Comparing Fortune And Prowess In Machiavelli's The Prince

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Allyson Borgstrom Professor Matthew Schandler HI-201-05 Western Civilization to 1600 DUE: 11 December 2014 Throughout history we have encountered rulers who fail and princes who succeed. According to Machiavelli, there are multiple ways that a prince can come into power, control it, and command it. The most important comparison, however, is made between fortune and prowess in Machiavelli’s The Prince. Obtaining power through fortune can be by heredity, the charity of others, or even pure luck, while obtaining power though prowess is done simply through self-reliance and personal ability. Even though ruling a state through prowess serves to be more of a challenge, it is overall more effective that relying on uncontrollable forces. Both ways…show more content…
Troops that are loaned by another ruler are seen as a very dangerous form of charity, because the soldiers are never truly on ‘your side’. The auxiliaries are loyal to a different ruler who may only be interested in conquering you as opposed to helping you. If a ruler decides to use these auxiliaries he is ultimately giving his power up to the other ruler. Giving up power is never considered an option for a prince for it results in ultimately giving up your goal of effective rulership and maybe even your throne. The generosity of others may really only be a facade that hides the true motive; to conquer you. Auxiliaries have had very negative consequences in history, such as in Constantinople, known more formally as Istanbul. In a time of civil war the emperor of Constantinople asked the Ottoman Turkish forces to get involved and supply aid during the war. This action later lead to the fall of Constantinople in 1453 to the Ottoman Empire. Machiavelli stresses the idea that a leader must appear generous, without truly being generous. Machiavelli does not believe generosity to be bad, but it raises a great concern in regards to the forced display that a prince must put on in order be perceived, in the public’s eye, as a generous ruler. This eventually causes the prince to become poor and exploit his subjects resources. This is not only harmful for the prince but for everyone involved. Machiavelli stresses the importance of appearing generous to gain power but once power is obtained then the amount of spending should drop drastically. Julius Caesar had a reputation of being generous, gaining him popularity with the people. However, as Machiavelli points out, appearing generous comes has an extremely high cost and in Caesar’s case caused the senate to

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