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Machiavelli's God [Kindle Edition]

Maurizio Viroli , Antony Shugaar
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

To many readers of The Prince, Machiavelli appears to be deeply un-Christian or even anti-Christian, a cynic who thinks rulers should use religion only to keep their subjects in check. But in Machiavelli's God, Maurizio Viroli, one of the world's leading authorities on Machiavelli, argues that Machiavelli, far from opposing Christianity, thought it was crucial to republican social and political renewal--but that first it needed to be renewed itself. And without understanding this, Viroli contends, it is impossible to comprehend Machiavelli's thought.

Viroli places Machiavelli in the context of Florence's republican Christianity, which was founded on the idea that the true Christian is a citizen who serves the common good. In this tradition, God participates in human affairs, supports and rewards those who govern justly, and desires men to make the earthly city similar to the divine one. Building on this tradition, Machiavelli advocated a religion of virtue, and he believed that, without this faith, free republics could not be established, defend themselves against corruption, or survive. Viroli makes a powerful case that Machiavelli, far from being a pagan or atheist, was a prophet of a true religion of liberty, a way of moral and political living that would rediscover and pursue charity and justice.

The translation of this work has been funded by SEPS - Segretariato Europeo per le Pubblicazioni Scientifiche.

Editorial Reviews


In this lively and wide-ranging book, Viroli argues that Machiavelli was a sincere Christian who thought that Christianity, interpreted correctly, was entirely compatible with militant republicanism.

About the Author

Maurizio Viroli is professor of politics at Princeton University and professor of political communication at the University of Italian Switzerland in Lugano. His many books include Niccolo's Smile and The Liberty of Servants (Princeton).

Product Details

  • File Size: 666 KB
  • Print Length: 333 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 069115449X
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Reprint edition (June 18, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003SE6QR6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,342,040 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars game changer August 3, 2010
By David
Viroli's main argument is that Machiavelli desired a Christian religion of virtue as opposed to a Catholic religion of idleness, something which he persuasively shows. The book is an easy and pleasurable read, as well as very informative. The greatest value of the book is that it pulls together a lot of interesting and useful material from Machiavelli, other Renaissance writers and other secondary literature, thus, contextualizing Machiavelli in terms of intellectual history. I give it 5 stars because its contextualization provides an invaluable resource. I would go so far as to suggest it is a "game changer," or at least it makes you realize that modern religious assumptions cannot be applied to Machiavelli without distorting his context. Viroli clearly shows that a line of earlier, mostly Florentine, thinkers had already established a connection between Christian love (caritas) and love of the fatherland. Thus Machiavelli's statements on Christianity are not as outlandish as they may seem if one simply compares them to, for example, the Sermon on the Mount. It is surprising that no one has, as far as I know, written such a book on Machiavelli before. The book goes a long way in challenging two of the most influential interpretations, that of Strauss (that he was an atheistic critic of Christianity) and Berlin (that he adopted a pagan morality).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but incomplete August 31, 2013
In this carefully wrought account Viroli succeeds is showing that Machiavelli frequently refers to God, and that moreover these references are not just rhetorical or opportunistic decoration, but demonstrative of real belief. In my view, however, he does not succeed fully in contextualizing the thinker in the religious atmosphere of quattrocento Florence. Although Viroli discusses Marsilio Ficino on several pages, he fails to grapple with the philosopher's key insight that there is a "prisca theologia," a primordial grounding that underlies all religions worthy of the name. For this reason Ficino lays great stress on the Hermetic corpus. In this perspective, we are not confronted with an either-or choice, viz. Christianity vs. paganism, but with an AND. In the later chapters where Viroli seeks to follow the "fortuna" or influence of Machiavelli, he lays stress on affinities he perceives with the beliefs of the American founders. In other words, Machiavelli becomes a kind of free-thinking Protestant avant la lettre. This attempt at conceptual relocation is unconvincing. In short, the writer neglects the proper context, the atmosphere in which Machiavelli grew up, and grafts on a new context that is inappropriate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars November 23, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Politics and God November 1, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It's ok because I love to read anything about or on Machiavelli. But this book is slow, and it tends to reap without deep substance of great information.
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