Nicolo Machiavelli's 'Discourses on Livy' written 1513-1517, is a commentary on the work of Titus Livy (59 BC - AD 17) a Roman historian who wrote a monumental history of Rome entitled 'Ab Urbe Condita' literally translating as 'from the founding of the city (Rome)'. What Machiavelli set out to detail within the Discourses in essence, is the refined knowledge gleaned from an in depth analysis of Livy's accounts, observations of the legislative, socio-political and military management structures that provided Ancient Rome such a stable and economically fruitful empire.
Concerning the structures of governance as it was in 16th century florence, Machiavelli expressed the opinion that only six forms of government exist that maintain a perpetual cycle of short lived power before sucuming to, what he viewed as a natural end. This is brought about either due to a successful insurection and instalment of a form of government which evolved out of oppression or a form of government that eventually grew to become greedy and corrupt through generational changes. The model Machiavelli presents begins with a society in a 'state of nature' or 'Anarchy' that exists until the people begin to realise strength in numbers and seek leadership from the foremost individual who assumes rulership, thus evolving into a 'Monarchy'. The good Monarch is however, succeeded by corrupt rulers who use their power for their own gain and control through 'Tyranny'. The Tyrant is eventually overthrown by a rebellion and the rebels retain control amongst themselves collectively producing an 'Aristocracy'. The Aristocrats are then succeeded by a generation that again, begins to use its powers to oppress the people and becomes an 'Oligarchy'. Like the Tyrant, they are overthrown by the oppressed who then form a 'Democracy'. As time progresses, order and control dissolve completely until we find ourselves in a 'state of nature' or 'Anarchy' once again.
As Machiavelli saw it, because of man's...
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