DBQ3.2: Absolutism & Revolution



A controversy has arisen about this: whether it is better to be loved than feared, or vice versa.  My view is that it is desirable to be both loved and feared; but it is difficult to achieve both and, if one of them has to be lacking, it is much safer to be feared than loved.

For this may be said of men generally: they are ungrateful, fickle (unstable), feigners (fakers) and dissemblers (deceivers), avoiders of danger, eager for gain.  While you benefit them they are all devoted to you...But when you are hard pressed, they turn away...

Men are less hesitant about offending or harming a ruler who makes himself loved than one who inspires fear.  For love is sustained by a bond of gratitude which, because men are excessively self-interested, is broken whenever they see a chance to benefit themselves.  But fear is sustained by a dread of punishment that is always effective.  Nevertheless, a ruler must make himself feared in such a way that, even if he does not become loved, he does not become hated.  For it is perfectly possible to be feared without incurring hatred.  And this can always be achieved if he refrains from laying hands on the property of his citizens and subjects, and on their womenfolk....But, above all, he must not touch the property of others, because men forget sooner the killing of a father than the loss of their patrimony.

1. Why did Machiavelli believe it is better for a ruler to be feared by his or her subjects than to be loved by them?

2. What advice did Machiavelli give monarchs to prevent their subjects from hating them?

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