Machiavelli on Religion and Society

Interesting words from Machiavelli:

Having therefore considered everything, I conclude that the religion introduced by Numa was among the principal reasons for the happiness of that city [Rome], because it produced good institutions, the good institutions created good fortune, and from good fortune arose the happy successes of their undertakings. Just as the observance of divine worship is the cause of the greatness of republics, so the disregard of divine worship is the cause of their ruin, because where fear of God is lacking, that kingdom must either come to ruin or be sustained through fear of a prince who makes up for the shortcomings in its religion. Since princes are short-lived, such a kingdom must quickly fail when it loses his exceptional ability…” - Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy I.11 [Trans. Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella (Oxford University Press, 1997), pg. 52)

Continuing:

Those princes or republics that wish to maintain their integrity must, above all else, maintain the integrity of their religious ceremonies, and must always hold them in veneration, because there can be no greater indication of the ruin of a state than to see a disregard for its divine worship….The rulers of a republic or a kingdom must, therefore, uphold the foundations of the religion they profess; and having done this, they will find it an easy matter for them to maintain a devout republic, and, as a consequence, one that is good and united. - (I.12, ibid., pp. 53-54)

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