I would like to read The Prince by Machiavelli.

I've found in the past Penguin's book translations to be excellent compared to some other free sources.

Whose translation of Machiavelli's The Prince is the one which is correct, as close to actual source as possible and which should be read?

  • 1
    48 Laws of Power, then the Prince. Jan 26 '13 at 1:32
  • 48 Laws of Power - whose translation?
    – Phil
    Dec 31 '14 at 12:18
  • The 48 Laws of Power was written in English and published in 1988, so a translation should not be necessaryK
    – Tsundoku
    Oct 9 '18 at 17:46

Harvey Mansfield's translation. I would strongly suggest reading the Discourses on Livy after you finish the Prince. It gives a much fuller picture of what Machiavelli is doing with his political works. I would also suggest Mansfield's translation.

As far as translations of older texts go, I would try to stay away from Penguin.


Which translation of The Prince you should read depends on your criteria for a translation, which are not specified in the question. Readability? Closeness to the original? Quality of annotations (which are absolutely necessary for most readers, unless they are well-versed in the history of Italy in the 15th and early 16th century)? Language? (Swahili, Chinese, Rhaeto-Romance, Esperanto?)

Let me assume you are looking for an English translation. The translation by Peter Bondanella (Oxford University Press, 2008) may suit you because:

  • It is the first translation based on the authoritative Italian text edited by Giorgio Inglese (1996). It is possibly still the only translation based on that text.
  • It has an introduction by Maurizio Viroli, a renowned expert on Machiavelli, that puts the text in its wider context. (Viroli has published many books on Machiavelli, including a very accessible biography.)
  • It has endnotes that explain names and events (especially from Machiavelli's lifetime) that most readers will not be familiar with.
  • It has a list of names of historical figures that are often mentioned in the text.
  • It has a section with further reading that is not simply a list but that explains which books would match which types of interests.

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