Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Prudent and Virtuous Governance

Discourses on Livy
Niccolo Machiavelli

“The salvation of a republic or a kingdom is not, therefore, merely to have a prince who governs prudently while he lives, but rather one who organizes the government in such a way that after his death it can be maintained.”   ― Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy

A thought-provoking and perceptive read, Discourses on Livy by Niccolò Machiavelli that is ideal for those who are passionate about politics, democracy, and the quest for a more just and equitable society. Machiavelli provides a radical vision of a new science of politics that continues to shape the modern ethos, as well as a foundational exploration of modern republicanism.

Discourses on Livy, is a seminal work that laid the foundation for modern republicanism, and it has been definitively translated into English by Harvey C. Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov. The translation is extremely readable, staying true to the original Italian text while paying appropriate attention to Machiavelli's idiom and subtlety of thought. Machiavelli's radical vision of a new science of politics—a vision of new modes and orders that continue to shape the modern ethos—is revealed in The Discourses, which includes a comprehensive introduction, extensive explanatory notes, a glossary of key terms, and an annotated index.

Livy, whose histories are also a profitable read,  provided Machiavelli with the inspiration scholars needed for five centuries. The discourses contain the germs of contemporary political philosophy, which are frequently concealed and occasionally unintentional by the writers. Reading this book gives you a very different perspective on the author than you may have received from reading his more famous masterpiece, The Prince. Mansfield and Tarcov's translation is careful and idiomatic.

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