Niccolò Machiavelli was the son of attorney Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli and Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli. Born in Florence, Italy, he lived from the 3rd of May 1469 to the 21st of June 1527. He was an Italian poet, philosopher, historian, other things, and a politician of the Renaissance period. He is considered to be the one who laid the foundations of modern-day political philosophy and political science. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that many of Machiavelli’s quotes still inspires people to date.
The politician served under the Florentine Republic as a senior official of the government, carrying out assignments in both military and diplomatic affairs. He also worked in the capacity of Florentine Republic’s Second Chancery for more than ten years. It was during this period that his political convictions were formed. His ideologies about politics and leadership were represented in his best-known work, The Prince: Il Principe, which was written in 1513.
In the book, Machiavelli stated that dishonesty and killing of the innocent, as well as other immoral behaviors, were acceptable and effective in politics. The book became notorious as a result of claims that it encourages tyranny while the term Machiavellian became widely-used for describing politicians with no moral principles, the sort that Machiavelli advised in his popular book. That notwithstanding, The Prince is still a go-to book for promising diplomats to date.
Over time, many of his words have become very popular as they are often employed by politicians. Below are some of the famous Machiavelli’s quotes, which are excerpts from his works.
50 Inspirational Machiavelli’s Quotes About Life and Success
1. Never was anything great achieved without danger.
2. A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.
3. It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free.
4. How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation.
5. He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.
6. It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.
7. It is better to act and repent than not to act and regret.
8. He who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against.
9. For whoever believes that great advancement and new benefits make men forget old injuries is mistaken.
10. I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.”
11. There’s no honey without bees.
12. When you disarm 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.
13. Men are driven by two principal impulses, either by love or by fear.
14. A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.
15. Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes but few have the gift of penetration.
16. There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy.
17. 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.
18. He who builds on the people builds on the mud.
19. A man who wishes to profess at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.
20. Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.
21. It is not titles that honor men but men that honor titles.
22. Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.
23. …He who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.
24. The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.
25. No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
26. He who becomes a Prince through the favor of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do since all they ask is not to be oppressed.
27. Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony.
28. For one change always leaves a dovetail into which another will fit.
29. Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one becomes aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.
30. 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.
31. Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.
32. The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.
33. Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
34. Appear as you may wish to be.
35. The end justifies the means.
36. In conclusion, the arms of others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down, or they bind you fast.
37. The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.
38. God creates men, but they choose each other.
39. 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.
40. There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.
41. Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.
42. Good soldiers will always procure gold.
43. Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.
44. The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.
45. Wisdom consists of knowing how to distinguish the nature of the trouble and in choosing the lesser evil.
46. 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.
47. Men should be either treated generously or destroyed because they take revenge for slight injuries – for heavy ones they cannot.
48. He who causes another to become powerful ruins himself, for he brings such power into being either by design or by force and both of these elements are suspects to the one whom he has made powerful.
49. Tardiness often robs us of opportunity and the dispatch of our forces.
50. The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.