The Machiavellian Studies in Italy

Philological research. With the exception of the Art of War, none of the great Machiavellian works have been printed by the author. Indeed, the typographical history of M.’s political writings begins with a plagiarism, the De regnandi peritia, rewriting in Latin of the Prince published in 1523 by Agostino Nifo (→). A few years after M.’s death, the first stages in the diffusion are marked by the formation of a ‘vulgata’ through the principes prints: on 23 August 1531 Clement VII released a privilege to the Roman publisher Antonio Blado (→), and in the October, the Discorsi sopra the first decade of Tito Livio appeared. Immediately in November, the Florentine printer Bernardo Giunti (→ Giunti) published, also with papal privilege, an edition of the Discorsi, claiming in Florence the right to make known the work of M. “in its first purity”. In early January 1532 Blado printed the Prince, accompanied by the Vita di Castruccio Castracani and the Modo that Duke Valentino held, and in March the Florentine Histories, dedicated to Giovanni Gaddi, immediately followed by the edition at Giunti. Finally, in May, the Giuntino Prince appeared with a dedication to Gaddi, recognized as the true architect of the Machiavellian publication.

The diffusion and growth of the editorial corpus continued in the 1940s-1950s: in 1546 the heirs of Aldus Manutius published a new edition in Venice; in 1549, with the approval of Guido, Niccolò’s son, a small group of minor writings appeared in Florence: the Asino (for which this print is the only witness), the Fable of Belfagor, the two Decennials and the four Chapters (“Dell ‘Occasion ”,“ Of Fortune ”,“ Of Ingratitude ”,“ Of Ambition ”); the following year, another edition in Venice, by Gabriel Giolito. At the height of 1559, when Paul IV promulgated the Index librorum prohibitorum (→), the Machiavellian work could be considered substantially published and was entirely condemned.

In the seventies-eighties of the sixteenth century Giuliano de ‘Ricci (→) searched for and copied unpublished Machiavellian works with the intention of editing a print. Ricci’s labors flowed into a manuscript that collects a good number of the secretary’s writings and documents (BNCF, Palatino, EB15.10). The famous Apografo Ricci was identified by the scholar cruscante Antonio Rosso Martini who, in 1725, gave news to Giovanni Bottari; the latter, in 1730, published an epigraph the Discourse or dialogue around our language, as an appendix to the edition of Herculaneum, linguistic dialogue by Benedetto Varchi. A first analytical examination of the Apograph and Machiavellian Papers in the Palatine Autographs of the BNCF was carried out in the two biographical volumes of Oreste Tommasini (→; Tommasini 1883-1911, 1st vol., Pp. 617-64; 2nd vol., Pp.. 1257-307).

The fortune of Machiavellian doctrines fueled, especially between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, undue increases in the writings attributed to him, in particular in theatrical works (→ apocryphal). Already Filippo Luigi Polidori (1801-1865), who with Luigi Passerini (1816-1877) and Giuseppe Canestrini (1807-1870) had received in 1859 from the Tuscan provisional government the task of attending to a Machiavellian edition, recognized that the after 1550 they were progressively pejorative. The only eighteenth-century publishing product not dictated by mere commercial interest is the Florentine edition by Gaetano Cambiagi (→) of 1782-1783, promoted by the bishop of Pistoia Scipione de ‘Ricci, descendant of Giuliano. In turn, Polidori’s ecdotic technique indulged in frequent conjecture ope ingenii, as Tommasini already pointed out in the preface to his monumental biographical-erudite research work: the latter was born in response to a competition launched by the municipality of Florence for the fourth centenary of M.’s birth (1869), but would have committed the scholar for over forty years. The three weighty tomes appeared between 1883 and 1911 and laid the documentary foundations for the philological investigation in the modern sense of the Machiavellian work. Meanwhile, between 1877 and 1882, Pasquale Villari (→) had published Niccolò Machiavelli and his times in three volumes, with conspicuous documentary appendices aimed at justifying the ‘immoralism’ of Machiavellian doctrines by placing them in their own historical context. The research of Francesco Nitti (→), Machiavelli in life and doctrines (1876: for the editorial events see the anastatica edited by S. Palmieri, G. Sasso, 1991-1996).

