ABSTRACT

The idea of fatherland (patria) in Machiavelli raises a number of points that are significant for a discussion of the theme of ‘unity, plurality and polities’. The first of these points concerns the relationship of the citizen to the state, and the second concerns the relationship of one fatherland to another, and to the international community taken as a whole. Machiavelli had definite views on these issues; and an understanding of them helps gain a clearer appreciation of his political theory. In what follows the various meanings attached to Machiavelli’s idea of the fatherland are first identified, followed by a discussion of their significance. Three distinct meanings of fatherland can be identified in Machiavelli: the politico-cultural, the theological and the moral; each will be dealt with in turn.