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Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli

Portrait of Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito
Full name Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli
Born 3 May 1469(1469-05-03)
Florence, Italy
Died 21 June 1527 (aged 58)
Florence, Italy
Era Renaissance philosophy
Region Western Philosophers
School Renaissance philosophy, realism, classical republicanism
Main interests Politics, military theory, history
Signature

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian philosopher/writer, and is considered one of the main founders of modern political science.[1] He was a diplomat, political philosopher, musician, and a playwright, but foremost, he was a civil servant of the Florentine Republic. In June of 1498, after the ouster and execution of Girolamo Savonarola, the Great Council elected Machiavelli as Secretary to the second Chancery of the Republic of Florence.[2]

Like Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli is considered a good example of the Renaissance Man. He is most famous for a short political treatise, The Prince, written in 1513, but not published until 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. Although he privately circulated The Prince among friends, the only work he published in his lifetime was The Art of War, about high-military science. Since the sixteenth century, generations of politicians remain attracted and repelled by the cynical approach to power posited in The Prince and his other works.[3] Whatever his personal intentions, which are still debated today, his surname yielded the modern political word Machiavellianism—the use of cunning and deceitful tactics in politics.

Contents

Life

Machiavelli was born in Florence, Italy, the third son of attorney Bernardo di Niccolò Machiavelli, and his wife, Bartolomea di Stefano Nelli. The Machiavelli family are believed descended from the old marquesses of Tuscany, and to have produced thirteen Florentine Gonfalonieres of Justice.[4], one of the offices of a group of nine citizens selected by drawing lots every two months, who formed the government, or Signoria.

Statue at the Uffizi

Machiavelli was born in a tumultuous era—Popes waged war, and the wealthy Italian city-states might anytime fall, piecemeal, to foreign powers—France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire—and political-military alliances continually changed, featuring condottieri who changed sides without warning, and weeks-long governments rising and falling.[citation needed]

Rigorously trained to manhood by his father, Machiavelli was taught grammar, rhetoric and Latin. He did not learn Greek, even though Florence was at the time one of the centers of Greek scholarship in Europe. In 1494, he entered Florentine government service as a clerk and as an ambassador; later that year, Florence restored the republic—expelling the Medici family, who had ruled Florence for some sixty years. He was in a diplomatic council responsible for negotiation and military affairs, undertaking, between 1499 and 1512, diplomatic missions to the courts of Louis XII in France, Ferdinand II of Aragón, in Spain, and the Papacy in Rome, in Italy proper. Moreover, from 1502 to 1503, he witnessed the effective state-building methods of soldier-churchman Cesare Borgia (1475 – 1507), who was then enlarging his central Italian territories.

Between 1503 and 1506, Machiavelli was responsible for the Florentine militia, including the City’s defense. He distrusted mercenaries (cf. Discourses, The Prince), preferring a politically-invested citizen-militia, a philosophy that bore fruit—his command of Florentine citizen-soldiers defeated Pisa in 1509; yet, in August of 1512, the Medici, helped by Pope Julius II, used Spanish troops to defeat the Florentines at Prato; Piero Soderini resigned as Florentine head of state, and left in exile; then, the Florentine city-state and the Republic were dissolved. For his significant role in the republic's anti-Medici government, Niccolò Machiavelli was deposed from office, and, in 1513, was accused of conspiracy, and arrested. Despite torture "with the rope" (the prisoner is hanged from his bound wrists, from the back, forcing the arms to bear the body's weight, thus dislocating the shoulders), he denied involvement and was released; then, retiring to his estate, at Sant'Andrea in Percussina, near Florence, he wrote the political treatises that earned his intellectual place in the development of political philosophy and political conduct. [5]

Machiavelli's cenotaph in the Santa Croce Church in Florence

In a letter to Francesco Vettori, he described his exile:

When evening comes, I return home [from work and from the local tavern] and go to my study. On the threshold, I strip naked, taking off my muddy, sweaty work day clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and, in this graver dress, I enter the courts of the ancients, and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear poverty no more, tremble no more at death; I pass indeed into their world. [6]

As a writer, Machiavelli identified the unifying theme in The Prince and the Discorsi:

All cities that ever, at any time, have been ruled by an absolute prince, by aristocrats, or by the people, have had for their protection force combined with prudence, because the latter is not enough alone, and the first either does not produce things, or when they are produced, does not maintain them. Force and prudence, then, are the might of all the governments that ever have been or will be in the world. [7]

Machiavelli died in 1527. He was buried at the Church of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy. An epitaph honouring him is inscribed in a small monument. The Latin legend reads: TANTO NOMINI NULLUM PAR ELOGIUM (No eulogy would be adequate to praise so great a name).

Works

The Prince

Bust of Machiavelli in the Palazzo Vecchio

Realism

The Prince's contribution to the history of political thought is the fundamental break between political Realism and political Idealism. Niccolò Machiavelli’s best-known book exposits and describes the arts with which a ruling prince can maintain control of his realm. It concentrates on the "new prince", under the presumption that a hereditary prince has an easier task in ruling, since the people are accustomed to him. To retain power, the hereditary prince must carefully maintain the socio-political institutions to which the people are accustomed; whereas a new prince has the more difficult task in ruling, since he must first stabilize his new-found power in order to build an enduring political structure. That requires the prince being a public figure above reproach, whilst privately acting amorally to achieve State goals. The examples are those princes who most successfully obtain and maintain power, drawn from his observations as a Florentine diplomat, and his ancient history readings; thus, the Latin phrases and Classic examples.

