DESTROY, DO NOT WOUND | The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Machiavelli states that Princes can come into power by various different methods: by skill, by luck, or through being elected by their fellow citizens. But Princes can also gain power through criminal means and in The Prince he tells stories of two men who successfully achieved power by using wickedness.

Syracuse, Sicily, 317 BC

Agathocles (361BC-289BC) was a poor, common man, born to the son of a potter. He joined the military and through a combination of wickedness, determination and ability rose through the ranks to the position of Praetor of Syracuse. Not satisfied with this, he decided he wanted to become a Prince and called a supposedly crucial meeting of the Syracusan senate. Once everyone had assembled, he gave the signal to his soldiers, who executed all the senators and rich men of the state. This act of cunning and deception enabled Agathocles not only to become King of Syracuse, but to control the state without any serious threat to his absolute power. He even managed to withstand a Carthaginian siege on his city.