The great politicians, it is said, begin by cursing Machiavelli,
declaring themselves anti-Machiavellians, just in order
to apply his standards sanctimoniously.
Antonio Gramsci, The Modern Prince, 1959
We are much beholden to Machiavelli and others,
that write what men do, and not what they ought to do.
For it is not possible to join serpentine wisdom with the columbine innocency,
except men know exactly all the conditions of the serpent;
his baseness and going upon his belly,
his volubility and lubricity, his envy and sting,
and the rest; that is, all forms and natures of evil.
For without this, virtue lieth open and unfenced.
Nay, an honest man can do no good upon those
that are wicked, to reclaim them, without the
help of the knowledge of evil.
Francis Bacon, The Advent of Learning, 1605
Machiavelli is the complete contrary of a Machiavellian,
since he describes the tricks of power and “gives the
whole show away.” The seducer and the politician,
who live in the dialectic and have a feeling and instinct
for it, try their best to keep it hidden.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty: In Praise of Philosophy, 1953
Dedicated with love to Susan McCallan
for her patience while I scribbled away madly,
and muttered under my breath,
and for her many helpful re-readings of this book.
And many, many thanks to my friend Bill Knapp,
for his editorial wisdom and advice.
Previous Chapter – Next Chapter
- Machiavelli and Sejanus - October 14, 2022
- A Meeting of the Minds? - July 3, 2021
- Machiavelli’s Prince as satire - June 8, 2017
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