Contrary to appearances, Machiavelli's Art of War is a carefully ordered whole. The order of treatment of topics in the body of the work deviates from the order initially proposed by the dialogue's main interlocutor, yet it strictly follows another order, inscribed in the text itself, which is neither accidental nor dependent on any ancient source. A clear understanding of this new order, and of the dramatic event that precipitates it, illuminates key questions, including the work's dialogic character, its relation to its ancient sources, Machiavelli's apparent deprecation of cavalry as opposed to infantry, and, most importantly, Machiavelli's own long-term impresa to blaze an altogether new path in political thought. More specifically, attention to the order of the military section suggests that the dialogue's main speaker and his young interlocutors become the commanders of an army-in-speech on the march against an entire way of life whose origins are found in Christianity.
Document Type: Research Article
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