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Research on Machiavelli's The Discourses

In Niccolo Machiavelli's The Discourses, Machiavelli is presenting not a call to action, but an analysis of the Roman Republic as the Roman author Titus Livius, or Livy (59BC—17AD), shows it in the first ten books of his History of Rome. In The Discourses, Niccolo Machiavelli shows a preference for the republican form of government.  

In Machiavelli's The Discourses compared ancient Rome with modern Christianity. He favored the former because the Romans had been a vigorous society holding men of action as ideal figures. Christianity, by contrast, had held up lowly and humble men as the ideal cultural type.  Machiavelli's The DiscoursesIn this we see the humanism, typical of the men of the Renaissance, who looked back to the classical civilization with admiration, and saw, in their own times, a great mass of decay.  The notion that false, effete morals have  brought about cultural downfall carries with it the notion that a higher form of politics can be constructed, a politics not rooted in the ideals of the church, but in the observation of how prince’s conduct themselves, successfully or unsuccessfully, in the real world.

A principality is rule by one person. As such it is one of three types of government that may prove to be useful to human beings; the two others are aristocracy and democracy. Research papers on Machiavelli's The Discourses show that all three of these are capable of degenerating into bad forms of government:

  1. One-person rule can turn into tyranny
  2. Aristocracy (rule of the best) can turn into oligarchy (rule of the few)
  3. Democracy can turn into anarchy.

All six of these governmental forms are defective, the first three because they tend to be short-lived, the last three “because of their inherent viciousness.”

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