Sullivan, Vickie B.
Machiavelli's Three Romes
Religion, Human Liberty, and Politics Reformed
Aims and Scope
Machiavelli's ambiguous treatment of religion has fueled a contentious and long-standing debate among scholars. Whereas some insist that Machiavelli is a Christian, others maintain he is a pagan. Sullivan mediates between these divergent views by arguing that he is neither but that he utilizes elements of both understandings arrayed in a wholly new way. In this illuminating study, Sullivan shows Machiavelli's thought to be a highly original response to what he understood to be the crisis of his times.
- 252 pages
- CORNELL UNIVERSITY PRESS
"Rather than reading Machiavelli's works rhetorically, Sullivan prefers to put her own questions to his texts and too often for comfort derives her own answers.... It is too bad that Sullivan let herself slip into ahistorical modes of analysis because her ingrained tendency to think dialectically, or at least in terms of immanent critique, produces a number of insights."
"[Sulllivan's] rhetorical stance is one of revaluation, and her rhetorical methodology is one of close, painstaking textual analysis."
"While surely original, Sullivan's thesis fails to convince, primarily because she does not adequately establish the idiosyncratic interplay of Christian and pagan elements that is central to her argument.... Throughout, Sullivan attends insufficiently to the literary, personal, and political contexts in which Machiavelli wrote."
"Vickie Sullivan's book is an important and useful contribution to this literature. It combines meticulous scholarship with provocative and insightful analysis. While issuing directly from this literature, and thus in a sense the intellectual heir of these debates, it attempts to overcome their dualistic character by presenting an alternative and original interpretation."
"She advances the novel proposition that Machiavelli is the enemy of all religion.... an important new study, cogently argued and beautifully written"
"Sullivan's reading of the texts is isolated from their cultural and linguistic context (even when her argument depends on understanding exactly what particular words might have meant to Machiavelli).... It is also isolated from much of the richest and best modern scholarship on Machiavelli; Sullivan's bibliography is curiously limited to works in English, when in fact most of the serious work on the Discourses is by French and Italian scholars."