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Old April 4th, 2010, 08:50 AM   #11

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


I'm the reverse of you, Cicero. I like to read it fast, then reread with notes since I didn't understand the first time. In my closer reading, however, I'm only up to Chapter XI. Another thing I like to do with classical stuff is read the original language. Unfortunately, I can't read Italian.

In some translations, things like virtú and fortuna don't show up very quickly. I switched translations at the end of chapter VI, first reading. The translation of virtú was prowess, and that stood out. The word fortune was not consistently used, but was common enough for me to catch it after a while. But, even not knowing Italian, it was obvious from chapter I. The chapter ends: o per fortuna o per virtù. Concise, isn't it? Therein lies the advantage of looking at something I can't read.

Serious manual? Yeah, I always thought of it as a manual of instruction for princes sent to de Medici to impress. But what impression would it make. That stuff about Cesare Borgia? Now the idea of satire makes a lot of sense. Of course Old Nick knew de Medici better than I ever will.

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Old April 4th, 2010, 09:25 AM   #12

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


Back to my question about Machiavelli's influence on later political thought.

I've often heard of Realpolitik as "Machiavellian." In fact, here's the [ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realpolitik"]Wikipedia definition[/ame]:

Quote:
Realpolitik (see also Political Realism) From German: real “realistic”, “practical” or “actual”; and Politik “politics”. Realpolitik refers to politics or diplomacy based primarily on practical considerations, rather than ideological notions or moralistic premises. In this respect, it shares aspects of its philosophical approach with those of realism[ambiguous] and pragmatism. The term realpolitik is often used pejoratively to imply politics that are coercive, amoral, or Machiavellian. Realpolitik is a theory of politics that focuses on considerations of power, not ideals, morals, or principles. The term was coined by Ludwig von Rochau, a German writer and politician in the 19th century, following Klemens von Metternich's lead in finding ways to balance the power of European empires. Balancing power to keep the European pentarchy was the means for keeping the peace, and careful Realpolitik practitioners tried to avoid arms races.
Political realism focuses on pragmatic considerations of power, not of morals or ideals. This is indeed what I see in Il Principe.

Another instance that comes to mind is Hans Morganthau who is probably the single most influential writer on theory of international politics in 20th century U. S. His fifty year old textPolitics among Nations, is still used or at least referred to in university classes on the subject. His "six principles of realism" can be found in other books, articles, anywhere on the web.

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1.Political realism believes that politics, like society in general, is governed by objective laws that have their roots in human nature. In order to improve society it is first necessary to understand the laws by which society lives. The operation of these laws being impervious to our preferences, men will challenge them only at the risk of failure.

2. The main signpost that helps political realism to find its way through the landscape of international politics is the concept of interest defined in terms of power. This concept provides the link between reason trying to understand international politics and the facts to be understood. It sets politics as an autonomous sphere of action and understanding apart from other spheres, such as economics (understood in terms of interest defined as wealth), ethics, aesthetics, or religion. Without such a concept a theory of politics, international or domestic, would be altogether impossible, for without it we could not distinguish between political and nonpolitical facts, nor could we bring at least a measure of systematic order to the political sphere.

3. Realism assumes that its key concept of interest defined as power is an objective category which is universally valid, but it does not endow that concept with a meaning that is fixed once and for all. The idea of interest is indeed of the essence of politics and is unaffected by the circumstances of time and place. Thucydides' statement, born of the experiences of ancient Greece, that "identity of interests is the surest of bonds whether between states or individuals" was taken up in the nineteenth century by Lord Salisbury's remark that "the only bond of union that endures" among nations is "the absence of all clashing interests."

4. Political realism is aware of the moral significance of political action. It is also aware of the ineluctable tension between the moral command and the requirements of successful political action. And it is unwilling to gloss over and obliterate that tension and thus to obfuscate both the moral and the political issue by making it appear as though the stark facts of politics were morally more satisfying than they actually are, and the moral law less exacting than it actually is.

