By Mark Jurdjevic
Like many population of booming metropolises, Machiavelli alternated among love and hate for his local urban. He frequently wrote scathing comments approximately Florentine political myopia, corruption, and servitude, but in addition wrote approximately Florence with delight, patriotism, and assured wish of higher occasions. regardless of the alternating tones of sarcasm and melancholy he used to explain Florentine affairs, Machiavelli supplied a stubbornly power experience that his urban had all of the fabrics and power helpful for a wholesale, successful, and epochal political renewal. As he memorably placed it, Florence was once "truly an excellent and wretched city."
Mark Jurdjevic specializes in the Florentine measurement of Machiavelli's political idea, revealing new facets of his republican convictions. via The Prince, Discourses, correspondence, and, such a lot considerably, Florentine Histories, Jurdjevic examines Machiavelli's political occupation and relationships to the republic and the Medici. He exhibits that major and as but unrecognized facets of Machiavelli's political notion have been noticeably Florentine in proposal, content material, and goal. From a brand new viewpoint and armed with new arguments, an excellent and Wretched City reengages the venerable debate approximately Machiavelli's courting to Renaissance republicanism. Dispelling the parable that Florentine politics provided Machiavelli purely unfavorable classes, Jurdjevic argues that his contempt for the city's shortcomings was once a right away functionality of his substantial estimation of its unrealized political potential.
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Additional info for A great and wretched city : promise and failure in Machiavelli's Florentine political thought
Those Egyptians also mocked the children of Israel, and as the text says, affl icted them because of envy: Et affligebant illudentes et invidentes eis. ”70 As Machiavelli later did in the Discourses, Savonarola identified envy as a fundamental element of human nature. Whereas Machiavelli located its origin in human psychology, Savonarola located its origin in Adam: “The fi rst sin to enter into man . . when he was created was pride . . ”71 From Adam these two sins entered the world, and they gave rise to all other evils.
Numa faced a greater challenge than Romulus because he wanted to establish unprecedented institutions in the city. Although he understood their importance, it was not sufficiently self-evident for others to be persuaded on his authority alone. He solved this problem by deceiving the Romans. He suggested—falsely—that he had communicated with a nymph, a supernatural figure, who had outlined to him the new orders he should bring to the Roman people. ” Such founder figures all recognized that an individual’s authority and reputation, however great, were inherently inadequate as the basis for new laws and institutions and hence that the appearance of divine communication was a fundamental prerequisite for institutional and cultural innovation.
Note also the dramatic difference in tone between his discussion of Savonarola in this chapter and the Becchi letter. His earlier rhetorical style of distance, certainty, and clarity—reflecting his jobless status and an antiSavonarolan audience—has vanished altogether. Writing in exile to republican politicians cast down from power, Machiavelli spoke in a different voice. Although he remained skeptical of Savonarola’s identity as a prophet, Machiavelli now acknowledged an ambiguity about that question that is absent in the Becchi letter.
A great and wretched city : promise and failure in Machiavelli's Florentine political thought by Mark Jurdjevic