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City of God Essay

In The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli cements his reputation as an Italian political theorist who, wicked as he may seem, believed that morality and ethics did not mix well with politics and the mechanisms of power. From this book rose the ever famous line, “The end justifies the means”, and true enough The Prince had embodied a way of thinking so revolutionary and controversial that for hundreds of years, it had remained the ultimate handbook for political control.

This is illustrated very well in Chapter 17, where Machiavelli discusses cruelty and its importance to maintaining power. “Here the question arises: is it better to be loved than feared, or vice versa? I don’t doubt that every prince would like to be both; but since it is hard to accommodate these qualities, if you have to make a choice, to be feared is much safer than to be loved. ” This quote easily became emblazoned in the reader’s minds partly because of its cruel approach, which however brutal it may seem, borders on reality and actual truth.

In order to get hold of your subjects more, to keep them united and to keep them from revolting against you, Machiavelli relates that it is imperative to be punitive and exacting; to have them live in dread than to easily lose power by being mild and amiable. Fear then is necessary to be able to rule your subjects and keep them under your control. Machiavelli points out that the loyalty gained from fear is much more difficult to lose and therefore any ruler must strive to be feared. Such is the way of Machiavelli’s thinking and this quote becomes testament to his genius.

His ideas, though wicked and malevolent, are worth to be considered by any one who desires to gain and control power for they stand out remarkably honest and brutally clever. Saint Augustine, being governed by his beliefs and principles, wrote in a way that he incorporates his vocation to convey and relate to the people what it is that God intends for society. In The City of God, Augustine’s work primarily takes this approach to express his ideas on the workings of an earthly city and how it is needed to be likened to the “city of God”.

This work was primarily written to assuage the doubts and answer the criticisms of the people about the defeat of Rome, which was thought to be protected by God, and therefore, unlikely to fall. Moreover, Augustine heavily inclines his work towards the good and the belief of an omnipotent God and his offering of eternal happiness. In particular, Augustine stresses the importance of peace as an end goal, “Peace is such a great good that even with respect to earthly and mortal things, nothing is heard with greater pleasure nothing desired more longingly, and in the end, nothing better can be found”

Augustine uses theology and the Christian doctrine to relate to the needs of his time and answer the questions that the circumstances had merited. He reiterates that attaining peace is the people’s ultimate purpose, be it heavenly peace or that maintained on earth. He addresses the difficulties that societies face and acknowledges that fact that it is necessary to create and maintain order and bring chaos to its end. Essentially, The City of God, as the quote has clearly embodied, becomes a sort of pacification to the troubles of the people, something Augustine does cleverly well.

The City of God remains influential to those it had convinced to believe. Aristotle is arguably one of the famous philosophers who ever lived. As an early proponent of philosophy and critical thinking, his works had been based upon and studied countless times. His theories of state and political association are deemed basic and essential even as others have grown to reject and disprove them through time. One point he made when discussing about politics is the necessity for a man to not be isolated and completely independent of others. He relates,

“The man who is isolated, who is unable to share in the benefits of political association, or has no need to share because he is already self-sufficient, is no part of the city, and must therefore be either a beast or god” In the creation of a polis or city-state, it is inevitable that men grow to need each other. Each individual member of a city is dependent on the other as well as on the entire association taken as a whole. Aristotle argues that a man cut off from society, being not part of it, is like a God with such great power, or an unworthy beast which has really no care at all.

With this comes to mind the popular saying that, “No man is an island. ” This stays true up to now and is one of the foundations of the principles of society. In building a state, the fundamental theory is important and highlighted — that of its citizens being one with the state, growing and developing with it and them associating with each and every member of the state. From this, the concept of organization is emphasized and the primary building blocks of a state is laid out and achieved.


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