5. Political realism refuses to identify the moral aspirations of a particular nation with the moral laws that govern the universe. As it distinguishes between truth and opinion, so it distinguishes between truth and idolatry. All nations are tempted-and few have been able to resist the temptation for long-to clothe their own particular aspirations and actions in the moral purposes of the universe. To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, while to pretend to know with certainty what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another. There is a world of difference between the belief that all nations stand under the judgment of God, inscrutable to the human mind, and the blasphemous conviction that God is always on one's side and that what one wills oneself cannot fail to be willed by God also

6. The difference, then, between political realism and other schools of thought is real, and it is profound.
Hobbesian? Or Machiavellian? I don't think of Machiavelli as the father of modern political thought, but I do think of him as the father of political realism or of realpolitik.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 09:38 AM   #13

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


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Originally Posted by Patito de Hule View Post
I'm the reverse of you, Cicero. I like to read it fast, then reread with notes since I didn't understand the first time.
My hat is off to you PdH yet again. I am a very slow reader and usually don't have the luxury of a reread, at least until I retire... there is always so much demanding of my time!

Back outside to finish repairs to check on posts later and learn from my betters.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 02:14 PM   #14

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


The word virtú or some form of it is used 72 times in 26 chapters. Fortuna was used 53 times. A significant plurality of those uses occur in the first 14 chapters (46 to 26 for virtú). In the first eight chapters, they are used almost one to one. By "form" I mean virtuoso, virtosamente, and their superlatives virtuosissimo, and one occurrence of virtuosissimamente.

I thought it interesting that this opposition is referred to in my Italian commentary as il rapporto, which I instinctively read as "rapport" in english. Wonder how close they are? But then "rapport" is French, isn't it?

Last edited by Patito de Hule; April 4th, 2010 at 02:19 PM. Reason: to add a definition of "form"
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Old April 4th, 2010, 02:55 PM   #15

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


I recently read The Prince, and found it very informative for when I end up ruling an empire. I'm sure it'll come in handy.

It was an excellent read, though.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 05:05 PM   #16

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


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Originally Posted by Patito de Hule View Post
The chapter ends: o per fortuna o per virtù. Concise, isn't it? Therein lies the advantage of looking at something I can't read.

Serious manual? Yeah, I always thought of it as a manual of instruction for princes sent to de Medici to impress. But what impression would it make. That stuff about Cesare Borgia? Now the idea of satire makes a lot of sense. Of course Old Nick knew de Medici better than I ever will.
et acquistonsi, o con le armi d'altri o con le proprie, o per fortuna o per virtù (the final statement of Chap. 1) leads almost directly to Chap. 7, 'On New Principalities Acquired by the Arms of Others and by Fortune' (almost a direct translation of the line from Chap. 1 ... I think!). In chap. 7, Machiavelli writes: 'if what he [Borgia] instituted was of no avail, this was not his fault but arose from the extraordinary and inordinate malice of fortune.' (Interestingly, in 1502, Machiavelli wrote that 'the duke's [again, Borgia’s] government has been founded on nothing more than his good fortune.' So there is some contraction in these two appraisals.) We can come back to Chap. 7 later for it is, I think, central to the majority of the work.

Nonetheless, as I noted above, there is no evidence that the Medici ever received a copy of the book – none has ever been found in their paper/belongings nor has any reference of one ever been found in the many ledgers and whatnot in the family archives. What we do know about the book is that it was never published until some five years after Machiavelli’s death. The Prince was first published in 1532. I have read at various times that copies were made prior to Machiavelli’s death and an elect group of friends and acquaintances had read the book. BUT, I don’t know how true this is and I have never had the inclination to follow it up. What we can verify is the fact that in 1557 (some 25 years after its publication) not only The Prince but the whole corpus of Machiavelli’s works were listed on the Index librorum prohibitorum.

