Rome, Machiavelli's Discourses, and the Fate of Imperial Republics

Rome was at the center of Machiavelli’s historical imagination.  This is the case not only in his most (in)famous book, The Prince (Il Principe), but also in his less (in)famous book, the Discourses on Livy (Discorsi sopra la prima Deca di Tito Livio).  Drawing on the Rome he encountered in the first ten books of Livy’s Ab urbe condita, Machiavelli argued that we are better off living under republics than princes and that liberty is a key good.  In this regard, Machiavelli’s Discourses—and the Rome he depicted in the Discourses—was very different from his depiction of Rome in The Prince.  Yet within this same book, he also argues for the synthesis of two concepts typically thought to be incompatible by republican writers, both past and present: republic and empire.  How are we to make sense of his paradoxical attachment to both republic and empire?  What does this mean for how we understand Machiavelli, Machiavelli’s Rome, and contemporary republics?  Dr. Kapust argues that making sense of this puzzle requires us to move beyond the surface of the text and delve into Machiavelli’s deep ambiguity toward empire, an ambiguity no less relevant today than it was 500 years ago.

This lecture is part of the Lyceum Speaker Series hosted by the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism (CISC).  It has been made possible with generous support from the Jack Miller Center (JMC) and the Institute for Humane Studies (IHS).  This event is free and open to the public.


Thursday, January 23, 2020 from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM EST
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