Machiavelli uses the metaphor of the fox and the lion to explain the combination of cunning and strength that a prince must possess in order to maintain control of his state. Machiavelli stresses that a prince must learn how to imitate both the fox and the lion so that he may draw on the necessary attributes of these "beasts" when circumstances demand it. According to Machiavelli, a prudent ruler must adapt to new situations and problems, acting as a fox "in order to recognize traps" and as a lion when he must "frighten off wolves." Machiavelli argues that the lion "is defenseless against traps" while the fox "is defenseless against wolves" and other physical threats; therefore, a prince must mimic the behavior of both types of beasts in order to benefit from their complementary talents and to overcome their differing weaknesses. As a fox, the prince can use cunning statecraft and diplomacy to sidestep traps and other pitfalls. As a lion, the prince can use physical force in order to maintain his power over his subjects and enemies. Taken individually, neither of these talents will spell a prince's success; but combined, the diversified skillset – political cunning backed by the threat of physical force – is formidable. The fox and the lion represent a meeting of opposites and a wise ruler will strive to master and combine the unique skills of both beasts.