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The Discourses (1517)

af Niccolò Machiavelli

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Kommenteret oversættelse af et klassisk hovedværk fra 1531, der er grundlæggende for den politiske tænkning. Med et særligt afsnit, der sætter fokus på hovedtankerne i værket, bl.a. hvordan skaber man en stærk og holdbar stat? Hvorfor er samfundskonflikter gavnlige? Eller, hvorfor er krige uundgåelige?.… (mere)
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A thought-provoking and perceptive read, Discourses on Livy by Niccolò Machiavelli is ideal for those who are passionate about politics, democracy, and the quest for a more just and equitable society. It provides a radical vision of a new science of politics that continues to shape the modern ethos, as well as a foundational exploration of modern republicanism.

Discourses on Livy, the seminal work that laid the foundation for modern republicanism, has been definitively translated into English by Harvey C. Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov. It is extremely readable, staying true to the original Italian text while paying appropriate attention to Machiavelli's idiom and subtlety of thought. Machiavelli's radical vision of a new science of politics—a vision of new modes and orders that continue to shape the modern ethos—is revealed in The Discourses, which includes a comprehensive introduction, extensive explanatory notes, a glossary of key terms, and an annotated index.

Livy provided Machiavelli with the inspiration scholars needed for five centuries. The discourses contain the germs of contemporary political philosophy, which are frequently concealed and occasionally unintentional by the writers. Mansfield and Tarcov's translation is careful and idiomatic. ( )
  jwhenderson | Apr 29, 2024 |
Machiavelli's perusal of Roman history is an entertaining exhibit of political thought from a time when military strategy was still firmly embedded in politics and the glories of Roman antiquity still seemed unsurpassable. He discusses a few topics that still retain theoretical interest today: conspiracies (Book III chapter 6), temporary dictatorship (Book I chapter 34) and the wisdom of the multitude (Book I chapter 58). Others are by now reduced to pure humor, such as "How very wise it is to pretend to be mad at the proper moment" (Book III chapter 2) and "The reasons why the French have been considered less than women in battle" (it's because they rely on fury instead of organization, see Book III chapter 36). Short chapters (about 2 pages long on the average) don't lend themselves to deep arguments and Machiavelli jumps arbitrarily from one subject to the next without a structured plan. But even so, the thinking is lucid and the writing pleasant, so readers familiar with Rome and the Renaissance with an interest in political thought will certainly enjoy this unique link between the two eras.
  thcson | Jul 6, 2015 |
Titus Livius or Livy {59 BC- AD 17) was the author of A History of Republican Rome originally stretching to 142 books of which only 35 have survived. Machiavelli set out to write a commentary on these gems from antiquity; that were understood by men of the Italian Renaissance to be significant examples of the legacy of classical culture. The myth of classical culture was all pervasive in Florentine intellectual circles of which Machiavelli was an important figure. His aim was to prove that renaissance Florence particularly its republican element could do no better than learn from the lessons contained in Livy’s histories He was preaching to the converted as the humanist movement was based almost entirely on these precepts.

Machiavelli suffered following the overthrow of the Florentine republic and the re-introduction of the Medici family to the positions of power. He was forcibly retired from politics and sought refuge down on his farm. Not being able to finds favour with the new ruling class he sat down to write about his beloved antiquity and said:

“When evening comes, I return home, and I go into my study; and on the threshold, I take off my everyday clothes, which are covered with muck and mire, and I put on regal and curial robes; and dressed in a more appropriate manner I enter into the ancient courts of ancient men and am welcomed by them kindly, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born; and there I am not ashamed to speak to them, to ask them the reasons for their actions; and they, in their humanity, answer me; and for four hours I feel no boredom, I dismiss every affliction, I no longer fear poverty nor do I tremble at the thought of death; I become completely part of them.”

