The Prince Chapter 25
Concerning the influence of fortune in human affairs, and the manner in which it is to be resisted
Some believe that it is needless to control what is determined by God or by fortune. Having thought the matter through, Machiavelli states, "Nevertheless, since our free will must not be denied, I estimate that even if fortune is the arbiter of half our actions, she still allows us to control the other half, or thereabouts." Chapter 25, pg. 84 He compares fortune to a torrential river that cannot be easily controlled during flooding season. In periods of calm, however, people can erect dams and levees in order to minimize its impact. Fortune seems to strike at the places where no resistance is offered, as is the case in Italy.
For a prince to succeed, his character and methods of rule must be suited to the times. That is why two princes who use the same methods get different results and another two who use different methods achieve similar results. Pope Julius II is an example of one whose methods corresponded with the times. Therefore, he was able to succeed in all the impetuous endeavors he attempted. All things considered, it is usually better to be impetuous than cautious. Machiavelli writes, "for fortune is a woman and in order to be mastered she must be jogged and beaten." Chapter 25, pg. 86