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Milton on Machiavelli: representations of the state in 'Paradise Lost.'

In the prologue to Christopher Marlowe's The Jew of of Malta, Machiavelli appears on stage to announce his arrival in England after a sojourn through the Continent:

Albeit the world thinke Machevill is dead,

Yet was his soule but flowne beyond the Alpes,

And now the Guize is dead, is come from France

To view this Land and frolicke with his friends. (Prologue, 1-4)

The impact of Machiavelli on sixteenth-century Europe was profound, and as this passage implies, his reception in England was complicated by an involved process of transmission. Reactions to his works mixed with demonic portrayals of him that had percolated through European political communities.(1) His two major political tracts, The Prince and The Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, left an indelible mark on the political discourse of early modern Europe. The Prince particularly troubled Renaissance readers because in it Machiavelli divorced civic virtue from morality, and for many years in English and continental public political discussions, Machiavelli's name was synonymous with treachery and violence. The Discourses, on the other hand, often found an eager audience among those with republican sympathies. Machiavelli's views could be denounced or advanced by the political writers who followed him, but they would have been virtually impossible to ignore.

Milton's debt to Machiavelli and civic humanism has been amply documented in treatments of his political prose, and recently critics have begun to extend an analysis of Milton's Machiavellianism to his poetry.(2) By the time Milton wrote his major poems, he had several "Machiavellis" with whom to contend: the amoral pragmatist, the political theoretician, the devilish stage Machiavel, and the champion of republican liberty. The Machiavellian elements in Paradise Lost reflect this multiform tradition. In his epic Milton wrestles with some of the most fundamental problems of civic virtue: What is the ideal society? Can classic concepts of civic and Christian virtue be reconciled? What defines the role of the individual in a political community? Machiavelli dealt with these same issues in The Prince and The Discourses. In what follows I will argue that Milton deliberately evokes Machiavelli's prince in his portrayal of Satan, and in doing so repudiates princely rule and the idea that virtu can be sustained without Christian virtue.(3) On the other hand, the poem contains positive echoes of The Discourses' central political themes. Specifically, Milton constructs a heavenly republic and a hellish principality, expanding upon Machiavelli's assertion that the isolation of power and civic virtue in the prince is a corrupting and destabilizing force in political life.

When first introduced in books one and two of Paradise Lost, Satan seems to bear a striking resemblance to Machiavelli's ideal prince -- impetuous, confident, courageous, and sly. In chapter 18 of The Prince Machiavelli praises the man who knows how to use the beast within him, specifically how to be either "the lion" or "the fox" depending on whether conditions demand courage or cleverness, force or guile. In chapter 25 of The Prince he criticizes the tendency of most men to fall into rigid patterns of behavior, unable to deviate from their natural inclinations. Machiavelli praises that rare man who, in a world governed by contingency, is able to change his nature with the times. One must be adaptable in order to conquer fortune. For Machiavelli virtu is not a single quality of mind or spirit, or even a list of qualities. In the most general terms Machiavellian virtu is the talent to act in whatever way will bring success, and it is, therefore, closely allied to prudence.(4) Satan both is and is not Machiavelli's prince. His speeches in the first two books of Paradise Lost repeatedly evoke Machiavelli's cardinal principles of force and guile;(5) however, the comparison is rendered problematic by a combination of inflexibility and imprudence on the part of Satan that is anything but Machiavellian. This divided portrait serves Milton's larger project of interrogating the efficacy of princely (as opposed to republican) virtu. Unlike many of his predecessors, Milton does not part company with Machiavelli on the issue of princely virtu's amorality. Indeed with his portrait of Satan as prince, Milton is not so much contradicting Machiavelli as he is pressing a central point in his political philosophy, that principalities are inherently weak even when led by a strong prince. In a sense Milton is simply traveling further down the path Machiavelli charted, translating what is at best improbable and transitory success into certain failure.

Satan's initial address to Beelzebub in book one demonstrates an indomitable will that seems consistent with the portrait of a Machiavellian prince seizing the moment and making it his own, turning misfortune into opportunity:

What though the field be lost?

All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,

And study of revenge, immortal hate,

And courage never to submit or yield:

And what is else not to be overcome?

That Glory never shall his wrath or might

Extort from me. To bow and sue for grace

With suppliant knee, and deify his power . . . (PL I, 105-12)

In this passage Satan seems to be a character with the boldness and impetuosity that Machiavelli deems essential to conquer the goddess Fortune who, like all women, is best won by force (The Prince, XXV).(6) However, boldness is not the only quality the prince needs in order to prevail against fortune; it is also imperative that he act wisely, always understanding that politics is the art of the possible. The Machiavellian prince is above all a pragmatist; there is nothing in Machiavelli's works that suggests admiration for those who oppose insurmountable odds or persist in lost causes. Although Machiavelli praises boldness and innovation, he recognizes that innovation without prudence will not conquer fortune but instead make the innovator fortune's victim by setting loose a flood of contingencies beyond his control.(7) The ultimate aim for the prince or the state is "stable innovation,"(8) and this difficult process requires foresight and mental agility as well as boldness. In the same chapter that contains the famous statement that fortune is a woman, Machiavelli also compares fortune to a violent river that can be controlled only through foresight, the building of "dikes and dams" in times of safety, because once the river grows wild it sweeps away everything in its path (The Prince, XXV). The flood of events following Satan's rebellion is a demonstration of the consequences of innovation without prudence, of an essential failure of virtu. Satan reveals his lack of prudence when he admits to Beelzebub that he underestimated God's strength in arms (lines 93-94). Once in Hell, he compounds his initial error by adding inflexibility to imprudence, refusing to "repent or change,/ Though chang'd in outward luster." Machiavelli often states that the prince must change his way of thinking to come into accord with his external circumstances. Satan, on the other hand, is making a virtue of having a "fixt mind" regardless of the radical change in his condition. For example, as he reviews his fallen troops Satan's "heart/ Distends with pride, and hardning in his strength/ Glories" (PL I, 57173). "Hardening in strength" is a danger Machiavelli warns the prince against. Because men tend to repeat whatever action brought them success, they lose the ability to innovate and therefore become the victims of Fortune, who continually creates circumstances without precedent (The Prince, XXV). What is particularly ironic in Satan's case is that he is not "hardening" after success but after failure. Machiavelli's political philosophy is based on the clear-eyed recognition of de facto power relationships. Once defeated, Satan's refusal to acknowledge God's demonstrated omnipotence is more than imprudent, it is willfully blind.

