Machiavelli on Religion Essay

2299 Words Jun 4th, 2005 10 Pages
Niccolò Machiavelli thoroughly discusses the importance of religion in the formation and maintenance of political authority in his famous works, The Prince and The Discourses. In his writing on religion, he states that religion is beneficiary in the formation of political authority and political leaders must support and endorse religion in order to maintain power. However, Machiavelli also critiques corrupt religious institutions that become involved in politics and in turn, cause corruption in the citizenry and divisions among the state. In the following essay, I will examine Machiavelli's analysis of religion and discuss the relationship between religion and politics in Machiavelli's thought. It is important to establish from the …show more content…
"Among the praiseworthy deeds of Hannibal is counted this: that, having a very large army, made up of all kinds of men, which he commanded in foreign lands, there never arose the slightest dissention, neither among themselves nor against their princes, both during his good and bad fortune." (The Prince Chapter XVII)

On the other hand, he gives credit to Scipio for being an extraordinary man but states that Scipio gave his men more liberty than military discipline should allow and his own men rebelled against him. His tolerant nature allowed the wrongdoing of the Locrians to go uncorrected adding to his reputation as a leader who only knew how not to harm his people, but didn't know how to prevent them from harm either. This brings my analysis to the subject of religion and its relationship with political authority. Machiavelli feels religion is a double edged sword where an excess of it in government is harmful but the appearance that it is part of government is not only beneficiary, but necessary. Machiavelli writes that a political leader, "…should appear, upon seeing and hearing him, to be all mercy, all faithfulness, all integrity, all religion. And there is nothing more necessary than to seem to possess this last quality." (The Prince Chapter XVIII) Machiavelli's argument centers around his assertion that having all these qualities and employing them at all times is harmful because a leader often has to resort to contradictory measures in order to

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