What I’m thinking at the present moment is that The Prince in the sixteenth-century was an altogether different book than it is now. We can make a brief comparison:

Edward Dacres’ 1640 translation: a passage from chapter 17 - http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php...1234&Itemid=27
Quote:
but because hardly can they belov'd, or subsist both together, it is much safer to be feard, than be loved; being that one of the two must needs fail; for touching men, we may say this in general, they are unthankful, unconstant, dissemblers, they avoyd dangers, and are covetous of gain ; and whilest thou doest them good, they are wholly thine; their blood, their fortunes, lives and children are at thy service, as is said before, when the danger is remote; but when it approaches, they revolt.
(The selection of Dacres' 1640 translation is due to the fact that it was the first English translation.) If we compare that same passage with a more modern translation by Marriott - http://www.gicas.net/theprince.html:
Quote:
whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you.
… it is easy to see that the latter, 'modern', translation is nowhere near as dramatic as the former. In fact, Dacres makes Machiavelli into some kind of Shakespearean figure … Iago, perhaps. And whilst the more modern version fails to have a radical impact on our ‘modern’ minds, what impact must Dacres have had on the seventeenth-century mentality when he had Machiavelli propose that human immorality made them irredeemable. Not only was this an extraordinary departure from the orthodox of the day, but it rejected both scholastic Christianity and Renaissance humanism. What effect must the message to value earthly glory above rewards of the hereafter have had in a world dominated by the Christian value of showing contempt for the material world in favour of salvation. This brings us back to the brief mention of virtù that I gave in the introductory post for Machiavelli rejects Christian notions of ‘man’ (or ‘virtue’) in favour of ancient notions that connote ‘masculinity’ (as you’ve already noted). But there are different connotations at play in The Prince for Machiavelli’s virtù is an invariable combination of brute force and animal instinct that combines ‘the strength of the lion and the cunning of the fox’, seeking the favour of that frivolous, waywardly woman, fortune.

His examples of virtù would’ve been shocking as well. For the Christians, there is the example of David; for the humanists, he rejects the Romans as rhetoricians and casts them as soldiers. He takes the religious figure of his world and states that they were not as they ought to have been: Savonarola (the unarmed prophet turned civil reformer) had no sense of politics whilst the Papacy were irreligious. He’s advocating the separation of church and state - a controversy as old as the hills but still very much contemporaneous; he’s calling for Reformation (at much the same time as Luther) by openly criticising the corruption of the popes. If this isn’t a theoretical challenge to the universalism of the Church, then one must wonder what is. The chapter about Ecclesiastical principalities

Quote:
Ecclesiastical Principalities, about which all the difficulties are before they are gotten : for they are attained to either by vertue, or Fortune; and without the one or the other they arc held : for they are maintaind by orders inveterated in the religion, all which are so powerfull and of such nature, that they maintain their Princes in their dominions in what manner soever they proceed and live. These only have an Estate and defend it not; have subjects and govern them not ; and yet their States because undefended, are not taken from them; nor their subjects, though not govern'd, care not, think not, neither are able to aliene themselves from them. These Principalities then are only happy and secure: but they being sustained by superior causes, whereunto humane understanding reaches not, I will not meddle with them: for being set up and maintained by God, it would be the part of a presumptuous and rash man to enter into discourse of them. …
But wait, there’s a immediate caveat:

Quote:
Yet if any man should ask me whence it proceeds, that the Church in temporal power hath attaind to such greatness, seeing that till the time of Alexander the sixt, the Italian Potentates … in regard of the temporality, made but small account of it, and now a King of France trembles at the power thereof; and it hath been able to drive him out of Italy, and ruine the Venetians; and however this be well known, me thinks it is not superstitious in some part to recall it to memory.
This places the spiritual head of Christendom right in the middle of dirty politics and implicitly begs: ‘what moral restraints are there for everyone else?’ And at this point, we can look directly at Cesare Borgia – the son of a pope and, according to Machiavelli’s account, the secular apparatus by which the papacy (under both Alexander and Julius II) attempted to enact their universalising plans. (As I said earlier, chapter 7 can be investigated in greater detail later.)

