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A collection of thoughts and quotes by Niccolo Machiavelli on leadership, philosophy, success, politics, risk, sociology, intellect, cynicism and fear.

75 Notable Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes That Teach Life-Management

Quick Facts

Famous As: Political Philosopher

Born On: May 3, 1469

Died On: June 21, 1527

Born In: Florence

Died At Age: 58

Niccolo di Bernardo Machiavelli was an Italian historian, political thinker, diplomat, author and philosopher who lived from 1469 to 1527. He is regarded as the greatest political thinker in history. As a matter of fact, Machiavelli is often credited for laying the foundations of modern political theory and the word ‘Machiavellian’ is often used to describe an individual who might not be averse to using any means necessary in order to get to the end that he has envisioned. He was a government official in Florence and also served the Second Chancery of the Florentine Republic for 14 years, which laid the foundations of his political convictions. His political thoughts were assimilated in his most famous work titled ‘The Prince’ in which he laid down the ways in which the king is supposed to operate in warfare, politics and diplomacy. ‘The Prince’ remains a must read book to this day and is often regarded as the go to book for budding diplomats. In addition to that, Machiavelli was also a poet, historian and music composer during his rather eventful life. However, it was as a political thinker that he is most renowned. Many of his words have become popular quotes over time. The below collection of Niccolo Machiavelli’s most famous quotes have been excerpted from his writings, papers and thoughts. Here are some of the best quotes from Niccolo Machiavelli’s work and life that would certainly appeal to everyone. 

Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.

Niccolò Machiavelli

If an injury has to be done to a man it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be feared.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Never was anything great achieved without danger.

Niccolò Machiavelli

The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.

Niccolò Machiavelli

There is no other way to guard yourself against flattery than by making men understand that telling you the truth will not offend you.

Niccolò Machiavelli

The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.

Niccolò Machiavelli

I'm not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men are driven by two principal impulses, either by love or by fear.

Niccolò Machiavelli

It is not titles that honour men, but men that honour titles.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.

Niccolò Machiavelli

…he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.

Niccolò Machiavelli

How we live is so different from how we ought to live that he who studies what ought to be done rather than what is done will learn the way to his downfall rather than to his preservation.

Niccolò Machiavelli

A man who is used to acting in one way never changes; he must come to ruin when the times, in changing, no longer are in harmony with his ways.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.

Niccolò Machiavelli

The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Appear as you may wish to be

Niccolò Machiavelli

There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.

Niccolò Machiavelli

A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent, so that if he does not attain to their greatness, at any rate he will get some tinge of it.

Niccolò Machiavelli

The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.

Niccolò Machiavelli

He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command

Niccolò Machiavelli

Of mankind we may say in general they are fickle, hypocritical, and greedy of gain.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men in general judge more from appearances than from reality. All men have eyes, but few have the gift of penetration.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Wisdom consists of knowing how to distinguish the nature of trouble, and in choosing the lesser evil.

Niccolò Machiavelli

It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to terrify the wolves

Niccolò Machiavelli

There is no avoiding war, it can only be postponed to the advantage of your enemy.

Niccolò Machiavelli

He who becomes a Prince through the favour of the people should always keep on good terms with them; which it is easy for him to do, since all they ask is not to be oppressed

Niccolò Machiavelli

In conclusion, the arms of others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down, or they bind you fast.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand, for everyone can see and few can feel. Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it; but when they are free to choose and can do just as they please, confusion and disorder become rampant.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Half of these aren't even Machiavelli. Some are Plato, Thucydides etc....doesnt anyone check these?

Niccolò Machiavelli

A prince must not have any other object nor any other thought… but war, its institutions, and its discipline; because that is the only art befitting one who commands.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Everyone who wants to know what will happen ought to examine what has happened: everything in this world in any epoch has their replicas in antiquity.

Niccolò Machiavelli

It is better to act and repent than not to act and regret.

Niccolò Machiavelli

It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Niccolò Machiavelli

He who builds on the people, builds on the mud

Niccolò Machiavelli

For one change always leaves a dovetail into which another will fit.

Niccolò Machiavelli

My view is that it is desirable to be both loved and feared; but it is difficult to achieve both and, if one of them has to be lacking, it is much safer to be feared than loved.

Niccolò Machiavelli

The new ruler must determine all the injuries that he will need to inflict. He must inflict them once and for all.

Niccolò Machiavelli

One should never fall in the belief that you can find someone to pick you up.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many.

Niccolò Machiavelli

I hold strongly to this: that it is better to be impetuous than circumspect; because fortune is a woman and if she is to be submissive it is necessary to beat and coerce her.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men sooner forget the death of their father than the loss of their patrimony

Niccolò Machiavelli

Therefore the best fortress is to be found in the love of the people, for although you may have fortresses they will not save you if you are hated by the people.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Is it better to be loved or feared?

Niccolò Machiavelli

The best fortress which a prince can possess is the affection of his people.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men are so simple and so much inclined to obey immediate needs that a deceiver will never lack victims for his deceptions.

Niccolò Machiavelli

...the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.

Niccolò Machiavelli

One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.

Niccolò Machiavelli

A prince is also esteemed when he is a true friend and a true enemy.

Niccolò Machiavelli

For, in truth, there is no sure way of holding other than by destroying

Niccolò Machiavelli

One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Those who simply act like lions are stupid.

Niccolò Machiavelli

It's better to be feared than loved if you cannot be both.

Niccolò Machiavelli

For, besides what has been said, it should be borne in mind that the temper of the multitude is fickle, and that while it is easy to persuade them of a thing, it is hard to fix them in that persuasion

Niccolò Machiavelli

The fact is that a man who wants to act virtuous in every way necessarily comes to grief among so many who are not virtuous.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men should be either treated generously or destroyed, because they take revenge for slight injuries - for heavy ones they cannot.

Niccolò Machiavelli

He who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against;

Niccolò Machiavelli

And yet we cannot define as skillful killing one's fellow citizens, betraying one's friends, and showing no loyalty, mercy, or moral obligation. These means can lead to power, but not glory.

Niccolò Machiavelli

But when you disarm them, you at once offend them by showing that you distrust them, either for cowardice or for want of loyalty, and either of these opinions breeds hatred against you.

Niccolò Machiavelli

For he who innovates will have for his enemies all those who are well off under the existing order of things, and only lukewarm supporters in those who might be better off under the new.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Hence it comes that all armed prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed prophets have been destroyed.

Niccolò Machiavelli

God creates men, but they choose each other.

Niccolò Machiavelli

He who causes another to become powerful ruins himself, for he brings such a power into being either by design or by force, and both of these elements are suspects to the one whom he has made powerful.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Men intrinsically do not trust new things that they have not experienced themselves.

Niccolò Machiavelli

All the States and Governments by which men are or ever have been ruled, have been and are either Republics or Princedoms.

Niccolò Machiavelli

For whoever believes that great advancement and new benefits make men forget old injuries is mistaken.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Though fraud in all other actions be odious, yet in matters of war it is laudable and glorious, and he who overcomes his enemies by stratagem is as much to be praised as he who overcomes them by force.

Niccolò Machiavelli

A man who wishes to profess at all times will come to ruin among so many who are not good.

Niccolò Machiavelli

Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts. But let this happen in such a way that no one become aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand to be produced immediately.

Niccolò Machiavelli

You ought never to suffer your designs to be crossed in order to avoid war, since war is not so to be avoided, but is only deferred to your disadvantage.

Niccolò Machiavelli