An Evening with Niccolo Machiavelli
I must admit, I’m not much of a Kenny Rogers fan…but then I’m not a Machiavelli fan, either. This parody is more about presenting his ideas in a memorable fashion than endorsing them.
(to the tune of Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”)
At a long state dinner in post-medieval Florence
I was seated by a stranger whose looks were rather bleak.
For a while we ate in silence, but I must have drawn attention,
For to my great discomfort he began to speak.
He said his name was Machiavelli; I said, “I’m sorry–really?”
I asked him to repeat it, and spell it for me twice.
He said, “I hear you’re seeking a career in public office.
If you hope to reach retirement, you’ll need my advice.
“I’ve been a life-long student of leaders wise and prudent,
And also some who flubbed it–and some in-betweens.
It’s a dangerous profession, and to get your ends accomplished
You can’t be very choosy when it comes to means.
“You’ve got to know how to rule them, know how to fool them,
Know when to face the mob, know when to run.
You’d better have no question on the Love-or-Fear dilemma:
While Love’s a noble motive, Fear’s a stronger one.”
Then he called out, “Virtu!” I offered him a tissue.
He said he wasn’t sneezing, and went on with his speech.
“You need a special talent to address each situation,
And without that certain something, you may overrreach.”
Here I offered criticism of his shocking cynicism:
“If that’s the price of winning, I’ll go back to herding sheep.”
Then he made a caustic comment, so I gave him the cold shoulder;
But all that night his words kept running through my sleep:
“You’ve got to know how to rule them…” (etc….)