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On the Government of Rulers

De Regimine Principum

Translated by James M. Blythe. By Ptolemy of Lucca, with portions attributed to Thomas Aquinas

Publication Year: 1997

Ptolemy, considered a proto-Humanist by some, combined the principles of Northern Italian republicanism with Aristotelian theory in his De Regimine Principum, a book that influenced much of the political thought of the later Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the early modern period. He was the first to attack kingship as despotism and to draw parallels between ancient Greek models of mixed constitution and the Roman Republic, biblical rule, the Church, and medieval government.

In addition to his translation of this important and radical medieval political treatise, written around 1300, James M. Blythe includes a sixty-page introduction to the work and provides over 1200 footnotes that trace Ptolemy's sources, explain his references, and comment on the text, the translation, the context, and the significance.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v

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pp. vii-x

WHEN I WAS WORKING ON MY BOOK, Ideal Government and the Mixed Constitution in the Middle Ages, I was especially drawn to Ptolemy of Lucca (c.1236-c.1327), whose radical ideas were remarkable for his time, but about whom very little has been written, and I devoted a chapter to him.' I felt that a translation of his work was long overdue, considering its originality and the...

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A Note on the Text

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pp. xi

My INTENTION IS TO PROVIDE an idiomatic, readable translation, while being absolutely consistent with regard to political, theological, and philosophical terminology. While I have been rather free with syntax, voice, word order, and wording, I have regarded a specified terminology as sacrosanct...

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pp. 1-59

On the Government of Rulers (De Regimine Principum) was very popular and influential in the Middle Ages, partially because it was often attributed to Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274). Actually, Thomas wrote at most only the first part, known also as On the Kingdom, to the King of Cyprus, and Ptolemy of...

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Book I

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pp. 60-103

When I was pondering what I could offer that would be worthy of Your Royal Highness and suitable to my profession and office, it occurred to me that what I could best offer a king was to compose a book about the kingdom. In it, to the best of my ability, I would diligently bring to light the origin of the kingdom and what pertains to the office of king, according to...

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Book 2

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pp. 104-145

[I] First, I must explain the office of a king in founding a city or kingdom. As Vegetius says: "the mightiest nations and most renowned rulers could seek no greater glory than either to start new cities or to transfer those started by others into their name and improve them." 1 This certainly accords with the...

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Book 3

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pp. 146-214

[I] "The heart of a king is in the hand of God, and it will go wherever he has willed;' as is written in Proverbs.' Cyrus, king of the Persians, that great monarch of the east, announced this in a public edict after his victory over Babylon, which he razed to its foundation, and after the slaying of its king,...

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Book 4

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pp. 215-288

[I] "You will constitute them as rulers over all the earth; they will be mindful of your name, Lord." 1 Although God instituted all lordship or rule, as I said above,2 Aristotle and Sacred Scripture tell us about different modes of lordship. Since I have already treated the monarchy of one-namely the lordship...


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pp. 289-291

Index to Aristotle Citations

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pp. 293-294

Index to Augustine Citations

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pp. 295

Index to Biblical Citations

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pp. 297-300

General Index

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pp. 301-310

E-ISBN-13: 9780812201338
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812233704

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 1997