Machiavelli & the Renaissance

By Federico Chabod; David Moore | Go to book overview
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II
THE PRINCE: Myth and Reality

I. THE GENESIS OF THE PRINCE

IN the early months of 1513 Machiavelli, still smarting from the effects of his brief imprisonment,1 had retired to his villa near San Casciano, a small village situated on top of a hill between the Val di Greve and the Val di Pesa. In this peaceful, lonely spot the passionate sense of life which had troubled the last days of his public career gradually lost its intensity, and his thoughts, ridding themselves completely of their emotional content, stood out in bolder relief, the personal element being kept within clearly-defined limits. Florence was now far away, dimly outlined with its towers against the misty background of the sky, and to Niccolò it was at last given to contemplate his own work and that of others with the serenity of the critic. Hitherto he had thought about it only at the instant of its performance, with that sense of urgency which is characteristic of the government official.

The truth is that he had at first sought to avoid any pre- occupation which might renew, even indirectly, his contact with a world of which he retained far from happy memories;2

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1
P. Villari, Niccolò Machiavelli e i suoi tempi, 3rd edition, Milan, 1912-14, II, p. 211; O. Tommasini, La vita e gli scritti di Niccolò Machiavelli, Rome, 1883-1911, II, pp. 80sqq.
2
Lettere Familiari ( Alvisi edition), CXXVIII. Quotations from Machiavelli's works refer to the Italia edition of 1813. Only in the case of The Prince have I adhered to my own edition ( Turin, U.T.E.T., 1924.).

(For the reader's convenience, when quoting from the Florentine Histories, I have indicated the numbers of the chapters as given in P. Carli critical edition ( two volumes, Florence, 1927). Moreover, to conform to modern usage I have altered the old title Ritratti delle care di Frascia to Ritratto di cose di Francia.]

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