Satan also misrepresents past events (a kind of retrodictive imprudence), claiming for example that the rebel forces "shook" God's throne and that God "doubted his Empire" (PL I, 105, 114), as he incorrectly assesses the devils' present condition:

since by Fate and strength of Gods

And this Empyreal substance cannot fail,

Since through experience of this great event

In Arms not worse, in foresight much advanc't,

We may with more successful hope resolve

To wage by force or guile eternal Warr

Irreconcileable to our grand Foe. (PL I, 116-22)

Satan claims to have gained "foresight" through experience, and implies that their defeat has given them the knowledge they will need in order to succeed m their next conflict. Once again this statement evokes Machiavelli's ideal prince, who has been "fortunate" enough to found his principality through adversity rather than luck since his experiences will have educated him in the ways of maintaining power (The Prince, VII). Satan, however, has not learned anything that can render God vulnerable, and his boast of an easier victory next time is a mockery of strategic wisdom. In a reference that recalls Machiavelli's animal metaphor, Satan seems willing to be either the lion or the fox, "To wage by force or guile eternal Warr." This line reflects the central contradiction in Milton's portrait of Satan as Machiavelli's prince: his willingness to use either force or guile is classically Machiavellian, but his call for "eternal war" against an omnipotent foe belies the surface appearance of pragmatism and flexibility, revealing an essentialist character that has surrendered its autonomy to programmed opposition. Satan may seem to be a free agent, boldly innovating his future; he is instead a slave to his own nature.(9)

Satan's speeches are riddled with absolute statements indicating that he will never yield or submit himself to God's power. His persistent refusal begs the question that he and his forces have already been forced to yield, and is typical of Satan's basic tendency to treat ineluctable realities as products of his will. Thus God is not God unless Satan willingly kneels and agrees to "deify his power." Throughout books one and two Satan repeatedly "wills" what is already a fact of his existence. For example, when he declares "Be it so" to his fate and greets Hell as its "new Possessor" (PL I, 245-55), Satan is trying mentally to usurp control over a situation in which he is actually helpless. While he asserts that "The mind is its own place, and in itself/ Can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n" (PL I, 254-55), the poem will prove otherwise. He can throw the force of his magnificent courage against his fate and his words dissolve in dramatic irony: "Awake, arise, or be for ever fall'n" (PL I, 330). Satan speaks as if the devils can fashion a new world through sheer strength of will from whatever fortune hands them: "but rather seek / Our own good from our selves, and from our own / Live to our selves, though in this vast recess, / Free, and to none accountable" (PL II, 253-56). Satan's call for self-reliance and his determination to seize his fortune may be Machiavellian, but given the circumstances, there is really nothing to seize. Fortune and contingency cannot be found in the "vast recess" of Hell.

The most controversial aspect of Machiavelli's political philosophy is his belief that a prince must be willing to do evil. Satan would seem in this regard to be an ideal Machiavellian: "To do ought good will never be our task, / But ever to do ill our sole delight, / As being the contrary to his high will / Whom we resist" (PL I, 159-62). In The Prince, Machiavelli warns that a man who tries to govern and at the same time wishes to make a profession of being good in all regards is studying his own ruin. He maintains that a prince must learn how not to be good as necessity dictates ("imparare a potere essere non buono, e usarlo e non l'usare secondo la necessita" [The Prince, XV]). Citing passages such as this one, a good many readers attack Machiavelli for actively promoting evil.(10) This advice appears cynical, but Machiavelli's aim is to actually minimize the amount of evil in civil administration by eliminating the dangerous naivete that would make the prince and his state the prey of ruthless opponents. He is also trying to restrict the practice of evil to what is absolutely necessary ("secondo la necessita"). In the final analysis, Machiavelli feels that a pragmatic use of evil by a civic-minded prince is a means of governing a principality that promises to do the least harm. Satan's embrace of evil is not Machiavellian because it is not pragmatic; it is instead an absolute, reflexive reaction against God. Rather than limiting his evil actions to what is necessary to protect himself and his state, Satan chains himself to a program of misconduct that is far more self-destructive than it is self-serving. And as a prince, his personal destruction carries with it the destruction of his community.

Paradise Lost is a work which continually glosses itself. It is useful to remember that Satan's state of mind cannot be revealed to the reader in books one and two. His speeches are designed to move an audience, and their rhetorical aim can distort our perception of his mental state. The internal monologue in book four (lines 31-113) reinterprets Satan's boasts in books one and two, and here he is revealed as a creature miserably trapped by his own psychology:

O then at last relent is there no place

Left for Repentance, none for Pardon left?

None left but by submission; and that word

Disdain forbids me, and my dread of shame

Among the spirits beneath whom I seduc'd

With other promises and other vaunts

Than to submit, boasting I could subdue

Th' Omnipotent. Ay me, they little know

How dearly I abide that boast so vain,

Under what torments inwardly I groan (PL IV, 79-89)

Although the hypocrisy and manipulation of his followers may appear Machiavellian, the internal torment and psychological fixity that Satan reveals in this passage are antithetical to the mental agility and cool self-possession of Machiavelli's ideal prince. Satan is the classic tyrant -- a slave to his emotions, neither prudent nor pragmatic.

While Milton evokes The Prince in Paradise Lost in order to interrogate its basic thesis, he is able to employ the republican themes in The Discourses without ambivalence. For Machiavelli the ability to adapt to changing circumstances is the essence of princely virtu. In The Discourses this kind of virtu is embodied in the larger community. According to Machiavelli, republics are inherently more adaptable (and hence more stable and long-lived) than either democracies or principalities. They are superior to all principalities, no matter how well-governed, because they can employ the collective virtu of their citizenry, with every citizen contributing his own special talent, rather than having the survival of the state depend on the qualities of a single individual. Machiavelli states that "a republic has a fuller life and enjoys good fortune for a longer time than a principality, since it is better able to adapt itself to diverse circumstances owing to the diversity found amongst its citizens than a prince can do" (The Discourses, III). Arguing along similar lines, Milton states that commonwealths are inherently more stable than monarchies: "Kingship it self is therefor counted the more safe and durable, because the king and, for the most part, his councel, is not chang'd during life: but a Commonwealth is held immortal; and therein firmest, safest, and most above fortune: for the death of a king, causeth ofttimes many dangerous alterations; but the death now and then of a Senator is not felt; the main bodie of them still continuing permanent in greatest and noblest Commonwealths, and as it were eternal" (The Ready and Easy Way, Works, 6:128).

