POL 200 Y 1
-What can human virtue mean in a world where there are no other divine or transcendent
standard for virtue.
-Using Agathocles, though not the highest human example, having some semblance of
-If you look at all of M’s praising and retraction of virtue to Agathocles. Why?
-He excelled in one class of virtue, those qualities that can be used for success for
one’s own self. Clever, brave, determined, tenacious, resilient.
-He fell short in another, those that consist of respect for the good of others. No
respect, indifferent, he was a sociopath.
-The second class virtues severely limits the exercise of the first.
Agathocles had no respect for such boundaries, and therefore had
absolutely free reign for these other qualities, of which he exercised
-If one then, does dismiss transcendent virtue as a limit on politics, then one can see that
the whole notion of boundaries that have to be respected would fall away.
-Christian morality for instance, practice those virtues according to the authority of God.
What’s left after that is torn away?
-BUT, Machiavelli criticizes Agathocles.
-One cannot call it virtue to kill ones citizens, to betray ones friends, have no
-The simplest way to criticize A is to say it’s just wrong. M doesn’t say this
though, he asks why don’t we do these things.
Because they may gain you rule,
but they will not gain you glory!
-Who are the men that enjoy the most glory, that are the most excellent?
-The great founders! But what made them special?
-They didn’t commit lesser crimes, but they did it in such a way that what
would have looked like crimes, tended to their glory. Why?
-Prophecy! Agathocles did not succeed in doing this.
-First argument of a great thinker that popular states are the best state. Could be considered the
forerunner of all modern democratic thought. Plato, Aristotle, or anybody thought of the people
as central to the running of politics.
-Why? They all agreed that the aims of political life were lofty ones, and they regarded
the people as a class as indifferent of lofty goals.
-His debunking of the older more demanding role of virtue left him more disposed
towards the people?
-We are turning to a most respectable position, ruling by the choice of those you are responsible
for, no through crime or terrible violence. A civil principality.
-One arises to this position either with the support of the people, or the support of the
-There is no city where your fellow citizens act as one unit, but always potential factions.