Today is May 3, 2012, and that means it’s Niccolo Machiavelli’s 543 birthday!
Here are my personal favorite facts about Niccolo:
- He had seven children and a foster son.
- The letters he exchanged with friends were famously vulgar and they told him things like “I hope you shit blood forty thousand times,” and “you are a latrine cover.”
- He could play the lute [according to Machiavelli e la Musica (Rivista italiana di musicologia)].
- He was charged with heterosexual sodomy with the prostitute La Riccia (although the accusations were dropped).
- He was supportive of his friends’ (Francesco Vettori, among others) relationships with other men; “He who is deemed wise during the day will never be considered crazy at night, and he who is esteemed a respectable man [uomo da, bene], and is worthy, whatever he does to lighten his heart and live happily renders him honor, not blame. Rather than being called a bugger or a whoremongerer, one says he is a man of broad interests, easygoing, and a good fellow.”
- He was vulgar and hilarious: “To put it more clearly, given your puritanical disposition, if I— who handle and care about women— had chanced to enter the room, as soon as I had gotten the drift of the situation, I would have said, ‘Ambassador, you are going to be ill; I don’t think you’re allowing yourself any diversion; there aren’t any boys here, there aren’t any girls here; what kind of fucking house is this anyway?’”
Happy birthday Niccolo!