phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Keep your friends close...

Posted by Henry on April 04, 2004

In Reply to: Keep your friends close... posted by - on April 04, 2004

: Hi--Does anyone know the origin of the admonition to "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer"?

: Thanks for any info...

We discussed this on 1st April! From further down the page;

Posted by Brian from Shawnee on April 03, 2004 In Reply to: "keep your friends close but your enemies closer" posted by Brian from Shawnee on April 02, 2004

: : I think the person who orginally said "keep your friends close but your enimies closer" was Mobutu, a ruler of Zaire\the Congo who manipulated several politicians into giving him money and allowing him to stay in power

: I guess Mobutu lived near the cemetery, then...
: Anyway, I heard the "friends close... enemies closer..." line in a beer commercial a few years back. Radio, New York market, upscale/yuppy product, but I forget which beer it was. Might've been a beer alternative.

Some googling indicates that this quote appeared in the Godfather films, and was spoken by Al Pacino's character, which I believe was Michael Corleone. However, that's not where it originated. Many sources attribute the quote to Sun Tzu in The Art of War, but others dispute that. Some say it was taken from an interpretation of Macchiavelli's The Prince, but I could not find anyone who cited a page number or chapter in that book.

Apparently the phrase did not originate with Mobutu Sese Seko, the bloodthirsty dictator of Congo/Zaire.