Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes

January 17th, 2005  

Topic: Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes

A multitude without a cheif is useless; and it is not well to threaten before having the power to act.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 1, Ch XLIV

Every one may begin a war at his pleasure, but cannot so finish it. A prince, therefore, before engaging in any enterprise should well measure his strength, and govern himself accordingly.
Neither abundance of money nor natural strength of the country will suffice, nor will the loyalty and good will of his subjects endure, for these cannot remain faithful to a prince who is incapable of defending them. Neither mountains nor lakes nor inaccesible places will present any difficulties to an enemy where there is a lack of brave defenders.
I maintain, then, contrary to the general opinion, that the sinews of war are not gold, but good soldiers. Had the romans attempted to make their wars with gold instead of iron, all the treasure of the world would not have sufficed them.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2, Ch X

It is not wise to form an alliance with a prince that has more reputation than power.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2, Ch XI

I conclude then, that a prince who has his people well armed and disciplined for war should always await a powerful and dangerous enemy at home, and should not go to meet him at a distance. But a prince whose subjects are unarmed, and the country unaccustomed to war, should always keep it as far away from home as possible.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2, Ch XI

The Veienti thought that, by assailing the Romans at the moment when they were divided by internal dissentions, they would have an easy victory over them; but their very attack restored union among the Romans, and that caused the deffeat of the Veienti. These dissentions within republics are generally the result of idleness and peace; and therefore if the Veienti had been wise, the more they had seen the Romans divided amongst themselves, the more they would have kept war away from them, and should have tried to subjugate themby the arts of peace. The way to do this is to try and win the confidence of the citizens that are divided amongst themselves, and to manage to become the arbiter between them, unless the should have come to arms; but having come to arms, then sparingly to favour the weaker party, so as to keep up the war and make them exhaust themselves, and not to give them occasion for the apprehension, by a display of your forces, that you intend to subjugate them and make yourself their prince.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2 ch XXV

Macchiaveli - axiliaries and mercenaries

I repeat, then, that of all kinds of troops, auxiliaries are the most dangerous; for the prince or republic that calls them to their assistance has no control or authority whatever over them, as that remains entirely with him who sends them.
A prince or republic, then, should adopt any other course rather than bring auxiliaries into their state for its defence, especially when their reliance is wholly upon them; for any treaty or convention with the enemy, however hard the conditions, will be less hard to bear than the danger from auxiliaries.
And in truth no more favourable opportunity could be presented to an ambitious prince or republic for seizing a city or province, than to be asked to send troops there to assist in its defence. And therefore any one whose ambition so far misleads him as to call in strangers to aid in his defence, or in an attack upon others, seeks to acquire that which he will not be able to hold, and which after acquiring will be easily taken from him.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2, Ch XX

Contempt and insults engender hatred against those who indulge in them, without being of any advantage to them.
I hold it to be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words towards anyone, for neither the one nor the other in any way diminishes the strength of the enemy; but the one makes him more cautious, and the other increases his hatred of you, and makes him more persevereing in his efforts to injure you.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2 Ch XXVI

Wise princes and republics should content themselves with victory; for when they aim at more, they generally lose.
If so great and valiant a general as Hannibal, with his entire army, sought peace rather than risk a battle, seeing that his defeat wold expose his country to enslavement, what should any less valiant and experienced generals do? But men always commit the error of not knowing where to limit their hopes, and by trusting to these rather than to a just measure of their resources, they are generally ruined.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2 Ch XXVII

Republics and princes that are really powerful do not purchase alliances by money, but by their valor and the reputation of their armies.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2 Ch XXX

We see, then, how vain the faith and promises of men are who are exiles from their own country. As to their faith, we have to bear in mind that, whenever they can return to their own country by other means than your assistance, they will abandon you and look to the other means, regardless of ther promises to you. As to their vain hopes and promises, such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe, they will fill you with hopes to that degree that if you attempt to act upon them you will incur a fuitless expense, or engage in an undertaking that will involve you in ruin.
A prince should therefore be slow in undertaking any enterprise upon the representations of exiles, for he will generally gain nothing by it but shame and serious injury.
-- Niccolo Machiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 2 Ch XXXI

A Republic ought to take great care not to promote anyone to any important administration who has been done a notable injury by someone.
-- Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 3 ch XVII

Nothing is more worthy of a captain than to penetrarte the proceedings of his enemy.
-- Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 3 ch XVIII

In wanting an army to win an engagement, it is necessary to make it confident so that it believes it ought to win in any circumstance. The things that make it confident are, that it be well armed and organized, and each man should know the other. Nor can this confidence or discipline result unless those soldiers are natives and live together. It is necessary also that the Captain be esteemed in a way that they have confidence in his prudence, and will always consider him so when they see him orderly, watchful, and courageous, and maintains the majesty of his rank by a good reputation: and he will always maintain it when he punishes their errors, does not fatigue them in vain, observes his promises to them, and shows them that the path to victory is easy, and conceals and makes light of those dangers which he is able to discern from afar.
-- Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 3 ch XXXIII

Upon this I say, that a good Captain ought to see to it with all diligence, that nothing springs up which, by some accident, can discourage his army. And that which can begin to discourage is to begin to lose, and, therefore, he should guard against small combats and not permit them unless he can engage in them with the greatest advantages and certain hope of victory.
-- Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 3 ch XXXVII

It is not a disgrace not to observe those promises which were made by force: and always forced promises regarding public affairs, will be disregarded when that force is removed, and he who disregards them is without shame.
-- Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 3 ch XLII

A Captain of armies ought not to trust in an error which he sees done by the enemy, as it always is done under deception, for it is unreasonable that men are so incautious. But often, the desire for victory blinds the minds of men who do not see anything else other then that which favors them.
-- Niccolo Macchiavelli, "The Discourses", Book 3 ch XLVIII
January 21st, 2005  
Lots of good quotes there Paul..

I merged all of your posts into this one.
It makes it a bit easier to find and read.
January 23rd, 2005  
The quotes are from his "The Discourses", which is a commentary on the history of ome by Titus Livy. Of course, he just uses this history as a sprinboard to discuss his own observation. The general structure is that each chpter pulls out several examples from Livy and elsewhereand draws conclusions. These quotes are just his summaries and conclusions.

The full text is available in several spots. I found this:
by googleing for this

As you can see by the spelling errors, I typed in the above quotes instead of cutting and pasting them.

You already have a few quotes of his, some of which are repeated here. Maciavelli said a great deal besides this, but I have attempted to pull out some ones applicable to the military. His comments about exiles are particularly spot-on when we consider the current Iraq war.[/url]
January 30th, 2005  
War Creates Thieves. Peace Hangs them.