Niccolò Machiavelli

No proceeding is better than that which you have concealed from the enemy until the time you have executed it. To know how to recognize an opportunity in war, and take it, benefits you more than anything else.
The Art of War
Anyone who studies present and ancient affairs will easily see how in all cities and all peoples there still exist, and have always existed, the same desires and passions.
Discourses on Livy
It is not titles that make men illustrious, but men who make titles illustrious.
Discourses on Livy
It is truly a marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Athens arrived in the space of one hundred years after she freed herself from the tyranny of Pisistratus; but, above all, it is even more marvelous to consider the greatness Rome reached when she freed herself from her kings. The reason is easy to understand, for it is the common good and not private gain that makes cities great.
Discourses on Livy
Since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
The Prince
The Romans never allowed a trouble spot to remain simply to avoid going to war over it, because they knew that wars don't just go away, they are only postponed to someone else's advantage.
The Prince
A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank.
The Prince
A prudent man should always follow in the path trodden by great men and imitate those who are most excellent.
The Prince