So, in 1532, what effect must Machiavelli's treatise have had on a world that still placed great emphasis on miracles and spirituality? According to Sydney Anglo, throughout the sixteenth- and seventeenth-centuries, Machiavelli was invariably depicted as the very hand of the devil, an 'imp' of Satan, 'hell-bourne', a 'damnable fiend' and 'the great muster master of Hell'. This was the writer who compared Christian morality with ancient morality in a very unfavourable light: in the Discourses he wrote that while the Christian citizen 'thinks more how to bear injuries than how to avenge them', the Roman religion made its men stronger and more brave. 'This manner of life ... seems to have made the world feebler, and to have given it over as a prey to wicked men to deal as they please.' (The wider context of these quotes from Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius - Chap. 2 can be read here: http://www.quotesandpoem.com/literat...itus_Livius/64) The fact that the publication of Machiavelli's work happened to coincide with the Counter-Reformation most probably had much to do with his bad reputation.


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Lasciate ogne speranza voi ch' intrate!
Except that Machiavelli was thinking that we were already inside. He was more saying ‘You are already inside. This is how to deal with it.’ Strange too that he doesn’t seem to refer to ‘hope’.
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Old April 4th, 2010, 07:38 PM   #17

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


… it is easy to see that the latter, 'modern', translation is nowhere near as dramatic as the former. In fact, Dacres makes Machiavelli into some kind of Shakespearean figure … Iago, perhaps Avon

Thanks for posting Dacres' translation. I'm taking a closer look at it.

I'm not sure I see the dramatic difference between Dacres' translation and Marriott's for the passage you quoted. If the former is more dramatic, it would rather seem to be the fact that it is Early Modern English--only 40 years away from Shakespeare. Our natural association with Shakespearean language is dramatic. If anything, Dacres' translation is a little closer to the Italian--almost word for word. Just because there was a typo in yours that confused me for a bit, I'm requoting the two along with the Italian:

Quote:
Italian
Nasce da questo una disputa: s'elli è meglio essere amato che temuto, o e converso. Rispondesi che si vorrebbe essere l'uno e l'altro; ma perché elli è difficile accozzarli insieme, è molto più sicuro essere temuto che amato, quando si abbia a mancare dell'uno de' dua. Perché delli uomini si può dire questo generalmente: che sieno ingrati, volubili, simulatori e dissimulatori, fuggitori de' pericoli, cupidi di guadagno; e mentre fai loro bene, sono tutti tua, ófferonti el sangue, la roba, la vita e' figliuoli, come di sopra dissi, quando il bisogno è discosto; ma, quando ti si appressa, e' si rivoltano.
Dacre's translation
from hence arises a dispute, whether it is better to be belov'd or feard: I answer, a man would wish he might be the one and the other: but because hardly can they subsist both together, it is much safer to be feard, than be loved; being that one of the two must needs fail; for touching men, we may say this in general, they are unthankful, unconstant, dissemblers, they aboyd dangers, and are covetous of gain; and whilest thou doest them good, they are wholly thine; their blood, their fortunes, lives and children are at thy service, as is said before, when the danger is remote; but when it approaches, they revolt.

Marriott's translation
Upon this a question arises: whether it be better to be loved than feared or feared than loved? It may be answered that one should wish to be both, but, because it is difficult to unite them in one person, is much safer to be feared than loved, when, of the two, either must be dispensed with. Because this is to be asserted in general of men, that they are ungrateful, fickle, false, cowardly, covetous, and as long as you succeed they are yours entirely; they will offer you their blood, property, life and children, as is said above, when the need is far distant; but when it approaches they turn against you.
I think what is really dramatic about Dacres' translation is that it was 1640--King Charles I's reign and going into the English civil wars. This was in the middle of the period when the English word "virtue" took on its modern meaning as far as I can discern.

For the earlier philosophers, "virtue" was the quality that the statesman must have. For the early Christian writers and later scholastic, that virtue required the wisdom and guidance of the church. Hobbes, after experiencing the civil wars of the 1640's, lost his faith in man and dropped virtue from the requirements of the king. Machiavelli, living through the disorganization of the Florentine Republic, also threw out virtue. Machiavelli focused on power. That much is obvious in Il Principe But what is he doing with the 72 repetitions of virtú? Is he mocking it? What is fairly clear to me is that in this monograph, Machiavelli is saying that the end justifies the means. That in itself is enough to shock the Christians, especially the English Puritans in 1640.

