In the book THE PRINCE by Machiavelli he uses the word virtue The meaning of this word comes from the Italian word virtu When this word was translated from Italian to English it took on an entirely new meaning The original meaning of the word virtu was referring to a set of qualities that someone needs to ensure the maintenance of state or to achieve great things Stanford edu Paragraph 3 The word virtu was translated to virtue in the english language which refers to someone's morality or their qualities of good Things such as honesty empathy integrity and faithfulness things that give a person their character and fortitude Machiavelli sees things quite differently He believes that a person needs only to appear to have characteristics of a good person More importantly than that he believes that a Prince must learn how to be proficient in how they apply five very specific qualities into ruling their State Therefore it is unnecessary for a prince to have all the good qualities I have enumerated but it is very necessary to appear to have them And I shall dare to say this also that to have them and always to observe them is injurious and that to appear to have them is useful to appear merciful faithful humane religious upright and to be so but with a mind so framed that should you require not to be so you may be able and know how to change to the opposite CHAPTER XVIII Machiavelli equates these virtues with power He is not concerned in the means that someone gains power as he is to the end result of attaining that power
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CHAPTER XV PARAGRAPH 2 In essence what his is saying is that fortune meaning luck and virtue meaning maintenance of the state and achieving great things For this reason a prince ought to take care that he never lets anything slip from his lips that is not replete with the above named five qualities that he may appear to him who sees and hears him altogether merciful faithful humane upright and religious There is nothing more necessary to appear to have than this last quality inasmuch as men judge generally more by the eye than by the hand because it belongs to everybody to see you too few to come in touch with you Every one sees what you appear to be few really know what you are and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many who have the majesty of the state to defend them and in the actions of all men and especially of princes which it is not prudent to challenge one judges by the result For that reason let a prince have the credit of conquering and holding his state the means will always be considered honest and he will be praised by everybody because the vulgar are always taken by what a thing seems to be and by what comes of it and in the world there are only the vulgar for the few find a place there only when the many have no ground to rest on Chapter XVIII THE PRINCE As a Prince the moves you make must always benefit yourself in one way or another and must provide you with strength and wealth for not only you but your people It must appear to the people that your great achievements benefit them so they find you of good character All of this being said in no way shape or form do I think that Machiavelli s meaning of virtue is consistent with either the Christian or Greek view His definition literally means the complete opposite of our construction of the meaning Work Cited https plato stanford edu entries machiavelli Machiavelli Niccola The Prince
To him it doesn't matter if someone worked their way up the ladder to acquire the power if it was handed to them by their predecessor or if they lied cheated and murdered to gain the power as a Prince The most important thing is that they maintain the power an achieve great things with it He does give some acknowledgement to the people that live in the state He agrees that they don t have to love you but as a whole thy cannot hate you If they hate you then not only will you face reproach by them as you would even if you were loved but you would also have to worry about losing your power to them He feels that if you merely give them a glimpse of what they see as being virtuous then that is all you need to do He basically saying that you can manipulate them into believing you are a person to admire as long as the results you are getting favors them You need not be concerned with holding to these virtues or qualities you just need to convince them that you have them through your actions As long as it benefits you and you can convince them that it is in their benefit you can maintain your position your wealth and your power And again he need not make himself uneasy at incurring a reproach for those vices without which the state can only be saved with difficulty for if everything is considered carefully it will be found that something which looks like virtue if followed would be his ruin whilst something else which looks like vice yet followed brings him security and prosperity
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