ADVANTAGES

Machiavelli was born in Florence to an established though not particularly affluent middle-class family whose members had traditionally filled responsible positions in local government. While little of the author's early life has been documented, it is known that as a boy he learned Latin and that he quickly became an assiduous reader of the ancient classics. Among these, he highly prized his copy of Livy's history of the Roman Republic. Machiavelli's first recorded involvement in the volatile Florentine political scene occurred in 1498, when he helped the political faction that deposed Girolamo Savonarola, then the dominant religious and political figure in Florence. In the same year Machiavelli was appointed to the second chancery of the republic. As chancellor and secretary to the Ten of Liberty and Peace, a sensitive government agency dealing chiefly with warfare and foreign affairs, Machiavelli participated both in domestic politics and in diplomatic missions to foreign governments. These posts afforded him innumerable opportunities over the next fourteen years to closely examine the inner workings of government and to meet prominent individuals, among them Cesare Borgia, who furnished the young diplomat with the major profile in leadership for Machiavelli quickly gained political prominence and influence; by 1502 he was a well-respected assistant to the republican or head of state, Piero Soderini.

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