The Prince

By Niccolò Machiavelli; Peter Bondanella et al. | Go to book overview

OXFORD WORLD'S CLASSICS


THE PRINCE

When Machiavelli's brief treatise on Renaissance statecraft and princely power was posthumously printed in 1532, it generated a debate which has raged unabated until the present day. Written in 1513 after Machiavelli's enforced retirement from diplomatic service for the Republic of Florence, The Prince provided an analysis of the usually violent means by which men seize, retain, and lose political power. Machiavelli's original treatment of the major philosophical and political questions of his times, especially the relationship between public deeds and private morality, added a dimension of incisive realism to traditional discourse on the nature of the state which, according to Machiavelli, had far too often focused only upon ideal theoretical conditions rather than upon actual political practice.

Niccolò Machiavelli was born in Florence in 1469. Very little is known of his life until his entrance into the Florentine Chancery in 1498, where he served his mentor, the Florentine Standardbearer Piero Soderini, until the return of the Medici in 1512 overthrew Soderini's republic and caused Machiavelli both the loss of his position and even brief imprisonment for his republican sympathies. In addition to a longer and more complicated work on republics, The Discourses, Machiavelli wrote The Art of War, The History of Florence, lyric poetry, a novella, a number of brief essays and diplomatic narratives, and several plays, including the masterpiece of Italian Renaissance comedy, The Mandrake Root. He died in 1527.

PETER BONDANELLA, is Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Professor of Film Studies, Italian, and West European Studies at Indiana University, where he serves as Chairman of the Department of West European Studies. He is author of works on Machiavelli, Umberto Eco and Italian cinema (including individual works on Fellini and Rossellini). For the Oxford World's Classics series he has also co-translated and co-edited Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy, with Julia Conaway Bondanella.

MARK MUSA, co-translator of this edition, is Distinguished Professor of Italian at Indiana University, where he teaches Medieval literature. He is the author of Essays on Dante, and Advent at the Gates:Dante's Comedy, and has translated Dante's Vita Nuova and The Divine Comedy; he is the co-translator of The Portable Machiavelli and The Decameron.

-i-

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