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Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy: New Readings


As an attribute of the people, liberty is self-protection from the abuse of power. It further is republican government, the rule of law, and civic independence, or it is the result of the same. Meanwhile, intelligence is an attribute of the great, and oppression is the goal of their ambitions. Machiavelli designates the people as the guardian of liberty. He appears to be their champion and the champion of republican constitutionalism. But Machiavelli is also an inveterate admirer of expansionist Rome, designating it the republic most worthy for imitation by moderns. He takes this position despite admitting that Rome destroyed every republic in the ancient world; he even boasts that Rome’s glory was all the more remarkable because the love of liberty made Rome’s adversaries incomparably obstinate. Does liberty then merely serve the end of glory, or has Machiavelli other relationships and valuations in mind?


Machiavelli, Discourses, Rome, republic, mixed regime, liberty, greatness, plebeians, patricians

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy.


Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.

Published in: Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy: New Readings, eds. Diego Pires Aurélio and Andre Santos Campos (Leiden: Brill, 2021)



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