A man attains an elevated position only when his mediocrity prevents him from being a threat to others. And for this reason a democracy is never governed by the most competent, but rather by those whose insignificance will not jeopardize anyone else's self-esteem.
For the great majority of mankind are satisfied with appearance, as though they were realities and are often more influenced by the things that seem than by those that are.
Hatred may be engendered by good deeds as well as bad ones.
I desire to go to Hell, not to Heaven. In Hell I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, but in Heaven are only beggars, monks, hermits and apostles.
It is far safer to be feared than loved.
Men [seldom] rise from low condition to high rank without employing either force or fraud, unless that rank should be attained either by gift or inheritance.
Politics have no relation to morals.
[Religions] have made men feeble and caused them to become an easy prey to evil minded men, who can control them more securely, seeing that the great body of men, for the sake of gaining Paradise, are more disposed to endure injuries than to avenge them.
The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
There is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor
more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the
initiator has the enmity of all who profit by the preservation of the
old and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new.
(In The Prince, 1513)
Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.
Whoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.