Five Niccolò Machiavelli Quotes

February 24, 2019
Niccolò Machiavelli was a famous philosopher. In this article, we share some of his most well-known quotes.

Niccolò Machiavelli was an important philosopher who people tend to associate with the Italian Enlightenment. However, he was also a diplomat, politician, and writer. In this article, we share some of his best quotes.

If you haven’t read anything about or by Machiavelli, we recommend his book The Prince. It’s a treatise on the political doctrine that was published years after his death. If you enjoy a philosophical take on politics, you’ll definitely enjoy this book. Machiavelli, after all, is considered the father of modern political science.

1. It’s hard to reach goals

“Never was anything great achieved without danger.”

This first Machiavelli quote invites you to reflect on the fear that so often gets in the way of taking steps to achieve your goals. This kind of fear can be paralyzing. Consequently, few people actually make their dreams come true.

Machiavelli reminds us that doing big things always implies some risk. He calls that risk danger, and confronting that danger requires courage and perseverance.

A guy watching a wave break on a pier.

2. Appearances can be deceiving

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

Machiavelli did an excellent job here of articulating an important idea. You’re often unaware that you wear a mask in order to improve your image. You act differently with your siblings than you do with your boss. Why do some people think you’re shy and reserved when those who know you well would say just the opposite?

Not being able to get those around you to see you for who you really are can be frustrating. After all, your parents and siblings have known you since you were a baby and have seen you through good times and bad. But what about everyone else? Maybe you feel like people don’t see the real you because you’re hiding your true self.

3. The best choice is always to take action

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

The meaning behind this quote alludes to the fear we mentioned before. This fear governs your life and keeps you from doing what you desire the most.

You often limit yourself and make excuses about why you can’t or shouldn’t take certain actions in your life. However, if you look at them from another perspective, you’d see that they aren’t insurmountable barriers. In fact, the barriers in your mind can be much more damaging than any physical limitations you might have.

4. Everything in due time

“Nevertheless, he must be cautious in believing and acting, and must not inspire fear of his own accord, and must proceed in a temperate manner with prudence and humanity, so that too much confidence does not render him incautious, and too much diffidence does not render him intolerant.”

Have you ever felt like you went to some extreme? That you blindly trusted someone? That blind trust made it impossible to see that they were trying to manipulate you?

This quote tells us that we shouldn’t trust people blindly because this may lead to disappointment, which might lead you to another extreme: intolerance.

A suspicious woman hugging her partner.

5. Niccolò Machiavelli believed that change can open doors

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

This last Niccolò Machiavelli quote reinforces the importance of change. These days, many of us fear change. Maybe you believe that what’s familiar and comfortable is better than whatever awaits you down the road.

However, change opens doors for good things to happen. In spite of all the uncertainty, change is necessary. Can you imagine what it would be like to be the same person your whole life?

We hope that these Niccolò Machiavelli quotes help you reflect. If you want to understand him better, you should definitely read The Prince.

  • Hermosa Andújar, A. (2013). La actualidad del pensamiento político de Maquiavelo. Co-herencia10(19), 13-36.
  • Ruiz, J. J. (2013). Nicolás Maquiavelo en el pensamiento político del Siglo de Oro español. Revista de estudios histórico-jurídicos, (35), 771-781.
  • Schenoni, L. L. (2007). El concepto de lo político en Nicolás Maquiavelo. Andamios4(7), 207-226.