In 1899 Giuseppe Lisio (1870-1912), a pupil of Giosue Carducci and a typical exponent of the historical school, was the first to undertake a Lachmannian review of the Prince: however, he could not use the ms. Gothano (G), representative of a different stemmatic branch that had at times allowed the preservation of genuine lessons in the Bladian press. Known to Tommasini, the ms. G was studied by Adolf Gerber (→) in 1912-13, and on this basis Mario Casella proceeded, in 1929, a philologist mainly engaged in Dante research and in the study of Romance literature, happily restoring more places thanks to the testimony of G, also framed in a coat of arms drawn too roughly. Casella had been instructed to attend to the Prince, collaborating with Guido Mazzoni (1859-1943) on a new Machiavellian edition on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the death of the Secretary (1927). Mazzoni, a pupil of Carducci and Alessandro D’Ancona, scholar and man of letters also involved in important Dante enterprises, dedicated himself personally to the text of the Discorsi, basing himself on the ms. Harleiano (L), recognized as an antagonist to Bladian and Giuntina prints. The Mazzoni text has been resumed, with significant corrections in substantial variations, in the punctuation and in the phonomorphological arrangement, from the edition edited by Giorgio Inglese, with an introduction by Gennaro Sasso (1984).

The satirical Operettas (the Chapters, the Donkey and the Fable) edited in 1920 by Luigi Foscolo Benedetto (1886-1966) also belong to this first season of philological research. In 1927 Plinio Carli (18841954) dedicated to the memory of Tommasini the critical edition, at Sansoni, of the Florentine Histories: Carli’s stemmatic layout was taken up in the recent national edition (2011) edited by Alessandro Montevecchi and Carlo Varotti, where emphasis is placed on the phenomena of contamination and typographical revision as regards the relationships between the ms. Palatino and the Giuntina press, and a complete sifting of the 15 autographed fragments is being prepared, many of which re-emerged starting from 1967.

Machiavellian philology received new impetus from the works of Roberto Ridolfi (→; the biography of 1953, the edition of the Mandragola in 1965 after the discovery of ms. Rediano, the study of the tradition of Clizia in 1968 after the discovery in 1961 of a new manuscript at the Colchester and Essex Museum) and from the monograph dedicated in 1958 by Gennaro Sasso (→) to Niccolò Machiavelli. History of his political thought, where the scholar also offered a substantial textual examination, laying the foundations for that necessary relationship between philological research and the interpretation of Machiavellian thought that he would later reaffirm with the volume In Marginal to the V centenary of Machiavelli (1972).

In 1969 Ridolfi inaugurated the new year of “Bibliophilia” with an investigation dedicated to Machiavelli’s papers: these were the indispensable sources for restarting the investigation into the activity of M. chancellor (→ autographs). After the first fifteen legations published in the Cambiagi edition, the first edition of the Machiavellian diplomatic correspondence based on a more conspicuous retrieval of archival material is due to Passerini and Gaetano Milanesi (1873-1877), resumed by Sergio Bertelli in 1964 and again over the years Eighty. In 1971 Fredi Chiappelli, in the wake of the investigations carried out on Machiavellian prose, started a critical edition of the LegationsCommissionersGovernment writings for the laterziana series of the Writers of Italy: four volumes were printed (from the third with the collaboration of Jean-Jacques Marchand) for the period 1498-1505. In the overall edition of the Machiavellian writings, edited by Corrado Vivanti in three volumes at Einaudi-Gallimard (1997-2005), the Chiappelli-Marchand edition up to 1505 is proposed for the Legations and the Passerini-Milanesi for subsequent documents. Meanwhile, in 1975 Marchand published an edition of Machiavellian First Political Writings (1499-1512). Now, for the national edition, Marchand himself has prepared in 2001 the complete edition of the minor political writings ; finally, edited by Marchand with Emanuele Cutinelli-Rendina, Denis Fachard, Andrea Guidi and Matteo Melera Morettini, the seven volumes of the Legations appeared between 2002 and 2012. CommissionersGovernment writings (1498-1527).

