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 The Prince Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

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The Prince: Novel Summary: Chapters 5-6

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Chapter 5: Here, Machiavelli addresses the three options a prince has in order to rule his newly acquired principality.  First, he can abolish their law and government and start again from scratch.  Secondly, he can reside in the city and thus monitor the laws and strictly enforce important statutes.  Lastly, the prince can keep the old laws and let the people live in a relatively free republic.  Using the Spartans and Romans as examples, Machiavelli proves that letting the people live in freedom is the worst option because it encourages them to rebel against the prince.  He explains, "he who becomes master of a city accustomed to freedom and does not destroy it, may expect to be destroyed by it.." Obviously, Machiavelli was no fan of democracy.
Chapter 6: Going on, Machiavelli speaks in general terms about the importance of modeling oneself after those who have been successful.  He stresses, "A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savor of it." Though new princes must have either fortune or ability in order to reach the pinnacle of authority, Machiavelli asserts that ability is the better quality because it is more dependable in time of struggle.  Fortune, or luck, is simply a side benefit to natural human ability. 
He continues, reasserting the difficulty that new princes have when they try to establish new laws for their principality.  The best prince, Machiavelli says, is he who can use overwhelming force to carry out his will.  This is much more effective than having to rely on others or make allies out of some of the natives: "Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the unarmed ones have been destroyed." Examples of such leaders are Moses, the Hebrew prophet and Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome.




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