Aristotle, Ethics, translated by J.A.K. Thompson, Penguin Classics, 1976.
Kraut, Richard, Founders of Modern Political and Social Thought – Aristotle, Oxford University Press, 2002.
Macchiavelli, Niccolo, Discourses on Livy, translated by Henry C Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov, Chicago University Press, 1996.
Macchiavelli, Niccolo, The Prince, translated by Robert M Adams, W W Norton & Co, Inc, 1992.
Niccolo Macchiavelli and Aristotle, in several common ways, are products of their historical times. Though separated by more than 1,500 years, those times were remarkably similar in several ways. Both men lived in times, and geographic locations, where the concept of a nation-state was unknown. Both men lived in eras of brutal, quick-changing political and military alliances between local or regional powers that swiftly impacted life in those areas, and beyond. Both men observed leaders whose prime focus was acquiring and retaining political and military power for their own purposes. Both men used their experience in their times, their intellect, and their reasoning power to propose remedies for the problems of their times. Their solutions could not be more different.
This paper will highlight the influence that the political and social landscape of Aristotelian Greece and Renaissance Italy exerted on these two figures in their times. It will attempt to explore why these men, similar in intellect, products of eras not terribly dissimilar though far separated in time, reacted so very differently in their writings about leaders. It will compare the model leader each depicts in his writings. This paper will also seek to examine the legacy of both men in Western political thought.
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