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Unmasking the Prince: An Earnest Analysis of Machiavellian Deception


This article proposes a reconciliation between two conflicting interpretations of the political works of Niccolò Machiavelli, through a close textual analysis of his Discourses on Livy. The first interpretation views Machiavelli as a largely cynical lover of power, whose republican tendencies have been tamped down to the point of near non-existence. The second sees him as an staunch classical republican, one who artfully and consciously worked to reestablish the Florentine Republic through his works. By building off both approaches, it is argued that Machiavelli was indeed a committed republican, though his keen awareness of his precarious position in 16th century Florence prevented him from fully articulating his support for republicanism. Consequently, it is argued that Machiavelli is best thought of as an ardent but ever-fearful republican, whose works simultaneously advocate for the violent overthrow of the House of the Medicis, and attempt to excuse his own relative inaction in fulfilling that goal.

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