Machiavelli/Cicero Response

Cicero says it is better for a man to be loved. “There is nothing more useful for keeping power than to be loved, and noth- ing more harmful than to be feared.” (pg.94) Machiavelli would have to disagree. “I say that it is best to be both loved and feared, but because this is difficult, it is much safer

Then Cicero comes back with: “It is far better to rely on love, not only for keeping yourself safe, but for maintaining power and influence.

Cicero’s reason behind this is that a man who is feared, becomes hated, and a man who is hated, can never keep his power. So in order to maintain his power, a man should rely on love.

Machiavelli’s contrasting advice is that subjects who love their prince will ‘break the bonds of obligation’ at ‘any opportunity’ if the prince chooses to rely on love. So although Machiavelli says it would be great to be both, if he had to choose one, he would rely on fear. It is safer this way, he says, because subjects who love you will give in to human nature. A prince cannot rely on the subjects who love him because in time of need subjects will turn their backs. “Men are more willing to harm someone whom they love than someone whom they fear. (p.124) He gives one reason why fear works, “fear, however, is a consistent motivator.” (p.124) Machiavelli concludes with saying that in the end, the subjects cannot control whether they love the new prince, but the new prince can to control whether or not his subjects fear him.

There is agreement between Machiavelli and Cicero. They both discuss a prince should not be hated. “If a prince cannot win his subjects’ love, he should make them fear him, but he should avoid their hatred.” (p.94) So a prince should (if he takes the safe way) get his subjects to fear him, but control that fear because as Cicero points out: “No one is able to hold onto power if the people hate him.” (p.94) They can love him, or love him or fear him, or love him and fear him but- “…he just needs to make sure that his subjects don’t hate him.” (p.124)


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