Life Lessons From Niccolò Machiavelli

The Prince, written by Niccolò Machiavelli, is a classic. And rightfully so, because even though it was written 500 years ago, it remains the bible of realpolitik. It was originally given to Lorenzo de Medici as a gift to help Lorenzo unite Italy, but more so to help Machiavelli get a job with him. Lorenzo never hired him, and he never united Italy. In the time since, The Prince has been studied by many and used a practical guide to gaining and maintaining power. The lessons here extend beyond politics and can be used in many applications in our modern lives.

Forging a new path is not simple.

It should be borne in mind that there is nothing more difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating changes in a state’s constitution. The innovator makes enemies of those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new.

Following in the path of great men is simple.

…it is enough merely not to neglect the institutions founded by one’s ancestors and then to adapt policy to events.

Act as if.

…a prudent man must always follow in the footsteps of great men and imitate those who have been outstanding. If his own prowess fails to compare with theirs, at least it has an air of greatness to it.

Be smart, but be tough too.

…one must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves.

People need to respect you to take you seriously.

…you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow.

You will be better at things that you want to do, and enjoy to do.

…where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.

Be impressive.

Nothing brings a prince more prestige than great campaigns and striking demonstrations of his personal abilities.


Above all, in all his doings a prince must endeavor to win the reputation of being a great man of outstanding ability.

You can get away with a lot if you are well liked.

…determine to avoid anything which will make him hated and despised. So long as he does so, he will have done what he should and he will run no risk whatsoever if he is reproached for the other vices I mentioned.


He will be despised if he has a reputation for being fickle, frivolous, effeminate, cowardly, irresolute; a prince should avoid this like the plague and strive to demonstrate in his actions grandeur, courage, sobriety, strength.


The prince who succeeds in having himself thus regarded is highly esteemed; and against a man who is highly esteemed conspiracy is difficult, and open attack is difficult.

Conceal your true self.

…a prince must regulate his conduct.


…be so prudent that he knows how to escape the evil reputation attached to those vices.

Choose your friends wisely.

The first opinion that is formed of a ruler’s intelligence is based on the quality of the men he has around him. When they are competent and loyal he can always be considered wise, because he has been able to recognize their competence and to keep them loyal. But when they are otherwise, the prince is always open to adverse criticism; because his first mistake has been in the choice of his ministers.

Be capable of doing bad things.

… a man who wants to act virtuously in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.


… if a prince wants to maintain his rule he must be prepared not to be virtuous.


… some of the things that appear to be virtues will, if he practices them, ruin him, and some of the things that appear to be vices will bring him security and prosperity.

Be duplicitous.

…men are wretched creatures who would not keep their word to you, you need not keep your word to them. And no prince ever lacked good excuses to color his bad faith.


…one must know how to color one’s actions and to be a great liar and deceiver. Men are so simple, and so much creatures of circumstance, that the deceiver will always find someone ready to be deceived.


…princes who have achieved great things have been those to give their word lightly, who have known how to trick men with their cunning, and who, in the end, have overcome those abiding by honest principles.

It is better to be feared than loved.

Men worry less about doing an injury to one who makes himself loved than to one who makes himself feared. For love is secured by a bond of gratitude which men, wretched creatures that they are, break when it is to their advantage to do so; but fear is strengthened by a dread of punishment which is always effective.

Have perspective.

…to comprehend fully the nature of the people, one must be a prince, and to comprehend fully the nature of the princes’ one must be an ordinary citizen.

Ask for advice from honest, wise people.

A prince must, therefore, never lack advice. But he must take it when he wants to, not when others want him to; indeed, he must discourage everyone from tendering advice about anything unless it is asked for. All the same, he should be a constant questioner, and he must listen patiently to the truth regarding what he has inquired about.

Be decisive.

…there is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.

As you can see from the chosen quotes, Machiavelli has a very realistic view on politics and life. There are many nuggets of wisdom in The Prince. You may want to study it if you want to go out into the world and get your hands dirty.

