The Academic Dis, Sixteenth-Century Style

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Categories: Medieval, Modern

A good many historians have complained to their readers that their predecessors were DOING IT WRONG. Few of them have done so with the sonorous rhetoric with which Scipione Ammirato in the sixteenth century dismissed Machiavelli’s History of Florence:

In sum he mistakes the years, changes the names, alters the facts, confounds the causes, expands, adds, detracts, diminishes, and does anything that his whim fancies … perhaps because by so doing his writing might become more beautiful or less dry than if he had kept to the chronology and the facts, as if the subject matter had to accommodate the style, not the style the subject matter.

Translation from Robert Black, Machiavelli (Routledge: London and New York, 2013) pp. 249, 250.

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