What may have started out as a commentary on Livy’s histories, soon developed into a comparison between the events in classical republican Rome and more recent events in Florence and from this a treatise on the best way to govern a republican state. There are three books containing 142 fairly short chapters with each chapter heading serving as a discussion point for the following text. The chapter headings themselves give the modern reader an idea of some of the tortuous logic that Machiavelli can employ to make his points for example

“Conquests made by republics which are not well organised, and which do not proceed according to Roman standards of excellence bring about their ruin rather than their glorification”

“Whether the guardianship of liberty may be more securely lodged in the people or the upper classes; and who has more reason to create an uprising, he who wishes to acquire or he who wishes to maintain.”

Many of the chapter headings are a lot less complicated but the above examples give an idea of the general direction of the Discourses. One thing remains constant; the examples of classical antiquity should serve as guidelines for all people that wish to be successful leaders in politics and in war.

Familiar themes expounded in The Prince are explored here in more detail; Machiavelli’s deep mistrust of human nature, his ideas that Politics are conflict and conflict is beneficial to the body politic, the way that religion should be used to pacify and encourage the masses and how a ruler or leader in war should not hesitate to be ruthless when necessary. What emerges more particularly from the Discourses is Machiavelli’s belief that republicanism is the best form of government and as such is a tract for how it can work in practice. Machiavelli with his experience in public life became very knowledgeable and cynical about human nature, which is probably an essential requirement for a politician , he says

“…..because men in general live as much by appearances as by realities; indeed, they are often moved more by things as they appear than by things as they really are…….”

Machiavelli also writes about his contemporaries in Florence. He takes quite a sympathetic view towards Savonarola, but can be damming about his own boss Piero Soderini, whom he accuses of being too soft, too soft to deal with the envious men around him. Machiavelli’s dictum was always that if you can rule by love or by fear, it is safer to choose fear.

In a book of this length there is much of interest and much to enjoy, but there is also some pretty turgid stuff. Machiavelli often repeats himself and the continuous use of the same examples from Livy’s histories can get a bit wearing. If you have previously read Machiavelli’s The Prince then the Discourses are on very similar lines and so unless you have an interest in the period, political history, or in Machiavelli then it is probably not necessary to slog through it. The Oxford World Classics edition translated by Julia and Peter Bondanella reads well and gives a flavour of Machiavelli’s syntax. There is a good introduction and some excellent explanatory notes ( )
1 stem baswood | Aug 29, 2012 |
There is far more depth in this book than in The Prince, and it should be considered by any individual interested in understanding how Republics do and do not function. Though there is some faulty reasoning (usually based on accepting premises that are inaccurate), most of the book is very logical and empirically-oriented, and the way Machiavelli makes use of the ancients is outstanding. ( )
  jrgoetziii | Aug 20, 2011 |
Duidelijk een herhaling, aanvulling en uitbreiding van Il Principe, maar rijper en meer gestoffeerd. Maar van de andere kant ook minder synthetisch, cfr zeker derde boek is secundair en fragmentair.
Nog meer dan in vorige boek een stevig pleidooi voor republieken en de wijsheid van het volk. ( )
  bookomaniac | Aug 15, 2010 |
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» Tilføj andre forfattere (38 mulige)

Forfatter navnRolleHvilken slags forfatterVærk?Status
Niccolò Machiavelliprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Ardito, AlissaIntroduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Crick, BernardRedaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Facetti, GermanoOmslagsdesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Mansfield, Harvey C.Introduktionmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Mansfield, Harvey C.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Martínez Arancón, AnaRedaktørmedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Richardson, BrianOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Tarcov, NathanOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Thomson, Ninian HillOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Walker, L.J.Oversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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Kommenteret oversættelse af et klassisk hovedværk fra 1531, der er grundlæggende for den politiske tænkning. Med et særligt afsnit, der sætter fokus på hovedtankerne i værket, bl.a. hvordan skaber man en stærk og holdbar stat? Hvorfor er samfundskonflikter gavnlige? Eller, hvorfor er krige uundgåelige?.

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