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130+ Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes to Become Powerful (2022)

Niccolo Machiavelli Quotes

This collection of Niccolò Machiavelli quotes will provide you insights about him.

Niccolò Machiavelli was a diplomat, historian, and philosopher from Italy. He also wrote several poems and plays. He is best known for writing The Prince, one of the most influential and contentious books of all time. 

Continue reading through this list to understand why some people associate Machiavellian with scheming and iniquity, while others believe that being Machiavellian does not necessarily imply wickedness.

Best Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes

1. “He who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against.”

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2. “He who wishes to be obeyed must know how to command.”

3. “A sign of intelligence is an awareness of one’s own ignorance.”

4. “Never was anything great achieved without danger.”

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

6. “Make no small plans for they have no power to stir the soul.”

7. “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer.”

8. “It is better to act and repent than not to act and regret.”

9. “Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experiences what you really are.”

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

Famous Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes That Will Transform You Into A Thinker

11. “The end justifies the means.”

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12. “It is double pleasure to deceive the deceiver.”

13. “Never do an enemy a small injury.”

14. “Appear as you may wish to be.”

15. “Hatred is gained as much by good works as by evil.”

16. “He who builds on the people, builds on the mud.”

17. “How perilous it is to free a people who prefer slavery.”

18. “A battle that you win cancels all your mistakes.”

19. “Ability and perseverance are the weapons of weakness.”

20. “Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.”

21. “A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.”

22. “Alexander never did what he said, Cesare never said what he did.”

23. “God creates men, but they choose each other.”

24. “Always assume incompetence before looking for conspiracy.”

25. “It is a common fault not to anticipate storms when the sea is calm.”

26. “The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.”

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

28. “It is better to be adventurous than cautious, because fortune is a woman.”

29. “For, in truth, there is no sure way of holding other than by destroying.”

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

Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes About Politics and Government

31. “Politics have no relation to morals.”

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32. “Princes and governments are far more dangerous than other elements within society.”

33. “A government which does not trust its citizens to be armed is not itself to be trusted.”

34. “I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.”

35. “No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.”

36. “It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free a people that wants to remain servile as it is to enslave a people that wants to remain free.”

37. “For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who gain by the new ones.”

38. “Nature creates few men brave; industry and training makes many.”

39. “There is no surer sign of decay in a country than to see the rites of religion held in contempt.”

Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes on Change and How People React To It

40. “There is nothing so difficult or so dangerous as to undertake to change the order of things.”

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

42. “For this is the tragedy of man circumstances change, but he does not.”

43. “One change always leaves the way open for the establishment of others.”

44. “It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than a new system.”

45. “The innovator makes enemies of all those who prospered under the old order, and only lukewarm support is forthcoming from those who would prosper under the new. Their support is lukewarm … partly because men are generally incredulous, never really trusting new things unless they have tested them by experience.”

Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes On Fear And Its Weight To Man

46. “Fear is secured by a dread of punishment.”

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47. “It is much more secure to be feared than to be loved.”

48. “Men shrink less from offending one who inspires love than one who inspires fear.”

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

50. “And here comes in the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both.”

Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes That Highlight Human Nature

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

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

53. “A son can bear with equanimity the loss of his father, but the loss of his inheritance may drive him to despair.”

54. “As a general thing, anyone who is not your friend will advise neutrality while anyone who is your friend will ask you to join him, weapon in hand.”

55. “For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearances, as though they were realities, and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.”

56. “For the mob is always impressed by appearances and by results, and the world is composed of the mob.”

57. “Men in general judge more by the sense of sight than by the sense of touch, because everyone can see but few can test by feeling.”

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

59. “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.”

60. “Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others.”

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

62. “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.”

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

64. “One can make this generalization about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, liars, and deceivers, they shun danger and are greedy for profit; while you treat them well, they are yours. They would shed their blood for you, risk their property, their lives, their children, so long, as I said above, as danger is remote; but when you are in danger, they turn against you.”

65. “Men are of three different capacities: one understands intuitively; another understands so far as it is explained, and a third understands neither of himself nor by explanation. The first is excellent, the second, commendable, and the third, altogether useless.”

Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes on Leadership Attributes

66. “The leader should know how to enter into evil when necessity commands.”

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67. “A wise ruler should rely on what is under his own control, not on what is under the control of others.”

68. “There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.”

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

70. “When you disarm the people, you commence to offend them and show that you distrust them either through cowardice or lack of confidence, and both of these opinions generate hatred.”

71. “You must know, then, that there are two methods of fighting, the one by law, the other by force: the first method is that of men, the second of beasts; but as the first method is often insufficient, one must have recourse to the second.”

72. “Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.”