The Prince does not dismiss morality, instead, it politically defines “Morality”—as in the criteria for acceptable cruel action—it must be decisive: swift, effective, and short-lived. Machiavelli is aware of the irony of good results coming from evil actions; notwithstanding some mitigating themes, the Catholic Church proscribed The Prince, registering it to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, moreover, the Humanists also viewed the book negatively, among them, Erasmus of Rotterdam. As a treatise, its primary intellectual contribution to the history of political thought is the fundamental break between political Realism and political Idealism—thus, The Prince is a manual to acquiring and keeping political power. In contrast with Plato and Aristotle, a Classical ideal society is not the aim of the prince’s will to power. As a political scientist, Machiavelli emphasises necessary, methodical exercise of brute force punishment-and-reward (patronage, clientelism, et cetera) to preserve the status quo.

Satire?

As there seems to be a very large difference between Machiavelli's advice to ruthless and tyrannical princes in The Prince and his more republican exhortations in Discorsi, many have concluded that The Prince is actually only a satire. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for instance, admired Machiavelli the republican and consequently argued that The Prince is a book for the republicans as it exposes the methods used by princes. If the book was only intended as a manual for tyrannical rulers, it contains a paradox: it would apparently be more effective if the secrets it contains would not be made publicly available. Also Antonio Gramsci argued that Machiavelli's audience was the common people because the rulers already knew these methods through their education. This interpretation is supported by the fact that Machiavelli wrote in Italian, not in Latin (which would have been the language of the ruling elite). Although Machiavelli is supposed to be a realist, many of his heroes in The Prince are in fact mythical or semi-mythical, and his goal (i.e. the unification of Italy) essentially utopian at the time of writing.

"Machiavellian"

Sixteenth-century contemporaries adopted and used the adjective Machiavellian (in the sense of devious cunning), often in the introductions of political tracts offering more than government by “Reasons of State”, most notably those of Jean Bodin and Giovanni Botero. Contemporary, pejorative usage of Machiavellian (or anti-Machiavellism in the 16th C.) is a misnomer describing someone who deceives and manipulates others for gain; (personal or not, the gain is immaterial, only action matters, insofar as it affects results). The Prince hasn’t the moderating themes of his other works; politically, “Machiavelli” denotes someone of politically-extreme perspective;[8] however Machiavellianism remains a popular speech and journalism usage; while in psychology, it denotes a personality type.

Discorsi

Sebastiano del Piombo,1516,"Cardinal Bandinello Sauli, His Secretary, and Two Geographers." Which is often mistaken for Machiavelli (center right) depicted: (left-right) Cesare Borgia, Pedro Luis de Borja Lanzol de Romaní, and Don Micheletto Corella

The Discourse on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy comprises the early history of Rome. It is a series of lessons on how a republic should be started and structured, including the concept of checks and balances, the strength of a tri-partite political structure, and the superiority of a republic over a principality.

From The Discourses:

  • “In fact, when there is combined under the same constitution a prince, a nobility, and the power of the people, then these three powers will watch and keep each other reciprocally in check”. Book I, Chapter II
  • “Doubtless these means [of attaining power] are cruel and destructive of all civilized life, and neither Christian, nor even human, and should be avoided by every one. In fact, the life of a private citizen would be preferable to that of a king at the expense of the ruin of so many human beings”. Book I, Chapter XXVI
  • “Now, in a well-ordered republic, it should never be necessary to resort to extra-constitutional measures. . . . ” Book I, Chapter XXXIV
  • “. . . the governments of the people are better than those of princes”. Book I, Chapter LVIII
  • “. . . if we compare the faults of a people with those of princes, as well as their respective good qualities, we shall find the people vastly superior in all that is good and glorious”. Book I, Chapter LVIII
  • “For government consists mainly in so keeping your subjects that they shall be neither able, nor disposed to injure you. . . . ” Book II, Chapter XXIII
  • “. . . no prince is ever benefited by making himself hated”. Book III, Chapter XIX
  • “Let not princes complain of the faults committed by the people subjected to their authority, for they result entirely from their own negligence or bad example”. Book III, Chapter XXIX [9]

Other works

Peter Withorne’s 1573 translation of the Art of War

Besides being a statesman and political scientist, Machiavelli also translated classical works, and was a dramaturge (Clizia, Mandragola), a poet (Sonetti, Canzoni, Ottave, Canti carnascialeschi), and a novelist (Belfagor arcidiavolo).

Some of his other works:

Revival of interest in the 19th and 20th centuries

Despite remaining a politically-influential writer in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was the 19th and 20th centuries that rediscovered his political science for its intellectual and practical applications. The most reliable guide to this renewed interest is the Introduction to the 1953 (Mentor Books) edition of Il Principe, wherein Christian Gauss, the Dean of Princeton University, discusses, with pertinent historical context, the commentaries on The Prince made by the German historians Ranke (19th c.) and Meineke (20th c.), the Briton Lord Acton, and others. Citing the consensus that Machiavelli was the first political theorist with a practical, scientific approach to statecraft, considering him “the first Modern Man”. The commentators view the political scientist Machiavelli positively—because he viewed the world realistically, thus, such statecraft leads to (generally) constructive results.

In the 20th century there was also renewed interest in Machiavelli's La Mandragola (1518), which received numerous stagings, including several in New York, at the New York Shakespeare Festival in 1976 and the Riverside Shakespeare Company in 1979, and at London's National Theatre in 1984.[10]

Contributions to Political Philosophy

Machiavelli was in many respects not an innovator. His largest political work seeks to bring back a rebirth of the Ancient Roman Republic; its values, virtues and principles the ultimate guiding authority of his political vision. Machiavelli is essentially a restorer of something old and forgotten. The republicanism he focused on, especially the theme of civic virtue, became one of the dominant political themes of the modern world, and was a central part of the foundation of American political values.

