War and Politics in the Thought of Machiavelli - …
Modern critics, noting these crucial distinctions, have engaged in a prolonged and animated discussion concerning Machiavelli's true intent in An anomalous seventeenth-century commentator, philosopher Pierre Bayle, found it "strange" that "there are so many people, who believe, that Machiavel teaches princes dangerous politics; for on the contrary princes have taught Machiavel what he has written." Since Bayle's time, further analysis has prompted the most prolonged and animated discussion relating to the work: the true intent of its creator. Was the treatise, as Bayle suggested, a faithful representation of princely conduct which might justifiably incriminate its subjects but not its chronicler? Or had Machiavelli, in his manner of presentation, devised the volume as a vehicle for his own commentary? Still more calculatedly, had the author superseded description in ably providing a legacy for despots? A single conclusion concerning the author's motive has not been drawn, though patterns of conjecture have certainly appeared within Machiavelli's critical heritage. Lord Macaulay, in emphasizing the writer's republican zeal and those privations he suffered in its behalf, has contended that it is "inconceivable that the martyr of freedom should have designedly acted as the apostle of tyranny," and that "the peculiar immorality which has rendered unpopular ... belonged rather to the age than to the man." Others have echoed this suggestion, examining the work in its historical context: John Addington Symonds has deemed it "simply a handbook of princecraft, as that art was commonly received in Italy, where the principles of public morality had been translated into terms of material aggrandisement, glory, gain, and greatness." Many have urged that Machiavelli intended the treatise as a veiled satiric attack on the methods of Italian tyranny or, by abstruse methods, its converse" a paean to patriotism and sensible government, grounded in a clear-sighted knowledge of the corrupt human condition. According to Harold J. Laski, "is a text-book for the house of Medici set out in the terms their own history would make them appreciate and, so set out, that its author might hope for their realization of his insight into the business of government." While ultimately unable to agree on the underlying purpose of nearly all critics have nonetheless been persuaded of its masterful composition, even when unwilling to endorse its precepts. Macaulay has affirmed that the "judicious and candid mind of Machiavelli shows itself in his luminous, manly, and polished language." And Francesco De Sanctis has determined that "where he was quite unconscious of form, he was a master of form. Without looking for Italian prose he found it."
Niccolo Machiavelli, 1469-1527 - History Guide
For sheer volume and intensity, studies of have far exceeded those directed at Machiavelli's though the latter work has been acknowledged an essential companion piece to the former. All of the author's subsequent studies treating history, political science, and military theory stem from this voluminous dissertation containing the most original thought of Machiavelli. Less flamboyant than and narrower in its margin for interpretation, the contains Machiavelli's undisguised admiration for ancient governmental forms, and his most eloquent, thoroughly explicated republicanism. Commentators have noted the presence of a gravity and skillful rhetoric that at times punctuate but are in full evidence only in that work's final chapter, a memorable exhortation to the Medicis to resist foreign tyranny. The also presents that methodical extrapolation of political theory from historical documentation which is intermittent in Max Lerner has observed that "if is great because it gives us the grammar of power for a government, are great because they give us the philosophy of organic unity not in a government but in a state, and the conditions under which alone a culture can survive."It has been deemed not at all incongruous that an intellect immersed in historical circumstance and political impetus should so naturally embrace comedy as well. For Machiavelli regarded comedy exactly as he conceived history: an interplay of forces leading unavoidably to a given result. Machiavelli's his only work in the comedic genre, clearly reflected this parallel. De Sanctis has remarked that "under the frivolous surface [of ] are hidden the profoundest complexities of the inner life, and the action is propelled by spiritual forces as inevitable as fate. It is enough to know the characters to guess the end." The drama's scenario concerns Callimaco's desire to bed Lucrezia, the beautiful young wife of a doddering fool, Nicia, who is obsessed with begetting a son. Masquerading as a doctor, Callimaco advises Nicia to administer a potion of mandrake to Lucrezia to render her fertile, but also warns that the drug will have fatal implications for the first man to have intercourse with her. He slyly suggests to Nicio that a dupe be found for this purpose. Persuaded by her confessor, a knavish cleric, to comply with her husband's wishes, the virtuous Lucrezia at last allows Callimaco into her bed, where he has no difficulty convincing her to accept him as her lover on a more permanent basis. Tales of this sort" replete with transparent devices, mistaken identities, and cynical, often anticlerical overtones" were already commonplace throughout Europe by the Middle Ages, though critics have remarked that Machiavelli lent freshness to even this hackneyed material. Sydney Anglo has commended his "clear, crisp repartee" and ability "to nudge our ribs at improprieties and double-meanings," despite characterization that is "rudimentary, haphazard, and inconsistent, with even protagonists going through their motions like automata." Macaulay, on the other hand, has applauded the play's "correct and vigorous delineation of human nature."
Machiavelli vs. Makaveli | Intro to Political Theory Blog
In 1512, Spanish forces invaded Italy and the Florentine political climate changed abruptly. The Medici for centuries the rulers of Florence, but exiled since 1494 seized the opportunity to depose Soderini and replace the republican government with their own autocratic regime. Machiavelli was purged from office, jailed and tortured for his well-known republican sentiments, and finally banished to his country residence in Percussina. Machiavelli spent the enforced retirement writing the small body of political writings that insured his literary immortality. Completed between 1513 and 1517, () and were not published until after Machiavelli's death, in 1531 and 1532 respectively. Around 1518 he turned from discursive prose to drama in (); it, like the author's other writings, is firmly predicated on an astute, unsentimental awareness of human nature as flawed and given to self-centeredness. The play was popular with audiences throughout much of Italy for several years. His next effort, a military treatise published in 1521 and entitled (), was the only historical or political work published during the author's lifetime. Meanwhile, Machiavelli had made several attempts to gain favor with the Medici (including dedicating to Lorenzo). In 1520 he was appointed official historian of Florence and was subsequently entrusted with minor governmental duties. His prodigious () carefully dilutes his republican platform with the Medicean bias expected of him. In 1525 Pope Clement VII recognized his achievement with a monetary stipend. Two years later, the Medici were again ousted, and Machiavelli's hopes for advancement under the revived republic were frustrated, for the new government was suspicious of his ties to the Medici. Disheartened by his country's internal strife, Machiavelli fell gravely ill and died, a disillusioned man, his dream of an operational republic unrealized.