Voices Lecture Series

Emmanuel’s Foreign Language Department, with the gracious support of  the Spanish Consulates at Boston and Emmanuel’s Vice President Office has been organizeing since 2007 the Voices Lecture Series. These Series have focused on many different aspect of Hispanic Culture, Languages and Literatures.  Besidese the Spanish Consulate and the Office of the VicePresident, for the Fall of 2013 we have also counted with the gracious support of the Italian Consulate to organized this year's Voices entitled  Machiavelli, Machiavellism and European Political Landscape.  This is a round of three presentations dealing with Machiavelli the historian, the politician, the philosopher, the writer and diplomat, and the influence of this Renaissance humanist in European political landscape of the past and of today.  The series is free and open to the public.  For more information please get in contact with José Ignacio Alvarez-Fernández.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 4:30pm to 6:00pm

Janet M. Daley Library Lecture Hall
Cardinal Cushing Library, 400 Fenway, Boston, MA 02115, USA

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Foreign Languages



Colleges of The Fenway
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Jose Ignacio Alvarez-Fernandez

Jose Ignacio Alvarez-Fernandez 8/30/2013

Professor Susan A. Michalczyk, “Machiavelli’s Mandragola: Lessons on Human Nature and Deceit”
Boston College

A variation on Machiavelli’s political and historical writings, in which the author remains an observer who analyzes human nature in history, Mandragola, as a theatrical work, returns the control of characters and events, to Machiavelli. Ably directing not only his characters and actors, but also, his audience in interpreting the themes of fortuna e virtù, Machiavelli presents the complications resulting from “the desire to acquire”: “E cosa veramente molto naturale e ordinaria desiderare di acquistare.”(pp. 22-23 III De Principatibus Mixtis, Machiavelli’s The Prince, trans. Mark Musa).
How does one reconcile such passion, whether for a perfected state or for an idealized woman? Machiavelli’s intense dedication to his beloved Florence, his efforts to present his arguments and only focus upon that which matters most to him, in some ways parallel Callimaco’s extreme desire and obsession with Lucrezia. In all his writings, Machiavelli never wavers from his commitment to honoring the state and to studying human nature. His writing of Mandragola allows greater opportunity to explore the artistic and human aspects of his view of fortuna e virtù, as for example with the songs that call to mind the literary and artistic recreations of Petrarch, as well as the more personal references to his own life, at times tragic, at times filled with irony and satire.
The decision to write a comedy demonstrates Machiavelli’s insistence on accepting the reality of lived experience and then studying those experiences to find clarity, perhaps even to regain purpose. Re-interpreting this emphasis on the ability to take action and adapt as a comedy allows Machiavelli to analyze his own circumstances from a comfortable distance, while instructing his audience on what has been lost from the days of Rome. Machiavelli, ever the historian of antiquity, directs the action, always reminiscent of antica virtù, whether in elements of plot or names of characters, most clearly, in the creation of Lucrezia, a connection to the glorious past of Rome and an expression of adaptation..