A world without a saving grace: Glory and immortality in machiavelli

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19 Scopus citations


Glory in Machiavelli is an ultimate value. Despite its conceptual centrality, his notion of glory has received relatively little scholarly attention. This article seeks to go beyond the common interpretation that Machiavelli conceived of glory as a means to harmonize man's inexorable selfish ambition with the public interest. It addresses the theoretically prior question of why Machiavelli expected that the uncertain hopes for glory would prevail over more immediate human appetites and thus serve the construction of a good political order. The article argues that Machiavelli presented the human world as miserable yet simultaneously denied mankind any outlet by systematically severing the threads with which men sought to connect to eternity. Foreclosing in particular the Christian promise of after-life, Machiavelli impresses upon the capable few the only path (he leaves open) towards transcending a degraded world: the path to immortal glory. The human condition thus serves as the basis for dealing with the fundamental political problem.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-468
Number of pages20
JournalHistory of Political Thought
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy


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