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Evil LordsTheories and Representations of Tyranny from Antiquity to the Renaissance$
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Nikos Panou and Hester Schadee

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199394852

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199394852.001.0001

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‘I Don’t Know Who You Call Tyrants’

‘I Don’t Know Who You Call Tyrants’

Debating Evil Lords in Quattrocento Humanism

(p.172) 10 ‘I Don’t Know Who You Call Tyrants’
Evil Lords

Hester Schadee

Oxford University Press

This chapter returns to Latin discourse, seeking to define what fifteenth-century humanist treatments of tyranny have in common, and what distinguishes them from their classical and medieval counterparts. To this end, the chapter confronts the numerous (self-)contradictions in the works of Poggio Bracciolini, educated in republican Florence, and Giovanni Pontano, employed in Naples by the royal dynasty. While their arguments range from the rejection of all rulers as tyrants to the education of the ideal prince, both authors depend on the same philosophical frameworks (Aristotle and the Stoa) and rhetorical form (epideictic oratory). Typical for the Quattrocento, these texts make no claim to universal validity, and the chapter argues that they should be read with due recognition of the conventions of literary genre and humanism’s culture of debate.

Keywords:   humanism, Renaissance, mirror for princes, republicanism, tyranny, Poggio Bracciolini, Giovanni Pontano

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