As a republican Machiavelli prefers "mixed governments" because they can call on the abilities of "the one," "the few," or "the many" (in other words, the strengths of monarchy, aristocracy, or democracy) as the need arises. However, one of the most important advantages in Machiavelli's eyes of such a system is not just that the citizens' civic virtue can contribute to the state, but also that the state is so constructed as to develop and preserve this virtu among its citizens. Machiavelli asserts that civic virtue strengthens with employment and decays with disuse. Hence in republican Rome in any given epoch there were to be found an abundance of "uomini virtuosi" (The Discourses, 1.30); whereas in tyrannical regimes, such as the Turkish, the inhabitants were so used to slavery that they would be little or no threat once conquered (The Prince, IV). Nor for that matter would the citizenry of Machiavelli's own era be aggressive in the defense of their liberty, having become unsuited for freedom by the corrupt states in which they lived (see for example the discussion of Milan and Naples in The Discourses, 1.17).

Milton was as critical of England as Machiavelli was of Italy. He also saw his fellow countrymen as having been made corrupt and effeminate by years of servitude, "by nature slaves, and arrant beasts; not fitt for that liberty which they cri'd out and bellow'd for, but fitter to be led back again into thir old servitude, like a sort of clamouring & fighting brutes, broke loos from thir copyholds, that know not how to use or possess the liberty which they fought for" (Eikonoklastes XXVII, Works, 5:290). In speaking of the people's desire to have a king he states, "How unmanly must it needs be to count such a one the breath of our nostrils, to hang all our felicity on him, all our safetie, our well-being; for which, if we were aught els but sluggards or babies, we need not depend on none but God and our own counsels, our own active vertue and industrie" (The Ready and Easy Way, Works, 5:122).

Machiavelli's views of civic corruption were based on concepts of entropy that he applied to state and individual alike. He felt that there was a universal proclivity to cling to what was familiar in ourselves and in our governments, a rigidity that he connected to a natural tendency for all human institutions to decay. People and governments would naturally corrupt if they were not subjected to periodic renewal, "ridurre ai principii."(11) There is not only a great deal in Milton's political philosophy that would be in harmony with the republican principles outlined in the Discourses, but there is also a strong correlation between Machiavelli's theoretical insights and the societies portrayed in Paradise Lost. The republics admired by Machiavelli and other civic humanists thrived because they were able to call on the best of their citizens to serve the community. To one degree or another the republican philosophers embraced the idea of a broad-based government that recognized merit. Machiavelli, with his undisguised hostility towards the "gentiluomini," the idle aristocracy, was particularly interested in promoting the notion of rule by the best of the urban citizenry (excepting peasants as well as gentry).(12) The English republicanism of the Puritan Revolution drew heavily on civic humanism for its basic commonwealth model. A state with a ruling class of "saints" -- the political ideal many Puritan revolutionaries imagined for England -- is, in essence, a religious republic based on spiritual merit.(13) There are references that support the rule by an aristocracy of spiritual merit rather than birth or tradition throughout Milton's treatment of the Son's investiture in Heaven. In book six God speaks of Christ as the "Messiah, who by right of merit Reigns" (PL VI, 44), and Christ is called "worthiest" to reign several times in book seven (PL VII, 176, 707, 888). Conversely, much of Satan's outrage at Christ's new position as God's heir seems to stem from a feeling that his inherited or prior rights have been violated. He argues from the position of a dispossessed aristocrat, calling himself and his followers "Natives and Sons of Heav'n possess before/ By none" with "Imperial Titles which assert/ Our being ordain'd to govern" (PL V, 790-91, 801-02).(14)

Given Satan's sophistic skills, he is also able to mimic anti-royalist arguments in order to support his right to rebel against God's elevation of the Son. He shifts his position, sometimes playing the aggrieved noble, sometimes the champion of democracy, as he claims that equals do not have the right to rule over one another (PL V, 785802). This is a delicate issue since it is precisely this argument that Milton will again evoke in book twelve (64-74) in order to argue against the institution of earthly monarchy. However, for Milton as for Machiavelli, the question rests on merit. As Abdiel points out to Satan and his legions, the leader of the rebellion is correct in stating that equals do not have the right to rule one another; nevertheless, Satan has no grounds to assume that he is the equal of God's son (PL, V, 810-46). Furthermore, the rights of equals not to be ruled by one of their own also has a distinctly medieval ring, since it is one of the traditional arguments the ancient nobility used against encroachments by the crown. Thus even this seemingly democratic position, when taken with the essentially aristocratic nature of the rest of Satan's arguments, takes on feudal overtones. Mixing arguments from contradictory political ideologies also has the effect of turning Satan's own forensic virtuosity against itself. As a dispossessed aristocratic pseudo-democrat, Satan creates a transparently sophistic effect. Any one of these arguments alone is effective; together they destroy one another.(15) In this instance as in many others, Satan is a parody of Machiavellian virtu, his strategies a chaotic grab bag of virtues, a jumble of responses he throws at problems. In Machiavellian terms, Satan is a failure because he does not fit the response (the talent) to the circumstances. In Miltonic terms, the very multiplicity of justifications is itself a sign of degeneracy since Christian virtue and "right reason" dictate elegant solutions that display the logical simplicity characteristic of truth.(16) Finally, Satan's arguments are, of course, particularly suspect because the reader has already seen the "government" that he has created in Hell, where he reigns not even as the feudal primus inter pares, let alone as a democratic leader, but as an absolute monarch, a tyrant.

Before examining Satan's tyranny in detail, it might be helpful to see if Milton presents the reader with a model state against which all others may be measured. Heaven would seem the obvious site in which to locate the ideal polls, but Milton's Heaven has struck many readers as anything but a political ideal. They have been particularly put off because Milton's anti-royalism does not extend to God.(17) The logic of the poem, however, makes a demand for political consistency between Heaven and Earth somewhat beside the point. Milton's God is a unique being of absolute goodness, wisdom, and power; no earthly king could claim to be his equal. Milton's argument turns on the assertion that it is precisely because there is a heavenly monarch that earthly kingship is a sinful usurpation of divine rule. This is why the tyrant is the greatest rebel against God (see PL XII, 65-75). Secondly, when looking at the government of Heaven, it is also important to remember that Milton was not a democrat. His views were well within the tradition of classical political theory, which was republican and promoted mixed governments.(18) A strong executive presence is a legitimate part of the ideal state as envisioned by civic humanists. In a mixed government based on meritocracy (and without the modern construct of checks and balances), the "princely" function would expand with the needs of the state and the talent of the individual in command. In Paradise Lost, God's talents and virtue are represented as limitless, and it would be illogical on the grounds of merit alone if God and Christ did not exercise at least quasi-monarchial powers.

