A Great and Wretched City: Promise and Failure in by Mark Jurdjevic

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By Mark Jurdjevic

Like many population of booming metropolises, Machiavelli alternated among love and hate for his local urban. He usually wrote scathing comments approximately Florentine political myopia, corruption, and servitude, but additionally wrote approximately Florence with satisfaction, patriotism, and assured wish of higher occasions. regardless of the alternating tones of sarcasm and depression he used to explain Florentine affairs, Machiavelli supplied a stubbornly chronic feel that his urban had the entire fabrics and strength valuable for a wholesale, successful, and epochal political renewal. As he memorably positioned it, Florence was once "truly a superb and wretched city."

Mark Jurdjevic makes a speciality of the Florentine size of Machiavelli's political notion, revealing new elements of his republican convictions. via The Prince, Discourses, correspondence, and, so much considerably, Florentine Histories, Jurdjevic examines Machiavelli's political profession and relationships to the republic and the Medici. He indicates that major and as but unrecognized points of Machiavelli's political proposal have been particularly Florentine in thought, content material, and function. From a brand new standpoint and armed with new arguments, a superb and Wretched City reengages the venerable debate approximately Machiavelli's dating to Renaissance republicanism. Dispelling the parable that Florentine politics provided Machiavelli purely destructive classes, Jurdjevic argues that his contempt for the city's shortcomings was once an instantaneous functionality of his enormous estimation of its unrealized political potential.

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59 Unlike the other preachers of repentance Machiavelli regularly mocked, Savonarola used the influence conferred through his sermons to consolidate and strengthen his political following. ”62 As Machiavelli explained in the Becchi letter, Savonarola presented himself as the wrathful, vengeful Moses in his sermons on Exodus from March 1498: “Take this stab, Egyptian . . ” He preached against forgiveness of civil offenses, urging instead— again deploying a Mosaic precedent— an unfl inching willingness to enforce the death sentence.

Colish, Weinstein, and Sasso all see Machiavelli’s political reading of Savonarola’s sermons as an indictment of hypocrisy, an implicit accusation that the friar’s priorities were more political than religious. Najemy and Martelli see Machiavelli’s fascination with the subtle political implications of Savonarola’s Old Testament language as an implicit claim that Savonarola was a skilled factional politician. If we remember that Machiavelli was in part communicating his own political skills and credentials to Ricciardo Becchi through the letter, we understand at least in part why Machiavelli’s analysis is relentlessly secular and political.

65 Brown illuminated the way specific themes in Savonarola’s selfpresentation as a reformer in the Mosaic mold—particularly his rhetoric on arms, severe justice, prophecy, and the necessity of divine approval for new laws— affected the general development of Machiavelli’s political thought. But there are yet more precise links between the Savonarolan example, the question of force, and Machiavelli’s vocabulary in the Discourses that suggest his indebtedness to Savonarola. 30. 30 he considered envy from a different perspective, as an obstacle to effective action by virtuous citizens.

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