Machiavelli studied the way people lived and aimed to inform leaders how they should rule and even how they themselves should live. To an extent he admits that the old tradition was true - men are obliged to live virtuously as according to Aristotles Virtue Ethics principle. However, he denies that living virtuously necessarily leads to happiness. Machiavelli viewed misery as one of the vices that enables a prince to rule [11] Machiavelli states boldly in The Prince, The answer is, of course, that it would be best to be both loved and feared. But since the two rarely come together, anyone compelled to choose will find greater security in being feared than in being loved. [12] In much of Machiavelli's work, it seems that the ruler must adopt unsavory policies for the sake of the continuance of his regime.

Hans Baron was the most influential scholar to study Machiavelli. Najemy (1996) examines Baron's ambivalent portrayal, arguing that Baron tended to see Machiavelli simultaneously as the cynical debunker and the faithful heir of civic humanism. By the mid-1950s, Baron had come to consider civic humanism and Florentine republicanism as early chapters of a much longer history of European political liberty, a story in which Machiavelli and his generation played a crucial role. This conclusion led Baron to modify his earlier negative view of Machiavelli. He tried to bring the Florentine theorist under the umbrella of civic humanism by underscoring the radical differences between The Prince and the Discourses and thus revealing the fundamentally republican character of the Discourses. However, Baron's inability to come to terms with Machiavelli's harsh criticism of early 15th-century commentators such as Leonardo Bruni ultimately prevented him from fully reconciling Machiavelli with civic humanism.

Pocock (1981) traces the Machiavellian belief in and emphasis upon Greco-Roman ideals of unspecialized civic virtue and liberty from 15th-century Florence through 17th-century England and Scotland to 18th-century America. Thinkers who shared these ideals tended to believe that the function of property was to maintain an individual's independence as a precondition of his virtue. Consequently, in the last two times and places mentioned above, they were disposed to attack the new commercial and financial regime that was beginning to develop. However, Paul Rahe (1992) takes issue with Pocock on the origins and argues Machiavelli's republicanism was not rooted in antiquity but was is entirely novel and modern. Scholars have argued that James Madison followed Machiavelli's republicanism when he (and Jefferson) set up the Democratic-Republican Party in the 1790s to oppose what they saw as the emerging aristocracy that they feared Alexander Hamilton was creating with the Federalist Party.[13] Conservative historians likewise conclude that Thomas Jefferson's republicanism was "deeply in debt" to Machiavelli, whom he praised.[14]

Realist or evil?

For four centuries scholars have debated whether Machiavelli was the theorist of evil or just being realistic. The Prince made the word "Machiavellian" a byword for deceit, despotism, and political manipulation. Some historians argue Machiavelli had a secret (or very subtle) message that explains away the ugly implications of the plain text, saying that Machiavelli really favored virtue after all and was just trying to trick princes into policies that would lead to their overthrow, not their triumph.[15]

Leo Strauss, the American political philosopher, declared himself more inclined toward the traditional view that Machiavelli was a "teacher of evil," since he counsels the princes to avoid the values of justice, mercy, temperance, wisdom, and love of their people in preference to the use of cruelty, violence, fear, and deception.[16] Italian anti-fascist philosopher Benedetto Croce (1925) concludes Machiavelli is simply a "realist" or "pragmatist" who accurately states that moral values in reality do not greatly affect the decisions that political leaders make.[17] German philosopher Ernst Cassirer (1946) held that Machiavelli simply adopts the stance of a political scientist—a Galileo of politics—in distinguishing between the "facts" of political life and the "values" of moral judgment.[18]

Thoughts on the State

Machiavelli was not a political philosopher in the ordinary sense. He did not try either to define the State or to justify its existence. His views about the State are implied as matter of course when he describes how a ruler may retain or acquire control, how he is liable to lose it, which qualities are necessary for a republic to remain strong, or how precarious a Republic’s liberty can be at times. Medieval thinkers had taken the political authority of any prince or king in the community of Christendom to be necessarily limited – by the Emperor (In the case of the Holy Roman Empire), by the power of the Roman Catholic Church in spiritual matters and by the power of natural law (Universal moral principles) that determine the boundaries of justice. Machiavelli did not challenge this long held traditional position. He ignored it, writing as a matter of fact that the state had absolute authority. He thought that the value of religion lies in its contribution to social order and the rules of morality must be dispensed with if security required it.

Machiavelli further differed from medieval thinkers in taking for granted that the power of the state is a single whole and can be centrally controlled, irrespective of whether the state is a monarchy or a republic. He preferred a republic because he preferred liberty. However, he believed that in order for the liberty of republicanism to function, it needed a citizenry who were independent and courageous (Virtuous). Machiavelli believed these qualities were rare and existed hardly anywhere in the Europe of his day since the Romans.

