Machiavelli's The Prince

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He refers to Scipio to illustrate how leaders must maintain order and be feared by their followers. The genre that The Prince is written in and the examples from antiquity that Machiavelli uses throughout his treatise makes him a humanist. The Prince; furthermore, reflects the humanistic culture of the Renaissance, subsequently, it can be considered a humanistic work. Utopia is also a humanistic work that reflects the Renaissance. One facet of humanism that is featured in Utopia is the question of whether or not the educated man has the obligation to participate in politics and public affairs. This was a debate that was prevalent among humanists during the Renaissance. The character More represents the side of the debate that believed that…show more content…
One of the primary differences is More and Machiavelli’s approach to realism and idealism. Realism and Idealism were prominent concepts of the Renaissance. They were both philosophies that were practiced by Renaissance humanists and they were applied to politics, art, literature, and history. The Prince is realistic while Utopia is primarily idealistic. The Prince’s realism is evident when Machiavelli exposes the harsh truths of political life and when he highlights the depraved nature of humanity. Machiavelli advises princes to be hypocritical and immoral if it will benefit them and this suggestion illustrates Machiavelli’s realism. He argues, “ To preserve the state, he often has to do things against his word, against charity, against humanity, against religion.” Machiavelli prefers political realism over political idealism because he considers the ideal unobtainable and unsustainable. Utopia, conversely, does not promote political realism; however, it does contain aspects of realism. The realist aspects of Utopia are the criticisms of European society in Book I of Utopia. The Utopian commonwealth is the philosopher Raphael Hythloday’s depiction of the imagined and ideal commonwealth. The idealism in Utopia is convoluted. Only Hythloday and the Utopians consider Utopia to be perfect. The character More does not consider the practices of the Utopians to correspond with his version of the ideal. He claims, “ When Raphael had finished his story, I was left thinking that not a few of the customs and laws he had described as existing among the Utopians were quite absurd.” More might have reflected the humanist’s desire for the ideal rather than offering realistic advice to suggest that political idealism was dangerous. This idea is supported by James Nendza in his article, “ Politicial Idealism in More’s Utopia.” Nendza contends, “ In displaying both the appeal of

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