The Machiavellian works edited by Mario Martelli (→) at Sansoni date back to 1971, with a verification of the witnesses for all the private correspondence, a new edition of the Andria, an edition of the Mandragola attentive to the lessons of the ms. Rediano. A subsequent study, with edition, of the Mandragola (edited by Pasquale Stoppelli, 2005) showed that the sixteenth-century adhespota print, without place of printing, date and publisher, derives from another lost print.

As already mentioned, with Machiavelli’s In Margin to the Fifth Centenary in 1972 Sasso recalled the scholars of M. to the necessary dialogue between philology and exegesis and offered a concrete example of the relationship (of the “uninterrupted process”, p. 66) between textual criticism and interpretation with reference to the concluding passages of Prince xviii. Likewise, the problem of a new edition of the Discorsi presupposed an investigation into the objectives and methods of composition of the work: in the 1984 English edition it aimed to clarify the genesis of the Discorsi., fixing attention to 1517-18, when M. undertook to recast and organize pre-existing materials, that is the cards for a work on the government of the republics and a sort of continuous commentary on the Livian text; Later, M. probably returned to the text with stylistic retouches, without however insinuating in the Discorsi any reference to events after 1517. In a study of 1985 Francesco Bausi instead envisaged four distinct phases of writing, the last after 1520: this hypothesis was subjected to severe criticism by Inglese (“La cultura”, 1986, 1). In 2001, the national edition of the Discourses appeared and edited by Bausi who, as for the composition, still proposes a complex, inhomogeneous and chaotic stratigraphy for the Machiavellian masterpiece; as for the text, it is based on the ms. Harleian.

The debate on the Prince reopened in 1983, when the third volume of Paul Oskar Kristeller ‘s Iter italicum reported a new witness, ms. Munich (D). The critical edition prepared by Inglese in 1994 for the Italian Historical Institute for the Middle Ages (followed the following year by a commented edition at Einaudi, and then, with a new introduction and revised commentary, at the same publisher in 2013) the stemmatic picture in the light of the Monacense. In 1999 Martelli, a former pupil of Ridolfi and a sensitive connoisseur of Machiavellian prose, dedicated a volume (Essay on the Prince) under review of the English edition. Martelli insisted above all on the intrinsic limits of the Lachmannian method, as applied to modern texts, and on the logical leaps and frequent aporias in the text of the pamphlet transmitted to us by the codices. Along this line, as part of the national edition of Machiavellian works, the Prince appeared in 2006, edited by Martelli with philological equipment by Nicoletta Marcelli. Martelli considered to identify a pre-eminent role of the ms. of Carpentras (A), transcribed by the same chancery hand to which an idiographer of the Art of War is owed; starting from here, he hypothesized the existence of a ‘mobile archetype’, from the subsequent stages of elaboration-revision which would have resulted in as many branches of the tradition. Martelli’s proposals, which he effectively amends in some places, appear on the whole rather artificial. On the occasion of the Prince ‘s fifth centenary, Inglese has prepared a new edition (Istituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, 2013), which revises the previous one taking into account the debate of recent years.

Among the most recent outcomes of the ecdotic debate are the research on the Fable of the archdevil Belfagor and the controversy surrounding the Discourse or dialogue around our language. Although transmitted by an autograph, the Banco Rari 240 of the BNCF, the Favola already had a disputed authorship in the mid-sixteenth century, appearing in print in a collection of rhymes and vulgar prose by Giovanni Brevio (1545). In 2007, Stoppelli subjected the Machiavellian fable and Brevio’s text to philological and linguistic-computational analysis. The plot would have reached both authors from an unidentified fifteenth-century source, to be then reworked independently: by Brevio with a reinterpretation of Boccaccian models and by M. with the integration of a completely original scene (the oratio of Pluto pronounced in hell represented as a ‘well-ordered republic’). For the attribution of the Discourse around our language: most recently Ornella Castellani Pollidori and Paolo Trova in favor of Machiavellian paternity, decidedly against Martelli; while Stoppelli and Inglese suggest that an original Machiavellian nucleus was later subjected to clumsy increases.

The Machiavellian Studies in Italy