Nevertheless, within the necessary constraints imposed by God's omniscience and omnipotence, there is a surprising amount of individual agency exercised by the heavenly host. In many ways Milton's Heaven resembles Machiavelli's ideal republic, continually calling on the individual virtu of each of its members. When in book three God offers to rescue mankind if a volunteer can be found willing to sacrifice himself, he is resting his plans on the virtuous action of a citizen of Heaven, and Milton takes pains to make it clear that any angel had the opportunity to be man's redeemer. This is in sharp contrast with the actions of Hell's monarch, who stages a political charade in order to make sure that the glory of his "sacrifice" cannot be shared by any of his followers (PL II, 466-73). The angels in Milton's Heaven are excluded from virtuous and autonomous action only insofar as they naturally defer to superior wisdom and goodness. One particularly revealing moment occurs when Christ's sacrifice is celebrated by the heavenly host in book three. The angels all wear crowns, a symbol of sovereign power, which they throw to the ground in a voluntary act of worship, and significantly replace in the midst of their celebration (PL m, 350-51; 364). The angels' autonomy remains intact while they acknowledge Christ's inherent superiority. Even in the midst of issuing commands, Milton's God is careful to give the angels decision-making power commensurate with their capacities. In book nine God gives Michael a military mission but leaves the choice of troops up to him:

Michael, this my behest have thou in charge,

Take to thee from among the Cherubim

Thy choice of flaming Warriours, least the Fiend

Or in behalf of Man, or to invade

Vacant possession som new trouble raise. (PL XI, 99-103)

Even though this is one rather minor example, it illustrates the care with which Milton portrays God's restraint in command situations; after all, his judgment about the proper troops would have been superior to Michael's. In leaving the decision to his angel, God allows Michael to exercise and therefore retain his natural virtu. The most extended exploration of angelic autonomy takes place in the war in Heaven, where God's restraint is military nonsense but political wisdom.

The war in Heaven seems at first glance to be an exercise in futility. Milton has God withhold his power as a meaningless contest rages between the loyal angels and the rebels. Because both sides are evenly matched and physically invulnerable, neither side can win or lose, and it is difficult for the reader to discern a purpose for God's inaction. However, if our view of the teleology of the war is expanded beyond military victory to the societal goal of "ridurre ai principii" with its consequent renewal of individual virtu, then what at first may seem an absurd enterprise emerges as an activity of high social (and spiritual) utility. Books eleven and twelve often serve as a coda and commentary for the rest of the poem, and the issue of the war's purpose is no exception. In a passage that casts the fall of man in the light of renovation and renewal (PL XI, 61-71), God declares that he will not hide his purpose from the angels who lately "in thir state, though firm, stood more confirm'd" (PL XI, 71). In book six Raphael describes a just and virtuous war (in sharp contrast with the blood baths fought by glory-hungry "heroes" the reader will encounter in book eleven). The good angels are virtuoso soldiers, fighting against troops whose virtu is crystallized in one individual, Satan. Raphael describes the army of loyal angels as limited by God in strength, but as unlimited in autonomy:

A numerous Host, in strength each armed hand

A Legion; led in fight, yet Leader seemd

Each Warriour single as in Chief, expert

When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway

Of Battel, open when, and when to close

The ridges of grim War; no thought of flight,

None of retreat, no unbecoming deed

That argu'd fear; each on himself reli'd

As onely in his arm the moment lay

Of victorie. (PL VI, 231-40)

Machiavelli would have felt at home in Raphael's description of this citizens' army. He had a fanatic devotion to the idea of arming the people and viewed a strong militia as the sine qua non of a healthy state.(19)

Milton's war in Heaven is Machiavellian in its celebration of an autonomous and armed citizenry, and it also recalls his key concept of "ridurre ai principii." Heaven is a social order that is eternal but far from static. God's decision to change Heaven's hierarchy initiates actions (Satan's decision to rebel, the war, and the expulsion of the devils) that will lead to its purgation and renewal in a series of paradoxical events that are analogous to the earthly Felix Culpa. The passage in book eleven that refers to the angels having stood "more confirm'd" by the war in Heaven comes in the midst of description of the "renovation" caused by the fall of man (PL XI, 58-71). The deliberate linking late in the poem of the war in Heaven and the fall of man as parallel in a divine plan of renewal underscores the importance of the theme of purgation and regeneration. From a political and spiritual standpoint, the society in Heaven is improved, purified, and reconfirmed in its original principles by the investiture of Christ, the rebellion it provokes, the expulsion of a degenerate element, and the action of "standing" that strengthens the already strong commitment of the loyal host. The war in Heaven is an indication that this civic sphere was not wholly perfect, and the purgation of its decadent element is the first step in its renovation. When Michael confronts Satan during the battle, he speaks of a personified Heaven that is undergoing a process of purging that will naturally "cast out" Satan as an intolerable evil (PL VI, 263-76). The purgation image culminates near the end of book six when the devils are expelled and "Disburd'n'd Heav'n rejoic'd, and soon repaird/ Her mural breach, returning whence it rowld" (PL VI, 879-80). Renewal and purgation are referred to directly as well as figuratively. Christ declares that the state of Heaven will be purified by the loss of the rebel angels: "Then shall thy Saints unmixt, and from the impure / Farr separate, circling thy holy Mount / Unfeigned Halleluiahs to thee sing" (PL VI, 742-44).