Impact on America

The Founding Fathers read Machiavelli closely. In his Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States, Adams praised Machiavelli, with Algernon Sidney and Montesquieu, as a philosophic defender of mixed government. For Adams, Machiavelli restored empirical reason to politics, while his analysis of factions was commendable. Adams likewise agreed with the Florentine that human nature was immutable and driven by passions. He also accepted Machiavelli's belief that all societies were subject to cyclical periods of growth and decay. For Adams, Machiavelli lacked only a clear understanding of the institutions necessary for good government.[19]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Moschovitis Group Inc, Christian D. Von Dehsen and Scott L. Harris, Philosophers and religious leaders, (The Oryx Press, 1999), 117.
  2. ^ White, Michael (2007). Machiavelli, A Man Misunderstood. Abacus.. ISBN 978-0-349-11599-3. 
  3. ^ S. Anglo, Machiavelli: the first century (Oxford, 2005)
  4. ^  "Niccolò Machiavelli". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Catholic_Encyclopedia_(1913)/Niccol%C3%B2_Machiavelli. 
  5. ^ Donna, Daniel, in the introduction to the Bantam Classic edition of The Prince, Bantam, 1966
  6. ^ The Literary Works of Machiavelli, trans. J.R. Hale. (Oxford: 1961), p. 139 D.
  7. ^ "Words to be Spoken on the Law for Appropriating Money", in Chief Works and Others [of Machiavelli], trans. Allan H. Gilbert, 3 vols. (Durham, NC: Duke Univ. Press, 1965), v. III, 1439.
  8. ^ In one scholar's assessment, mistakenly so. Writes Anthony Parel: "The authentic Machiavelli is one who subordinates personal interests for the common good . . . If one is to speak of a Machiavellian personality one should mention Moses and Romulus (to use [M's] own examples)." For more on the three sources of historical anti-Machiavellism, see Further Reading, Parel, pp. 14-24, and (in far greater detail): Sydney Anglo, Machiavelli - the First Century: Studies in Enthusiasm, Hostility, and Irrelevance, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0199267766, 9780199267767.
  9. ^ The Modern Library, New York, 1950, translated by Christian E. Detmold.
  10. ^ Review by Jann Racquoi, Heights/Inwood Press of North Manhattan, March 14, 1979.
  11. ^ Leo Strauss, Joseph Cropsey, History of Political Philosophy (1987) p. 300
  12. ^ Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, p. 60
  13. ^ Gary Rosen in Rahe, ed. Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy (2005) p. 231 online
  14. ^ Rahe, Jefferson's Machiavellian Political Science in Rahe, ed. Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy (2005) p. 209 online
  15. ^ John Langton and Mary G. Deitz, "Machiavelli's Paradox: Trapping or Teaching the Prince" The American Political Science Review, Vol. 81, No. 4 (Dec., 1987), pp. 1277-1288 at JSTOR
  16. ^ Leo Strauss, Thoughts on Machiavelli (1957), p 9 online
  17. ^ Benedetto Croce, My Philosophy (1949), p. 142 online
  18. ^ Ernst Cassirer, The Myth of the State, (1946) p.136, online
  19. ^ C. Bradley Thompson, "John Adams's Machiavellian Moment," Review of Politics 1995 57(3): 389-417, in EBSCO

References

  • Machiavelli, Niccolò (1531). The Discourses. Translated by Leslie J. Walker, S.J, revisions by Brian Richardson (2003). London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-140-44428-9

Further reading

  • Anglo, Sydney, Machiavelli - the First Century: Studies in Enthusiasm, Hostility, and Irrelevance, Oxford University Press, 2005, ISBN 0199267766, 9780199267767
  • Baron, Hans (1961). "Machiavelli: the Republican Citizen and Author of The Prince". English Historical Review lxxvi (76): 217–253. doi:10.1093/ehr/LXXVI.CCXCIX.217. 
  • Bock, Gisela; Quentin Skinner and Maurizio Viroli, ed. (1990). Machiavelli and Republicanism. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Constantine, Peter (2007). The Essential Writings of Machiavelli. New York: Random House Modern Library. 
  • Donaldson, Peter S. (1989). Machiavelli and Mystery of State. Cambridge University Press. 
  • Everdell, William R. (1983, 2000). The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans. University of Chicago Press. 
  • Hoeges, Dirk. Niccolò Machiavelli. Dichter-Poeta. Mit sämtlichen Gedichten, deutsch/italienisch. Con tutte le poesie, tedesco/italiano, Reihe: Dialoghi/Dialogues: Literatur und Kultur Italiens und Frankreichs, Band 10, Peter Lang Verlag, Frankfurt/M. u.a. 2006, ISBN 3-631-54669-6.
  • Ingersoll, David E. (December 1968). "The Constant Prince: Private Interests and Public Goals in Machiavelli". Western Political Quarterly (21): 588–596. 
  • Magee, Brian (2001). The Story of Philosophy. New York: DK Publishing. pp. 72–73. 
  • Marriott, W. K. (2008). The Prince. Red and Black Publishers.  ISBN 978-0-934941-003
  • Roger Masters (1996). Machiavelli, Leonardo and the Science of Power. University of Notre Dame Press. ISBN 0-268-01433-7.  See also NYT book review.
  • Roger Masters (1998). Fortune is a River: Leonardo Da Vinci and Niccolo Machiavelli's Magnificent Dream to Change the Course of Florentine History. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-452-28090-7.  Also available in Chinese (ISBN 9789572026113), Japanese (ISBN 9784022597588), German (ISBN 9783471794029), Portuguese (ISBN 9788571104969), and Korean (ISBN 9788984070059). See also NYT book review.
  • Mattingly, Garrett (Autumn 1958). "Machiavelli's Prince: Political Science or Political Satire?". The American Scholar (27): 482–491. 
  • Najemy, John M. (1996). "Baron's Machiavelli and Renaissance Republicanism". American Historical Review 101 (101,1): 119–129. doi:10.2307/2169227. 
  • Parel, Anthony (1972). "Introduction: Machiavelli's Method and His Interpreters". The Political Calculus: Essays on Machiavelli's Philosophy. Toronto. pp. 3–28. 
  • Pocock, J.G. A.. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition. Princeton. 
  • Soll, Jacob (2005). Publishing The Prince: History, Reading and the Birth of Political Criticism. University of Michigan Press. 
  • Strauss, Leo (1978). Thoughts on Machiavelli. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0226777022. 
  • Sullivan, Vickie B., ed. (2000). The Comedy and Tragedy of Machiavelli: Essays on the Literary Works. Yale U. Press. 
  • Sullivan, Vickie B. (1996). Machiavelli's Three Romes: Religion, Human Liberty, and Politics Reformed. Northern Illinois University Press. 
  • Seung, T. K. (1993). Intuition and Construction: The Foundation of Normative Theory, New Haven: Yale University Press. See pp. 133–43.
  • Stefano Zen, Veritas ecclesiastica e Machiavelli, in Monarchia della verità. Modelli culturali e pedagogia della Controriforma, Napoli, Vivarium, 2002 (La Ricerca Umanistica, 4), pp. 73–111.
  • von Vacano, Diego, "The Art of Power: Machiavelli, Nietzsche and the Making of Aesthetic Political Theory," Lanham MD: Lexington: 2007.
  • Viroli, Maurizio (2000). Niccolò's Smile: A Biography of Machiavelli. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. 
  • Whelan, Frederick G. (2004). Hume and Machiavelli: Political Realism and Liberal Thought. Lexington. 
  • Wootton, David, ed. (1994). Selected political writings of Niccolò Machiavelli. Indianapolis: Hackett Pubs.. 
  • Mascia Ferri, L'opinione pubblica e il sovrano in Machiavelli, in «The Lab's Quarterly»,n.2 aprile-giugno,Università di Pisa,2008, pp. 420–433.
  • Giuseppe Leone,"Silone e Machiavelli: una scuola... che non crea prìncipi", Prefazione di Vittoriano Esposito, Centro Studi Ignazio Silone, Pescina, 2003.

