Summary by Lewis G. Miller
In our latest episode of the Prince’s Podcast, Nicholas and I discuss those who have gained power through being evil and what ‘evil’ is to Machiavelli.
Machiavelli’s chapter on gaining power through ‘illegal and nefarious ways’ is a particularly insightful one. In dismissing the actions of the tyrants Agathocles and Oliverotto da Fermo, Machiavelli lets us see what it means to be a virtuous leader. Those who express the quality of virtú, an idea Machiavelli frequently discusses in the book, are not simply evil people but people who know when it is appropriate to act cruelly.
Alongside this, we get an insight into the principle that we should act cruelly in the beginning before becoming more liberal over time. I argue that for Machiavelli, the good do what they must and the evil do what they want.