Fully owning up to the fact that I’m a hipster, I’m taking a look at one of Machiavelli’s more OBSCURE texts he wrote late in life, after the Discourses, the Florentine Histories
The cyclical conception of history was popular during the Renaissance, so this wasn’t exactly eccentric on Machiavelli’s part, except by today’s standards.
He saw it as a cycle that went full circle from the rule of barbarians to the rule of aristocrats to the rule of the commune to the rule of the republic before finally back to the rule of barbarians again. He isn’t a “thinker of evil”, he wanted to save his country from the barbarians by whatever means necessary.
I find the cyclical conception of history inspiring, because it implies the kikeocracy will eventually be overthrown. Pessimistically speaking though, I mostly expect one set of dirtbags to replace another set of dirtbags, who knows though. Aristocracy is always theoretically possible. “gasp! He just casually referred to the holy chosen people as dirtbags, and this is just another day for him!” That’s right.
“Wait a second. Barbarians? That word is insulting.” It’s supposed to be.
Anyway, it’s actually debateable whether Ficino is the true hidden core of the Renaissance- that title might have to go to Machiavelli, because rather than slavishly commentating on the ancients he innovated upon them. In the case in question for instance, Polybius’s cyclical history was characterized as physis or the law of nature whereas Machiavelli fused the model with ideas of freewill, what he called “personages in action on the stage of life”. For the latter it’s not unbending necessity that brings a new regime about, it’s deliberate political actors. He was living some generations before Rembrandt and Descartes when the modern self was becoming aware of itself.
I was meditating on the Jan. 6 so-called “riot”, and feeling partly responsible, wondering if I should write letters to the people in prison. That riot can be seen as a feeble attempt at what Machiavelli is getting at.
Prominent leftists like Gramsci and Althusser wrote whole books on Machiavelli, so the left already has all this down-pat unfortunately.
The Borgias (with Jeremy Irons) is still one of the most memorable TV shows to me- if you like art “getting you into” philosophy that is a great way to learn about Machiavelli.
“Leo Strauss is a poet, what about his book?” Isn’t that a shrewd remark!
Of course these aren’t the only places you can learn about Machiavelli
One does wish that he himself had written a commentary on the Statesman though. The Ficino way just wasn’t his style I guess.
He WAS a renaissance man though- I’ve written about the comedies he wrote. Interestingly, he refers in a letter to the Florentine Histories as his “tragedy”.
Lorenzo was the grandson of Cosimo Medici, the one who established the Platonic Academy of Ficino
Ficino dedicated his chief text to Lorenzo, the latter of whom was influenced by the former.
Just some lesser known sides of the Renaissance. Sticking with Machiavelli though, similar to the what one might call “evolution” from Plato’s Republic to the Statesman, the Florentine Histories contains departures from ideas in the Prince. Later in life he’s more pessimistic about the inevitability of barbarism.
The Renaissance, as we know, didn’t continue interminably. It ended. Machiavelli charts reasons for the decline. He recurrently points to the insatiable ambition [ambizione] of statesmen. We might think less of politicians’ in our time, and more of MSM types’ ambition.
This spaghetti-head is so relateable isn’t he?
He wrote the Florentine Histories about three decades after Lorenzo’s death when he thought the decline began. That text itself wasn’t part of the decline, so there’s some hope there. The Sistine Chapel was painted some 20 years after Lorenzo’s death too. Well, here we are some 70 years after Adolf’s death…