Specialized studies

Biographies

  • Burd, L. A., "Florence (II): Machiavelli" in Cambridge Modern History (1902), vol. I, ch. vi. pp 190-218 online Google edition
  • de Grazia, Sebastian. Machiavelli in Hell (1989), highly favorable intellectual biography; won the Pulitzer Prize; excerpt and text search
  • Hale, J. R. Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy (1961) online edition
  • Hulliung, Mark. Citizen Machiavelli (1983)
  • Ridolfi, Roberto. The Life of Niccolò Machiavelli (1963), a standard scholarly biography
  • Schevill, Ferdinand. Six Historians (1956), pp. 61-91
  • Skinner, Quentin. Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction (2000) online edition
  • Villari, Pasquale. The Life and Times of Niccolò Machiavelli (2 vol 1892), good older biography; online Google edition vol 1; online Google edition vol 2
  • Viroli, Maurizio. Niccolo's Smile : A Biography of Machiavelli (2000) excerpt and text search
  • Viroli, Maurizio. Machiavelli (1998) online edition, good place to start

Political thought

  • Arciniegas, Germán. "Savonarola, Machiavelli, and Guido Antonio Vespucci: Totalitarian and Democrat 500 Years Ago," Political Science Quarterly, (1954) 69:184-201, argues that modern totalitarianism is a blending of Machiavelli's theories and Savonarola's techniques of rabble rousing. in JSTOR
  • Ball, Terence. "The Picaresque Prince: Reflections on Machiavelli and Moral Change," Political Theory, Vol. 12, No. 4 (Nov., 1984), pp. 521-536 in jstor
  • Baron, Hans. The Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance: Civic Humanism and Republican Liberty in an Age of Classicism and Tyranny (2 vol 1955), highly influential, deep study of civic humanism (republicanism); 700 pp. excerpts and text search; ACLS E-books; also vol 2 in ACLS E-books
  • Baron, Hans. In Search of Florentine Civic Humanism (2 vols. 1988).
  • Baron Hans, "Machiavelli: The Republican Citizen and the Author of The Prince" in The English Historical Review 76 (1961), pp. 217-53. in JSTOR
  • Bock, Gisela; Skinner, Quentin; and Viroli, Maurizio, ed. Machiavelli and Republicanism. (1990). 316 pp. excerpt and text search
  • Butterfield, Herbert. The Statecraft of Machiavelli (1940).
  • Chabod, FedericoMachiavelli & the Renaissance (1958) online edition; online from ACLS E-Books
  • Colish, Marcia L. "Republicanism, Religion, and Machiavelli's Savonarolan Moment," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Oct., 1999), pp. 597-616 in JSTOR
  • Colish, Marcia L. "Machiavelli's Art of War: A Reconsideration," Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 51, No. 4 (Winter, 1998), pp. 1151-1168 in JSTOR
  • Fischer, Markus. "Machiavelli's Political Psychology," The Review of Politics, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Autumn, 1997), pp. 789-829 in JSTOR
  • Gilbert, Felix. Machiavelli and Guicciardini: Politics and History in Sixteenth-Century Italy (2nd ed. 1984) online from ACLS-E-books
  • Gilbert, Felix. "Machiavelli: The Renaissance of the Art of War," in Edward Mead Earle, ed. The Makers of Modern Strategy (1944)
  • Jensen, De Lamar, ed. Machiavelli: Cynic, Patriot, or Political Scientist? (1960) essays by scholars online edition
  • Lukes, Timothy J. "Lionizing Machiavelli," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 95, No. 3 (Sep., 2001), pp. 561-575 in JSTOR
  • Lukes, Timothy J. "Martialing Machiavelli: Reassessing the Military Reflections," The Journal of Politics, Vol. 66, No. 4 (Nov., 2004), pp. 1089-1108 in JSTOR
  • Femia, Joseph V. Machiavelli Revisited (2004) online edition, 140pp, good place to start
  • McCormick, John P. "Machiavelli against Republicanism: On the Cambridge School's 'Guicciardinian Moments,'" Political Theory, Vol. 31, No. 5 (Oct., 2003), pp. 615-643 in JSTOR
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. Machiavelli's New Modes and Orders: A Study of the Discourses on Livy (2001) excerpt and text search
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. Machiavelli's Virtue (1996), 371pp
  • Mansfield, Harvey C. "Machiavelli's Political Science," The American Political Science Review, Vol. 75, No. 2 (Jun., 1981), pp. 293-305 in JSTOR
  • Mindle, Grant B. "Machiavelli's Realism," The Review of Politics, Vol. 47, No. 2 (Apr., 1985), pp. 212-230 in JSTOR
  • Najemy, John M. "Baron's Machiavelli and Renaissance Republicanism." American Historical Review 1996 101(1): 119-129. ISSN 0002-8762 Fulltext in Jstor.
  • Nederman, Cary J. "Amazing Grace: Fortune, God, and Free Will in Machiavelli's Thought," Journal of the History of Ideas 60: 617-638. in JSTOR
  • Parel, A. J. "The Question of Machiavelli's Modernity," The Review of Politics, Vol. 53, No. 2 (Spring, 1991), pp. 320-339 in JSTOR
  • Pellerin, Daniel. "Machiavelli's Best Fiend." History of Political Thought 2006 27(3): 423-453. Issn: 0143-781x on Pope Alexander VI
  • Pocock, J.G.A. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (1975; new ed. 2003), a highly influential study of Discourses and its vast influence; excerpt and text search; also online 1975 edition
  • Pocock, J. G. A. "The Machiavellian Moment Revisited: a Study in History and Ideology.: Journal of Modern History 1981 53(1): 49-72. Fulltext: in Jstor.
  • Rahe, Paul A. Machiavelli's Liberal Republican Legacy (2005) excerpt, reviews and text search, shows Machiavelli's Discourses had a major impact on shaping conservative thought.
  • Rahe, Paul. Republics Ancient and Modern: Classical Republicanism and the American Revolution, (1992) online edition
  • Scott, John T. and Vickie B. Sullivan, "Patricide and the Plot of the Prince: Cesare Borgia and Machiavelli's Italy." American Political Science Review 1994 88(4): 887-900. Issn: 0003-0554 in Jstor
  • Skinner, Quentin. The Foundations of Modern Political Thought, v. I, The Renaissance, (1978)
  • Strauss, Leo. On Machivelli (1957)
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Niccolò Machiavelli (2005) online edition
  • Struever, Nancy S. The Language of History in the Renaissance: Rhetoric and Historical Consciousness in Florentine Humanism (1970)
  • Wight, Martin. Four Seminal Thinkers in International Theory: Machiavelli, Grotius, Kant, and Mazzini (2005), ch. 1 online edition

