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Renaissance Ideologies

Renaissance Ideologies

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Renaissance Ideologies

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  1. Renaissance Ideologies HUM 2052: Civilization II Spring 2010 Dr. Perdigao January 15, 2010

  2. Defining the Terms As “rebirth” (1884) As a “movement”: visual arts (Italy); literature (England) As “enlightened” by contemporaries (1886) Renaissance “code of behavior” (1886): not right and wrong, good and evil, but “concrete validity and effectiveness,” “delight it affords,” “memorability and its beauty” “The leaders of the period saw in a work of art the clearest instance of beautiful, harmonious, and self-justified performance” (1889). Virtue, fame, glory For Machiavellian prince, not goodness, temperance, clemency but “whatever forces and skills may help him in the efficient management and preservation of his princely powers” (1887)

  3. Losing Centers Renaissance melancholy: “The Renaissance coincided with, and perhaps to some extent occasioned, a loss of firm belief in the final unity and the final intelligibility of the universe, such belief as underlies, for example, The Divine Comedy. . .” (1889). “Thus while on one, and perhaps the better-known, side of the picture of human intellect in Renaissance literature enthusiastically expatiates over the realms of knowledge and unveils the mysteries of the universe, on the other it is beset by puzzling doubts and profound mistrust of its own powers” (1890). Printing press as new source—for Renaissance epics, “what is gained and lost in achieving that crystallization of the civilizing process”; Machiavelli’s “amoral ideas about the effective (rather than ideal) prince” (1890). As “early modern”

  4. Santo da Tito’s Machiavelli and Altissimo’s Portrait of Machiavelli

  5. Adapting Machiavelli

  6. Tupac, Makaveli: the Don Killuminati

  7. Framing the Text Exile from Florence (like Dante, from civil war within Guelphs, between blacks and whites—papal power at center)—in Machiavelli’s case unable to leave Florentine territory after accusation of conspiracy from Medici regime Aim of work to lead to restored position, obtaining public office from Medici After collapse of Medici regime, Machiavelli seen as Medici sympathizer Division in book between first 11 books: dominions and how they are constructed, preserved and 12-14: problems of military power and 15-end: the “virtues” of the prince Fame derived from final part—with attributes and virtues Call to liberate Italy by end

  8. Questions of Context Written for Lorenzo de’ Medici the Younger (de facto ruler of Florence) though originally written for Giuliano de’ Medici (brother of new pope Leo X) Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livy—preference for republics Question if The Prince is satire—at least play with treatises “mirrors of princes,” those formulas Publication in Rome in 1532—five years after his death—while circulated in Florence around 1516; attempts to destroy manuscript before his death Printed with privilege given by Pope Clement VII—but a few decades later (1559), the Catholic Church puts The Prince and his other works on the papacy’s Index of Forbidden Books Question if published because of its use of the Florentine dialect

  9. Machiavelli’s The Prince: Power and Authority Exercise like Plato’s Republic on ideal ruler but replaces philosopher king: “If men were all good, this advice would not be good, but since men are wicked and do not keep their promises to you, you likewise do not have to keep yours to them” (1956). Virtues: Compassionate; Trustworthy; Humane; Honest; Religious Chapter 17—Virtues called into question in Machiavelli’s text: “Is it better to be loved than to be feared, or the reverse?” (1954) “men forget the death of a father more quickly than the loss of their patrimony” (1955) “I conclude that since men love as they please and fear as the prince pleases, a wise prince will evidently rely on what is in his own power and not on what is in the power of another” (1955). Uses of works in history, mythology, and theology (real and imagined): Cesare Borgia, Remirro de Orco, Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, Theseus, Caesar, Dido, Hannibal:

  10. Modeling the Prince Fox and lion: “So the prince needs to be a fox that he may know how to deal with traps, and a lion that he may frighten the wolves” (1956) Being vs. Seeming to be Place of Fortune: “That is, if a prince bases himself entirely on Fortune, he will fall when she varies. I also believe that a ruler will be successful who adapts his mode of procedure to the quality of the times, and likewise that he will be unsuccessful if the times are out of accord with his procedure.” (1958)

  11. On Machiavelli’s Philosophy The place of the prince within the idealized world of the Renaissance Machiavelli advocates not humanism which is unattainable but rather the practical—from abstract to material effects For Machiavelli, human nature is based on a desire for acquisition The falls of Medici empire are seen as being true to Machiavelli’s theory Separates politics from moral law Fortune always plays a role in politics Story of world is a story of war Questions of the relationship between appearance and reality, being and seeming to be

