Machiavelli: Love and the economy of emotions

Nicole Hochner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In this article I argue against the famous principle that it is always preferable to be feared. I demonstrate on the contrary that for Machiavelli the best way either for a prince or for a republic to secure power is by the acquisition of the people's favor and friendship. Moreover, a free way of life can be steadily established only if it does not fail to generate indebtedness and affection toward it. Love here is about the eagerness of a people to engage with its togetherness, or with its own res publica. As a rule, emotions are essential to trigger human action and motivate men, therefore collective affect for Machiavelli is essential to foster social groups to tie themselves in a vinculo di obligo. For Machiavelli, politics, I suggest, is about manufacturing and stirring up passions which, like humors, are in constant motion and mutation. Love can be generated by religion and performances of violent and passionate dedication. It can therefore be a fundamental catalyst of political motivation and has to be understood in its unstable dynamics and proximity to fear and hate.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)122-137
Number of pages16
JournalItalian Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© American Association for Italian Studies 2014.


  • Emotions
  • Fear
  • Freedom
  • Hatred
  • Love
  • Machiavelli
  • Passions
  • Religion
  • Violence


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