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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Machiavelli's Evil Genius

I'm currently re-reading Machiavelli's The Prince and I have to admit, Machiavelli is kind of a genius. (Maybe an evil genius, but that's beside the point). 

I particularly like his belief that assassinating one's enemies are necessities imposed on a prince (or perhaps a princess? Empress? Pharaoh?) because the prince would run the risk of losing power if those enemies weren't killed. 

"A man who wants to make a profession of goodness in everything is bound to come to ruin among so many who are not good.

Here, here! 

 (Says the writer who has assassinated many a character). 

He also points out that sometimes a prince absolutely has to do something evil out of political necessity, but so long as people benefit, they won't get upset. 

 (I'm assuming he means the people still alive, not those beheaded, burned, or tortured to death). 

Anyway, I'm sure Hatshepsut and Theodora would be pleased to hear Machiavelli's justifications. Based on his criteria, they both made excellent princes. 

*insert evil laugh*


Gary Corby said...

This is why Machiavelli is one of the most frequently used characters in alternative history and fantasy. A brilliant politics junkie who called it as he saw it.

Stephanie Thornton said...

Gary--I wasn't aware Machiavelli had been used so much, but then I'm no expert on alternative history or fantasy. I can see why he's so popular!

Jemi Fraser said...

Wow! Sounds like he and Sauron from LotR would make great buddies :)

L.G.Smith said...

Yep, my gal chief does some dastardly things to get in power, but she really does feel bad about it later. :)

Julie Dao said...

Wow! I guess he believed that you do what you gotta do to get to the top - and stay there. I'm not evil enough or genius enough to be a prince(ss) so I guess I'll just write about them ;)

Miranda Hardy said...

I tend to agree. I've had to make my leaders do things they didn't want to for the sake of image. Ugh.

Vicki Tremper said...

When I first read Macchiavelli, I didn't understand why he was considered evil. Some of his beliefs are quite logical. That dichotomy is very helpful for a writer.

Carole Anne Carr said...

So horribly plausible, and then you shiver. :0)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha! I like Jemi's comment. :)

Lydia Kang said...

In college I had to write an essay on this book, and I accidentally titled it "The Little Prince" as in, the children's book. Luckily my professor had a sense of humor about the whole thing.

Hmm. Maybe that was a sign I was interested in children's literature for a career?

Gary Corby said...

I'm late to return. Machiavelli appears as a character in a shared universe series called Heroes in Hell, where he's a good guy (sort of).

He's decidedly a bad guy in the extremely popular teen series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.

Somerset Maugham got into the act too with "Then And Now".

He also regularly appears in Renaissance stories of one sort or another.

Medeia Sharif said...

I'd like to re-read The Prince. I read it when I was young and I didn't get all of it.

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