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Friday, March 15, 2013


Machiavelli's Prince throughout the centuries

at Georgetown University


Machiavelli's Prince throughout the centuries

"When evening comes, I return home and enter my study; on the threshold I take off my workday clothes, covered with mud and dirt, and put on the garments of court and palace. Fitted out appropriately, I step inside the venerable courts of the ancients, where, solicitously received by them, I nourish myself on that food that alone is mine and for which I was born; where I am unashamed to converse with them and to question them about the motives for their actions, and they, out of their human kindness, answer me."

Thus wrote Niccolò Machiavelli to his friend Francesco Vettori in 1513. His conversations with the ancients would result in one of the most thought-provoking books in the history of Western literature. On the 500th anniversary of the completion of The Prince, the Italian Cultural Institute of Washington, D.C. and the Department of Italian at Georgetown University are proud to present a symposium on Machiavelli’s enduring legacy. Specialists in literature, political science, and religious history will illustrate the relevance of The Prince within their disciplines.

*About the Painting: Santi di Tito, 1536-1603. Portrait of Machiavelli. Palazzo Vecchio, Florence, Italy

organized with
Georgetown University




Georgetown University
37th and O St., N.W.
Washington, DC 20007

Robert Bireley, S.J. (BIO)
Loyola University, Chicago IL

Machiavelli and the Antimachiavellians Exemplified by Giovanni Botero

In the famous fifteenth chapter of The Prince Machiavelli wrote "any man who under all conditions insists on making it his business to be good will surely be destroyed among so many who are not good." So it was impossible for a Christian to be successful in politics. Most Christians refused to accept this argument, and so there developed an Antimachiavellian literature that aimed to refute Machiavelli without resorting to philosophical or theological arguments by developing a program for the creation, maintenance, and expansion of a state that was moral without drawing on philosophical or theological arguments. Giovanni Botero stands at the head of this school; his Ragione di stato appeared in 1589 and enjoyed a wide circulation through the end of the seventeenth century. This paper shows how he took over Machiavellian positions, such as the need that a prince had for popular support, and transformed them as he developed his counter program.

Massimo Scalabrini (BIO)
Indiana University, Bloomington IN

Pallas Armed: Machiavelli, Bacon, and the Doctrine of Empire

This paper examines the key concepts of virtue and prudence in the works of Niccolò Machiavelli and Francis Bacon. It focuses on the modalities in which the two terms are associated and on the meaning of their association. Its aim is at the same time to demonstrate the centrality of this nexus in Machiavelli’s doctrine of political power as "empire over men" and show the weaknesses inherent in the association of the two terms. The paper also looks at some passages in Bacon’s ethical and political writings which, in terms similar to those used by Machiavelli, reflect on the categories of "empire" and sovereignty.

Vickie B. Sullivan (BIO)
Tufts University, Medford MA

Machiavelli’s Literary Self-Portraits: Clizia¸ The Discourses, Alternating Epochs, and Literary Fame

Machiavelli appears tragic as he longs for a return to political service, but it is his private life as a writer, the life he pursued after having been ousted from office, that made him a looming figure in the history of political thought. Did Machiavelli fail to consider that his writings would achieve his posthumous fame and associate him with the beginning of the modern world? He reveals the depth of his self-understanding and his motivations as an author in two different works through characters that are, in fact, literary self-portraits. One such self-portrait is Nicomaco in the comic play Clizia, whom Machiavelli actually identifies as some type of self-portrait because he affixes a variant of his name to the character. The other is the knowledgeable survivor of a catastrophic flood who appears in Discourses 2.5, who acts so as to achieve his own fame in initiating a new epoch.


Robert Bireley, SJ holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and has been the recipient of fellowships and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study. He is the author of several books on the Society of Jesus, Catholicism, and the Counter-Reformation, including The Counter-Reformation Prince. Antimachiavellianism or Catholic Statecraft in Early Modern Europe (1990).

Massimo Scalabrini is Associate Professor of Italian and Director of Renaissance Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. His work has appeared in Giornale Storico della Letteratura Italiana, Strumenti critici, Bibliothèque d’Humanisme et Renaissance, and Modern Language Notes. Author of L’incarnazione del macaronico: Percorsi nel comico folenghiano (2003) and editor of a collection of essays on Folengo in America (2012), Professor Scalabrini is currently completing a critical edition of essays on comedy by Lodovico Castelvetro.

Vickie Sullivan holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago and is currently Professor of Political Science at Tufts University, where she also chairs the Department of Classics. She has published extensively on Machiavelli, including the monographs Machiavelli, Hobbes, and the Formation of a Liberal Republicanism in England (2004) and Machiavelli’s Three Romes: Religion, Human Liberty, and Politics Reformed (1996). She is currently working on a book titled Montesquieu’s Assault on Despotic Ideas in "The Spirit of the Laws."



Date: Friday, March 15, 2013

Time: from 3PM to 6PM

Venue: ICC Auditorium - Georgetown University

Organized by: Italian Cultural Institute and the Department of Italian of Georgetown University

In collaboration with:


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