Commit evil quickly so as to not let it linger in memory.

from The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli page 37 nonfiction ~2 min read

Someone could question how it happened that Agathocles and anyone like him, after infinite cruelties, could live for a long time secure in his fatherland, defend himself against external enemies, and never be conspired against by his citizens, inasmuch as many other have not been able to maintain their states through cruelty even in peaceful times, not to mention uncertain times of war. I believe that this comes from cruelties badly used or well used. Those can be called well used (if to speak well of evil) that are done at a stroke, out of the necessity to secure oneself, and then are not persisted in but are turned to as much utility for the subjects as one can. Those cruelties are badly used which, though few in the beginning, rather grow with time than are eliminated. Those who observe the first mode can have some remedy for their state with God and with men, as had Agathocles; as for the others it is impossible for them to maintain themselves.

Hence it should be noted that in taking hold of a state, he who seizes it should review all the offenses necessary for him to commit, and do them all at a stroke, so as not to have to renew them every day and, by not renewing them, to secure men and gain them to himself with benefits. Whoever does otherwise, either through timidity or through bad counsel, is always under necessity to hold a knife in his hand; nor can one ever found himself on his subjects if, because of fresh and continued injuries, they cannot be secure against him. For injuries must be done all together, so that, being tasted less, they offend less; and benefits by little so that they may be tasted better. And above all, a prince should live with his subjects so that no single accident whether bad or good has to make him change[1]; for when necessities come in adverse times you will not be in time for evil, and the good that you do does not help you, because it is judged to be forced on you, and cannot bring you any gratitude.


  1. My thoughts confirm how intensely important it is not to adapt your own personal being. This goes contrary to almost all human behavior which seeks to eliminate sources of pain and conflict by otherwise down-playing differences and "compromising". While fine for relationships (maybe), to do something of merit means inherently to forgo this. To be alone requires an unchanging Self at the core, a willingness to accept consequences based on the merit of who you truly are. In essence, if you are evil, to be as evil as possible and so affirm that evil rather than escape it. If people are annoyed by your constant speaking, but it is what you do naturally, to continue to do so despite causing other's to be repelled. This is not to be any more extreme in whichever nature that currently exists, no, it only asks to continue what already exists in whichever form that it ought to take. ↩︎

—Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 37