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On Historical Distance$
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Mark Salber Phillips

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780300140378

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300140378.001.0001

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A Study in Contrasts

A Study in Contrasts

Machiavelli, Guicciardini, and the Idea of Example

(p.42) 2 A Study in Contrasts
On Historical Distance

Mark Salber Phillips

Yale University Press

This chapter analyzes Niccolo Machiavelli's “Discourses,” his masterpiece of political and historical reflection. It explains that while the work is about Livy's History of Rome, it is seldom read in a historiographical context. It discusses Machiavelli's practice of mining history of notable examples with little regard for the niceties of time and highlights Francesco Guicciardini's criticism which opposes the use of examples and insists on a close account of events. This chapter also discusses historical distance in the conflict between Guicciardini's particularized narrative against the speculative freedom of Machiavelli.

Keywords:   Discourses, Niccolo Machiavelli, Livy, History of Rome, Francesco Guicciardini, account of events, historical distance, particularized narrative

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