Niccolo Machiavelli

Compares two of Machiavelli’s discourses on the purpose of government.

This paper examines Niccolo Machiavelli’s first work, “Discourse of Livy”, and then compares it with his second work, “The Prince”. The paper points out that “Discourse of Livy” was a treatise regarding the means by which a Republic can be formed and maintained over the people, whereas “The Prince” abandoned the discussion of how leaders should rule and focused entirely on how leaders do rule. Some of the reasons put forth for this about-face regarding the purpose of government are also discussed.
“For Machiavelli, the purpose of war, and military conquest was to establish a republic in which the people would be ruled well. In this pursuit, war was just, because in overcoming discord, or another tyrannical leader, war could bring in peace. Situations of emergency, said Machiavelli, are severe tests that only well-ordered republics can pass. If a society falls into disarray, or tyranny, Machiavelli described that it would be virtually impossible to redeem it to a peaceful political life without overthrowing the government.”