Read More: Lessons From The Life Of Casanova

52 thoughts on “Life Lessons From Niccolò Machiavelli”

  1. The Prince alongside the 48 Laws will provide the backbone for any man seeking to attain a level of influence and authority.
    Although these cherry-picked nuggets are interesting enough, I would advise a thorough read-through. The historical context is quite important.
    The part that focuses on occupying principalities is particularly fascinating and is extremely beneficial when applied to social groups and people that you wish to ingratiate yourself with.

    1. Agreed, 48 Laws is like a step by step manual for those looking to gain authoritative power.

  2. “For my part I consider it is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly. She is, therefore, always, woman-like, a lover of young men, because they are less cautious, more violent, and with more audacity command her.” – from The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

  3. “…you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow.”
    Which is why all those moron fathers and mens rights activists who say “we want our rights respected but we will NEVER use violence to defend our rights” are exactly that…morons.
    No one takes any man seriously who says “I will never use violence”. Just look at Nelson “necklace” Mandella. People took him seriously because he killed people….unlawfully so in many cases.
    And pl-eez…Ghandi was an Illuminati agent. So stop trying to use him as a symbol of “peaceful resistance”. He was a lawyer for goodness sakes. And we all know what scumbags lawyers are.
    I do not respect any man who is not willing to say “push comes to shove, I will take up arms to defend my life, liberty, property and loved ones from tyranny or death.”
    Remember….the USA “founding fathers” did just exactly that. Defended their loved ones from robbery and tyranny. Shame it was an orchestrated event.

      1. Only complete morons deny the existence of a ruling oligarchy. Even the ruling oligarchy does not deny it’s existence.
        “For more than a century ideological extremists at either end of the political spectrum have seized upon well-publicized incidents such as my encounter with Castro to attack the Rockefeller family for the inordinate influence they claim we wield over American political and economic institutions. Some even believe we are part of a secret cabal working against the best interests of the United States, characterizing my family and me as ‘internationalists’ and of conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure–one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I am proud of it.”
        ― David Rockefeller

    1. “If we had the atom bomb, we would have used it against the British.” -Gandhi.
      Look it up asshat.

        1. It is the Asshat who is, in effect, dissembling. Here is the full quote:
          “Had we adopted non-violence as the weapon of the strong, because we realised that it was more effective than any other weapon, in fact the mightiest force in the world, we would have made use of its full potency and not have discarded it as soon as the fight against the British was over or we were in a position to wield conventional weapons. But as I have already said, we adopted it out of our helplessness. If we had the atom bomb, we would have used it against the British.”

    1. And now her beta bootlicking, supplicant hubby Raphael Cooper, who runs a dance academy, will now be famous as a Cuckold. Cuckolded for a high school student.
      Those pics of him and her are too funny.
      Let this be a lesson to married males everywhere.
      Why do I find this so fucking funny. I truly never would wish this on my fellow man. But if you get married to these cunty bitches, you are a fucking idiot.

        Someone should do an article called 10 reasons not to date a female teacher.
        Looks like lots and lots of them are pedophiles. But of course they all get out of it because Pussy Pass.
        And then the pathetic manginas with comments like “duhh gee why werent there any techers like then when I was in high school” faggotry
        Gee, where are the feminist Twitter comments about their You-Go-Gurl Girl??

        1. “duhh gee why werent there any techers like then when I was in high school”faggotry
          Actually the only faggots are the boys who complain about getting laid by hot teachers.Teenage boys and post teen women is really not the same as teen girls and men.It’s not rape if the boys were willing and able.Around the world young boys work in dangerous jobs like mines,or as soldiers,or in the fields and oceans.So it’s pathetic and laughable that boys getting the Mrs Robinson treatment is considered a crime.Take your egalitarian bullshit and shove it back up your Marxist anus.

