The Prince

Back in the early 1990s, I was in the town of Lecco that sits on the far eastern shore of Lake Como.  Two friends, a twin brother and sister, took me to a bookstore and wanted to give me a book.  The sister, a professoressa of comparative literature at the University of Genova, came across an edition of Macchiavelli's Il Principe, with what were claimed to be Napoleon 's notes on the text.  The introduction was written by a wealthy North Italian businessmen who was just then entering politics.  Silvio Berlusconi.   The professoressa knew the cavaliere  slightly--he lived on his estate in Arcore only 15 miles from her study center in the humble village of Olginate- and she  offered to have me introduced to him.  Not fond of meeting strangers, no matter how rich or famous, I let the matter drop.

In retrospect, it is easy to see what a mistake I made.  At the very least, I might have asked him why two such men as Berlusconi and Napoleon should have sought wisdom from an Italian playwright and historian who died in 1527.  I believe a careful reading of Il Principe will make the answer obvious.

Anyone who does not own a copy of the work can easily get one online from many sources including  It is a short book, which can be read in the matter of a few hours.  We'll take a few weeks.  I'll start, a few days from now,  with a bit necessary historical background.   I do ask, if you begin reading The Prince,  that you indicate the fact with a brief note.

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Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

10 Responses

  1. Michael Strenk says:

    I’m in.

  2. Robert Reavis says:

    I’m going to read along too. Might not say much but will be participating

  3. Harry Colin says:

    I’ve begun it. I have the N. H. Thomson translation (Dover Thrift Edition).

  4. Dom says:

    I think I can handle this one. Penguin Classics on order from Prince Bezos.

  5. Joe Porreca says:

    I have a copy which I have read. I’ll try to contribute to the discussion.

  6. Raymond Olson says:

    I intend to participate. I’ve got the Bondanella-Musa for The Portable Macchiavelli. I’ve read The Prince at least twice but recall it only hazily, at best.

  7. Kerr Wissler - Low says:

    I’ll read it again, I had lots of questions the first time.

  8. Joshua Smith says:

    I have begun.

  9. Allen Wilson says:

    I read the Dover edition eight years ago. I’ll be using the Marriott translation from Project Gutenberg this time.

  10. Jacob Johnson says:

    I am not sure how many times I have read The Prince as the edition I had was small enough to fit in a pocket and consequently I carried it about for around fifteen years. I have not been able to find it for the last several days so I ordered a volume of collected writings which includes his History of Florence which i have never read. I’m thankful that there should be commentary on this here.