Machiavelli Plato Rebuplic Prince Comparison
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HaДÑ*im Cihan DemirkД¶prДјlДј, 20303433
Essay Question: Compare the Characteristics of the true guardians, as described by Plato (Republic, bk VII, pp.158 – 61, 484b – 487e) with the characteristics of the rulers, as described by Machiavelli (The Prince, ch.15, pp. 47 – 49 and ch. 18, pp.54f). What is the most important difference between the two accounts? In your view, which account is better, and why?

For centuries, every ruler created their own principles and rules and somehow they ruled millions of people and controlled their future. In this essay, I will try to compare the characteristics of two types of ruler, one is Plato’s true guardian where he mentions in the Republic and the other one, NiccolДÑ- Machiavelli’s ruler image in his writings The Prince and state my view whether a true guardian or a harsh ruler is suitable for the mankind.

First of all, it is important to clarify that Plato pays attention to create a utopian world. His idealistic approach aims to provide the perfect society, mostly concerning with how things should be. However, Machiavelli is not concerned in imaginary societies where everything is in an ideal state. He is a realist thinker, interested in how things were in everyday reality not how things could be if the world was perfect [Selected Political Writings, The Prince, ch. 15, p.48].

According to these approaches, the definition of the true guardian of Plato and the ruler of Machiavelli differ from each other. Firstly, Plato signifies that, a true guardian because they are also philosophers, should be impatient for all kinds of learning and acquirement whether large or small, more precious or less so [Republic, p.159, 485b]. This impatience for knowledge arises from true guardian’s philosophical nature. Next, Plato considers the importance of the trustworthiness of a ruler and remarks that “they must be without falsehood – they must refuse to accept what is false, hate it, and have a love for the truth” [Republic, p.159, 485c]. He definitely ignores falsehood of a ruler, again because speaking untruth can not be an attribute of philosophical nature that true guardian has. On the other hand, a true guardian, who searches for justice and wisdom in his all time an all life, couldn’t be afraid of death which overshadows his path to the justice. Rulers need to stand bravely, in order to find goodness. So that, Plato definitely rejects cowardice and slavishness, where he signifies that “then it seems a cowardly and slavish nature will take no part in the philosophy” [Republic, p.160, 486a – b]. Shortly , Plato says that, a ruler, should be naturally “good at remembering, quick to learn, high minded, graceful, and a friend and relative of truth, justice, courage, and moderation” [Republic, p.161, 487a]. These characteristics truly show the idealistic position of Plato. He tries to create a perfect ruler for his utopian world kallipolis.

But, not surprisingly, Machiavelli is against this imaginary ruler. Although it would be marvelous if a ruler have all these good qualities, he believes that a ruler who has all of these good characteristics cannot exist in practice [Selected Political Writings, The Prince ch. 15, p.48]. For him this image is suitable only for an ideal world. Unlike Plato, Machiavelli highlights that in practical reality, for a ruler, who wants to hold on to power, it is necessary to learn how not to be good. Misery, cruelty, duplicity, irreligion or untrustworthiness are evil qualities, for Plato they are unjust and unacceptable and not suitable for the nature of a true guardian, however Machiavelli who does not care anything about nature and soul, thinks that if they are needed to retain power, a ruler can be miser, cruel, irreligious, cheater or untrustworthy but not openly- evil of course, in that way one may irritate people. Accordingly, he determines that “… there are some ways of behaving that are supposed to be virtuous, but would lead to your downfall, and others that are supposed to be wicked, but will lead to your welfare and peace of mind” [Selected Political Writings, The Prince, ch.15, p.49]. This clearly shows that if a ruler behaves like the one Plato mentions, he may probably lose the throne, but if follows the Machiavelli’s path, he will lead his ruler ship in safety.

As I mentioned before, in the “Republic”, Plato clearly states that a ruler must hate and reject what is falsehood and must become a lover of the truth. For him, uprightness and respecting to moral rules is so important to become a philosopher-king. Contrary to Plato, Machiavelli believes that the ruling one should not be always straight forward, in order to survive; one needs cunning to bedevil and fool other man. He indicates that, if you always respect the rules and behave morally, one shall not hold on to power because men are so treacherous. Although you are trustworthy or reliable, soon men will turn against to you and destroy your ruler ship [Selected Political

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Characteristics Of The Rulers And Characteristics Of The True Guardians. (April 1, 2021). Retrieved from