Dante and Machiavelli
Dante and Machiavelli define opposite sides of the Renaissance in several ways. Certainly the former believes that God will reveal all and call people to account for their behavior, while the latter gives every sign of believing in no God and supposing that scrupulous behavior only makes one a target for ruthless exploitation. This difference in the two could be expressed in terms of religious faith—but they could also be said to have differing views of human nature. Try to get to the heart of the distinction. Why is Machiavelli’s sense of right and wrong so opposed to Dante’s?
Written two hundred years apart, The Inferno by Dante and The Prince by Machiavelli both contain examples of society during the late middle ages and also the
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While it seems as though Machiavelli was a power-hungry despot, The Prince was merely a reaction to what he saw as a necessary evil. Machiavelli was actually a strong supporter of the republic in which the people, the very people he describes as being uneducated and self-centered in his book, ruled over themselves. In The Prince, he does give the common people credit, saying that, if a prince upsets them, they can take severe and dangerous action. “[The] best fortress that exists is to avoid being hated by the people” (XX, 70). Machiavelli understood that no matter how much power a prince may have, he is always at the risk of losing it whether it be at the hands of the people or the hands of another prince. Also, because he was first a supporter of republic, he understood the need for certain “checks” to be put in place to safeguard against revolution and lack of popular support. Machiavelli argues that, unless a prince’s subjects hate him, they will love him and follow him through any trouble that may beset the principality. In general, Machiavelli believes that a leader should be a true leader and rally the people behind his cause, even if that means killing off dissenters for the good of the whole. Although, upon first reading, The Prince seems to tell the tale of dictatorship and totalitarianism, it is much closer to modern democracy than some