THIRD, START TO THINK

Alberto Benitez
4 min readMar 7, 2024

What words should we pay attention to? What words put us on the track to be clear about the sections of The Prince, the parts into which it is divided?

At this point, I have the advantage over the reader because I have read The Prince several times.

This is easily remedied: the reader of these lines must read Machiavelli’s text. Repeatedly. The text is very short. It is a true pocket work. It is easily carried and read on public transport or in the waiting room. Plus, it’s a really cute book. Very very handsome. Robert Green, the author of The 48 Laws of Power, says that Machiavelli’s The Prince is one of the works that has influenced him the most. Why they influenced him is interesting. He says that he read it when he was very young, in adolescence. He didn’t understand the book. But even though he didn’t understand it, he could feel the force of the text. Clear ideas, concrete examples, reasoning, chains of reasoning, analogies… The book made him alert, made him pay attention. He felt the reading as if he had to follow a clue, the traces of thought.

This book is truly exciting. It puts us in a certain mood. The strength of the examples he shares puts life before our eyes. This little book is like a high mountain from which we can contemplate life, or like a wide, clear valley from which we look at the sky. It has remained a best seller for more than five hundred years, and when reading it it is very easy to explain why it is so popular. The clarity with which we imagine the Renaissance is due in large part to the power of this book. Machiavelli may have sensed it, and who knows if he said it to himself in the solitude of his exile. But I think he knew that only readers of Herodotus or Thucydides could feel as if they were contemplating life in ancient Greece just as we readers of Machiavelli feel like watching the Renaissance: the ideas and desires of popes and kings and princes, their armies moving in Italy, the sessions of their councils.

But Machiavelli does not need publicists. Whoever reads it feels the power of it.

I would like to listen to the reader and know the impressions that the book has left on you, I would greatly appreciate it.

I have strayed and must get back on track.

To continue, we have to make the index that Machiavelli does not do. We have to identify the parts, the sections of the building that make up the work: the lobby, the stairs, the offices, the kitchen, etc.

If the subject is governments (republics and principalities) but above all, how to take them and govern them, then the steps to follow are:

  • the differences between republics and principalities
  • how these differences define the way each is governed
  • what special problems are there in governing them
  • what are the means to achieve and hold power

And so, I reread:

Chapters 1 to 5 talk about the governments that exist, and that have existed. Principalities or republics (states governed not by a family but by a system of laws). This would be the first part of The Prince: What types of governments are there, what are their different conditions of government.

In chapter 6, there is the word that indicates the change of topic: “new principalities.” We already know what types of government exist. But how are new governments created? This topic (what new principalities there are) implies as much as pointing out what new principalities can be created. It goes from chapters 6 to 11.

Each type of new principality is defined by a talent or characteristic of the prince: obtained by one’s talent and weapons, obtained by luck, obtained by crimes, obtained by decision of the citizens (today we would say elections), and those granted by Divine grace. In total five types of talent or resources or types of character that the conqueror uses to take power in a city.

In chapter 12 the word “prince” disappears and the words “arms” and “armies” appear, same in chapters 13 and 14. So the third part of The Prince is chapters 12, 13 and 14 which deal with armies.

In chapter 15 the fourth part begins. The title of this chapter 15 tells us: “Of those things for which men and especially princes are praised or blamed.” The issue is no longer the types of armies or the types of government, but rather why a prince wins the public opinion. The names of each chapter indicate that this topic goes from 15 to 23.

It should be noted that this third part is the longest of The Prince: 9 chapters. The first part have 5, the second 6, the third 3.

Only three chapters remain of the 26 that make up the work, titled 24 “Why the princes of Italy lost their states”, 25 “The power of fortune in human affairs and the means to oppose it” and finally 26 “Exhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians.” The titles of 24 and 26 correspond, chapter 25 has a very strange title.

I assume that, placed by the author in the middle of two chapters that clearly correspond, then composes with the others two the message with which he wants to conclude the work.

Ok.

Now, what reading do you give it, fellow reader?

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