The Prince's tragic archers: Machiavelli and poetic intrigue

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Abstract

This article elaborates on the possible connections between Machiavelli and Renaissance tragedy in the context of the early-modern rediscovery of Aristotle’s Poetics. The possibility of a tragic reading of Il Principe, in particular, focuses on the metaphor or simile of the ‘prudent archers’ (arcieri prudenti) in chapter VI, suggesting a pragmatic interpretation of the tragic ‘error’ (hamartia) in contrast to the moral correlation of character flaw and ‘ruin’ (ruina) that defines modern tragedy. A theory of tragic ‘plot’ (intrigue) is based on internal structure and embedded, through intertextual references, in forms of historical and political realism that enable the circularity of tragedy and comedy. The case for a pragmatic and tragicomic interpretation is finally instrumental to disengaging the poetics of Il Principe from the framework of both moral tragedy and Machiavellism.
Translated title of the contributionThe Prince's tragic archers: Machiavelli and poetic intrigue
Original languageItalian
Pages (from-to)287-310
Number of pages24
JournalItalian Studies
Volume71
Issue number3
Early online date16 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Aug 2016

Keywords

  • Machiavelli
  • tragedy
  • intrigue
  • archers
  • error

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