Blasphemy and Leo Strauss’s Machiavelli

Dante Germino, "Blasphemy and Leo Strauss's Machiavelli," The Review of Politics, Vol. 53, No. 1 (Winter 1991).


In 1966, I published a review article hailing Leo Strauss’s Thoughts on Machiavelli as an instant classic. I also expressed some reservations or “second thoughts” about its conclusions.’ In the intervening years my appreciation for the profundity and originality of Strauss’s interpretation has only increased, but many of my doubts have also remained. Here I wish to restate both my admiration and reservations with particular attention to parts of Strauss’s chapter on Machiavelli published in the 1972 edition of his History of Political Philosophy, co-edited with Joseph Cropsey.

Let me at the outset state the obvious: Strauss’s interpretation of Machiavelli is well- indeed overwhelmingly- supported by textual evidence, given Strauss’s manner of reading between the lines. No interpreter, therefore, is entitled to dismiss it out of hand, even if he or she disagrees with Strauss’s methodology, in whole or in part. In this respect, Claude Lefort has provided a model for scholars whose philosophical orientation differs widely from that of Strauss.3 Strauss has given us a truly fresh look at the great Florentine