Reading Comprehension: Machiavelli's Prince, XXV (excerpt)

Mr. Steel




1. What is the main theme of this chapter?





2. What view does Machiavelli say that many people have about "worldly things"? Why does this view make them feel like they shouldn't try to change things?





3. How does this view conflict with the idea that human beings have "free will" to choose and to decide what path their lives will take?





4. What is Machiavelli's view on chance vs. free will? How much "agency" does he think human beings have in the world?




5. What does Machiavelli suggest about the relationship between Fortuna and human preparations (or the anticipation of chance events) in his metaphor describing Fortuna as a violent river? Explain the metaphor.






6. What is "virtue" (Italian: virtu), according to Machiavelli? What does it enable human beings to do? What happens to people who lack virtu, in Machiavelli's estimation?






7. Why is it dangerous for a prince to rely on fortune? Why is it always to his advantage to rely on virtu?