Machiavelli and Renaissance Italy

By J. R. Hale | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SEVEN
The Setting of The Prince: 1513-1514

LIFE at Sant' Andrea had its own mild distractions. Machiavelli's house was beside the inn, and he owned a little woodland, some olives, and vines. He took pleasure in rural occupations, like bird-snaring, and in passing the afternoons in gossip and cards over a glass of wine, but these occupations could give pleasure only when part of a daily routine that was ballasted with something more weighty and absorbing. When in August he began to spend the evenings working at a treatise De Principatibus, they fell into place, but in the spring and early summer the burnt country-side must have seemed to him the Stinche where men were punished for being unemployed. From a career of often hectic industry, long journeys, and meetings with men whose levers moved the world, his horizon had shrunk to idleness and the chatter of a rural hamlet. Before leaving for S. Andrea he had told Vettori in a letter of April 9th that 'fortune has decreed that knowing nothing of silk manufacture nor the wool business, nor of profit or loss, I must talk politics, and unless I take a vow of silence I must discuss them'. And the politics he wished to talk was present politics. Dead politics, history, was to satisfy him later, as it had intrigued him before, but his instinct now was to discuss

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