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Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius

by Niccolo Machiavelli

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Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian political philosopher, musician, poet, and romantic comedic playwright. He is a figure of the Italian Renaissance and a central figure of its political component, most widely known for his treatises on realist political theory -The Prince (1513)- on the one hand and republicanism -Discourses on Livy (1512-1517)- on the other. The Discourses on Livy (Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy, Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius) is a work of political history and philosophy composed in the early 16th century. Where The Prince is devoted to advising the ruler of a principality, i.e., a type of monarchy, the Discourses purport to explain the structure and benefits of a republic, a form of government based on popular consent and control. It is considered almost unanimously by scholars to be if not the first, then certainly the most important, work on republicanism in the early modern period.

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We should, therefore, be careful how we censure the government of Rome, and should reflect that all the great results effected by that republic, could not have come about without good cause. And if the popular tumults led the creation of the tribunes, they merit all praise; since these magistrates not only gave its due influence to the popular voice in the government, but also acted as the guardians of Roman freedom, as shall be clearly shown in the following Chapter.



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