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For this paper you will be discussing the always timely topics of politics and government. Many of our current theories and practicies of politics (for better or worse) have their roots in Italian Renaissance political philosophies. The writings of Machiavelli, in particular, have always been highly influencial (his book, “The Prince” is by far the most read book, even to the modern day, of the entire Renaissance period) and controversial at the same time (he developed the idea of the separation of church and state — one of the cornerstones of the U.S. Constitution). Machiavelli’s viewpoints that the ends justify the means in politics, no matter how dishonest or violent, that a leader should appear to be moral, honest, and of good character, but should not actually be so in order to hold on to his power — that he can be ruthless and cruel — are hotly debated even today. Guicciardini spent many years in government service and he had much to say (often negatively) based on his experiences.

— Focus on pages 276-282 in Prof. Bondanella’s translation of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. Using 5 direct quotes, plus page numbers, discuss what you consider to be the most pertinent observations that he makes about leadership

and about the use and manipulation of power in politics.

— In addition, reread pages 299-303 in Prof. Bondanella’s translation of Guicciardini’s “Ricordi”. Using 5 direct quotes, plus page numbers, discuss what you consider to be the most significant observations he makes about politics and government. Compare and contrast the ideas of these two political theorists. Do you find their ideas about power and politics to be still useful today? Why or why not? Which writer do you consider to be the most insightful in regard to his understanding of politics? Why?

— It has often been noted that Pico presented a model of the ideal individual and that Alberti presented a model of the ideal family. Discuss the validity of this statement, with examples, using Alberti’s and Pico’s own words as quoted in Prof. Bondanella’s textbook (including page numbers). I look forward to reading your ideas, dear students.

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