The Perfect Prince Essay

738 words - 3 pages

The Perfect Prince

Daniel Byrne
CHY 4U
Mr. Fedorowicz

In the 15th century, many writers wrote stories about princes. They would write detailed accounts on their behaviors and actions. Many of the writers had different opinions on how a prince should act. In 1513, Niccolo Machiavelli attempted to explain what decisions a prince had to make in order to obtain the right reputation and he also stated that a prince should never neglect the thought of war. Of course not every other writer agreed with this. In 1516, Erasmus focused more on the differences between a prince and a tyrant. In the writings of Desiderius Erasmus and Niccolo Machiavelli, both writers talk about how you should behave as a prince and whether it is better to be loved or hated by society.

The writers’ works are very opinionated and meant to influence the reader. Desiderius Erasmus was an idealist, which means he didn’t see the world as it was, he saw it as it should be. In his writing “On the ...view middle of the document...

He also talks about what gives you more advantages as a prince: “Still, a prince should make himself feared in such a way that even if he gets no love, he gets no hate either” (P.13). As a prince, it is safer to be feared than loved. The reason is that love is a link of obligation which men will break at any time for their advantage, but fear involves dread and punishment, from which they can never escape. Both writers, speak in detail of their opinions on an ideal prince.

Both of these writings must have been a superb advice at that time to many princes. After reading both of the texts, I consider Niccolo Machiavelli as the better model because it contains a lot of important information on how to be a prince. It tells you what to do and what not to do, whereas Desiderius Erasmus reflects on the comparison of a prince and a tyrant. He lists numerous points on how a prince is often compared to a tyrant although these two differ a lot. Also I do not like the heading of Erasmus’ “On the Education of a Christian Prince”, because he talks more about the comparison of the two than about the education of a prince. Machiavelli definitely gives more advice on how to act as a prince. Although, a negative aspect of how Machiavelli discusses the topic would be that he constantly speaks about war and that a good prince should never turn his mind from the study of war.

I personally believe that Machiavelli’s written work is the more realistic one of the two. It reflects on how to behave as a prince and gives you great advice, whereas in Erasmus’ writing he keeps comparing a prince with a tyrant. Machiavelli also points out that there are certain qualities that bring you either praise or blame as a prince. Furthermore you have to be smart enough to avoid public disgrace because of simple mistakes you can make very easily and which would make you lose the state. Even though Desiderius Erasmus gives a great example of a tyrant in his writing, “Those who look out for their people only in so far as it redounds to their personal advantage, hold their personal advantage, hold their subjects in the same status as the average man considers his horse or ass. For these men take care of their animals, but all the care they give them is judged from the advantage to themselves, not to the animals” (P.10).

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