The concept of "ridurre ai principii" embraces more than societal purification; it is also an active strengthening of civic consciousness through a return to original or founding principles. The renewal of virtu applies to the society as a whole and to individuals, and Milton underscores the relationship between a healthy community and individual agency in his treatment of Abdiel. Civic regeneration begins in Heaven when Abdiel stands up to Satan. Milton's favorite metaphor for acts of spiritual integrity and moral courage is the "stand" for God, and Abdiel's stand against the peer pressure of the rebel host is more significant than all the subsequent fighting. It defines heroism in the poem. For Milton, neither classical virtue nor Machiavellian virtu can replace Christian virtue as the fundamental political and moral principle. Because "standing" is Milton's metaphor for virtuous action, it is extended from Abdiel to the rest of the angels at the end of the war. Christ takes over the battle and tells the angels to "stand onely and behold" (PL VI, 810). Christ's victory and, more importantly, the stand taken by the loyal host returns Heaven to its founding political principles of spiritual meritocracy. These principles had begun a partial decay into an inherited aristocracy of tradition (see Satan's claims of prior right), and the war restores Heaven to its fundamental values, with the loyal angels leading Christ in triumph and declaring him "Worthiest to Reign" (PL VI, 888). By a process of "ridurre ai principii," Heaven can escape the inevitable cycles of government that destroy earthly states.(21)

Before being introduced to the ideal society of Heaven, the reader has been primed to accept its underlying principles by witnessing a state that is both chaotic and tyrannical. Milton illustrates the importance of societal renewal by first taking the political via negativa in Hell, where he demonstrates the rapid decay of civic virtue once the citizen's autonomy is surrendered to an absolute monarch. In books one and two, the devils' fall is relatively recent, and just as Satan is still nothing "less then Arch Angel ruin'd" (PL I, 593), the state and the individuals he rules retain a portion of their original virtu. If meritocratic values are part of the measure of virtuous state, then Hell is not without its republican moments. When the narrative refers to Satan having been "by merit rais'd / To that bad eminence" (PL II, 56), it is not being entirely ironic. The obvious question that arises is why does Milton script any civic virtue in Hell? Most likely, the answer lies in the context within which Milton had to frame his arguments. At this point in its history, the discourse on political thought would no longer permit the simple dismissal of Machiavellian virtu as immoral and therefore ineffective. By Milton's time the classic equation of Christian virtue and effective rule that earlier humanists like Erasmus had taken as self-evident had thoroughly broken down.(22) One might add that Milton's own political experiences would scarcely have reinforced such an equation, and that the antinomian tendencies inherent in Reformation theology had made rule-bound ideas of Christian virtue increasingly irrelevant. The dissolution of the easy equivalence of Christian and civic virtue forces Milton to defeat Machiavelli in his own realm of prudence; somehow, he has to show that the prince self-destructs if his only grounding is a talent for exercising power. However, Milton must accomplish this indictment of pure virtu without giving the appearance of political naivete. By evoking a meritocratic regime and an active citizenry in the initial descriptions of Hell, Milton forces the reader to focus on that narrow area of difference between virtu and virtue.

To a large degree, Milton can use Machiavelli's own theoretical works to problematize the whole notion of successful princely rule. As Machiavelli makes clear in The Discourses, enduring principalities are rare. By creating a portrait of a failed Machiavellian prince, Milton can raise the question whether princely virtu can ever exist in sufficient quantity or be durable enough to make monarchy a viable political option. Also, by endowing Hell with remnants of Heavenly (republican) virtue, Milton can focus in on the problem of maintaining collective civic virtue in a reprobate world recently fallen from grace (with obvious resonances for his fellow citizens in Restoration England). In short, Paradise Lost creates a sense of history in Hell to illustrate the ineluctable entropy of a society that has lost its citizens' autonomy and its moral center. The rapid political decay of Hell exposes the ephemerality of virtu divorced from virtue. Consequently every example of Satanic or devilish civic virtue is introduced in the poem in order to prefigure its loss. For instance, Satan speaks to his followers and uses the term "virtues" in the Machiavellian sense of abilities honed by adversity: "Immortal vigor, though oppress and fall'n / I give not Heav'n for lost. From this descent / Celestial vertues rising, will appear / More glorious and more dread then from no fall" (PL II, 13-16). Satan's version of the fallen angels' felix culpa is fatally wrong, but at this point he is correct in speaking of a kind of "virtue" in Hell: not Christian, but encompassing both classical heroism and Renaissance virtuosity. Lest the reader, alerted to Satan's inherent unreliability, mistake his statement for one more boast, the narrator reinforces the idea of demonic virtu later in book two when speaking of Satan's courage, stating "neither do the Spirits damn'd/ Lose all thir virtue" (PL II, 482-X3). Since the devils lost their Christian virtue immediately and irrevocably at the moment of the rebellion, what they retain must be a combination of classical virtue and Renaissance virtu. As the poem progresses, they will be stripped systematically of these qualities as well.

Denuding the devils of their virtues in hierarchical order allows Milton not only to interrogate assumptions about the relationship between Christian and civic virtue but also to define Christian heroism. In book two of The Discourses, Machiavelli rails against the effect Christianity has had on political life; by glorifying the contemplative man rather than the man of action, it has made societies prey for the wicked. If traditional Christian virtue can be summed up in contemptus mundi, then the state is left defenseless, having been abandoned by all good men.(23) Milton understood as well as Machiavelli the practical consequences of a life that held civic duty in contempt. However, he also felt keenly the dangers of pride and the thirst for worldly fame. In Paradise Lost Milton stakes out a middle ground--the "stand" somewhere between retreat from the world and active pursuit of its glories. If Abdiel is the ideal citizen, the just man standing for God, then the devils represent the limits of civic virtue divorced from Christian principles. They are courageous and clever but not good, and what the poem will set out to prove is that even pagan virtues cannot be sustained in a morally disobedient state.

Flexibility and individuality are two important features of Machiavellian virtu that are evident in Hell's early stage. Initially, the devils retain the ability to choose any shape to "execute thir eerie purposes" (PL I, 423-31), in contrast with their condition after the fall of man when they are imprisoned in forms symbolic of their sin. The newly fallen angels are amorphous and adaptable "individuals," each with his own special talents. In Machiavellian terms Hell is not yet completely corrupt because it still has uomini virtuosi. It can call on the lion (Moloch) or the fox (Belial) to wage its wars and defend its interests. But according to Machiavelli's theory of political corruption, their civic virtues will disappear if they languish in disuse. For Milton, the tyrant is a usurper in two senses; he usurps God's prerogative and the citizen's autonomy, creating a society that is both morally bankrupt and socially indolent. Thus Satan's use of Beelzebub in the colloquy in Hell is pivotal. When Beelzebub gives the "advice" he has been told to give, civic participation in Hell is unmasked as nothing more than bad theater scripted by "the Author of all ill" (PL II, 380).(24) All of Hell's virtu is concentrated in its leader, and just like Machiavelli's Turkish tyranny it is frighteningly unified under its "great Sultan" but lapses into chaos once he is removed.(25) There are two classic geographical tropes against which Renaissance political thinkers could define the ideal state: to the north lay savage barbarism, to the south decadent tyranny. Milton evokes both in his description of Hell:

