Rulers Must Not Ignore History

“He who diligently examines past events easily foresees future ones in every country and can apply to them the remedies used by the ancients or, not finding any that have been used, can devise new ones because of the similarity of the events.  But because these considerations are neglected or are not understood by those who read or, if they are understood, are not known to rulers, the same dissensions appear in every age.” Niccolo Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy I. 39. trans. Allan Gilbert, Machiavelli: The Chief Works and Others, vol. 1 (Durham: Duke University Press, 1965), p. 278.

Niccolo Machiavelli, author of The Prince, wrote these Discourses on Livy during his exile from Florence after 1513.  In the Discourses Machiavelli examines Roman history and seek to apply lessons from those events to his own time.


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