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POL200Y1Y L5101 1
L16: The Prince III
July 2, 2009
•Ch 16-18: Machiavelli, Cicero, Aristotle
•Ch. 19: Hatred + Contempt
•Ch 22-23: Advising the Prince
•Ch 24-25: Fortune + Self-Reliance
•Ch 26: Conclusion: Free Italy
Ch 16-18: Machiavelli, Cicero, Aristotle
•Chapter 16 begins with generosity
oCicero included it with justice to say that it is an ordinary requirement
because the bonds of fellowship are so strong
Rulers acquire glory for Cicero when they act justly to their followers
•But the Italian renaissance rewrote the idea of magnificence. People had to donate
so that large lavish buildings could be created. This is how Cicero and Aristotle sought
to bind the populace to themselves by public donations and so that they would win
oM picks up this version of generosity.
oBut instead of binding the ruler through gratitude, the traditional conception
of generosity would in fact lead to contempt or hatred of the ruler (this is the last
paragraph of CH 16)
•Here M is raising the practical question: how can you pay for generosity? Can you
pay for generosity but still not rob your own people. But if you must rob the people in
order to be thoroughly generous, the people will hate you for your generosity. This is
the eventual outcome for dictators who ride the wave of populism.
oM gives the example of Julius Caesar who would have either had to reduce
expenditure or destroy himself
oBut after you spend your money through a reputation for generosity, you will
be impoverished and the people will hate you. They will hate you more if you tax
oHence generosity as traditionally constructed is self defeating for the ruler
oHence, accepting an reputation for being ungenerous is one of the vices that
make good government possible. Vices, as traditionally understood, makes
government possible. If a ruler keeps a tight grip on his funds he will appear to be
more generous over time as he does things for the public good which are in his
means. And he will be able to finance his army and provide security for the
people. Recall that M has already said that it is security what people really want.
Protection is more important and so it is importantly for the rule to not waste
money on expenditure. Whether they know it or not, what the people will want is
security. M's politics are designed to give them this.
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POL200Y1Y L5101 2
oTherefore, the ruler MUST know the people better than they know
themselves. What they really need is a ruler with self-restraint who can tolerate a
reputation for miser-ness.
•But this is not the end of his revision of gratitude
oAt the beginning of 16 he says it is good to be THOUGHT generous. And thus
far he has been speaking as though revenues are limited. But another generous
reputation can be achieved. Through what? Warfare! Rulers should freely spend
the spoils of war. This will bind their soldiers to them and provide revenues for
the home population.
oThe art of war is most important. You must maintain a proper army without
being stingy. But victorious rulers can allow their army to plunder freely. The
military objectives of the prince underlie his revisionist account of generosity.
Virtue is not for the rulers own sake, it doesn’t lead to heavenly or soul rewards.
The virtues are there to be used. They are strategies for consolidating power and
oBut his goal is to not upturn traditional thinking and replace virtue with
vices. The point is that he strategically evaluates both virtue and vice and fits
their uses to particular contexts. Some virtues are questioned and found wanting
if they are pursued in a naïve fashion. M only seems to subvert them because he
shows how successful generosity can be achieved (through being a conqueror).
Other times, vices are thought of good because they improve the relations
between the ruler and the people.
oThe people should THINK your generous. But the preservation of the army is
of prime importance.
•The virtues for Machiavelli are merely instrumental. Contrast this to the ancient
thinkers who believed that virtue itself was good in itself. When you begin to
instrumentalize virtue, you begin to erode the value of it. This is why Book 2 of the
Republic is focused on Socrates explaining WHY justice is inherently good.
•Every ruler should desire the reputation for being compassionate. Yet, there are
inevitable complexities - the psychology of the populace and their expectations for the
•Paradoxically, you must be cruel in order to be kind. What is the right measure? The
strategic measure. Using cruelty well. Cesare had gained a reputation for cruelty, but
he provided security. The Florentines had a reputation for compassion but they allowed
people to run wild. The best case is for rulers to be thought compassionate but they
must establish respect and awe. Through creating fear, the ruler gains self-reliance
and autonomy. You cannot rely on the love of the people, it is too fickle. It will not
work. Fear is a much better motivator.
oHence, M advocates controlled violence in order to combat out of control
oConversely, Cicero believes that you must cultivate love, because properly
educated citizens can be counted on to love for the right reasons. Ordinary people,
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