The Virtues of Republican Citizenship in Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy

THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS 75.2 (2013): 317-329

Abstract: What are the virtues of republican citizenship? Unlike many other republicans, Machiavelli rejects the idea that republican politics is enhanced by personal loyalty and trust. In his Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli maintains that important elements of the Roman concept of virtue, and particular the Roman social virtues, have proven to be inconsistent with the rule of law, dangerous to integrity of public institutions, and generally bad for republican liberty. Taking the view that norms of personal loyalty and trust have been especially damaging to liberty, Machiavelli uses the figure of Manlius Torquatus to illuminate his own understanding of the difference between good and bad citizenship and urges republics to do a better job teaching citizens the value of institutional loyalty and trust.