Quote 2

[P]eople are by nature changeable. It is easy to persuade them about some particular matter, but it is hard to hold them to that persuasion. Hence it is necessary to provide that when they no longer believe, they can be forced to believe.

This passage from Chapter VI is an example of Machiavelli’s use of assumptions about human nature to justify political action. This quotation follows a formula used throughout The Prince: because people are X, a prince must always do Y. Whereas Machiavelli laces his historical points with a wealth of evidence and detail, he tends not to provide significant explanations for many broad statements he makes about human nature. We may assume that when Machiavelli writes a statement such as “people are by nature changeable,” he is uttering a belief generally accepted in sixteenth-century Florentine society.