The wish to acquire more is admittedly a very natural and common thing; and when men succeed in this they are always praised rather than condemned. But when they lack the ability to do so and yet want to acquire more at all costs, they deserve condemnation for their mistakes.
Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others.
The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
Nature that framed us of four elements, warring within our breasts for regiment, doth teach us all to have aspiring minds.
It is necessary for him who lays out a state and arranges laws for it to presuppose that all men are evil and that they are always going to act according to the wickedness of their spirits whenever they have free scope.
There are three kinds of intelligence: one kind understands things for itself, the other appreciates what others can understand, the third understands neither for itself nor through others. This first kind is excellent, the second good, and the third kind useless.
Men ought either to be indulged or utterly destroyed, for if you merely offend them they take vengeance, but if you injure them greatly they are unable to retaliate, so that the injury done to a man ought to be such that vengeance cannot be feared.
Men are so simple and yield so readily to the desires of the moment that he who will trick will always find another who will suffer to be tricked.
Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.
A return to first principles in a republic is sometimes caused by the simple virtues of one man. His good example has such an influence that the good men strive to imitate him, and the wicked are ashamed to lead a life so contrary to his example.
Whoever conquers a free town and does not demolish it commits a great error and may expect to be ruined himself.
War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him leisure to contrive, and furnishes as ability to execute, military plans.
To understand the nature of the people one must be a prince, and to understand the nature of the prince, one must be of the people.
There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.
The main foundations of every state, new states as well as ancient or composite ones, are good laws and good arms you cannot have good laws without good arms, and where there are good arms, good laws inevitably follow.
The distinction between children and adults, while probably useful for some purposes, is at bottom a specious one, I feel. There are only individual egos, crazy for love.
No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries - for heavy ones they cannot.