  12. Machiavelli and Popular Culture From Dean DeFino’s “The Prince of North Jersey”: Abstract: Although many critics consider Tony Soprano from HBO’s mob series The Sopranos a troubled Everyman, an emblem of the human need for redemption, the program reveals a postmodern politician more concerned with his leadership skills than his humanity. Caught between the Machiavellian poles of the humane prince and the beastly dictator, Tony is compelled to more and more beastly deeds in a struggle to achieve and maintain power among the ruins of a dying mob culture. Tony’s desperate brutality, read against our surprisingly resilient empathy for him, compels us to ask the very question his therapist, Dr. Melfi, poses to herself: Are we being conned by a sociopath? (DeFino 1) DeFino, Dean. “The Prince of North Jersey.” Journal of Popular Film and Television (2004).

  13. The Uses of History Like any good Machiavellian, Tony is a student of history, studying the past in an effort to avoid the traps of fickle, unrelenting Fortuna. A devotee of the History Channel, Tony’s primary interests not surprisingly run to military campaigns and ancient Rome. With the latter he feels a particular connection. (DeFino 5). But the desire of critics and audience to mythologize, sympathize with, and, in many cases, champion Tony obscures one immutable fact: The Sopranos, like most great gangster stories, is first and foremost a study in the achievement and maintenance of power. (DeFino 1)

  14. A Postmodern Machiavelli? Models of power abound in the program, from mob hierarchy and law enforcement to family and religion. In therapy, Tony and Dr. Melfi attempt to address these models from a series of psychoanalytic, then philosophical perspectives. When Tony’s son A.J. begins to despair the meaninglessness of existence after reading Nietzsche in a high school English class, and Tony finds himself approving what he perceives as the German idealist’s existential pessimism, Dr. Melfi attempts to guide him toward the central concept of Nietzschian philosophy, the will to power. This is perhaps a dangerous approach when dealing with a criminal sociopath, but it is one intended to encourage Tony toward more constructive forms of agency. Tony also dabbles briefly in Eastern philosophy while involved with Gloria Trillo, the quasi-Buddhist Mercedes saleswoman from season 3. He is particularly drawn to Sun-Tsu, whose Art of War was recommended to him by Dr. Melfi prior to the appearance of Gloria. “Most of the guys I know read Prince Matchabelli,” he tells Dr. Melfi, referring to the Florentine humanist Niccolo Machiavelli, author of that infamous guide to political expedience, The Prince. But according to Tony, Sun-Tsu’s text is “much better about strategy.” Ironically, although Tony claims to dismiss Machiavelli after briefly skimming Cliff's Notes for The Prince, it is the Machiavellian aspect of Sun-Tsu that attracts him. “If your opponent is of choleric temper, irritate him,” he advises Silvio after their psychotic associate Ralphie Cifaretto beats a stripper to death outside of Silvio’s strip club the Bada Bing. Tony’s own response to these events is textbook Machiavelli: first to abuse, then to reward (a public thrashing and shunning, followed closely by a promotion). (DeFino 1)

  15. Momentous Changes From Dan Engster’s “The Montaignian Moment”: In the Machiavellian Moment, J. G. A. Pocock argued that the development of modern republican theory was closely bound up with a paradigmatic shift in the early modern discourse of temporality and politics. Whereas medieval thinkers tended to emphasize the supreme importance of eternal and universal principles in politics, the Italian civic humanists turned their attention to the stream of contingent temporal events ruled by “fortune” and claimed human beings could create a stable political order within time through their own “virtue.” The exemplar of this new paradigm was Machiavelli. In contrast to earlier humanist writers who still appealed to timeless values and static ideals in laying out their political theories, Machiavelli reframed his political discourse entirely in terms of contingency and fortune. “The Machiavellian moment,” Pocock wrote, “is a name for the moment in conceptualized time in which the republic was seen as confronting its own temporal finitude, as attempting to remain morally and politically stable in a stream of irrational events conceived as essentially destructive of all systems of secular stability.” The importance of the Machiavellian moment, according to Pocock, was that it “left an important paradigmatic legacy” to modern political thought. Machiavelli’s new understanding of temporality and politics has “continued to pose problems in historical self-awareness, which form part of the journey of Western thought from the medieval Christian to the modern historical mode,” and his political strategies for taming fortune laid the foundation for the development of modern republican theory. (625) Engster, Dan. “The Montaignian Moment.” The Journal of the History of Ideas 59.4 (1998): 625-650.