The Prince, Machiavelli says, imparts lessons learned from his experience in politics and from extensive reading. Upon their return to power in 1512, the Medici dismissed Machiavelli from his post in the Florentine government as too republican in his sympathies. He turned to the pen as a way to retain some influence on events. His preference was to continue in service to his native city. The Prince, dedicated to a Medici prince, is, in part, an application for a job, although not one well-calculated to win the favor of a prince. Machiavelli’s announcement that “my intent is to write a thing that is useful for whoever understands it” gives notice that his intended audience is larger than the Medici. It also casts into obscurity the lessons learned.
He has been characterized as a satirist, nationalist, scientist, republican, and a “teacher of evil.” The bibliographical essay identifies the principals in the controversy over the lessons learned. A select bibliography contains 168 entries, including many translations of The Prince and 16 collections of commentary.