        2. Lentus the White Knight faggot.
          “Around the world young boys work in dangerous jobs like mines,or as soldiers,or in the fields and oceans”
          Really? They do huh. Sure they do pal.
          And if in some countries young males work dangerous jobs, that excludes adult female teachers from their criminal actions? These are laws. Do you know what a “law” is dipshit?
          People like you – that dont hold these cunts accountable for their criminal pedophile behavior – are the reason why women have this entitlement mentality. Why they get preferential treatment in our legal system.
          So if its a 32 year old man and a 17 year old student — your thinking is – Duuhh thats different. Because “Teenage boys and post teen women is really not the same as teen girls and men”
          Damn, you are a tard. Prob a female troll.
          Clueless mouthy idiot. We NEVER allow females to get away with bad behavior.

      2. Yeah….how would you like to be the husband! LOL!!
        And some woman commented to the effect that the reason she went for the kid must be because the husband was not getting the job done at home. Notice how many women think that it is perfectly ok for a married woman teacher to have sex with one of her students.

    2. Patriarchy made her do it. 10 hours community service, a one month suspension of her teaching license, and a knowing wink from a judge is how this will be dealt with.
      If she were a man, that would be different. He’d need to be castrated and locked up for 25 years for the benefit of the community. But she isn’t, so no problem.
      Hope she likes collecting alimony from the divorce she’s headed for. This is her reward for taking teenage dick behind her family’s backs.

    3. I remember the days. I hated having to put up with stupid feminist bitches that have their head stuck up their ass. They’re always wrong and they’re fucking retarded. Those are the people we need to get away from our children. I’d always get in trouble for calling them out in class and never putting up with their shit.

  4. Another good book. Here were some of my favorites:
    “a blunder ought never to be perpetrated to avoid war, because it is not to be avoided, but is only deffered to your disadvantage.”
    “he who believes that new benefits will cause great personages to forget old injuries is decieved.”
    “we have not seen great things done in our time except by those who have been considered mean; the rest have failed.”
    “any one wishing to maintain the name of liberal is obliged to avoid no attribute of magnificence; so that a prince thus inclined will consume in such acts all his property, and will be compelled in the end, if he wish to maintain the name of liberal, to unduly weigh down his people, and tax them, and do everything he can to get money. This will soon make him odious to his subjects, and becoming poor he will be little valued by anyone.”
    “there is no other way of guarding oneself from flatterers except letting men understand that to tell you the truth does not offend you; but when every one may tell you the truth, respect for you abates.”
    “there is nothing proportionate between the armed and the unarmed; and it is not reasonable that he who is armed should yield obedience willingly to him who is unarmed, or that the unarmed man should be secure among armed servants. because, there being in the one disdain and in the other suspicion, it is not possible for them to work well together.”

  5. Just ordered “The Prince” by Machiavelli to have a good read for the holidays.
    Good article.

  6. Seriously laws should be much harsher worldwide regarding marriage, my father used to say 5% of men do 95% of the stuff and get 95% of the girls.

  7. How ironic is it that the richest societies today have basically done everything the exact opposite of Machiavelli’s advice. Guys like Machiavelli are awfully egoheaded and headstrong, but they are also very vulnerable to the sucker problem. Machiavelli is an overrated egghead; there isn’t really a whole lot else that needs to be said.

    1. “How ironic is it that the richest societies today have basically done everything the exact opposite of Machiavelli’s advice.”
      Would ask for examples but “ask for advice from honest, wise people”.

      1. That’s the way to do it. Respond to a comment with a personal attack. How clever and intelligent of you.

        1. So far as I can see all he did was write a paraphrase as a quote:
          Avoid Flatterers & Sycophants
          “A wise prince should take another course: choose wise men for your advisors, … unsolicited advice, but instead frequently ask for advice from people you trust.”
          Which he did as a point of illustration. Where is the personal attack?

        2. “Would ask for examples but “ask for advice from honest, wise people”.”
          That’s clearly a cheapshot. No substance at all that attacks my underlying point. What Machiavelli effectively advocates for effects to what can be called volatility suppression, which is why dictatorships can be stable for long periods of time and then blowup very suddenly. Confusing a lack of volatility for stability is a sucker’s mistake.

        3. OK, look at the United States. I would consider them a rich society in modern times. They are certainly duplicitous, preserve the status quo, have a massive military, and are capable of doing very bad things. Of course, there is more. I think stating that they have “done everything the exact opposite of Machiavelli’s advice” may be a bit heavy handed of an assumption.

