The essay is substantially divided into three parts. In the first, after quickly reviewing the different articulations of Machiavelli's radical criticism of Christianity, I focus on a specific aspect of it, that which relates Christianity, and more generally the religious sects, with the use of violence. In this context, I analyse the role attributed by Machiavelli to Pope Gregory the Great. In the second, in order to understand more deeply the intellectual operation carried out by the Florentine Secretary, of overthrowing some Christian apologetic arguments, I take into consideration some moments of the tradition that had made Gregory the Great the first author of the destruction of many pagan antiquities, from John of Salisbury, to Giovanni Dominici, up to Girolamo Savonarola. In the third, I examine how these Machiavellian considerations fit into the overall architecture of his reflections on religion. I suggest, in conclusion, that Machiavelli casts a double look at the religious fact: ex parte populi and ex parte principis. Machiavelli looks, on the one hand, at the people, at the individuals who make religious beliefs their own; on the other, he considers the elites, the small groups that organize, structure and govern religious beliefs: the priests, the “orderers” responsible for the sects. From the first perspective, religion is a factor of motivation and mobilization. The "fear of God" must therefore be maintained and used wisely by politicians. In the second perspective, religion is a factor of destructive violence: the religious elites, to assert themselves and the truths they advocate, tend to destroy the religious beliefs and practices of the sects preceding them. These two different perspectives or rather, these two different levels of analysis, are in no way incompatible or irreconcilable because they look at different subjects involved in religious beliefs and practices: on the one hand, those who make them their own and on the other, those who organise and spread them. Machiavelli was able to study religions, their “orders” and their ceremonies, from both points of view; he managed, in his texts, to follow both perspectives, to put them side by side and to keep them united.

The Modes Taken by Saint Gregory: Machiavelli and the Violence of Religious Sects / M. Geuna - In: Machiavelli Discourses on Livy: New Readings / [a cura di] D. Pires Aurelio, A. Santos Campos. - Prima edizione. - Leiden, Boston : Brill, 2021. - ISBN 9789004382923. - pp. 117-142

The Modes Taken by Saint Gregory: Machiavelli and the Violence of Religious Sects

M. Geuna
2021

Abstract

The essay is substantially divided into three parts. In the first, after quickly reviewing the different articulations of Machiavelli's radical criticism of Christianity, I focus on a specific aspect of it, that which relates Christianity, and more generally the religious sects, with the use of violence. In this context, I analyse the role attributed by Machiavelli to Pope Gregory the Great. In the second, in order to understand more deeply the intellectual operation carried out by the Florentine Secretary, of overthrowing some Christian apologetic arguments, I take into consideration some moments of the tradition that had made Gregory the Great the first author of the destruction of many pagan antiquities, from John of Salisbury, to Giovanni Dominici, up to Girolamo Savonarola. In the third, I examine how these Machiavellian considerations fit into the overall architecture of his reflections on religion. I suggest, in conclusion, that Machiavelli casts a double look at the religious fact: ex parte populi and ex parte principis. Machiavelli looks, on the one hand, at the people, at the individuals who make religious beliefs their own; on the other, he considers the elites, the small groups that organize, structure and govern religious beliefs: the priests, the “orderers” responsible for the sects. From the first perspective, religion is a factor of motivation and mobilization. The "fear of God" must therefore be maintained and used wisely by politicians. In the second perspective, religion is a factor of destructive violence: the religious elites, to assert themselves and the truths they advocate, tend to destroy the religious beliefs and practices of the sects preceding them. These two different perspectives or rather, these two different levels of analysis, are in no way incompatible or irreconcilable because they look at different subjects involved in religious beliefs and practices: on the one hand, those who make them their own and on the other, those who organise and spread them. Machiavelli was able to study religions, their “orders” and their ceremonies, from both points of view; he managed, in his texts, to follow both perspectives, to put them side by side and to keep them united.
Machiavelli; Gregory the Great; John of Salisbury; Girolamo Savonarola; Pietro Pomponazzi; Religious violence; biblioclasm; iconoclasm; horoscope or religions; critique of Christianity
Settore SPS/02 - Storia delle Dottrine Politiche
Settore SPS/01 - Filosofia Politica
Settore M-FIL/06 - Storia della Filosofia
Dipartimenti di Eccellenza 2018-2022 - Dipartimento di FILOSOFIA
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2434/860655
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