‘One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves’
The Prince shocked Europe on publication with its ruthless tactics for gaining absolute power and its abandonment of conventional morality. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) came to be regarded by some as an agent of the Devil and his name taken for the intriguer ‘Machevill’ of Jacobean tragedy. For his treatise on statecraft Machiavelli drew upon his own experience of office under the turbulent Florentine republic, rejecting traditional values of political theory and recognizing the complicated, transient nature of political life. Concerned not with lofty ideals, but with a regime that would last, The Prince has become the Bible of realpolitik, and still retains its power to alarm and to instruct.
In this edition Machiavelli’s tough-minded and pragmatic Italian is preserved in George Bull’s clear, unambiguous translation, while Anthony Grafton’s introduction depicts his world of power struggles and intrigue, and discusses his role as political teacher of Europe.
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