73. “A Prince should esteem the great, but must not make himself odious to the people.”

74. “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.”

75. “It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.”

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

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Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes On Power

77. “The state is not an organism capable of bringing either moral or material improvements to the populace…but merely a vehicle of power for the men and party in power.”

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78. “Power is the pivot on which everything hinges. He who has the power is always right; the weaker is always wrong.”

79. “Whoever is the cause of another becoming powerful, is ruined himself.”

80. “If you only notice human proceedings, you may observe that all who attain great power and riches, make use of either force or fraud; and what they have acquired either by deceit or violence, in order to conceal the disgraceful methods of attainment, they endeavor to sanctify with the false title of honest gains.”

81. “It has always been the opinion and judgment of wise men that nothing can be so uncertain as fame or power not founded on its own strength.”

Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes On war

82. “An unavoidable war is called justice. When brutality is the only option left it is holy.”

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83. “Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please.”

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

85. “War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms.”

86. “That defense alone is effectual, sure, and durable which depends upon yourself and your own valor.”

87. “The first way to lose a state is to neglect the art of war; the first way to gain a state is to be skilled in the art of war.”

88. “A battle that you win cancels any other bad action of yours. In the same way, by losing one, all the good things worked by you before become vain.”

89. “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.”

90. “War should be the only study of a prince. He should consider peace only as a breathing-time, which gives him the leisure to contrive, and furnishes as ability to execute military plans.”

Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes To Guide Your Action

91. “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.”

92. “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.”

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93. “If you wish to please me, and to bring success and honor to yourself, do right and study because others will help you if you help yourself.”

94. “Make mistakes of ambition and not mistakes of sloth. Develop the strength to do bold things, not to suffer.”

95. “I hold it to be a proof of great prudence for men to abstain from threats and insulting words toward anyone, for neither diminishes the strength of the enemy.”

96. “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.”

97. “The wise man should always follow the roads that have been trodden by the great, and imitate those who have most excelled, so that if he cannot reach their perfection, he may at least acquire something of its savour.”

98. “Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.”

99. “I consider it a mark of great prudence in a man to abstain from threats or any contemptuous expressions, for neither of these weakens the enemy, but threats make him more cautious, and the other excites his hatred, and a desire to revenge himself.”

Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes That Describe Society’s Reality

100. “Gold will not always get you good soldiers, but good soldiers can get you gold.”

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101. “Impetuosity and audacity often achieve what ordinary means fail to achieve.”

102. “Tardiness often robs us of opportunity, and the dispatch of our forces.”

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

104. “He who thinks new favors will cause great personages to forget old injuries deceives himself.”

105. “He who has once begun to live by robbery will always find pretexts for seizing what belongs to others.”

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

107. “Results are often obtained by impetuosity and daring which could never have been obtained by ordinary methods.”

108. “We have not seen great things done in our time except by those who have been considered mean; the rest have failed.”

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

110. “He who blinded by ambition raises himself to a position whence he cannot mount higher, must thereafter fall with the greatest loss.”

111. “Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage.”

112. “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.”

113. “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.”

114. “It is often found that modesty and humility not only do no good, but are positively hurtful, when they are shown to the arrogant who have taken up a prejudice against you, either from envy or from any other cause.”

115. “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.”

116. “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.”

Insightful Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes to Ponder On

117. “The peasant wants only to be left alone to prosper in peace.”

118. “The unarmed man is not just defenseless – he is also contemptible.”

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119. “Benefits should be conferred gradually; and in that way they will taste better.”

120. “There is nothing as likely to succeed as what the enemy believes you cannot attempt.”

121. “We cannot attribute to fortune or virtue that which is achieved without either.”

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

123. “Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good.”

124. “The more sand has escaped from the hourglass of our life, the clearer we should see through it.”

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

126. “God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.”

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

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

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

130. “When fortune wishes to bring mighty events to a successful conclusion, she selects some man of spirit and ability who knows how to seize the opportunity she offers.”

131. “Without an opportunity, their abilities would have been wasted, and without their abilities, the opportunity would have arisen in vain.”

Which Of These Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes Resonates With You?

What Machiavelli intended when he wrote The Prince has long been debated. Some argue that it is to strengthen tyrannical rulers, while others claim to expose the crimes perpetrated at that time. Furthermore, while some regard this book as political satire, others believe it is an essential guide for rulers.

Regardless of the book’s intent, it cannot be denied that there are relevant and insightful passages in it, some of which are included in this collection of Niccolò Machiavelli quotes. To help you in making sound decisions and ethical actions, you should learn to recognize which among the list are appropriate and acceptable.

What are your thoughts on Machiavelli’s ideas? Please leave your feedback in the box below.

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