Daniel Stein Kokin

Timasitheus the God-Reverer: A Reading of Machiavelli's Discourses III.29

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"Discourses" III.29 is entitled «that the sins of peoples arise from princes», yet Machiavelli chooses as his primary proof for this claim an episode from Livy that appears to demonstrate the exact opposite: «prince» Timasitheus convincing his pirate subjects to return the Roman booty they had seized. Noting that the name Timasitheus in Greek means «God-Fearer» or «God-Reverer», and further suggesting that Machiavelli consciously chose its Italian equivalent, Timoteo, as the name for the corrupt friar in the "Mandragola", I show how Machiavelli recycles and repackages this story as an allegorical testimony to the manner in which religious piety detracts from the common good. When properly understood, then, this chapter of the "Discourses" contributes to our understanding of Machiavelli's views on religion as well as to the manner in which the historical episodes he deploys should be read and interpreted.


  • Machiavelli
  • Discourses
  • Livy
  • Piety
  • Allegory


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