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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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Machiavelli’s Prince and the Concept of Tyranny

Machiavelli’s Prince and the Concept of Tyranny

(p.191) 11 Machiavelli’s Prince and the Concept of Tyranny
Evil Lords

Gabriele Pedullà

Oxford University Press

This chapter concludes the volume with an examination of Machiavelli as a theorist who enacted a willful and radical break with the past, yet endorsed most of his predecessors’ tenets. It begins with Machiavelli’s provocative omission of the term ‘tyrant’—in favor of the euphemism ‘new prince’—and his reassessment of ‘tyrannical’ behaviors as princely prudence. These maneuvers earned Machiavelli the ire of generations of commentators, yet the chapter argues that they misread him. Rather than denying the existence of pragmatically and morally evil lords, Machiavelli redraws the boundary between them and good rulers. Instrumental in this is his concept of glory, which can only be recognized retrospectively as it reveals itself in the fullness of time. Thus, Machiavelli implies, it is impossible to know for certain whether a present ruler is a good prince or a tyrant.

Keywords:   Machiavelli, prince, tyrant, glory, anti-Machiavellianism, Bartolus of Sassoferrato, Cesare Borgia

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