Paris: Robert le Mangnier, 1571.
1st Edition. Hardcover. Very Good. Item #003694
8vo (152 x 104 mm), , 179 (i.e., 280), ; , 64 ff. Colophon leaf OO3 with portrait of the author. Signatures: ã8 A-NN8 OO4 (OO4 final blank); a8, A-H8. Printer's device on title pages, woodcut head pieces and initials, second work leaves - with "la vie de Machiavel" by the translator, Jacques Gohory, on verso of leaf a7 a woodcut portrait of the author. Text ruled throughout in red ink. Bound in 19th century calf with gold speckles, all edges gilt, spine with 4 raised bands and gilt ruling, boards with triple gilt fillet and central geometric decoration containing the name of the author on upper board and the print date on the lower, handwritten note on front pastedown attributing the binding to Berthe van Regemorter. Text with light even browning throughout; small holes at upper blank margin of first title, a few short ink annotations, p. 200 with weak impression of first two lines redrawn in ink, upper margin trimmed close just touching headlines on pp. 228 and 276, final free endpaper frayed. ----
FIRST EDITION of the French translation of Il Principe by Jacques Gohory (1520-1576), and one of the most esteemed, as well as the SECOND EDITION, very extensively revised and enlarged, of the translation of the Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius by the same. Each of the two works is illustrated with a woodcut of the same portrait of the author.
The Prince, regarded as the foundation of modern political philosophy and the source of "Machiavellism", circulated in manuscript from its probable completion in 1513, after Machiavelli had been dismissed and imprisoned by the Medici on their return to power, until it was first printed in 1532, five years after Machiavelli's death. In 1516 Machiavelli dedicated his treatise to Lorenzo de' Medici, the nephew of Pope Leo X, whom Leo had just created Duke of Urbino. Machiavelli saw the Medici as having the potential to create a new Italian state, in the wake of Cesare Borgia's failure to do just that, now that the same family ruled both Rome and Florence. The endless wars in Italy during the previous decades could be brought to a close if the Medici took appropriate action. Leo X was already pursuing this idea with the appointment of Lorenzo as Duke of Urbino in a dynastic and territorial expansion of Medici power with which to halt foreign invasions.
Shortly after the forced retirement in 1513 to his country estate, Machiavelli began to write his Essay on the first ten (books) of Livy, but shortly after, interrupted it and devoted all his energy to Il principe, a development of one of several themes touched upon in the Discorsi, a work of political history and philosophy, to which he returned upon finishing his more celebrated work. Titus Livius' (or Livy's) Ab urbe condita, a monumental history of ancient Rome written in Latin between 27 and 9 BC, which relate the expansion of Rome through the end of the Third Samnite War in 293 BC, in fact was only the point of departure for the Discorsi, in which Machiavelli set forth his own views on the origins and perpetuation of states and principalities in general. Machiavelli frequently describes Romans and other ancient peoples as superior models for his contemporaries, but he also describes political greatness as something which comes and goes amongst peoples, in cycles. He was an ardent student of the political structures of antiquity, but neither an atheist nor the advocate of trickery or cruelty for its own sake. The relationship between his polemics and his descriptions of political realities retains even now something of the power that made him Hamlet's evil Machiavel of political folklore in the late sixteenth century. "Machiavelli founded the science of modern politics on the study of mankind - it should be remembered that a parallel work to 'The Prince' was his historical essay on the first ten books of Livy. Politics was a science to be divorced entirely from ethics, and nothing must stand in the way of its machinery" (PMM 63).
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