The Portable Machiavelli
Peter Bondanella, Mark Musa
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In the four and a half centuries since Machiavelli’s death, no single and unanimously accepted interpretation of his ideas has succeeded in imposing itself upon the lively debate over the meaning of his works. Yet there has never been any doubt about the fundamental importance of Machiavelli’s contribution to Western political theory.The Portable Machiavelli brings together the complete texts of The Prince, Belfagor, and Castruccio Castracani, newly translated by Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa especially for this volume. In addition, the editors include an abridged version of The Discourses; a play, The Mandrake Root, in its entirety; seven private letters; and selections from The Art of War and The History of Florence.
remained faithful to the Roman people did so out of fear of his particular qualities. It is certainly clear that his merciless manner made him more hated by the Roman people than any other enemy Rome ever had. And while Pyrrhus was in Italy with his army, the Romans pointed out to him the man who wanted to poison him, but they never forgave Hannibal, even when he was disarmed and exiled, and in the end they brought about his death. These difficulties came to Hannibal, then, because he was reputed
a whale I can well afford to let myself get wet from a little spit.” Castruccio not only tolerated this reply but rewarded it. Someone spoke ill of him, saying that he lived too well, to which Castruccio replied: “If this were a vice, there would not be such splendid banquets on the feast days of our saints.” Passing through a street and seeing a young man all red from blushing because he had been seen leaving a brothel, Castruccio said: “Don’t be ashamed when you leave but when you enter.”
same thing occurred in Athens and in all the other republics that flourished in those days. But Florence’s factions were first divided among the nobles, then between the nobles and the middle classes, and finally between the middle classes and the masses; and it frequently happened that when one of these factions triumphed it split in two. These factions resulted in many deaths, exiles, and the destruction of many families—as many as ever occurred in any city of which we have a record. And truly,
they imitate, a prudent man should always enter those paths taken by great men and imitate those who have been most excellent, so that if one’s own skill does not match theirs, at least it will have the smell of it; and he should proceed like those prudent archers who, aware of the strength of their bow when the target they are aiming at seems too distant, set their sights, much higher than the designated target, not in order to reach to such a height with their arrow but rather to be able, with
And in order to make this point clearer, let me say that in Rome there was an established government, or rather an established form of the state, and then came laws which, along with the magistrates, kept the citizens in check. The state was based upon the authority of the people, the senate, the tribunes, and the consuls, and upon the means of selecting and creating the magistrates and of making the laws. These institutions changed very little or not at all, according to the course of events.