Machiavelli on Cruelty vs. mercy

 

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Cruelty vs. mercy

In answering the question of whether it is better to be loved than feared, Machiavelli writes, “The answer is of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved.” As Machiavelli asserts, commitments made in peace are not always kept in adversity; however, commitments made in fear are kept out of fear. Yet, a prince must ensure that he is not feared to the point of hatred, which is very possible. Above all, Machiavelli argues, do not interfere with the property of the subjects, their women, or the life of somebody without proper justification. Regarding the troops of the prince, fear is absolutely necessary to keep a large garrison united and a prince should not mind the thought of cruelty in that regard. For a prince who leads his own army, it is imperative for him to observe cruelty because that is the only way he can command his soldiers’ absolute respect. Machiavelli compares two great military leaders: Hannibal and Scipio Africanus. Although Hannibal’s army consisted of men of various races, they were never rebellious because they feared their leader. Scipio’s men, on the other hand, were known for their mutiny and dissension.

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