Editions

External links



Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.

Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-05-031527-06-21) was a Florentine political philosopher, historian, musician, poet, and romantic comedic playwright. Machiavelli was also a key figure in realist political theory, crucial to European statecraft during the Renaissance.

Contents

Sourced

The Prince (1513)

Original Italian title: Il Principe (written c. 1505)
  • Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.
    • Ch. 3; Variant translation: Never do an enemy a small injury.
  • The Romans never allowed a trouble spot to remain simply to avoid going to war over it, because they knew that wars don't just go away, they are only postponed to someone else's advantage. Therefore, they made war with Philip and Antiochus in Greece, in order not to have to fight them in Italy... They never went by that saying which you constantly hear from the wiseacres of our day, that time heals all things. They trusted rather their own character and prudence— knowing perfectly well that time contains the seeds of all things, good as well as bad.
    • Ch. 3 (as translated by RM Adams) Variants [these can seem to generalize the circumstances in ways that the translation above does not.]: The Romans, foreseeing troubles, dealt with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them come to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only put off to the advantage of others.
      There is no avoiding war; it can only be postponed to the advantage of others.
  • If someone puts up the argument that King Louis gave the Romagna to Pope Alexander, and the kingdom of Naples to Spain, in order to avoid a war, I would answer as I did before: that you should never let things get out of hand in order to avoid war. You don't avoid such a war, you merely postpone it, to your own disadvantage.
    • Ch. 3 (as translated by RM Adams)
  • It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.
    • Ch. 6
  • Hence it comes that all armed prophets have been victorious, and all unarmed prophets have been destroyed.
    • Ch. 6
  • From this arises the question whether it is better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved. It might perhaps be answered that we should wish to be both: but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved.
    • Ch. 17
  • The chief foundations of all states, new as well as old or composite, are good laws and good arms; and as there cannot be good laws where the state is not well armed, it follows that where they are well armed they have good laws.
    • Ch. 12
  • A prince ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rules and discipline; for this is the sole art that belongs to him who rules, and it is of such force that it not only upholds those who are born princes, but it often enables men to rise from a private station to that rank. And, on the contrary, it is seen that when princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states. And the first cause of your losing it is to neglect this art; and what enables you to acquire a state is to be master of the art.
    • Ch. 14; Variant: A prince should therefore have no other aim or thought, nor take up any other thing for his study but war and it organization and discipline, for that is the only art that is necessary to one who commands.
  • Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it causes you to be despised.
    • Ch. 14
  • Many have imagined republics and principalities which have never been seen or known to exist in reality; for how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather bring about his own ruin than his preservation.
    • Ch. 15
  • He ought to be slow to believe and to act, nor should he himself show fear, but proceed in a temperate manner with prudence and humanity, so that too much confidence may not make him incautious and too much distrust render him intolerable.
    • Ch 17
  • The prince who relies upon their words, without having otherwise provided for his security, is ruined; for friendships that are won by awards, and not by greatness and nobility of soul, although deserved, yet are not real, and cannot be depended upon in time of adversity.
    • Ch. 17
  • A prince being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.
    • Ch. 17
  • Every one admits how praiseworthy it is in a prince to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft. Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have relied on their word.
    • Ch. 18. Concerning the Way in which Princes should keep Faith (as translated by W. K. Marriott)
  • Every one sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many, who have the majesty of the state to defend them.
    • Ch. 18.
  • You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second.
    • Ch. 18.
  • A prince never lacks legitimate reasons to break his promise.
    • Ch. 18.
  • The prince must consider, as has been in part said before, how to avoid those things which will make him hated or contemptible; and as often as he shall have succeeded he will have fulfilled his part, and he need not fear any danger in other reproaches. It makes him hated above all things, as I have said, to be rapacious, and to be a violator of the property and women of his subjects, from both of which he must abstain. And when neither their property nor honour is touched, the majority of men live content, and he has only to contend with the ambition of a few, whom he can curb with ease in many ways. It makes him contemptible to be considered fickle, frivolous, effeminate, mean-spirited, irresolute, from all of which a prince should guard himself as from a rock; and he should endeavour to show in his actions greatness, courage, gravity, and fortitude; and in his private dealings with his subjects let him show that his judgments are irrevocable, and maintain himself in such reputation that no one can hope either to deceive him or to get round him. That prince is highly esteemed who conveys this impression of himself, and he who is highly esteemed is not easily conspired against; for, provided it is well known that he is an excellent man and revered by his people, he can only be attacked with difficulty.
    • Ch. 19 "That one should avoid being despised and hated"
  • A prince ought to have two fears, one from within, on account of his subjects, the other from without, on account of external powers. From the latter he is defended by being well armed and having good allies, and if he is well armed he will have good friends, and affairs will always remain quiet within when they are quiet without, unless they should have been already disturbed by conspiracy; and even should affairs outside be disturbed, if he has carried out his preparations and has lived as I have said, as long as he does not despair, he will resist every attack.
    • Ch. 19; Variant: Against foreign powers, a prince can defend himself with good weapons and good friends; if he has good weapons, he will never lack for good friends. (as translated by RM Adams)
  • The first opinion which one forms of a prince, and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he made was in choosing them. (as tranlsated by W. K. Marriott)
    • Ch. 22. Variant translation: The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.
  • There are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good, and the third is useless.
    • Ch. 22
