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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Spring 2007

GOV 382M • Xenophon and Macchiavelli

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
39040 TTh
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
CAL 21

Course Description

This course will consist in a close reading of Xenophon's Education of Cyrus and Memorabilia and Machiavellis Prince and selections from his Discourses. In the Education of Cyrus we have Xenophons rich fictional depiction of a virtuous ancient polis and the process by which a talented man of boundless ambition might easily subvert it. In place of the virtuous republic, Xenophons Cyrus creates a progressive, dynamic, multi-ethnic society, aimed at wealth and expansion and glory, in which merit is rewarded and a self-sacrificing view of justice is replaced by a frank pursuit of the good things of this world. Yet in exploring this entrancing vision, Xenophon gives clear reasons why, in the end, he rejects it as the best model for a healthy society, and the Memorabilia he shows further reasons why Xenophon thought the life of political ambition was not the best life. Machiavelli had the highest opinion of Xenophon and gave all his works the closest study. Yet he came to the opposite conclusion from Xenophon, and devoted his writings to promoting the progressive, expansive political vision and the embrace of ambition that Xenophon had rejected. What did Machiavelli see that Xenophon did not, or what did Xenophon see that Machiavelli did not? How can these contrasting works help us understand and assess the deepest differences between ancient and modern republicanism and the fundamental presuppositions of modern liberalism?

Grading Policy

10 weekly 1-page papers (maximum 500 words) : 5% each. No late papers will be accepted, but students will have multiple opportunities to write them. Term paper of 10-15 pages on a topic of the student's choosing, due after classes end: 35%. Late penalties of 3% + 2% for each calendar day will be applied. class participation: 15%.


Xenophon, Education of Cyrus, trans. Ambler (Cornell) _____. Memorabilia of Socrates, trans. Bonnette (Cornell) Machiavelli, Prince, trans. Mansfield (Chicago) _____. Discourses, trans. Mansfield (Chicago)


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