Niccolo Machiavelli and Michel de Montaigne never met, nor could they have — Machiavelli died six years before Montaigne was born, and they lived about 1,200 km (800 miles) apart — but imagine the conversations they could have had if they had lived at the same time and close enough to visit one another, to have dinner together.
Imagine the hard-nosed philosopher of the body politic and the curious philosopher of inner space, together, discussing humankind, discussing ways of living, ways of governing, discussing the classics, faith, duty, laws, and, of course, their writing. One a middle-class republican, the other the scion of minor nobility in an absolute monarchy, but both keenly aware of events and issues around them, and both skeptical about power and faith, both with personal experience in government and war.
(I wonder if they might play chess together… I can’t recall if either mention the game in their writing.) Continue reading “A Meeting of the Minds?”