Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli
May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian Renaissance diplomat, philosopher and writer, best known for The Prince (Il Principe), written in 1513. He has often been called the father of modern political philosophy and political science.

For many years he served as a senior official in the Florentine Republic with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs. He wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is of high importance to historians and scholars. He worked as secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power.

Machiavelli's name came to evoke unscrupulous acts of the sort he advised most famously in The Prince. Machiavelli considered political battles, not through a lens of morality, but as though they are a board game with established rules. His experience showed him that politics have always been played with deception, treachery and crime. He also notably said that a ruler who is establishing a kingdom or a republic, and is criticized for his deeds, including violence, should be excused when the intention and the result is beneficial. Machiavelli’s Prince was much read as a manuscript long before it was published in 1532 and the reaction was mixed. Some considered it a straightforward description of the evil means used by bad rulers; others read in it evil recommendations to tyrants to help them maintain their power.

The term Machiavellian often connotes political deceit, deviousness, and realpolitik. Even though Machiavelli has become most famous for his work on principalities, scholars also give attention to the exhortations in his other works of political philosophy. While much less well known than The Prince, the Discourses on Livy (composed c. 1517) is often said to have paved the way of modern republicanism.


1. “Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot.”

2. “Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.”

3. “One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.”

4. “A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair.”

5. “There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.”

6. “Politics have no relation to morals.”

7. “The wish to acquire more is admittedly a very natural and common thing; and when men succeed in this they are always praised rather than condemned. But when they lack the ability to do so and yet want to acquire more at all costs, they deserve condemnation for their mistakes.”

8. “It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.”

9. “Since it is difficult to join them together, it is safer to be feared than to be loved when one of the two must be lacking.”

10. “Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better.”

11. “Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.”

12. “Tardiness often robs us opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.”

13. “Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked.”

14. “It is necessary for him who lays out a state and arranges laws for it to presuppose that all men are evil and that they are always going to act according to the wickedness of their spirits whenever they have free scope.”

15. “Men shrink less from offending one who inspires love than one who inspires fear.”

16. “The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.”

17. “There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.”

18. “The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.”

19. “Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it; but when they are free to choose and can do just as they please, confusion and disorder become rampant.”

20. “Men intrinsically do not trust new things that they have not experienced themselves.”

Inspirational Machiavelli quotes

21. “Never was anything great achieved without danger.”

22. “It is much more secure to be feared than to be loved.”

23. “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.”

24. “We cannot attribute to fortune or virtue that which is achieved without either.”

25. “One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others.”

26. “Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”

27. “The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”

28. “Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”

29. “Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”

30. “Appear as you may wish to be.”

31. “Wisdom consists of knowing how to distinguish the nature of trouble, and in choosing the lesser evil.”

32. “In conclusion, the arms of others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down, or they bind you fast.”

33. “Everyone who wants to know what will happen ought to examine what has happened: everything in this world in any epoch has their replicas in antiquity.”

34. “It is better to act and repent than not to act and regret.”

35. “Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many.”

36. “For, in truth, there is no sure way of holding other than by destroying.”

37. “God creates men, but they choose each other.”

38. “Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.”

Machiavelli quotes on power

39. “The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.”

40. “When you disarm the people, you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both of these opinions generate hatred.”

41. “It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.”

42. “No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.”

43. “Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others.”

44. “I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.”

45. “Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society.”

46. “God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.”

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Machiavelli quotes on war

47. “War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes as ability to execute, military plans.”

48. “War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms.”

49. “There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy.”

50. “You ought never to suffer your designs to be crossed in order to avoid war, since war is not so to be avoided, but is only deferred to your disadvantage.”