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[T]hese princes of ours, who have been in their principalities for many years and have then lost them, should not blame Fortune, but rather their own indolence, for, never having thought in quiet times that things might change (which is a common defect in men, not to reckon on storms in a calm), when adverse times arrived, they only thought of fleeing and not of defending themselves, and they hoped that the people, tired of the insolence of the conquerors, would recall them.
I compare her to one of these destructive rivers that, when they are raging, flood the plains, destroy trees and buildings, take up earth from this side and place it on the other . . . [I]t does not follow, therefore, that men, when times are quiet, cannot make provision against them with dikes and embankments . . . So it happens similarly with Fortune; she shows her power where there is no force [virtù] organized to resist her and directs her onslaught there, where she knows that no embankments and dikes have been made to hold her.
[O]ne sees that in those affairs which lead men to . . . glory and riches, they get there in various ways: one with caution, the other with impetuousness; one through violence, the other with cunning; one through patience, the other with its opposite; and each using these diverse means can reach his goal. One also sees that of two cautious men, one succeeds with his designs, the other does not, and in the same way, two men succeed equally with two different procedures[.]
[I]f in so many revolutions in Italy and so many military campaigns, it always seems that military ability [virtù] is extinguished in her, this has happened because her ancient institutions were not good, and there has been no one who knew how to find out new ones. And nothing confers so much honor on a new man on the rise as do the new laws and the new institutions that he has discovered. These things, when they have good foundations and have greatness in them, make him revered and marveled at, and in Italy there is no lack of matter into which any kind of form can be introduced.
This opportunity must not . . . be allowed, to pass, so that Italy, after so much time, may see her liberator. I cannot express with what love he would be received in all those provinces which have suffered because of these foreign inundations, with what thirst for vengeance, with what steadfast loyalty, with what piety, with what tears. What doors would be closed against him? What people would refuse him obedience? What envy would oppose him? What Italian would refuse him homage? To everyone this barbarian dominion stinks.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Prince!