What does it mean to be a ‘realist’ in politics and international relations? This course will examine the work of two seminal thinkers, often thought of as the forefathers of realism: Thucydides and Machiavelli. Thucydides wrote a famous history of the brutal war between Athens and Sparta, exposing for his readers some of the strongest (though not always ethical) motives that drive political leaders and states. Machiavelli wrote a ‘handbook’ for future princes, detailing cunning ways to obtain and hold onto power. Both focus on worlds infused with conflict and competition, where morality often seems to have very little influence. But is there more to these these texts and the men that wrote them? What might a close reading of the work of Thucydides and Machiavelli reveal about each thinker and what might it change about ‘realist’ thought that is so central to much of IR today.
ISTITUTO EUROPEO STUDY ABROAD