Virtue in Machiavelli’s Political Thought

Document Type : Original Article


The interpretability of Machiavelli’s political thought relates, in the most part, to the concept of virtue and its dimensions. In Western thought, this concept has had continuity and has reached the Renaissance and Machiavelli’s times. In the Roman and Medieval tradition, philosophical, verbal, religious and even literary and historical approaches were dominant in the clarification and explanation of this concept. However, with Machiavelli, we witness a break in the sense and status of this concept. By confining the concept of virtue in the realm of politics and releasing it from the bounds of the ancient thought, Machiavelli could delineate a novel but supported view backed by historical evidence and kingship experiences, and provide the prince and government with new operational possibilities. The present paper investigates the process of transformation and formation of the concept of virtue by Machiavelli based on a conceptual framework taken from his and his commentators’ works. The results reveal that the new concept of virtue has a qualitative and a quantitative dimension each with certain aspects. Successful political act is actualized through simultaneous consideration of both dimensions of virtue.