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Squirls

The Prince

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I read this and can't say I enjoyed it, but then again that's hardly surprising since I don't think it was ever meant to be a book to be "enjoyed"

 

Some parts of it read like an episode of The Sopranos with the brutal intrigue between the Medici, Colonna, Orsini and Borgia families.

 

The version I read was the Oxford University Press version which had a very good explanatory introduction and some good explanatory notes at the back.

 

It's well worth reading the notes on translation at the beginning. If I hadn't read that first I would have been completely mystified by Machiavelli's use of the word Virtue which has a masculine connotation of heroic skill, ability and prowess rather moral sensibility as we understand it.

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20th March 2012, 08:59 PM

Lectora

 

I've read plenty about the influence of this book, but not the actual text of the book itself. I have however, recently read M.G Scarsbrook's novel cum history (Kindle only) Poison in the Blood - the memoirs of Lucretia Borgia, in which Niccolo Machiavelli appears as a "good" character, closely observing the personality and actions of Lucretia's ruthless and murderous brother, Cesare Borgia upon whom The Prince is said to be based.

 

The book's main advice to rulers is that ""the end justifies the means" so a ruler could kill all and sundry who threatened his/her hold on power. The term Machiavellian soon acquired a perjorative sense. The Prince had enormous influence on the ruthless behaviour of several 16th c European rulers, Henry VIII amongst them. Shakespeare's Macbeth and Marlowe's Tamberlaine the Great were Machiavellian anti-heroes who appeared in drama, while Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet vividly portrays with tragic consequences, the impact on a pair of young lovers of two warring families in late 15th c Italy.

 

The authoritarian rulers of today's Middle East are a product of their own culture and not of Machiavelli's The prince. In British history, the gradual move to universal suffrage and democratic government is a fascinating story. Can Middle Eastern countries achieve it in a much shorter time span and how many would wish to espouse democracy anyway? Both military rule and the Islamic model are very different.

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Just finished this and it was fascinating. Squirls is right it's not a book to be enjoyed it's a handbook on how to acquire power, weild power and how to keep power.  The Prince of the title was undoubtedly Cesare Borgia whom Machiavelli observed at close quarters whilst forming this treatise on power.  It was written and sent to Lorenzo de Medici

 

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