From his youth as shabby gentry to maturity in the halls of power, Niccolo Machiavelli was ardent about democracy in his beloved republic, Florence. A writer with a penchant for satire, he based his political philosophy on logic and observation, attributes disappearing from the shelves of contemporary politicians and princes. In her book, Be Like the Fox
(Norton, 2017), Machiavelli historian Erica Benner paints a detailed picture of life in 15th and 16th century Florence and the man who dared to write about what he saw. In the first decades of the printing press, Machiavelli's words traveled far. Pondering the philosopher who studied Plutarch and worked with Leonardo, one could ask: did Machiavelli, child of the Renaissance, live in the shadow of Brunelleschi or Borgia? We’ll figure it out in class. The text will be supplemented with handouts and videos on other Florentine notables.