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THE LIFE OF CASTRUCCIO CASTRACANI: MACHIAVELLI AS LITERARY ARTIST, HISTORIAN, TEACHER AND PHILOSOPHER

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Abstract:

Most scholars have taken Machiavelli's Life of Castruccio Castracani to exemplify his understanding of the role of both fortune and virtue in acquiring political power. The problem with this straight-forward reading is that the good fortune and virtue Machiavelli attributes to Castruccio are largely products of Machiavelli's own imagination and consequent alterations of the historical record, which undercut Machiavelli's exaggerated praise of the petty tyrant. By contrasting the qualities and deeds for which Machiavelli praises Castruccio with what he or the historical record shows that Castruccio actually did, readers can see the difference between what Machiavelli thought a truly fortunate and virtuous politician would do and what a petty tyrant would do. Machiavelli's uncharacteristic borrowings from the sayings of earlier philosophers at the end of the Life also bring to the fore questions about the character and philosophical basis of Machiavelli's own role as a political educator.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Political Science, University of Notre Dame, 350 Decio Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA., Email: zuckert.2@nd.edu

Publication date: 2010-01-01

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