Reading Machiavelli: On Being the Lion and the Fox


Course Description


And many have imagined republics and principalities that have never been seen or known to exist in truth; for it is so far from how one lives to how one should live that he who lets go of what is done for what should be done learns his ruin rather than his preservation. Machiavelli, The Prince, XV. 

Known as the father of political realism, Machiavelli (1469-1527) seeks to pull back the veil of what was hitherto seen to constitute a model political order. A ruler should not behave as a philosopher king, or assume the best in everyone as the medieval mirrors of princes suggested. Instead, to succeed, human nature should be truly considered. Individuals act out of self-interest, not morality, according to Machiavelli, and decisions should always be made with this in mind. 

Through a close reading of The Prince, this course will explore Machiavelli’s vision for politics. How does human behaviour affect our interactions? How does he view the role played by Christianity in politics up to his time and how should we evaluate the place of religion and morality in future political orders? What is the relationship between appearance and actions? What role does fortune play in human affairs and can rulers/humans overcome its effects? Finally, what are the larger implications of Machiavelli’s thought for our current society? Is he to be demonized for encouraging “Machiavellianism” or does he simply highlight the way things are?

Books to Purchase (will be available at Argo Bookshop during the weeks prior to the course beginning):

    • The Portable Machiavelli, ed. Peter Bondanella and Mark Musa

Please note that this course has a maximum enrollment of 14 students.

NEW PAYMENT POLICY: Participants must pay the course fees in order to be considered registered for the course. 

For fully registered courses, a waiting list will be created. Should vacancies develop, those on the waiting list will be contacted on a first-come, first-served basis.

Please note that we do not allow participants to audit courses for free.

Course Details

Location: Atwater or Zoom

First Session: Thursday 19 January 2023

Course Length: 6 weeks, Thursdays, 6:15 to 8:15 p.m.

Discussion Team: Pam Butler, Joseph Vietri

Degree Credit: 1.5 credits

Course Fee: 

$120.00 (standard tuition)

$80.00 (promotion for new students)

Administrative Fee:



$145.00 (standard tuition)

$105.00 (promotion for new students)


For 6-week courses, fees are refundable in full before the first session. If the participant withdraws after the first course, they will be charged a $50 fee. There is no refund after the second course has passed. Please note that non-attendance does not constitute a withdrawal.

Students pursuing studies for credit are encouraged to consult with their advisers as they register for courses.

Course leaders, and students wishing to use credit vouchers, should call (514) 935-9585 to pay by phone or to schedule an appointment to pay in person.

Fill the following form to register

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