The Prince

Machiavellian Virtu

The concept of virtu is central to Machiavellian political theory in The Prince. The problematic nature of this term makes a concise definition difficult to formulate. Varying definitions often lead to different interpretations of Machiavelli. In order to understand the implications of Machiavelli's writing it is important to explore this concept and how it shapes his political theory. This essay will be divided into two parts. The first will deal with the definition of virtu and an examination of all the ideas that are included in this term. Examples of historical and contemporary counterparts will be investigated and compared to the Machiavellian model. Next, the implications of this idea on Machiavelli's political theory will be discussed in detail.

Before beginning the examination of the term virtu it is first necessary to explain the context of this essay with regard to The Prince. Many scholars have suggested that The Prince was written with a less than obvious intent. At face value it appear to be no more than a manual for ruling, written in hope that Machiavelli might find employment with the Medici family. A different interpretation sees the text as a offer of bad advice, or at the very least ambiguous advice,...

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