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The early life and literary works of niccolo machiavelli

Further Readings about the Author Personal Information: Also Nicolo, Niccholo, and Nicolas; also Machiavegli, Machiavello, and Machiavel Italian essayist, dramatist, historian, sketch writer, biographer, dialogist, writer of novellas, and poet.

NiccolÒ Machiavelli Biography

Born May 3, 1469, in Florence, Italy; died of illness; June 21, 1527, in Florence, Italy; son of a doctor of laws; married Marietta Corsini, 1501; children: Studied Latin under various tutors. Essayist, dramatist, historian, sketch writer, biographer, dialogist, writer of novellas, and poet. Statesman and political theorist. Assisted in deposition of Girolamo Savonarola, 1498; appointed to the second chancery of the republic, beginning in 1498; Ten of Liberty and Peace government agencychancellor and secretary; removed from office, jailed, and tortured by the Medici family when Spanish forces invaded Italy in 1512; appointed official historian of Florence, 1520.

E di Lucretia comedyc. Discorsi di Nicolo Machiavelli. La vita di Castruccio Castracani da Lucca. Also, the Life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca. Tutte le opere storiche e litterarie di Niccolo Machiavelli treatises, history, dramas, biography, prose, and poetry1929. The Chief Works and Others treatises, history, dramas, biography, and prosethree volumes, 1965.

While addressing a wide range of political and historical topics, as well as embracing strictly literary forms, he has come to be identified almost exclusively with his highly controversial manual of state Il principe The Prince. This straightforward, pragmatic treatise on political conduct and the application of power has, over the centuries, been variously hailed, denounced, and distorted. Seldom has a single work generated such divergent and fierce commentary from such a wide assortment of writers.

Commenting on Machiavelli's colorful critical heritage, T.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Eliot has remarked that no great man has been so completely misunderstood. BIOGRAPHY Machiavelli was born in Florence to an established though not particularly affluent middle-class family whose members had traditionally filled responsible positions in local government.

While little of the author's early life has been documented, it is known that as a boy he learned Latin and that he quickly became an assiduous reader of the ancient classics. Among these, he highly prized his copy of Livy's history of the Roman Republic. Machiavelli's first recorded involvement in the volatile Florentine political scene occurred in 1498, when he helped the political faction that deposed Girolamo Savonarola, then the dominant religious and political figure in Florence.

In the same year Machiavelli was appointed to the second chancery of the republic. As chancellor and secretary to the Ten of Liberty and Peace, a sensitive government agency dealing chiefly with warfare and foreign affairs, Machiavelli participated both in domestic politics and in diplomatic missions to foreign governments. These posts afforded him innumerable opportunities over the next fourteen years to closely examine the inner workings of government and to meet prominent individuals, among them Cesare Borgia, who furnished the young diplomat with the major profile in leadership for The Prince.

Machiavelli quickly gained political prominence and influence; by 1502 he was a well-respected assistant to the republican gonfalonier, or head of state, Piero Soderini. 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 the early life and literary works of niccolo machiavelli 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, Discorsi. Livius and The Prince were not published until after Machiavelli's death, in 1531 and 1532 respectively.

The play was popular with audiences throughout much of Italy for several years.

The Prince

His next effort, a military treatise published in 1521 and entitled Libro della arte della guerra The Art of Warwas 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 The Prince to Lorenzo. In 1520 he was appointed official historian of Florence and was subsequently entrusted with minor governmental duties. His prodigious Istorie fiorentine History of Florence carefully dilutes his republican platform with the Medicean bias expected of him.

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.

Critics have found it ironic that the fiercely republican Machiavelli should have written a handbook advising an autocratic leader how best to acquire and maintain power and security. Machiavelli was acutely aware, however, of foreign threats to Italian autonomy and thus deemed it necessary for a strong prince to thwart French and Spanish hegemony.

Hence The Prince, addressed to the ruling Medici. He believed that a shrewd head of state, exemplified by Borgia, was essential to sublimating self-interest to common welfare. Since handbooks of conduct meeting monarchal needs had become immensely popular by the 1400s, the external form of The Prince was neither startling nor particularly remarkable to Machiavelli's contemporaries.

