“For war is justified when it is necessary, and arms are pious when without them there would be no hope at all” This quote can be find in XXVICan someone help me to figure out how to summarize...

“For war is justified when it is necessary, and arms are pious when without them there would be no hope at all”

This quote can be find in XXVI

Can someone help me to figure out how to summarize this quote?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The quote empowers the political leader in waging war.  Rather than engaging in hand wringing about whether it is moral or not to wage war, or whether it is ethical to do so, Macchiavelli argues that in order to continue political reign, one has to wage war and the stockpiling of arms in this light can be seen as a good thing.  For the political setting, the aversion to war might be politically worse than the ability to engage in it.  For example, if a ruler is constantly seeking to avoiding war, it could actually pose a greater threat than being willing to engage in war.  Such an idea empowers the central leader in asserting their own sense of political right and helps to remove the sticky issues that might be present with whether or not one wishes or feels reticence to embarking on such a path.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this chapter, Machiavelli is arguing that it is morally justifiable to fight in defense of Italy (which of course was not actually a united country at that point).  The line that you quote is saying that there are times when war is acceptable.

The first part of the sentence is saying something like "It is acceptable to fight a war when you have no other choice."  That is how I would paraphrase or restate that part of the sentence.  The second part says something like "If there is no other choice than taking up arms, then the arms are holy."  Or you might say "If war is the only option, then even fighting is acceptable to God."

At any rate, the point is that Machiavelli is saying that any war that is necessary is just and acceptable.

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The Prince

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