Machiavelli, Machiavellism and European Political Landscape
On the 500 years anniversary of “The Prince” by Machiavelli, the Italian Consulate General in Boston and Emmanuel College will organize a series of seminars dedicated to the Italian politician, philosopher diplomat and thinker and his influence as a Renaissance humanist in the European political landscape of the past and of today
November 8, 2013
Library Lecture Hall, Emmanuel College
Professor Maurizio Viroli from Princeton University will be one of the speakers at the seminar on at the Emmanuel College entitled “The Prince and the Redeemer”.
According to Professor Viroli, Niccolò Machiavelli wrote The Prince to design and invoke a redeemer of Italy capable of creating, with God’s help, new and good political orders thereby attaining perennial glory. The meaning of Machiavelli’s most famous or infamous work – the meaning in the sense of what Machiavelli intended above all to teach - is to be found in the last chapter, the ‘Exhortation to liberate Italy from the barbarians’ where he creates with a stroke of political imagination of the finest kind, the myth of the redeemer. This myth sheds the right light on the entire work, and above all on the most controversial themes of The Prince: political ethics, the virtues of the prince, military matters, the role of fortune and God on political affairs. An oration on the redeemer, this is what the Prince is.
The interpretation of the Prince as an oration on the redeemer sheds a different light on yet another much debated issue in the Machiavellian scholarship, namely the compatibility of The Prince and the Discourses. A founder and a redeemer is necessary both for republics and kingdoms. In both cases they must have extraordinary authority, display exactly the same virtues and face the necessity of entering in evil. Machiavelli’s Prince is indeed the “book of republicans”. Not in the sense that it reveals the horrible vices of the prince and instills in the readers the hatred for monarchy, as Rousseau believed, but in the sense that it delineates the image of the founder and redeemer that republican political theory needs. Unless we are prepared to believe that good republics come into existence, remain alive, and are reformed, when they need to be, only through the wisdom and the active participation of the citizens, we must accept the view that republics need great political leaders. The Prince is about great political leadership, the leadership of founders and redeemers. Hence, it is not a problematic alternative to the Discourses, but a fine integration to it. Together they make a fine theory of political emancipation.