  • There is no other way of guarding oneself against flattery than by letting men understand that they will not offend you by speaking the truth; but when everyone can tell you the truth, you lose their respect.
    • Ch. 23
  • Io iudico bene questo, che sia meglio essere impetuoso che respettivo; perché la fortuna è donna, et è necessario, volendola tenere sotto, batterla et urtarla. E si vede che la si lascia più vincere da questi, che da quelli che freddamente procedano. E però sempre, come donna, è amica de' giovani, perché sono meno respettivi, più feroci e con più audacia la comandano.
    • Translation: I conclude, then, that so long as Fortune varies and men stand still, they will prosper while they suit the times, and fail when they do not. But I do feel this: that it is better to be rash than timid, for Fortune is a woman, and the man who wants to hold her down must beat and bully her. We see that she yields more often to men of this stripe than to those who come coldly toward her.
    • Ch. 25 (as translated by RM Adams)
  • Where the willingness is great, the difficulties cannot be great.
    • Ch. 26
  • God is not willing to do everything, and thus take away our free will and that share of glory which belongs to us.
    • Ch. 26

Discourses on Livy (1517)

Quotes from translations of Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio; 3 vols. published between 1512–1517 (Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius)
  • As all those have shown who have discussed civil institutions, and as every history is full of examples, it is necessary to whoever arranges to found a Republic and establish laws in it, to presuppose that all men are bad and that they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity; and if such malignity is hidden for a time, it proceeds from the unknown reason that would not be known because the experience of the contrary had not been seen, but time, which is said to be the father of every truth, will cause it to be discovered.
    • Book 1, Ch. 3 Variant portion: Whoever desires to found a state and give it laws, must start with assuming that all men are bad and ever ready to display their vicious nature, whenever they may find occasion for it.
  • Men never do good unless necessity drives them to it; but when they are free to choose and can do just as they please, confusion and disorder become rampant.
    • Book 1, Ch. 3 (as translated by L.J. Walker & B. Crick)
  • The demands of a free populace, too, are very seldom harmful to liberty, for they are due either to the populace being oppressed or to the suspicious that it is going to be oppressed... and, should these impressions be false, a remedy is provided in the public platform on which some man of standing can get up, appeal to the crowd, and show that it is mistaken. And though, as Tully remarks, the populace may be ignorant, it is capable of grasping the truth and readily yields when a man, worthy of confidence, lays the truth before it.
    • Book 1, Ch. 4 (as translated by LJ Walker & B Crick)
  • So in all human affairs one notices, if one examines them closely, that it is impossible to remove one inconvenience without another emerging.
    • Book 1, Ch. 6 (as translated by LJ Walker & B Crick)
  • I am firmly convinced, therefore, that to set up a republic which is to last a long time, the way to set about it is to constitute it as Sparta and Venice were constituted; to place it in a strong position, and so to fortify it that no one will dream of taking it by a sudden assault; and, on the other hand, not to make it so large as to appear formidable to its neighbors. It should in this way be able to enjoy its form of government for a long time. For war is made on a commonwealth for two reasons: to subjugate it, and for fear of being subjugated by it.
    • Book 1, Ch. 6 (as translated by LJ Walker & B Crick)
  • The people resemble a wild beast, which, naturally fierce and accustomed to live in the woods, has been brought up, as it were, in a prison and in servitude, and having by accident got its liberty, not being accustomed to search for its food, and not knowing where to conceal itself, easily becomes the prey of the first who seeks to incarcerate it again.
    • Book 1, Ch. 16
  • It was the verdict of ancient writers that men afflict themselves in evil and weary themselves in the good, and that the same effects result from both of these passions. For whenever men are not obliged to fight from necessity, they fight from ambition; which is so powerful in human breasts, that it never leaves them no matter to what rank they rise. The reason is that nature has so created men that they are able to desire everything but are not able to attain everything: so that the desire being always greater than the acquisition, there results discontent with the possession and little satisfaction to themselves from it. From this arises the changes in their fortunes; for as men desire, some to have more, some in fear of losing their acquisition, there ensues enmity and war, from which results the ruin of that province and the elevation of another.
    • Book 1, Ch. 37 Variant: Nature has so contrived that to men, though all things are objects of desire, not all things are attainable; so that desire always exceeds the power of attainment, with the result that men are ill-content with what they possess and their present state brings them little satisfaction. Hence arise the vicissitudes of their fortune. (as translated by LJ Walker & B Crick)
  • Anyone who studies present and ancient affairs will easily see how in all cities and all peoples there still exist, and have always existed, the same desires and passions. Thus, it is an easy matter for him who carefully examines past events to foresee future events in a republic and to apply the remedies employed by the ancients, or, if old remedies cannot be found, to devise new ones based upon the similarity of the events. But since these matters are neglected or not understood by those who read, or, if understood, remain unknown to those who govern, the result is that the same problems always exist in every era.
    • Book 1, Chapter 39
  • When Scipio became consul and was keen on getting the province of Africa, promising that Carthage should be completely destroyed, and the senate would not agree to this because Fabius Maximus was against it, he threatened to appeal to the people, for he knew full well how pleasing such projects are to the populace.
    • Book 1, Ch. 53 (as translated by LJ Walker & B Crick)
  • It is truly a marvelous thing to consider to what greatness Athens arrived in the space of one hundred years after she freed herself from the tyranny of Pisistratus; but, above all, it is even more marvelous to consider the greatness Rome reached when she freed herself from her kings. The reason is easy to understand, for it is the common good and not private gain that makes cities great. Yet, without a doubt, this common good is observed only in republics, for in them everything that promotes it is practised, and however much damage it does to this or that private individual, those who benefit from the said common good are so numerous that they are able to advance in spite of the inclination of the few citizens who are oppressed by it.
    • Book 2, Chapter 2
  • the end of the republic is to enervate and to weaken all other bodies so as to increase its own body.
    • Book 2, Ch. 3 (translation by Mansfield and Tarcov)

