what is machiavelli's basic argument on the question of whether a ruler ought to be loved or feared? no

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Niccolo Machiavelli wrote The Prince to present his philosophy of conduct for the ruler of any land. The short summary of that philosophy would be that the ruler should do whatever is necessary to consolidate and maintain all power under his direct control.

Machiavelli did not concern himself with how the ruler might win the affection or loyalty of his subjects.

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both....It is much more secure to be feared than to be loved....Since it is difficult to join them together, it is safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.

Machiavelli did not consider that the political activities of running a country had to be intertwined with the morals of human behavior. He considered it essential that a ruler be prepared to take whatever steps were required to preserve his political power from potential threats. If this effort required use of deceit or tactics that caused fear, the effort was merited when it helped to solidify the control of the ruler over his subjects.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial