It will consequently be exceedingly rare that a good man should be found to employ wicked means to become prince, even though his final object be good; or that a bad man, after having become prince, should be willing to labor for good ends, and that it should enter his mind to use for good purpose that authority which he has acquired by evil means.
There is no better indication of a man’s character than the company which he keeps; and therefore very properly a man who keeps respectable company acquires a good name, for it is impossible that there should not be some similitude of character and habits between him and his associates.
A truly great man is ever the same under all circumstances; and if his fortune varies, exalting him at one moment and oppressing him at another, he himself never varies, but always preserves a firm courage, which is so closely interwoven with his character that every on can readily see that the fickleness of fortune has no power over him.
Niccoló Machiavelli, The Discourses. 1517.