Vickie Sullivan

Tufts University, USA

Walter Moyle's Machiavellianism, Declared and Otherwise



Although Walter Moyle's Democracy Vindicated: An Essay on the Constitution and Government of the Roman State cannot be termed anti-Machiavellian, the work does not initially announce itself to be as Machiavellian a work as it eventually becomes. Indeed, divided into two parts, the first part, which is devoted to a consideration of the Roman kings and focuses particularly on these kings’ use of religion, does not mention Machiavelli’s name at all and draws largely on Roman historians. Further, in this part Moyle ignores some of Machiavelli’s salient teachings regarding the early kings. Nevertheless, Moyle embraces Machiavelli’s general teaching that religion should serve the state. In the second part, Moyle first mentions Machiavelli’s name, and becomes increasingly reliant on his teachings regarding how to maintain and to reinvigorate a republic. The character of this reliance on Machiavelli is particularly noteworthy because although Moyle embraces Machiavelli’s thought on some of the same grounds as does James Harrington, a thinker on whom he relies, Moyle also embraces entirely different aspects of Machiavelli’s republican teachings as well. These specific teachings implicate some of Machiavelli’s harshest teachings. Therefore, Moyle’s Essay is a vessel for the transmission of a stern, aggressive republicanism, very much indebted to some of Machiavelli’s harshest teachings.