The Art of War (1520)

Quotations from translations of Dell'arte della guerra ; also known as On the Art of War
  • I believe that it is possible for one to praise, without concern, any man after he is dead since every reason and supervision for adulation is lacking.
    • Book 1
  • No proceeding is better than that which you have concealed from the enemy until the time you have executed it. To know how to recognize an opportunity in war, and take it, benefits you more than anything else. Nature creates few men brave, industry and training makes many. Discipline in war counts more than fury.
    • Book 7; Variant translation: No enterprise is more likely to succeed than one concealed from the enemy until it is ripe for execution.
      Nothing is of greater importance in time of war than in knowing how to make the best use of a fair opportunity when it is offered.

      Few men are brave by nature, but good discipline and experience make many so.
      Good order and discipline in an army are more to be depended upon than ferocity.
      • As translated by Neal Wood (1965)

The History of Florence (1521 - 1525)

Original Italian title: Istorie Fiorentine
  • It may be observed, that provinces amid the vicissitudes to which they are subject, pass from order into confusion, and afterward recur to a state of order again; for the nature of mundane affairs not allowing them to continue in an even course, when they have arrived at their greatest perfection, they soon begin to decline. In the same manner, having been reduced by disorder, and sunk to their utmost state of depression, unable to descend lower, they, of necessity, reascend; and thus from good they gradually decline to evil, and from evil again return to good. The reason is, that valor produces peace; peace, repose; repose, disorder; disorder, ruin; so from disorder order springs; from order virtue, and from this, glory and good fortune.
  • If you only notice human proceedings, you may observe that all who attain great power and riches, make use of either force or fraud; and what they have acquired either by deceit or violence, in order to conceal the disgraceful methods of attainment, they endeavor to sanctify with the false title of honest gains. Those who either from imprudence or want of sagacity avoid doing so, are always overwhelmed with servitude and poverty; for faithful servants are always servants, and honest men are always poor; nor do any ever escape from servitude but the bold and faithless, or from poverty, but the rapacious and fraudulent. God and nature have thrown all human fortunes into the midst of mankind; and they are thus attainable rather by rapine than by industry, by wicked actions rather than by good. Hence it is that men feed upon each other, and those who cannot defend themselves must be worried.
    • Book III, Chapter 13

Misattributed

  • War is just when it is necessary; arms are permissible when there is no hope except in arms.
    • This is a quotation of Titus Livius IX:1 iustum enim est bellum quibus necessarium, et pia arma ubi nulla in armis spes est) that Machiavelli uses in Ch.24 of Discourses on Livy.
  • Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.
    • This has sometimes been attributed to Machiavelli, but more often to Sun Tzu, though there are no published sources yet found which predate its use by "Michael Corleone" in The Godfather Part II (1974), written by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola: My father taught me many things here — he taught me in this room. He taught me — keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

Quotes about Machiavelli

  • We are much beholden to Machiavelli and others, that write what men do, and not what they ought to do . For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with the columbine innocency, except men know exactly all the conditions of the serpent; his baseness and going upon his belly, his volubility and lubricity, his envy and sting, and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil. For without this, virtue lieth open and unfenced. Nay, an honest man can do no good upon those that are wicked, to reclaim them, without the help of the knowledge of evil.
  • Call me a dreamer, but one day, my name will become an adjective for everything cynical and untrustworthy in human nature.

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