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UCLA Historical Journal

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Narrativizing the Self: Niccolò Machiavelli’s use of Cesare Borgia in The Prince

  • Author(s): Mizumoto-Gitter, Alex
  • et al.

Niccolò Machiavelli is best rememebered today for penning the political treatise The Prince, a version of which was originally distributed in 1513.  This text is influential in part because it is one of the earliest sources discussing Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI.  Machiavelli observed Borgia during his military campaigns in the Italian Romagna, and used him in his text as one of the models of how a prince should behave.  Beyond this, however, Machiavelli also made specific authorial choices in order to construct a narrative of Borgia in the style of a Greek tragedy.  Reorienting ourselves to this fictionalization of Borgia sheds light on the parallels Machiavelli saw between their respective tribulations and his own ultimate vindication.

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