Friday, January 3, 2014

Renaissance Florentine Fortitude - A Steel Smile

Notes from An Unlikely Prince by Niccolo Capponi (The Life and Times of Niccolo Machiavelli):

“Life without honor is living like the dead”, wrote Piero di Giovanni Capponi to his patron Lorenzo de’ Medici.

 A Florentine proverb goes, “It is better to smell of shit, than of sucker.” (E’ meglio puzzar di merda che di bischero)

“One does not govern states by saying the rosary.” – Cosimo de’ Medici

mixture of gravitas and flippancy

Florentine saying: “No heaven for suckers” (Pe i bischeri non ce paradiso)

The Florentines describe wisdom in hindsight as “acting like the Brozzi astrologer, who recognized thorns by touch and shit by its smell.”

Excommunication had become a blunt weapon but the famous condottiere Niccolo Piccinino once compared it to being tickled.

 virtù, wisdom, honor, pragmatism         

Old Florentine saying “Heaven in their eyes, and Hell in their mouths.”

Cesare Borgia told Machiavelli behind closed doors (in a chamber dimly illuminated by torches) that for his actions, he scoffed that God and men would forgive him, although he did not care if God did so, while men always forgave winners.

The night Pier Soderini died, at the mouth of Hell he showed his face: ‘Go to the baby’s Limbo’, Pluto cried ‘Fools down here are out of place’ – Niccolo Machiavelli

“One should not be surprised if in these crazy times the crazy give a good account of themselves.” NM

Robertto Ridolfi on Machiavelli:  "with his flaunted vices and hidden virtues, with his bold and jesting manner, with an intelligence that at first encounter shocked the mediocre and made him appear to them presumptuous or eccentric, he had qualities which made him unpopular with the majority and greatley loved by those few, who knew him well and appreciated his courtesy, his humor and his talent."

Machiavelli placed "honore et utile" above ideology.

“I have taught princes how to be tyrants, but also their subjects how to get rid of them.” -NM

"Fortuna is like one of our destructive rivers which, when it is angry, turns the plains into lakes, throws down the trees and buildings, takes earth from one spot, puts it in another; everyone flees before the flood; everyone yields to its fury and nowhere can repel it ...Fortuna shows her power where virtù and wisdom do not prepare to resist her."

"With Fortuna it is better to be swift than cautious."

For Machiavelli the best way to handle Fortuna was to be prepared and ready for her blows and then respond with swift aggression. To be surprised by the blows or to hesitate in your response would be to your detriment.

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