Cicero and Machiavelli: Two Visions of Statesmanship and Two Educational Projects Compared
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AbstractIt is impossible to overestimate the importance of Cicero’s writings or his historical significance as an example in politics and in rhetoric for Italian Humanist and Renaissance culture. Machiavelli, well-educated in the classics, drew from Cicero the inspiration for embarking on a project of education of a new ruling class: Machiavelli’s “principe nuovo” is new when compared to his contemporary counterparts, imbued with Christian and Humanist notions of virtue; however, the “principe nuovo” has an old soul, since the new notion of prudence elaborated by Machiavelli has its roots in classical images of ethical and political virtue, in Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. Machiavelli, just like Cicero, felt that what he had not been able to do in deeds with his political action at the service of the Florentine republic, he could do through his writings: putting his knowledge of men and politics, his expertise gained through practical experience and constant reading of ancient authors at the service of his fellow-countrymen and of his patria. The novelty of Machiavelli’s teaching consists in advocating a new kind of prudence, which consists in the capacity to do evil in view of a good and elevated purpose: to save, preserve and aggrandize the State.
Giovanni Giorgini, "Cicero and Machiavelli: Two Visions of Statesmanship and Two Educational Projects Compared", in: Etica & Politica / Ethics & Politics, XVI (2014) 2, pp. 506-515