Discourses Relié – 3 juillet 1975
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Book One deals with 'such events due to public decrees' as the author judges to be worthy of comment, and with their consequences....It treats of the constitutional development which took place in Rome from the time of the kings down to the year 387 B.C.. Lire la première page
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Machiavelli's purpose for writing The Discourses can be summed up in one line: "The multitude is wiser and more constant than a prince." More to-the-point, however is the later phraise: "A corrupt and disorderly multitude can be spoken to by some worthy person and can easily be brought around to the right way, but a bad prince cannot be spoken to by anyone, and the only remedy for his case is COLD STEEL."
With every stroke of his pen, Machiavelli sets out to prove the superiority of a republican form of government. He values freedom of the citizenry above all else, and provides princes everywhere with grizzly tales of what happens when it is restricted. His influence on the Founding Fathers, and particularly on the works of Paine and Jefferson, is evident. Our current leaders would find themselves more secure if they stuck to Machiavelli's principles.
He illustrates the ways in which the good ideas of the ancient Romans could be applied in contemporary politics (it was written during the XVI century).
Unlike the Prince, which propandasizes his personal political opinions and describes the ideal ruler, the Discourses deal mainly with mundane economic and social issues, with little personal opinion.
It is filled with anecdotes about the lives of interesting or exceptional Romans and is not that difficult a read at all. In reading it for my first-year history class, I found it was a very good summary of the complicated life of the Roman Republic (it deals very little with the time of the Empire).
Machiavelli comes across as a learned observer of mankind and expresses a rare understanding of the continual state of flux of mankind. Through his studies of history and in comparing past events to "present" (circa 1500s) ones Machiavelli makes strongly supported arguments throughout the discourses. Where Robert Greene falls short in "48 Laws" I believe is Machiavelli's stronger point- applying the [quite helpful] description of the characteristics of the parties involved which helps the reader summate the outcomes [of many of the events that are described throughout his discourses] right along with the reading. "48 Laws" does this well at times but falls short of this fluidity with many of his examples which can leave a certain level of disparity between the example(s) given and the "Law" to which it applies.
In summary I'd note that this is one of the few books that I wish didn't finish. I don't agree with him on every point, but I admire the proofs to his arguments on every page.