Chapters 21, 22, and 23
Chapter XXI: How a Prince Must Act in Order to Gain a Reputation
This chapter begins with a seemingly obvious point: a prince gets a reputation for greatness by doing great things. King Ferdinand of Spain, for instance, turned himself into a famous and powerful king by undertaking extraordinary projects: he attacked the Islamic Moors, and by building up his military and waging a holy war, he augmented his own power and reputation for greatness. Other rulers have given demonstrations of greatness in their conduct of domestic politics. As a general rule, Machiavelli advises the prince to avoid neutrality in domestic and foreign affairs - neutrality often leads to weakness, and it is better to support one side or the other. Nor should a prince ever join forces with another prince more powerful than himself - such a tactic nearly always results in the more powerful prince's domination.
Chapter XXII: Of the Secretaries of Princes
A prince's reputation has a lot to do with the character of his officers. If he has competent and fair secretaries and ministers, he will usually be thought of as wise and good himself. How can a prince know who to choose as a minister? Machiavelli offers a rule of thumb: if a man is selfish and seeks his own profit above all things, he will probably not be a good minister. Good ministers must be willing to think of the prince first, always and in every case. This works two ways, however; the prince, if he wishes to keep his good minister, must always be willing to give the minister honors, riches, and other kinds of gratification. Like the prince and his people, the prince and his ministers should exist in an ideal interdependence, since each needs the other.
Chapter XXIII: How Flatterers Must Be Shunned
A prince should take care to choose as ministers men who love him above themselves - but not men who are flatterers. The court, writes Machiavelli, is full of flatterers, and it is hard for a prince to avoid them. One way to guard against flatterers is for the prince to encourage all men to tell the truth without fear of giving offense - but if all men are permitted to speak the truth to the prince, they will no longer respect him. Better, then, for the prince to allow certain wise men in his council to speak freely - but only these men. That way, the prince will demonstrate his willingness to listen to men who do not flatter him, but will be in no danger of losing the respect of the rest of his people . Moreover, the prince should only allow people at court to give him advice when he asks them for it - although he should ask for advice frequently.
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Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Summary of the Argument
Chapters 1 and 2
Chapters 4 and 5
Chapters 9 and 10
Chapters 11 and 12
Chapters 13 and 14
Chapters 15 and 16
Chapters 17 and 18
Chapters 19 and 20
Chapters 21, 22, and 23
Chapters 24, 25, and 26