Till, as a signal giv'n, th' uplifted Spear

Of thir great Sultan waving to direct

Thir course, in even balance down they light

On the firm brimstone, and fill all the Plain;

A multitude, like which the populous North

Pour'd never from her frozen loyns, to pass

Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous Sons

Came like a Deluge on the South...(PL I, 347-55)

For Machiavelli and Milton chaos is not tyranny's opposite but its substructure.(26) The concentration of all civic virtue in the prince is accomplished at the expense of the society as a whole. Milton underscores the fundamental alliance between tyranny and chaos when he has Satan assure Chaos that the devils' conquest of the world will mean Chaos' restoration (PL II, 969-87). Descriptions of the social order in Hell itself flash between lock step conformity and pandemonium. The analogy of the devils with a swarm of bees(27) is an example of this kind of chaos in control and recalls the previous image of the barbarous hordes under the command of the "great Sultan":

Thick swarm'd, both on the ground and in the air,

Brusht with the hiss of rustling wings. As Bees

In spring time, when the Sun with Taurus rides,

Pour forth thir populous youth about the Hive

In clusters; they among fresh dews and flowers

Flie to and fro, or on the smoothed Plank,

The suburb of thir Straw-built Cittadel,

New rub'd with Baum, expatiate and confer

Thir State affairs. So thick the eerie crowd

Swarm'd and were straitn'd; till the Signal giv'n...(PL I, 767-76)

The devils "Fly to and fro" in directionless swarms and "expatiate and confer / Thir State affairs." (The word "expatiate" means to discuss at length, but it also would carry its original sense of wandering in space.) The movements and thoughts of these drones await the signal of their monarch, their "King Bee," to give them shape. After the colloquy, which Satan manipulates to ensure his status as absolute commander and lone hero, he instructs the devils to seek to improve the environs of Hell and to keep a constant watch against their "Foe" while he seeks "Deliverance for us all: this enterprize / None shall partake with me" (PL II, 456-66). Satan's determination not to share his enterprise, neither its risks nor its glories, is one more indication that Hell's virtu is contained within a single individual, who when he leaves carries with him the state's capacity for government. The moment the devils are left leaderless, they fall apart as a society:

Thence more at ease thir minds and somewhat rais'd

By false presumptuous hope, the ranged powers

Disband, and wandring, each his several way

Pursues, as inclination or sad choice

Leads him perplex", where he may likeliest find

Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain

The irksome hours, till this great Chief return. (PL II, 521-27)

Hell quickly deteriorates into a cacophonous exercise of every pagan virtue the devils can summon: feats of arms, epic verse, philosophical debate, and territorial exploration (PL II, 527-628). But the leaderless devils can accomplish nothing, not even managing to carry out Satan's last two commands to improve Hell and to keep watch. These futile gestures are their last ghostly exercises of "virtues" divorced from Christian virtue. After this point in the poem, the devils never again engage in an act of free will, let alone individual heroism or civic duty.

When Satan returns in "triumph" to Hell in book ten, he comes back to a social desert:

through the Gate,

Wide open and unguarded, Satan pass'd,

And all about found desolate; for those

Appointed to sit there, had left thir charge,

Flown to the upper World; the rest were all

Farr to the inland retir'd, about the walls

Of Pandaemonium. (PL X, 418-24)

In his absence the devils have been paralyzed, sitting and staring at an empty throne.

Interestingly enough, the narrative rewrites itself to make this inaction consistent with Satan's commands. In book two they were instructed to watch for the "Foe"; instead, in book ten, they watch for Satan (who is, of course, their real enemy, whether they know it or not): "There kept thir Watch the Legions, while the Grand / In Council sate, sollicitous what chance / Might intercept thir Emperour sent, so tree / Departing gave command and they observ'd" (PL X, 426-29). Milton employs a striking simile to describe the effect of the devils' withdrawal to the center of Hell to keep watch at the throne. He compares it to the practice of a strategic retreat, where a country destroys itself in order to leave nothing but a wasteland for the enemy to conquer, and once again, Satan stands in for the "Foe":

As when the Tartar from the Russian Foe

By Astracan over the Snowie Plaines

Retires, or Bactrian Sophi from the homes

Of Turkish Crescent, leaves all waste beyond

The Realm of Aladule, in his retreate

To Tauris or Casbeen: So these the late

Heav'n-banisht Host, left desert utmost Hell (PL X, 431-37)

The irony of leaving a scorched earth for their own leader--the so-called conqueror of worlds--underscores the hollowness of all the tyrant's domestic and foreign triumphs and unmasks him as his people's greatest enemy. Satan, disguised as a "Plebeian Angel," sneaks onto the throne, draws attention to himself with a few fireworks and narrates his conquest of man. Unlike the celebration of Christ's victory by sovereign angels who retain their autonomy, Satan's story of his "triumph" reduces Hell's legions to a tangle of serpents helplessly hissing their leader and spilling out of Pandaemonium in a disorderly rout. Hell has lost all of its individuals. We no longer hear of Belial, Moloch, or Beelzebub; the only devil that is ever named is Satan, and even he is greatly reduced in stature. Milton completes his portrait of civic decadence by stripping Hell's inhabitants of every vestige of individual agency; driven to recreate the fall of man in a degrading ritual, "on they roll'd in heaps," burning with an appetite that forces them to eat the fruit of their revenge in "hatefullest disrelish" (PL X, 545-75). Once again, the corruption of virtue typical in tyrannic regimes is expressed as the enslavement to appetite. Milton contrasts their continual fall with mankind's:

so oft they fell

Into the same illusion, not as Man

Whom they triumph'd, once lapst. Thus were they plagu'd

And worn with Famin long, and ceaseless hiss,

Till thir lost shape, permitted, they resum'd,

Yearly enjoind, some say, to undergo

This annual humbling certain number'd days. (PL X, 570-76)

Mankind's fall is framed in contingency; there is an atmosphere of free choice and hope that surrounds Adam and Eve after the fall almost as much as before it. However, the devils inhabit a realm of reprobation, where free will is illusory and all their actions serve simply to compound their degradation. In a political as well as moral sense, Hell's social order is beyond repair. Just as Heaven escapes the earthly cycles of government by renewal and regeneration, Hell is immune to the same cycles by being politically in a state of irrevocable decay.

