In The Prince, does Machiavelli favor the princes already in power or the would-be princes looking to gain power?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that this is an interesting point into which much delving can reveal even more.  On one hand, the book is a dedication to Lorenzo de Medici, a member of the ruling family in Florence.  The belief was the Machiavelli wanted to dedicate the book to de Medici as a way to curry favor with him for a position in the government.  In this, one can see that the book is written for those in the position of power.  It is Machiavelli's hope that de Medici would be able to absorb some of the lessons in it, and in the process, absorb Machiavelli in his own government and take his counsel.

However, on another level, the book is written for those who covet political power.  Individuals who have already secured power would almost definitely find it it to be a role reversal if they were to suddenly adopt what Machiavelli had been suggesting as opposed to what they were doing.  Part of what makes the work so significant is that it truly presents a radical portrait of how to rule and what it means to wield power.  This can only be fully appreciated by one who is not in possession of political power, so they can understand how to recognize its value.  It stands to reason that those in the position of political power had already gained it and sustained through it with the traditional means of ruling, something that Macchiavelli's ideas readily shun.  In this, the book becomes a more effective guide for those who lie outside political power and wonder how to gain and keep it for their own benefit.

seapoodles | Student

In the book "The Prince" Machiavelli honors the princes who have reined and advises future leaders to look to them for inspiration and guidance. Yet he favors the would-be princes becasue they have the opportunity to lead without corruption or decit. They represent optimism and potential and have yet to be corrupted by power or monitary means. The would-be price idealistically has the power to lead his people to a ideal and upright society where all citizens can prosper and succeed. In essence a Machiavellian society mirrors a socialistic society which later what become the model for the Italian government.

Read the study guide:
The Prince

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question