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Machiavelli In Modern Times Essay

2721 words - 11 pages

Machiavelli in Modern Times


The fourteenth century was an exciting time in Italy. Liberation from old traditions brought about a new interest in the arts and literature. The church's doctrine was no longer the sole basis of scholarly work. New ideas and concepts started to emerge which were unlike anything heard since the fall of Rome. Amongst the great thinkers of this time was a man by the name of Niccolo Machiavelli. (C4. and Wood, p.510) His most famous work was entitled, The Prince. The book is a compilation of historical examples past and present ( present being the sixteenth century), that were intended to guide a prince on the correct way to control his state. It advocated the use of any means necessary to survive in the political world, even if they were not particularly pleasant. (Strathern, p.6)
Despite it's age, I believe that Machiavelli's writing about individualism in The Prince is relevant to people who are not princes because Machiavelli's main themes are applicable to people of all types. To prove this I have organized my paper into four main sections. Section one- Machiavelli's History, will move toward the thesis by showing that Machiavelli's life experience was not that of royalty. Section two- Individualism, will show how Machiavelli's writing was individualistic, and how that relates to modern people. Section three- The Prince, will explore the main themes of Machiavelli's chief written work, creating the basis of comparison between Machiavelli's writing and modern life. Section four- Machiavelli in Business, relates the themes of section three to modern business.
Section one- Machiavelli's History
Niccolo Machiavelli was born a citizen of Florence during a very turbulent period of constant political struggles. His father was a lawyer with a serious debt problem, and as such, he was without the money to give young Niccolo a proper education. Niccolo taught himself what he could with the few books found in the house. As soon as he was old enough, he took a position as a government clerk. He slowly moved up through the Florentine political ranks until the Florentine Republic was declared. With the switch in government, Niccolo received his first position of true power as a member of the Florentine "Counsel Of Ten," which took on management of the foreign and domestic affairs. (C4.)
During the years to come, while under the employment of the Florentine Republic, Machiavelli took part in a multitude of diplomatic missions to neighboring kingdoms such as France. (Strathern, p.28) Through these travels Machiavelli observed many different types of rulers with many different political theories. His observations of these many different doctrines would make up the great body of his later work. (Wood, p. 505)
Sadly, Machiavelli fell on hard times when the powerful Medici family took hold of Florence. Machiavelli was striped of position and briefly imprisoned and tortured. Upon his release, Machiavelli became...

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