One of the puzzling aspects of Machiavelli's political philosophy is the prominent place occupied in it by Xenophon. Machiavelli goes much further than including Xenophon with Plato, Aristotle and Cicero, as was common in the Renaissance “mirror of princes.” Rather, he discusses Xenophon in The Prince and the Discourses more frequently than Plato, Aristotle and Cicero combined. In this essay, I argue that the explanation lies in Machiavelli's need to refute, at what for him is exceptional length, the classical author whose views of politics most closely resembled his own.

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Journal The Journal of Politics
Newell, W. (1988). Machiavelli and Xenophon on Princely Rule: A Double-Edged Encounter. The Journal of Politics, 50(1), 108–130. doi:10.2307/2131043