Shakespeare's Julius Caesar Inquiry: Excerpt from Machiavelli's Discourses on Livy III.6 (Of Conspiracies)

Mr. Steel



1. What is the greater danger for princes, according to Machiavelli: open war, or conspiracies? Why?





2. What is the most dangerous enterprise for a "private man" (i.e., a non-prince)? Why?






3. What is the most important cause of conspiracies, according to Machiavelli?




4. What are the three most serious offences or injuries that spawn conspiracies against a prince? Provide an example for each.











5. What is Machiavelli's advice in dealing with "menaces" to a prince?





6. What particular cause motivated the conspiracy against Caesar, according to Machiavelli?






7. At what three times (i.e. during what three stages) are conspiracies particularly dangerous?








8. How do singular conspiracies differ from those that involve more than one person in the sorts of dangers that they entail? Why are individual conspiracies rare, according to Machiavelli?





9. What does Machiavelli note about "all conspiracies" when he consults history? What is the reason for this consistency?






10. Who are more to be feared by the prince: those to whom he has done too many favours, or those to whom he has done too many injuries? Explain why.









11. How, according to Machiavelli, ought a prince guard against conspiracies among those who are favoured by him?






12. Why are mismanaged conspiracies often exposed prior to execution?





13. What "remedies" does Machiavelli offer to ensure the successful execution of a conspiracy?










14. What is instructive about the conspiracies led by Nelematus and Ortanes when these exemplars are applied to the execution of Brutus' conspiracy against Caesar?










15. What does Machiavelli say about the number of people who ought to be informed about a conspiracy? Why?







16. What is it that each "should guard himself from" at all costs? Why?






17. Explain Machiavelli's point about "false imaginations" and their danger to conspiracies. How does this warning relate to the plot against Caesar?







18. What danger still exists after a conspiracy has been executed? How is this danger apparent in the play?








19. Having read Machiavelli's thoughts concerning conspiracies, assess the effectiveness or success of the plot against Caesar in the Shakespearean play. Use evidence from the play and Machiavellian theory to support your conclusions. (3 paragraphs minimum)