We re-enter the world of contingency in books eleven and twelve when Adam is shown the panorama of history. Adam vacillates between guilty despair and hope for his progeny. Most of all, he learns what constitutes Christian virtue and how to distinguish the virtuous man in the crowd. Michael teaches Adam the difference between pleasure and goodness (PL XI, 555-625), and virtue and classical virtue, or military heroism, by showing him a spectacle drawn from a time when slaughtering one another in battle was "held the highest pitch/ Of human Glorie" (PL XI, 693-94). Adam sees that the conqueror is not virtuous, but neither are those he enslaves: "The conquerd also, and enslav'd by Warr/ Shall with thir freedom lost all vertu loose" (PL XI, 797-98). Neither aggression nor meek surrender is constitutive of Christian virtue. It does not seek earthly rewards, but Miltonic Christian virtue does demand involvement in the world, specifically, the moral courage to stand alone against the corrupt multitude:

So all shall turn degenerate, all deprav'd,

Justice and Temperance, Truth and Faith forgot;

One Man except, the onely son of light

In a dark Age, against example good,

Against allurement, custom, and a World

Offended; fearless of reproach and scorn,

Or violence, tree of thir wicked wayes

Shall them admonish, and before them set

The paths of righteousness. (PL XI, 806-13)

The "one just man" in this passage is Moses, and he embodies the typology of heroism that Milton continues to develop on the model Abdiel (see also PL XI, 680-81 and 874-76). Adam learns that it is because of these few good men who stand alone for God that the earth escapes utter destruction (PL XI, 885-95). In a sense, contingency is kept alive by Christ's precedent types until his arrival. At any rate, Milton makes it clear that there are significant segments of human history where virtue is isolated within a single individual. This seems to bring us full circle to the idea of the isolation of virtu in the prince. The concentration of civic virtue in the individual, if he is a monarch, results in the death of the society. If, however, in a wicked and corrupt world virtue can be found in an individual who serves God, he becomes the saving remnant and society's hope for a better future. By repeating the model but inverting the results, Milton transfers and transforms the tyrant's power, investing it in the individual who freely chooses to stand firm in God's laws.

The last two books of Paradise Lost culminate Milton's exploration of the issues surrounding Christian and civic virtue, issues raised in large part by Machiavelli and the Italian civic humanists. In Machiavelli's works Milton found compelling portraits of power, a complex and pragmatic approach to theories of mixed government, and a spirit of honesty that chose to problematize rather than gloss over the conflict between civic and Christian virtue. Milton answered the questions Machiavelli raised by creating an ideal world and a reprobate world to demonstrate the consequences of political and moral choices. Ultimately, Milton leads his readers back into a contingent world, neither saved nor lost, where they carry within themselves the potential for paradise.

(1) For analyses of the reception of Machiavelli and his works on the continent and in England, see among others Raab; Pocock; Donaldson; and Kahn, 1994.

(2) See especially Fink, chapter four, 90-122, for the debt Milton owes in his political prose to Machiavelli's Discourses. Among other links between Milton and Machiavelli, Fink points out the large number of direct citations of The Discourses in Milton's Commonplace Book. See also Kahn, 1994, 171-84, on Milton's prose. Recent treatment of Machievellian themes in Milton's poetry include most notably Kahn, 1994, 185-208 and 209-35, chapters on Comus and Paradise Lost. In her introduction to the section devoted to Milton, 169, Kahn argues that in both his prose and poetry "Milton was Machiavellian in a way Machiavelli would have appreciated: he understood the rhetorical dimension of politics exemplified by Machiavelli's Prince and Discourses; and much of his work can be seen as an extended meditation on the relation of rhetoric and faith not only to virtue but also to virtue." For another treatment of Milton's Machiavellianism in Paradise Lost, see Warden.

(3) Raab, 183, raises the interesting possibility that in The Prince Machiavelli slyly undercuts the idea of princely rule, thereby creating as republican a work as The Discourses. Raab shares this reading of The Prince with Spinoza among others (Cassirer, 120). If they are correct, then Milton's Satanic portrait of the prince is not repudiating Machiavelli's project but furthering it. On the other hand, Meinecke attempts to resolve the "contradiction" between Machiavelli's two major works by citing his theory of the cycles of political history -- principalities are indeed inferior to republics, but they are also an inescapable phase in a state's political evolution. See Baron, 2:106-07, for a discussion of Meinecke's theory. My view is that Machiavelli was a sincere republican, but I think he was equally sincere in his advice to the prince. Machiavelli was a patriot who had the mental and moral agility to adjust to the political realities of his world. If Italy could not unite in a free republic, and he saw ample evidence that it could not, then his next choice would be a strong prince who could at least spare the population from the horrors of civil war and foreign conquest. Perhaps most importantly for Machiavelli, a united principality could be the penultimate step to a free and secure Italian republic. Milton, on the other hand, would never have compromised his anti-royalism whatever the historic circumstances.

(4) For a detailed discussion of the relationship between Machiavellian virtu and prudence, see Garver, 31, who states that "Machiavelli `empties' virtu of its conventional semantic, moral, and intellectual associations in order to substitute a prudential structure for understanding it.

(5) There are a number of references to force and guile in Paradise Lost that recall Machiavelli's lion and fox. Among them is Satan's pledge "To wage by force or guile eternal Warr" (PL, 121). Also, "Our better part remains/ To work in close design, by fraud or guile/ What force effected not" (PL I, 645-647); "by what best way/ Whether of open War or covert guile, / We now debate" (PL II, 40-42); "War therefore, open or conceal'd, alike/ My voice dissuades; for what can force or guile/ With him, or who deceive his mind whose eye/ Views all things at one view" (PL II, 187-90); and "Greiving to see his Glory, at the sight/ Took envy, and aspiring to his highth,/ Stood reimbattled fierce, by force or fraud/ Weening to prosper" (PL VI, 792-95). See Rebhorn, 1988, for a discussion of the Machiavellian character type and its literary context.

(6) Pitkin explores the complex interaction between concepts of autonomy and feelings about gender (specifically anxieties about manhood) in Machiavelli's work, noting the vir in virtu, and his take on the traditional opposition of virtue and fortune. Machiavelli often speaks of the goddess Fortuna as a dangerous and castrating woman who must be dominated. I would like to suggest that Milton may have had in mind Machiavelli's image of the sexual conquest of Fortuna when he drew his portrait of Satan and Sin.

