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Reading Machiavelli$
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John P. McCormick

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780691183503

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691183503.001.0001

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The Passion of Duke Valentino

The Passion of Duke Valentino

Cesare Borgia, Biblical Allegory, and The Prince

(p.21) 1 The Passion of Duke Valentino
Reading Machiavelli

John P. McCormick

Princeton University Press

This chapter demonstrates how Machiavelli's narrative of Cesare Borgia's career—to which he devotes more space than any other in The Prince—is presented as a story in which a holy father sends his son to redeem, and to bring peace to, his people. All of a sudden, religious tropes or images jump out and impose themselves on the reader in potentially subversive ways: one begins to discern the presence of the crucifixion, the transfiguration, a circumcision, a bloody sacrifice that atones for political sins, an empty tomb, even St. Paul—all of which signify Machiavelli's beliefs concerning the appropriate covenants that should characterize prince-people relationships.

Keywords:   Niccolò Machiavelli, Cesare Borgia, The Prince, religious tropes, crucifixion, transfiguration

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