Yet, from its initial appearance, The Prince proved the early life and literary works of niccolo machiavelli mere manual of protocol nor, for that matter, of even conventional strategy. In its chapters, Machiavelli delineated a typology of sovereignties and the deployment of available forces military, political, or psychological to acquire and retain them. The Prince is the first political treatise to divorce statecraft from ethics; as Machiavelli wrote: How one lives is so far removed from how one ought to live that he who abandons what one does for what one ought to do, learns rather his own ruin than his preservation.

Adding to his unflinching realism the common Renaissance belief in humanity's capacity for determining its own destiny, Machiavelli posited two fundamentals necessary for effective political leadership: Virtu refers to the prince's own abilities ideally a combination of leonine force and vulpine cunning ; fortuna to the unpredictable influence of fortune.

In a significant departure from previous political thought, the designs of Providence play no part in Machiavelli's scheme.

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On issues of leadership hitherto masked by other political theorists in vague diplomatic terms, Machiavelli presented his theses in direct, candid, and often passionate speech, employing easily grasped metaphors and structuring the whole in an aphoristic vein which lends it a compelling authority.

Reaction to The Prince was initially but only briefly favorable, with Catherine de' Medici said to have enthusiastically included it, among other of Machiavelli's writings, in the educational curriculum of her children.

But, within a short time the book fell into widespread disfavor, becoming viewed as a handbook for atheistic tyranny. Further denigrated toward the close of the sixteenth century in Discours sur les moyens de bien gouverner et maintenir en paix un royause, ou autre principaute. Contre Nicolas Machiavel, florentin by Innocenzo Gentillet in France, The Prince was held responsible for French political corruption and for widespread contribution to any number of political and moral vices.

Gentillet's interpretation of The Prince as advocating statecraft by ruthlessness and amoral duplicity was disseminated throughout Britain through the works of such popular, highly influential dramatists as William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. Hostile English interpreters so effectively typified Machiavelli as an amalgam of various evils, which they described with the still-used term " Machiavellian," that fact and fabrication still coexist today.

Rarely, until the nineteenth century, did mention of The Prince elicit other than unfounded and largely unexamined repugnance, much less encourage objective scrutiny of its actual issues. As Fredi Chiappelli has aptly summarized: 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.

Was the treatise, as Bayle suggested, a faithful representation of princely conduct which the early life and literary works of niccolo machiavelli 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 The Prince unpopular.

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. According to Harold J. Laski, The Prince "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.

Macaulay has affirmed that the "judicious and candid mind of Machiavelli shows itself in his luminous, manly, and polished language.

  1. As chancellor and secretary to the Ten of Liberty and Peace, a sensitive government agency dealing chiefly with warfare and foreign affairs, Machiavelli participated both in domestic politics and in diplomatic missions to foreign governments. In the Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli favours the deeds of the ancients above their philosophy; he reproaches his contemporaries for consulting ancient jurists for political wisdom rather than looking to the actual history of Rome.
  2. And how can i compare this comedy whith the ones by Moliere?...
  3. Laski, The Prince "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. He held the post until 1512, having gained the confidence of Piero Soderini 1452—1522 , the gonfalonier chief magistrate for life in Florence from 1502.

Without looking for Italian prose he found it. 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 The Prince and narrower in its margin for interpretation, the Discourses 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 The Prince but are in full evidence only in that work's final chapter, a memorable exhortation to the Medicis to resist foreign tyranny. The Discourses also presents that methodical extrapolation of political theory from historical documentation which is intermittent in The Prince. Max Lerner has observed that "if The Prince is great because it gives us the grammar of power for a government, The Discourses 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.

For Machiavelli regarded comedy exactly as he conceived history: Machiavelli's Mandragola, his only work in the comedic genre, clearly reflected this parallel. De Sanctis has remarked that "under the frivolous surface [of Mandragola] 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. 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 the early life and literary works of niccolo machiavelli 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.

The Literary Works Of Machiavelli: With Selections From The Private Correspondence

Taken in historical perspective, it is understandable that The Prince should have dwarfed Machiavelli's other works. For with this slim treatise the author confronted the ramifications of power when its procurement and exercise were notably peremptory" not only in his own country but throughout Europe as well.

Commentators have come to weigh the integrity of Machiavelli's controversial thought against the pressing political conditions which formed it.

Some, like Roberto Ridolfi, have endeavored through their studies to dislodge the long- standing perception of Machiavelli as a ruthless character: A Dissection, Gollancz, 1969.