The Prince has long been both praised and reviled for its message of moral relativism and political expediency. Although a large part is devoted to the mechanics of gaining and staying in power, Machiavelli's end purpose is to maintain a just and stable government. He is not ambiguous in stating his belief that committing a small cruelty to avert a larger one is not only justifiable, but required of a just ruler.
Machiavelli gives a vivid portrayal of his world: the chaos and tumult of early 16th-century Florence, Italy and Europe. He uses both his contemporary political situation and that of the classical period to illustrate his precepts of statecraft.
(P)2002 Tantor Media, Inc. Originally published 1916.