Researching Machiavelli's other works, I found online that there is a disagreement on whether The Prince was actually meant to be read as political satire.


The writer takes the position that The Prince is not inline with Machiavelli's other works, but I don't know enough about Italian history or the man to know if his evidence is strong.

Is there reliable evidence in favor of The Prince as a political satire?
Is there reliable evidence in favor of The Prince as a genuine guide?

  • 2
    Good question, but I don't think anyone knows this for sure. Of course some people think they do, so it could still be answered and this question should be kept open . . .
    – Mike
    Commented Sep 24, 2015 at 23:09
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    Best satires are often genuine guides, too. :)
    – Greg
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 1:17
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    I'll say yes, but either way it is not a history question. Try literature maybe? Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 20:10
  • @TylerDurden, I think this question is applicable to both fields. Given that the study of History tends to be more rigorous, and that OP is about evidence of how Prince was intended to be perceived centuries ago, I would side with History stackexchange.
    – Michael
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 20:24
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    The question very precisely asks if there is evidence to support either hypothesis. Answers should cite evidence; otherwise this degenerates into discussion.
    – MCW
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 14:16

1 Answer 1


The Prince was not meant as satire but rather as a proffered training manual on how to be an effective ruler in a monarchy. It was specifically intended for Lorenzo de'Medici by Niccolo Macchiavelli because he hoped that the book would be reviewed favorably enough that the de'Medici's would recall him from the exile he had been assigned to. Several have suggested that the book was satirical in nature. Rousseau has made this claim frequently. I tend to think that it was what it was. He used the life of Cesare Borgia as a model for the young de' Medici in hopes that it would put him back in the good graces of that ruling family. Recall that he had actually been imprisoned and tortured by the de'Medici's for a short time after the fall of Florence. I suspect that he was very earnestly trying to avoid a repetition of that unpleasant experience. Whether he might have written the book as an allegory or double entendre is something Macchiavelli never said or wrote about himself so it will always be conjecture.

  • 3
    OK....so what's your (quoting the question here) "reliable evidence"? If your point is that there isn't any either way, you should probably lead with that.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 15:31
  • Point taken. Just move my last sentence to the lead off. Since he never commented on this directly--so far as I am aware--the answer to this will always be a matter of conjecture. But my opinion is that Macchiavelli wasn't the type to engage in allegory that deep.
    – AL Johnson
    Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 21:29

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