Machiavelli : The Art Of War In Beowulf

1645 WordsDec 8, 20177 Pages
Machiavelli wrote numerous principles on leadership, which is coincidentally a common theme throughout literature. A principle Machiavelli established was about the art of war stating, “A prince […] must not have any other object nor any other thought, nor must he adopt anything as his art but war, its institutions, and its discipline” (Machiavelli 50). The art of war is not just a physical battle, but it is a mindset and a way of thinking. Not all leaders head to a physical war but have to deal with people in warlike manners daily whether it is getting what a person wants, controlling whoever a person needs to, testing others around the person, self-preservation and keeping others alive, or even getting revenge. These wars may not contain actual battles, but the leaders in these situations need the mentality of war. In an epic filled with actual war and battles, Beowulf still has its moments of seeing mental warfare and having a character exercise the art of war. A minor character who uses the mindset of war is Wealhtheow, the queen of Danes. When her husband Hrothguard claims that Beowulf would be eligible to claim the throne Wealhtheow immediately dislikes the idea. If Beowulf inherited the throne, then her sons would have nothing. Because of this, she had to adopt the art of war that is manipulation. She talks Beowulf into not taking the throne and instead talks him into taking care of her sons instead. She presents him with gifts then uses the opportunity to talk about this while he is drunk and celebrating. Wealhtheow even makes it seem as if it is a good thing she has talked him into saying, “And so my prince, I wish you a lifetimes good luck and blessings to enjoy this treasure. Treat my sons with tender care, be strong and kind. Here each comrade is true to the other, loyal to the lord, loving in spirit” (Beowulf lines124-129 pg. 141). Wealhtheow showcases the art of war through manipulating a situation to win the metaphorical battle. War, contrary to what people see portrayed on the battlefield, is never rash. To win a war and the power that comes with it war must be meticulously planned, plotted, and carried out. One character in literature does exactly this with all her relationships. In The

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