***
What you pointed out about the last sentence of Chapter I running into the first of Chapter 7 is also interesting. I had been thinking along lines of Ch. 8 being the center, but 7 is the longest and is the one that has all that stuff about Borgia. I'll look harder at that.
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Old April 5th, 2010, 03:21 PM   #18

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


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I'm not sure I see the dramatic difference between Dacres' translation and Marriott's for the passage you quoted. If the former is more dramatic, it would rather seem to be the fact that it is Early Modern English--only 40 years away from Shakespeare. Our natural association with Shakespearean language is dramatic. If anything, Dacres' translation is a little closer to the Italian--

I think what is really dramatic about Dacres' translation is that it was 1640--King Charles I's reign and going into the English civil wars. This was in the middle of the period when the English word "virtue" took on its modern meaning as far as I can discern.
I’m going to beg to differ on a matter of taste in regard to Dacres’ translation. For me, it’s more vivid and lends itself better to being read aloud. No matter, it’s not a major point. I think, what we need to remember about Dacres’ translation is that it was only the first translation into English and had possibly read one of the Machiavelli’s books were known in England long before. As an Englishman of the seventeenth-century, if you could read, then you could probably read Latin or French. If not, then there’s every likelihood that you had heard about ‘the Machiavel’. We know that Francis Bacon was not only familiar with Machiavelli but an admirer as well.

As far as the early impact that The Prince had on European society, that's something that we can go into more. Asides from Bacon, there's also Marlowe and Innocent Gentillet - so there's plenty material to discuss. (I'm a bit short on time at the moment.)

On the seemingly too many repetitions of Virtù, you raise a very plausible possibility.

Last edited by avon; April 7th, 2010 at 04:37 AM. Reason: to remove reproduced material
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Old April 6th, 2010, 08:32 AM   #19

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


Precise use of words is difficult to pin down, especially when working with an unfamiliar language. Imagine trying to explain to a German the difference between Spanish gongorismo and English euphuism--similar styles, but different in that one is Spanish and the other English. But these words (virtue, fortune, etc) have changed so much between cultures that about all we can try to do is be aware of the differences between then and now, between here and there.

I too have had my free time suddenly pre-empted. My son-in-law called yesterday desparate for some one to take my grandson. So I drove 100 miles to pick the kid up at a baby-sitter's and am now committed to spending a day at the zoo with him. Besides baby-sitting for the rest of the week.
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Old April 6th, 2010, 08:57 AM   #20

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Re: Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince


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Originally Posted by Patito de Hule View Post
Precise use of words is difficult to pin down, especially when working with an unfamiliar language. Imagine trying to explain to a German the difference between Spanish gongorismo and English euphuism--similar styles, but different in that one is Spanish and the other English. But these words (virtue, fortune, etc) have changed so much between cultures that about all we can try to do is be aware of the differences between then and now, between here and there.
True. (I had to look up 'euphuism'! Lyly and his Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit - there's one for another day. )

At the same time though, we can take Machiavelli's original text and derive his meaning from the surrounding context. From that we can understand that he is making reference to something that is based on (or around) masculine strength. (We might also consider that 'virtue' within the Christian lexicon might be understood as generally feminine.) I think any understanding of Machiavelli's virtù must encompass both military and non-military contexts - in Art of War the leading condottiere, Colonna (IIRC), says that war was not his only occupation, that his profession was governing and protecting his subjects. In other words, this man of virtus is a man of war and peace.

Even at that though, I think that there is still much to cover here.

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I too have had my free time suddenly pre-empted. My son-in-law called yesterday desparate for some one to take my grandson. So I drove 100 miles to pick the kid up at a baby-sitter's and am now committed to spending a day at the zoo with him. Besides baby-sitting for the rest of the week.
We have all the time in the world. Enjoy your day out.
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