The history of Machiavelli's literary reputation underlines the paradox. Machiavelli recommended hypocrisy and ingratitude, meanness, cruelty and treachery as the traits proper to princes. Everyone recognizes "Machiavellian" as an adjective for political conduct that combines diabolical cunning with a ruthless disregard for moral standards. The Machiavelli were an old Florentine family, noted for their devotion to the republic. In some ways, Machiavelli's little treatise was just like all the other "Mirrors of Princes", in other ways it was a diabolical burlesque of all of them, like a political Black Mass. The shock was intensified again because Machiavelli deliberately addressed himself primarily to princes who have newly acquired their principalities and do not owe them either to inheritance or to the free choice of their countrymen. Machiavelli never quite uses the word except in illustrations from classical antiquity, but he seems to delight in dancing all around it until even the dullest of his readers could not mistake his meaning.