Indeed, Machiavelli (1998) further argued that despite the fact that Christianity (specifically Roman Catholicism) had become the dominant normative spiritual ethos of Europe, what it presented was an idealized set of virtues that were given lip service rather than true attention.
Machiavelli (1998) further asserted that from time immemorial, rulers who were willing to be ruthless and to use methods that might be considered unethical or immoral were successful whereas rulers who insisted upon strict adherence to any particular set of ethical or religious principles were less likely to remain in power. Those who achieved high status are men who are willing to do whatever is necessary first, to achieve power, and next, to retain it. This suggests simply that applying ethical constructs to political action or interaction is a futile task at best.
Machiavelli's (1998) goal in The Prince was not only to describe how a prince comes to power and retains power, but also to demonstrate when and where the prince should behave in accordance with ethical precepts. Machiavelli (1998, p. 91) says that "a prince should also show himself a lover of the virtues, giving recognition to virtuous men and he should honor those who are excellent in art." The subtextual meaning of such a statement is that the prince must "show" his people that he loves virtue, but not necessarily that he must himself be virtuous.