Plebeian Passions and Judgement and the Aestheticization of Politics in Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy

Zhou Jiayi
Without proper elite intervention, the Roman plebeians tended to be impressed by political appearances rather than the true nature of political deeds. Political appearances could cause the plebeians to shift to a different emotional condition which altered their previous judgment. Such an impressionistic mode of cognition of the Roman plebeians was an exploitable weakness for the Roman patricians. Knowing the plebeians’ limited judgement capability and susceptibility to appearances, the Roman patricians consciously manipulated political appearances...
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