The Prince

by Niccolo Machiavelli

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o the Magnificent Lorenzo Di Piero De' Medici:

     Those who strive to obtain the good graces of a prince are
     accustomed to come before him with such things as they hold most
     precious, or in which they see him take most delight; whence one
     often sees horses, arms, cloth of gold, precious stones, and
     similar ornaments presented to princes, worthy of their greatness.

     Desiring therefore to present myself to your Magnificence with
     some testimony of my devotion towards you, I have not found among
     my possessions anything which I hold more dear than, or value so
     much as, the knowledge of the actions of great men, acquired by
     long experience in contemporary affairs, and a continual study of
     antiquity; which, having reflected upon it with great and
     prolonged diligence, I now send, digested into a little volume, to
     your Magnificence.

     And although I may consider this work unworthy of your
     countenance, nevertheless I trust much to your benignity that it
     may be acceptable, seeing that it is not possible for me to make a
     better gift than to offer you the opportunity of understanding in
     the shortest time all that I have learnt in so many years, and
     with so many troubles and dangers; which work I have not
     embellished with swelling or magnificent words, nor stuffed with
     rounded periods, nor with any extrinsic allurements or adornments
     whatever, with which so many are accustomed to embellish their
     works; for I have wished either that no honour should be given it,
     or else that the truth of the matter and the weightiness of the
     theme shall make it acceptable.

     Nor do I hold with those who regard it as a presumption if a man
     of low and humble condition dare to discuss and settle the
     concerns of princes; because, just as those who draw landscapes
     place themselves below in the plain to contemplate the nature of
     the mountains and of lofty places, and in order to contemplate the
     plains place themselves upon high mountains, even so to understand
     the nature of the people it needs to be a prince, and to
     understand that of princes it needs to be of the people.

     Take then, your Magnificence, this little gift in the spirit in
     which I send it; wherein, if it be diligently read and considered
     by you, you will learn my extreme desire that you should attain
     that greatness which fortune and your other attributes promise.
     And if your Magnificence from the summit of your greatness will
     sometimes turn your eyes to these lower regions, you will see how
     unmeritedly I suffer a great and continued malignity of fortune.

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