A blog dedicated to philosophy, history, politics, literature
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Cicero Versus Machiavelli
The Renaissance's humanist philosophers preached that the princes ought to keep their word and eschew force and fraud. They ritualistically repeated Cicero’s injunction in De officiis: ‘‘wrong may be done in either of two ways, that is, by force or by fraud; both are bestial: fraud seems to belong to the cunning fox, force to the lion; both are wholly unworthy of man.’’ Machiavelli, however, countered Cicero's philosophy with his own dictum which he presented in The Prince: ‘‘rulers who have done great things have set little store by keeping their word, being skillful rather in cunningly deceiving men.’’ Machiavelli asserts that a ruler must ‘‘know well how to imitate beasts . . . he should imitate both the fox and the lion.’’ The humanists used to preach that it's better to be loved than feared, and that cruelty can never profit a prince. But Machiavelli was of the opinion that for a prince ‘‘it is much safer to be feared than loved..." He preferred the governance model of Cesare Borgia. He says that Borgia ‘‘was considered cruel,’’ but that his ‘‘harsh measures restored order to the Romagna, unifying it and rendering it peaceful and loyal."