Predatory Politics
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Sexual Assault

How to Cite

Predatory Politics: Sex, Domination and Freedom in Machiavelli’s Mandragola. (2019). The Political Science Reviewer, 43(1), 67-106.


In his writings about the historical figure of Lucretia, particularly in his play Mandragola, Machiavelli’s commitment to republican freedom as non-domination is complicated by the fact that Lucrezia’s consent to sex is coerced by the pressure of economic, social and religious sources. I suggest that in his politics generally, his emphasis on force and trickery reflects a similar ambiguity about the authentic nature of the freedom his republicanism achieves, particularly, the emphasis on non-domination in his thought recognized by Petit, Pocock, Skinner and Viroli. I argue that in his treatment of women generally, and of the woman Lucretia in the Discourses and the Mandragola particularly, Machiavelli most clearly displays the ambiguous status of domination in his thought, because for Machiavelli, women represent the transactions of the private realm, a realm particular susceptible to the threat of unfreedom.


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