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Our fourth assignment forces us to examine Machiavelli's theory of man and beast. He chooses two distinct animals that should represent the ideal prince, which are the fox and the lion. Machiavelli draws his conclusion from the teachings of ancient Greece, more specifically Achilles and Chiron. Achilles was sent to Chiron who was half man and half beast to be trained to become a great warrior. "To have as a teacher a half-beast, half-man means nothing other than that a prince needs to know how to use both natures" (Mansfield 69). Machiavelli proposed this to illustrate that a warrior should be taught in the aggressive conduct of men and animals equally. Machiavelli alleged that a prince should undoubtedly obtain the characteristics of both the fox and the lion; one property has proved to be inadequate without the other. A fox has to the ability to recognize traps but he is unable to ward off attackers; a lion holds the power to defend itself against attackers but he is unable to identify traps.
Machiavelli later categorizes the methods of fighting into law and force; with law being associated with the leaders' human component and force directly related to the animal within. Machiavelli stresses the importance of having the ability to use both parts of the dichotomy equally. "Therefore it is necessary for a prince to know well how to use the beast and the man" (Mansfield 69). A smart prince should know when to break his word if by doing this it serves his best interest. "A prudent lord, therefore, cannot observe faith, nor should he, when such observance turns against him, and the causes that made him promise have been eliminated" (Mansfield 69). It has been proven in history time after time that rulers who utilize deception greatly triumphed over those who stood by their initial promises.
In my opinion Machiavelli's argument forces us to ask ourselves; is it better to be loved than feared or vice versa? Machiavelli leads readers to believe, when a leader is adored the stability of a nation lies within the hands of the people, however if a leader is feared he maintains control at all times. This argument has been clearly displayed throughout the history of our nation, particularly the example of military enrollment. Undeniably, there were multitudes of citizens choosing to participate in deadly combat during the Vietnam War because of the love and patriotism for their country, however there were thousands who were pressured to enlist in fear of imprisonment or further punishment by federal government. President Johnson clearly employed the fox element of a great leader by coaxing America into believing that the fight in Vietnam was to defend the security of the nation and more importantly her honor; while the lion factor was evident in the consequences of avoiding the draft. Even in the face of defeat America's leaders always seem to justify grave mistakes by embarking on what followers feel especially passionate about. "Nor does a prince ever lack legitimate causes to color his failure with you; you also do not have to observe it with them" (Mansfield 69).
In conclusion, I feel that it is absolutely necessary to hold the characteristics of the fox and the lion to become successful. It is very difficult for a leader to rule solely by love and compassion due to the corrupt aspects of human nature, and it is impossible to prevent rebellion if one chooses to rule by force and brut. It will always be important for a ruler to carefully balance these conflicting personas that lie within us all.