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Word Count: 1,141
Niccolo Machiavellis highly controversial book The Prince succeeds in allowing several oppositions to emerge Among these oppositions include fortuna and virtu These two terms increase the ambiguity of Machiavellis work By citing historical cases this paper will define these two terms discuss the ways in which the prince must be virtuous in order to respond to the challenges of fortuna and whether any prince regardless of his virtuosity can master fortune At a mere glance it seems almost impossible to define fortuna and virtu The usage of these words continually puzzles and intrigues the reader Virtu dominates the first half of the book eventually succumbing to fortuna in the second half Virtu relates to all the qualities of an individual above all a prince which allow him to achieve his goals For instance Machiavelli describes Agathocles as an individual who possesses both powers virtu of mind and body These powers or virtu allow Agathocles to rise through the military ranks and become the military governor of Syracuse Upon reaching this position through his virtu Agathocles butchers every member of the Syracuses senate After these murders he stood alone as a prince without any internal opposition Few people today or even in Agathocless time would agree that these actions constitute virtu However Machiavelli insists cruelty can be described as well used if it is permissible to say good works about something evil in itself when it is performed all at once for reasons of self- preservation Thus virtu according to Machiavelli may be inhumane as long as the action is made to secure self-preservation Fortuna just as virtu can be very difficult to define because of its varying uses by Machiavelli Many people find satisfaction in assuming fortuna is simply a synonym for fortune Although in numerous circumstances fortuna depicts the acts of nature that humans can not control fortune it also steps beyond this modern definition Fortune focuses on the positive aspects of nature
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