Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince And Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar
The Bible teaches love, compassion and generosity. Niccolo Machiavelli found the Bible’s lessons idealistic and unrealistic for leaders. Machiavelli wrote his book, The Prince, to show the ruling Meddici family that the world is not a fairy tale. Prior to Machiavelli writing The Prince, the majority of books depicted people as virtuous and ethical. However, The Prince is not the only work of literature that manifests Machiavellian techniques. William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar utilizes similar methods. As shown in Julius Caesar and The Prince, a leader who follows Machiavelli’s advice will accomplish their goals; if the leader does not adhere to Machiavelli’s recommendations, then the leader will not fulfill his aspiration.
A character from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Cassius, exhibits Machiavellian attributes by manipulation and a drive to accomplish his goal of assassinating Julius Caesar by any means. Cassius was able to successfully manipulate both Brutus and the fellow conspirators. Cassius was able to influence Brutus enough to make Brutus believe that killing Julius Caesar, Brutus’ best friend, was the right action. Initially, Brutus was wary of Cassius when Brutus said, “Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius?” (1.2.69) Subsequently, Brutus is persuaded as he states, “...what you have said / I will consider” (1.2.176-177). Cassius is willing to control any person who stands in his way. Cassius successfully turned Brutus against his best friend in order to achieve what Cassius believes to be best for Rome. When Brutus says, “Let me not hinder, Cassius, your desires” (1.2.35) it is clear that Cassius has swayed Brutus to believe in his cause. In Julius Caesar, we do not see Cassius as the main leader of the conspiracy to kill Caesar; rather Brutus is the main leader. But with this quote, Brutus is merely the face for the real leader of the conspiracy, who is Cassius. In Julius Caesar, Cassius achieved his goal of executing Caesar by applying Machiavellian approaches. Machiavelli wrote, “One can make this generalization about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, liars and deceivers” (Prince 3). The description Machiavelli gives of men is equivalent to Cassius’ actions.
Antony, another Julius Caesar character, employs three Machiavellian skills: using fickleness to his advantage,“...while you treat them well, they are yours” (Prince 3), and ruling by fear. Antony’s objective was revenge toward the conspirators for killing Caesar. Antony also successfully used the fickleness of the Roman people to his advantage. After Brutus explained why the conspirators had killed Caesar, the crowd was understanding and agreed with the conspirator’s actions. The Roman peasants are convinced; they even want Brutus as their new emperor, with better qualities than Caesar. The plebians say, “Caesar’s better parts / Shall be crowned in Brutus” (3.2.54-55). But the level of the masses’ support for Brutus did not deter Antony’s opinion of the wrongdoing...