Marty's Reviews > The Prince

The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
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May 05, 2015

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After reading the “The 48 Laws of Power”, this infamous book of political advice by Machiavelli seemed fairly tame in comparison. I went in expecting to read amoral advice, but ended up finding it filled with the history of turbulent times in post-Roman Italy, and some practical recommendations for new rulers. Ascending to power can be dangerous, and it does seem sensible to consider one’s reputation and public perception during the transition. The introduction in my copy included a letter Niccolo sent his friend while he was writing “The Prince”, and this except stuck with me:

“When evening comes, I return home and enter my study; on the threshold I take off my workday clothes, covered with mud and dirt, and put on the robes of court and palace. Fitted out appropriately, I enter the courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of their human kindness, answer me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death: I pass indeed into their world.”

Machiavelli felt reading history was like a two-way discussion with the ancients. I’m fascinated by current events happening today, but love the fact that books let us listen in on conversations that go back several millennia. Which book will you open next, my friend? What questions will you ask?
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Reading Progress

May 5, 2015 – Started Reading
May 5, 2015 – Shelved
May 11, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Bob (new)

Bob Uva Marty,

That was a beautiful passage. I too like to engage with the ancients although most of the time the writer is not ancient but a learned historian of the 20th and 21st centuries. I'm currently reading a history of the Norman Conquest. Neal Stephenson got me interested in that general period of the Middle Ages in his recent 'The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O'. -- However, I do need to read more first-hand accounts. I do have Marcus Aurelius' Meditations on my Kindle and I should get back to that.

Bob


message 2: by Marty (last edited Aug 01, 2017 10:20PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Marty I heard Marcus Aurelius brought up recently as he was a stoic, and stoicism is experiencing a bit of a resurgence. I believe people interested in Buddhism and meditation (also gaining popularity) were happy to find a philosophy with some similarities, but with Western roots. I'll bookmark "Meditations", I've heard it's inspiring stuff! Cheers.


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