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CATO'S VIRTUES AND THE PRINCE: READING SALLUST'S WAR WITH CATILINE WITH MACHIAVELLI'S THE PRINCE

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Abstract:

This paper explores the relationship between Machiavelli's The Prince and Sallust's War with Catiline. In particular, I will argue that Sallust's War with Catiline, and especially the debate between Cato and Caesar over the treatment of the Catilinarian conspirators, provide both a model and a source for portions of Machiavelli's The Prince often held to be most inconsistent with classical thought. Moreover, I will argue that Machiavelli, in describing his ideal prince and the attributes he should adopt, recreates the rhetorical and deliberative context faced by Cato in his debate with Caesar before the Roman senate concerning the treatment of the Catilinarian conspirators. This context, marked by a confusion of moral language and a misunderstanding of virtue, enables Machiavelli's prince, like Sallust's Cato, to appear to depart from conventional virtue and to criticize would- be Caesars.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Public and International Affairs, Department of Political Science, The University of Georgia, 104 Baldwin Hall, Athens, GA 30602-1615, USA., Email: djkapust@uga.edu

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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