The Prince, were the basic criteria essential for a good prince?        

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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In many ways, Machiavelli sums up the ideal characteristics for a good prince with his famous "lion and fox" analogy. A leader should be wily and tough, willing to use force but always looking for a way to maneuver out of a situation. Overall, he should be "prepared not to be virtuous, and to make use of this or not according to need." More specifically, Machiavelli says a good prince should be the following:

  • not excessively generous, it is better, in fact, to be miserly.
  • feared by his people, but not to the point he will be hated.
  • willing to use bad faith, while appearing to be honest.
  • successful in military campaigns.
  • able to avoid an "evil reputation" though he may have to carry out evil deeds.
  • willing to be blamed for things that, while bad, will be good for the state.

The important point, again, is that princes should not be governed by a universal code of morality, but by the exigencies of maintaining power.


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