Published online by Cambridge University Press: 05 August 2009
Machiavelli's Prince has been interpreted and appraised from a wide range of points of view. Attitudes have run all the way from unqualified admiration for the Princes compelling frankness and republican patriotism to shock and hatred for its obvious moral relativism. The Prince has been condemned as a piece of political opportunism, an expression of the philosophy of the antichrist, and a contributing factor to the political morality of both Napoleon and Hitler. On the other hand, it has in modern times been praised as a forthright assessment of the morality of sixteenth-century Italian political life and/or the first manifestation of a new science of politics.
* Throughout this paper, with the exception of Machiavelli's poem, L'Asino, I have used the translations of Machiavelli's Works in Allan Gilbert's Machiavelli, The Chief Works and Others (Durham, 1965), 3 vols. The quotations from L'Asino come from Joseph Tusiani, Lust and Liberty: The Poems of Machiavelli (New York, 1963). The numbers in parentheses are page references to the consecutively paged three-volume work and, for the poetry, to Tusiani.