        4. If we take the design of the US; it was basically designed to be rule by organized chaos–the exact opposite of a dictatorship. In a Federalist Republic like the US, all tensions rise to the top very quickly and politics is much more volatile that it is at dictatorship. If we take the US as an example, the very design of the US was supposed to be the exact opposite of the conventional models thought of at the time.
          I always view nation-states as war machines, so all of them are, in one manner or another, capable of doing bad things–they have to be. If they’re not capable of doing bad things, they don’t exist for very long.

        5. You’ve basically proved the point I’m trying to make . I said the US is, by design, a Federalist Republic; not a nation-state. The US became a nation-state.

        6. At the Federal level it is certainly trying very hard to be and is closer than it ever has been. There is still considerable resistance at the state level, but it may not prove to be serious enough.
          The issue of TSA body searches may well have been the critical issue, and it was allowed to get a pass.

    2. This is one of the many reasons why ‘The Prince’ is often read as satire.
      The ‘advice’ was also written for rulers, not the common man.

      1. It was written for rulers, but Machiavelli makes the mistake of assuming no volatility=stability. Machiavelli basically advocates volatility suppression, which is equivalent to trading short term benefits for longer term risks.

        1. There are many problems with his thoughts in The Prince. For me one of the greatest tensions lies in his insistence on a universal human nature that is predictable, fixed and unchanging, while emphasising the transience of political orders.
          The part about the three kinds of intelligence always cracks me up for some reason hah

        2. “his insistence on a universal human nature that is predictable, fixed and unchanging…”
          This is the core of conservatism – that human nature is fundamentally unchanging and unchangeable. Progressives imagine that they can change human nature – create the New Soviet Man even though that has never worked and humanity always acts in the same way. That makes history a bit repetitious – human actors remain the same even when the scenery changes.

        3. I’m not a progressive (not even close), but I don’t think it’s fair to say that progressives imagine they can change human nature. I also think conservatism works great in a relatively constant world with little complexity. In a complex world, conservatism will lead to violent blowups. Conservatism is akin to volatility suppression.

        4. Let’s call it the “conservative philosophy.” Situations and times change, absolutely, but the core of human motivations and behaviors never do.
          So change institutions slowly and with care as unexpected consequences will bite you in the ass every time.

        5. I agree that human motivations and behaviors never really do change, but saying that changing institutions with care effectively means that institutions don’t change. The only constant thing in the world is change and we need to avoid centralization and other structures that allow fragilities in the system to build and volatility to be suppressed. We need to focus on building systems that benefit from crisis and use volatility as a fuel to get stronger.

  8. Machiavelli is one of those thinkers whose ideas haven’t aged a day since they were first written. “The Prince” is a great work but I’ve heard nothing but good things about his “Discourses”, his later book in which he takes a more holistic and less machiavellian approach.

  9. I would urge you to see the other book of machiavelli. The discurses something that is machiavelli talking about rome and democracy. Is a rather good book and dispels some misconceptions that people usually makes about machiavelli when they read the prince.

  10. I’ve recently read and can highly recommend a new biography of Machievelli – “An Unlikely Prince: The Life and Times of Machiavelli” by Capponi.
    He had a fascinating middle-management career, roughly an assistant secretary of state for the Florence Republic. As a bureaucrat and political aspirant, he had his flaws and his bad breaks, but did pretty well for himself overall. Made a lot of money as a playwright too.

  11. Timely. I’ve been reading the Prince lately, and reading a lot about Cesare Borgia. Now that was a red pill man. He seems to have regarded the entire Church as a crock of shit and acted accordingly.

  12. I first read The Prince during the Iraq invasion post 9-11 and everything Macchiavelli stated in the book about using colonies rather than an occupying force to conquer a state seemed relevant to me.
    I have since seen claims that The Prince is intended to be studied as a volume in a complete text that includes The Discourses, and that Macchiavelli was much more in favour of the Republic model presented in the latter than that of the former.

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