Machiavelli advises his audience that Princes should not keep promises, nor live uprightly, if they intend on keeping their power. He argues that in the time The Prince was written, those Princes who have used cunning and sneaky tactics in the way they rule their kingdom "in the end got the better of those who trusted to honest dealing."
Machiavelli continues by giving an allegory of how Princes should exhibit qualities of both man and beast, much like a centaur. If a Prince were to rely solely on being honest and square-dealing, he would find himself taken advantage of by his subjects and eventually lose control. If a Prince constantly used his cunning to deceive his subjects, he would become hated and overthrown. It is necessary, then, according to Machiavelli, for a Prince to "understand well how to use both the man and the beast." A Prince must always seek the approval of his subjects when it comes to mercy, good faith, integrity, humanity, and religion, even if it means lying and breaking promises.