While The Prince is, of course, a work of non-fiction, it is full of recurring characters, mostly figures from classical antiquity and from Renaissance-era Italy, Machiavelli's own time. These characters are used as examples, both positive and negative, of the political principles Machiavelli is attempting to demonstrate in the work. One of the most important figures referenced by Machiavelli is Cesare Borgia, who embodies the ruthless brand of pragmatism recommended throughout the book. But there are literally dozens, ranging from Alexander the Great to Hiero the Syracusan, whose career was an example of how a prince might rise to power through merit. Other characters included Milanese despot Ludovico Sforza, Pope Alexander VI (or Rodrigo Borgia, Cesare's father) and Girolamo Savanarola. The important point is that Machiavelli is not interested in telling the stories of these characters per se, but only inasmuch as they are useful in demonstrating his philosophy of statecraft.