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[M]any have imagined republics and principalities for themselves which have never been seen or known to exist in reality, for the distance is so great between how we live and how we ought to live that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation; because a man who wants to make a profession of goodness in everything is bound to come to ruin among so many who are not good.
[I]n order to avoid robbing his subjects, to be able to defend himself, to avoid becoming poor and contemptible, and to avoid being forced to become rapacious, a prince must not be greatly concerned about acquiring a reputation for miserliness, for that is one of those vices that enable him to reign.
A prince . . . must not mind acquiring a bad reputation for cruelty in order to keep his subjects united and loyal, for, with very few examples of cruelty, he will be more merciful than those who, because of too much mercy, allow disorders to continue, from which spring killing and plundering, for these usually harm the whole community, while the executions that come from the prince just harm particular individuals. And more than all other princes, a new prince cannot avoid a reputation for cruelty, because new states are always full of dangers.
[A] prince must make himself feared in such a way that if he does not gain love, he does avoid hatred, for to be feared and not to be hated can go very well together, and this he will always achieve if he does not touch the goods and the women of his citizens and subjects. And when he is obliged to shed someone’s blood, he should do so when there is proper justification and manifest cause, but above all, he must abstain from taking the property of others, for men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Prince!