(7) Pocock, 167, notes that Machiavellian innovation is both the principle of disorder which looses a flood of contingent events we can neither predict nor control and the only means we have to impose our pattern of order on fortune.

(8) See Garver, 34, on Machiavelli's new theoretical take on the relationship between stability and innovation: "From being a sort of rest after the act of innovation, stability becomes the ability to perform continual acts of innovation."

(9) The idea that the tyrant is a slave to his own nature, particularly to his passions dates back to Plato's Republic. In books eight and nine Socrates speaks of the tyrant's personality -- helpless in the face of his desires, isolated from other men, in every way miserable. He is also presented in classical theory as weak and uxorious, a result of his essentially erotic nature; Satan's desire for Sin could be read as part of this tradition. See Bushnell, who explores the theory of the uxorious tyrant and points out its popularity in the Renaissance. For an analysis of Milton's Satan as tyrant (specifically as Charles I), see Bennett.

(10) See Straus, et al.

(11) "Rinnovazione" and "ridurre ai principii" are Machiavelli's answer to the perennial problem of corruption in religious institutions as well as republics. See The Discourses III.1, where he states, "It is clearer than daylight that, without renovation these bodies do not last," and that "the way to renovate them, as has been said, is to reduce them to their starting points."

(12) See Fink, 19-20; and Pocock, 114-55. There is a considerable variety of views among those who promoted mixed governments as to which class would make the best ruling group. Guicciardini, for example, criticized Machiavelli for wanting to give too much power to ordinary citizens; his concept of mixed government was highly aristocratic, favoring concentration of power in the "ottimati."

(13) See Pocock, 395-400, for a discussion of the republic as theocracy.

(14) Radzinowicz, 210, is one of a number of readers who have commented on the meritocracy in the poem. Rebhorn, 1973, connects Milton's emphasis on merit to the principles of Christian humanism. He sees Satan's justification for his rebellion as "conservative," resting on claims of hierarchical position. Rebhorn covers a number of prominent Renaissance thinkers in his discussion of the importance of merit to Christian humanists, but does not cite civic humanists like Machiavelli or others in the Florentine school.

(15) This is very much like the effect Freud, 667, describes Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious: "A. had borrowed a copper kettle from B., and upon its return was sued by B. because it had a large hole which rendered it unserviceable. His defense was this: `In the first place, I never borrowed any kettle from B., secondly the kettle had a hole in it when I received it from B., thirdly the kettle was in perfect condition when I returned it.'"

(16) See, among other examples, how Christ reviles classical oratory and its complexity in Paradise Regained, preferring instead the "majestic unaffected style" of the Hebrew prophets to "all the Oratory of Greece and Rome," asserting that in scripture lies a simple and accessible truth: "In them is plainest taught, and easiest learnt" (IV. 359-61).

(17) See Empson; and Ross, et al. Empson sees Milton's God as purely authoritarian; he goes so far as to compare Paradise Lost's Heaven to a totalitarian state and its God to Joseph Stalin, 146. More recent readers of the poem's politics, like Davies, point to the logic of God's monarchy. Bennett, 59-93, sees Milton's God not as a tyrant or absolutist but as a just ruler under law, 67, a "voluntarily accountable monarch."

(18) Fink, 90-122, documents Milton's debt to classic republican theory and his preference for mixed governments in his political writings. See also Pocock, 395.

(19) For Machiavelli's views on armies, see The Prince XII and XIII, The Discourses I.21-23, and The Art of War whose theme is the dangers of mercenaries and the necessity of maintaining a people's army.

(20) The metaphor of the stand is central to Paradise Regained and appears in Sonnet XIX: "They also serve who only stand arid wait."

(21) Most civic humanists subscribed to the "cycle of constitutions" (anakublosis politeion) outlined in Polybius's Histories: all governing systems decay and yield to the next system, which in turn decays. Thus monarchy becomes tyranny yielding to aristocracy, which becomes oligarchy yielding to democracy, which becomes anarchy yielding to monarchy, and the process begins anew. The only way to escape the cycle would be to have a mixed government that incorporated all three elements. (For an analysis of the role the cycle of constitutions played in Florentine political theory see Pocock, 77 ff; for Milton's knowledge of Polybian theory, see Fink, 95.)

(22) See Kahn, 1986. Christian humanists generally subscribed to the Ciceronian equation of honestas and utilitas--if an action is honest it will be efficacious. Clearly Machiavelli's works counter this notion.

(23) See The Discourses II.2, where Machiavelli talks about the glorification of the vita contemplativa and its impact on society: "The pattern of life, therefore, appears to have made the world weak, and to have handed it over as prey to the wicked, who run it successfully and securely since they are well aware that the generality of men with paradise for their goal, consider how best to bear, rather than how best to avenge their injuries."

(24) It might be argued that the colloquy in heaven is equally scripted by the "Author of all good"; however, foreknowledge is not collusion. Milton's God resembles the ideal pedagogue, who says in effect, "I was hoping someone would say that."

(25) See Davies's chapter, "Sultan and Barbarian."

(26) There is a strong link in classic political thought between tyranny and democracy. Plato's Republic represents democratic license as the source and underlying spirit of tyranny. Milton's views would have been fairly consistent with Plato's- note, for example, his reaction to the popular hysteria surrounding Eikon Basilike and subsequent clamor for monarchy. Christopher Hill, in Milton and the English Revolution, describes Milton's attitudes towards democracy, placing them in historical context (114, 461). However, for Milton, as for Machiavelli, a certain amount of disorder is the hallmark of a vital society and actually helps to insure stability. In The Discourses 1.4, Machiavelli credits the discord between the Plebs and the Senate with the Roman Republic's longevity, and Milton has a similar praise of "schisms" in Areopagitica. See Kahn, 1988, for Machiavelli's positive attitude towards "disunion" in political systems in his Discourses. See Bock for the same theme in Machiavelli's Florentine Histories.

(27) Sommerville, 48, 18. This comparison between human society and a hive of bees was a favorite of absolutist theoreticians because it implied the universality of monarchial order. The idea that monarchy is the universal order was applied shame lessly by James I, who went so far as to defend monarchy on the grounds that even the devils had chieftains.
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Author:Riebling, Barbara
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Date:Sep 22, 1996
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