Messiahs and Machiavellians is an innovative exploration of “modern evil” in works of early- and late-modern theatre, raising issues about ethics, politics, religion, and aesthetics that speak to our present condition. Paul Corey examines how theatre—which expressed a key political dynamic both in the Renaissance and the twentieth century—lays open the impulses that instigated modernity and, ultimately, unparalleled levels of violence and destruction. Starting with Albert Camus’ Caligula and Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, then turning to Machiavelli’s Mandragola and Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Corey traces the emergence of two dominant, intertwining features of modern evil: an unrestrained pursuit of power and the utopian desire for perfection. Corey’s imaginative and convincing readings of these plays, based on detailed textual analysis, move beyond the accounts usually offered by literary critics. Drawing on political, theological, and philosophical sources—a combination as fertile as it is unusual—Corey’s methodology allows him to make keen and subtle arguments about the eschatological nature of modern politics.