Virtù 

[Excerpts assembled by Th. Curran for FYP, November 2018]

Peter Bondanella, Translator’s Note p. xli:

“Virtù”, the quintessential quality of the new ruler inThe Prince…

Machiavelli’s ‘virtue’ is a masculine, even heroic quality… it generally connotes ‘ingenuity’, ‘skill’, ‘ability’, ‘prowess’…Fortuna… his use of the term refers to the philosophical concept of the forces that work against human order and planning, an idea that classical antiquity frequently embodied as a goddess…

[Oxford World’s Classics, 2005]

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Peter Bondanella & Mark Musa [The World’s Classics] OUP

1984: Translators’ Note: To This Edition p. xviii:

Virtù, the best example, appears some sixty times inThe Prince as a noun… a faithful translator cannot consistently substitute one single English word for this flexible Italian term.  In some cases, it is best rendered as  ‘ingenuity’, ‘skill’, ‘ability’, or ‘talent’; elsewhere, ‘capacity’, ‘efficacy’, ‘qualities’, ‘strength’, or ‘power’ seem best; and in a few instances, the English ‘virtue’ may, indeed, convey Machiavelli’s meaning.

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Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy tr. by Julia and Peter Bondanella

[Oxford World’s Classics, 2003]

  1. xxiv: … virtùhas been rendered as ‘exceptional skill’, ‘ability’, ‘talent’, ‘valour’, ‘excellence’, or ‘ingenuity’, and occasionally as ‘strength’, or ‘power’…

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Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought

Tr. by Russell Price (1988) pp. 103-104:

virtú, virtuoso:

Virtú, from the Latin virtus(itself derived from vir, ‘man’), is used by Machiavelli (as well as by earlier and contemporary writers) in a variety of senses.  Occasionally, it signifies ‘virtue’ (as opposed to vizio, ‘vice’ … The plural, le virtú, usually has the sense of ‘good qualities’ or ‘virtues’.

virtú has various senses (which are sometimes combined): ‘ability’, ‘skill’, ‘energy’, ‘determination’, ‘strength’, ‘spiritedness’, ‘courage’ or ‘prowess’.

  1. 104: The main antonyms of this set of senses of virtú are ignavia(‘indolence’ or ‘sloth’, sometimes conjoined with, or having overtones of, ‘cowardice’…), viltà(‘baseness’ or ‘weakness’, also with overtones of ‘cowardice’…), ozio (‘indolence’) anddebolezza (‘weakness’). When a ruler lacks the various qualities that virtúdenotes, he becomes despised … the ‘determination’ that is implicit in Machiavelli’s use of this word has overtones of ‘ruthlessness’…

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The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary (1993, Volume 1: p. 437)

condottiere, plural: condottieri:

A leader or member of a troop of mercenaries (originally and especially in Italy).

 

 

 

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