Summer Fellows 2023: Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy
With the help of Professor of Politics Jonathan Marks, Brian Dresnin ’24 is spending eight weeks researching and learning more about famed Roman philosopher and politician Niccolo Machiavelli.
“I’ve always had an interest in ancient history going back a long time, but just recently I developed an interest in Rome,” said Dresnin. “Rome has been an inspiration for so many figures in Western Civilization and all over the world, and it’s shaped so much of our history, I think it’s very important to study.”
Dresnin is mostly focusing on The Discourses that Machiavelli wrote about Titus Livy, a Roman historian who lived during Rome’s transition from a republic to an empire. To accompany Machiavelli’s Discourses, Dresnin is also studying Livy’s history of Rome and The Prince, Machiavelli’s other famous work.
“I want to find some disagreement in the existing literature and maybe present something new or build off what someone else has already said. [I’m looking] for disagreements, even when Machiavelli seems to contradict himself.”
One topic he will focus on is the idea of the plebians versus the aristocracy, and how Machiavelli’s views on this change throughout the text. He also notes that Machiavelli’s book is out of order when it comes to Livy.
“Is this all just random? Is he just throwing it everywhere to confuse us or is there a rhyme or reason to it? I want to find the rhyme or reason.”