To succeed, Lorenzo must create a national army. The Italian people are good fighters; only their leaders have failed. Lorenzo’s army needs both good cavalry and infantry to defeat the Spaniards and the Swiss.
Should a prince ever succeed in redeeming Italy, he would receive unending glory and be embraced in all the provinces with love.
Analysis — Chapters XXIV–XXVI
Chapter XXV discusses the role of fortune in the determination of human affairs. Many thinkers have considered the question of whether a man’s actions are a manifestation of his own free will, or if they are simply determined by fate or his environment. Machiavelli attempts to compromise between free will and determinism by arguing that fortune controls half of human actions and leaves the other half to free will. But Machiavelli also argues that, through foresight—a quality whose importance Machiavelli stresses throughout The Prince—people can shield themselves against fortune’s slings and arrows. Thus, Machiavelli can be described as confident in the capabilities of human beings to shape their destinies, but skeptical that such control is absolute.
Machiavelli ends The Prince with an impassioned plea to redeem Italy. Stylistically, he abandons his detached tone and utilizes exhortation and poetry to communicate nationalistic fervor. He implores Lorenzo, to whom the book is dedicated, to deliver Italy. Despite Machiavelli’s efforts, the country would not be truly unified for another three and a half centuries. Some have argued that The Prince is really the manifestation of Machievelli’s desire to see a strengthened Italy, not a detached work of political science. Historical references to Italy dominate the book, and Machiavelli clearly conceives the book as a means to expedite the successful unification of Italy. But The Prince’s clear application to Machiavelli’s home country does not distract from the book’s relevance to philosophical questions. At the very least, it must be said that the book’s influence spread further than the specific audience to which it was addressed.
A desire to strengthen Italy might also serve as Machiavelli’s ethical justification for the advice he has given. Machiavelli has previously argued that a prince cannot achieve success without sometimes resorting to ruthlessness. But Machiavelli never justifies the obtainment of political success as a worthwhile goal in itself. His concern with Italy would justify his logic: if the ultimate end is the glory of Italy, the end would justify the means.
The Prince is full of historical references, but the final chapters place the book in a historical context. Moreover, these chapters give us some insight into the mind of the author and his motives for writing the book. They suggest that Machiavelli is not as diabolical as he is often portrayed.
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