Machiavellian Rhetoric by Victoria Kahn

By Victoria Kahn

Historians of political proposal have argued that the true Machiavelli is the republican philosopher and theorist of civic virt--. Machiavellian Rhetoric argues by contrast that Renaissance readers have been correct to determine Machiavelli as a Machiavel, a determine of strength and fraud, rhetorical crafty and deception. Taking the rhetorical Machiavel as some extent of departure, Victoria Kahn argues that this determine isn't really easily the results of a naive misreading of Machiavelli yet is attuned to the rhetorical size of his political thought in a fashion that later thematic readings of Machiavelli are usually not. Her objective is to supply a revised background of Renaissance Machiavellism, relatively in England: person who sees the Machiavel and the republican as both valid--and related--readings of Machiavelli's paintings. during this revised historical past, Machiavelli deals a rhetoric for facing the area of de facto political energy, instead of a political thought with a coherent thematic content material; and Renaissance Machiavellism features a number of rhetorically subtle appreciations and appropriations of Machiavelli's personal rhetorical method of politics. half I deals readings of The Prince, The Discourses, and Counter-Reformation responses to Machiavelli. half II discusses the reception of Machiavelli in 16th- and seventeenth-century England. half III makes a speciality of Milton, specially Areopagitica, Comus, and Paradise misplaced. Historians of political inspiration have argued that the true Machiavelli is the republican philosopher and theorist of civic virt--. Machiavellian Rhetoric argues against this that Renaissance readers have been correct to determine Machiavelli as a Machiavel, a determine of strength and fraud, rhetorical crafty and deception. Taking the rhetorical Machiavel as some extent of departure, Victoria Kahn argues that this determine isn't easily the results of a naive misreading of Machiavelli yet is attuned to the rhetorical size of his political concept in a fashion that later thematic readings of Machiavelli aren't. Her objective is to supply a revised background of Renaissance Machiavellism, relatively in England: one who sees the Machiavel and the republican as both valid--and related--readings of Machiavelli's paintings. during this revised historical past, Machiavelli deals a rhetoric for facing the area of de facto political strength, instead of a political thought with a coherent thematic content material; and Renaissance Machiavellism encompasses a number of rhetorically refined appreciations and appropriations of Machiavelli's personal rhetorical method of politics. half I bargains readings of The Prince, The Discourses, and Counter-Reformation responses to Machiavelli. half II discusses the reception of Machiavelli in 16th- and seventeenth-century England. half III specializes in Milton, in particular Areopagitica, Comus, and Paradise misplaced.

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He was less interested in the depiction of Fortune as a woman—a holdover from medieval allegorizing after all—than in Machiavelli’s habits as a reader of ancient history. He saw both The Prince and the Discourses as providing a storehouse of ancient and modern examples that could be put to new uses by the reader. He was made nervous by Machiavelli’s use of the humanist vocabulary of imitation and exemplarity because he recognized that their traditional moral connotations were being subverted from within.

While some critics speak of Machiavelli’s condemnation of Agathocles14 others see the story as an illustration of a cruel but effective use of violence. 16 Thus, although the proponents of the first interpretation note Machiavelli’s qualification of Agathocles’s actions (“non si può ancora chiamare virtù ammazzare li sua cittadini” [42]), they read this qualification as a simple pun (“It certainly cannot be called ‘virtue’ to murder his fellow citizens” [26]) and so save Machiavelli from 28 CHAPTER ONE the charge of failing to make moral distinctions.

On the other hand, Machiavelli argues, this hyperbole has a rhetorical and pedagogical function. If we return to the example from chapter 6 of the archer shooting beyond his target, we see that Machiavellian examples do not correspond to things as they are but to what they might be; they are figures of action rather than perception, of desire rather than cognition or representation. Hyperbole as a mode of speech or behavior is thus the proper response to the irony of politics: it is predicated on a recognition of one’s distance from the situation one would like to create, but it also involves the recognition that such distance is itself a precondition of considered action.

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