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Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was appointed secretary and Second Chancellor to the Florentine Republic in 1498. He was dismissed from his post in 1512 and forced to withdraw from public life, after which time he wrote THE PRINCE, a handbook for rulers. GEORGE BULL translated widely from the Italian, including for Penguin Classics including Cellini's 'Autobiography' and Vasari's 'Lives of the Artists'. ANTHONY GRAFTON teaches European intellectual history at Princeton University.
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"[Machiavelli] can still engage our attention with remarkable immediacy, and this cannot be explained solely by the appeal of his ironic observations on human behaviour. Perhaps the most important thing is the way he can compel us to reflect on our own priorities and the reasoning behind them; it is this intrusion into our own defenses that makes reading him an intriguing experience. As a scientific exponent of the political art Machiavelli may have had few followers; it is as a provocative rhetorician that he has had his real impact on history." -from the Introduction by Dominic Baker-Smith