Love endures by a bond which men, being scoundrels, may break whenever it serves their advantage to do so; but fear is supported by the dread of pain, which is ever present.
See Important Quotations Explained
Machiavelli asserts that a number of traits are inherent in human nature. People are generally self-interested, although their affection for others can be won and lost. They are content and happy so long they are not victims of something terrible. They may be trustworthy in prosperous times, but they will quickly turn selfish, deceitful, and profit-driven in times of adversity. People admire honor, generosity, courage, and piety in others, but most of them do not exhibit these virtues themselves. Ambition is commonly found among those who have achieved some power, but most common people are satisfied with the status quo and therefore do not yearn for increased status. People will naturally feel a sense of obligation after receiving a favor or service, and this bond is usually not easily broken. Nevertheless, loyalties are won and lost, and goodwill is never absolute. Such statements about human nature are often offered up as justifications for the book’s advice to princes. While Machiavelli backs up his political arguments with concrete historical evidence, his statements about society and human nature sometimes have the character of assumptions rather than observations.