Government Honors Thesis: Jaime C. Garcia

Title: Machiavelli’s Lone Wolf: Romulus and the founding of Rome in The Discourses

Author: Jaime C. Garcia


The founding of any state is a difficult task and, therefore, must be carried out by a virtuous person. For Machiavelli, the paragon of virtue, and the best example of how a founder should act, is Romulus. I advance three specific arguments regarding Machiavelli’s discussion of the founding of Rome, and the lessons to be learned from it. First, Machiavelli creates his own distinct Romulus. In doing this, Machiavelli diverges from the accounts of Livy and Plutarch, and endows Romulus with a unique set of virtues. Second, Romulus was successful. Though, as Machiavelli himself admits, Rome devolved from Republic to Tyranny, Romulus is still a successful founder, because of the example he provides and the institutions he established. Finally, Romulus was the most successful founder, even when compared against other virtuous founders such as Solon, Lycurgus, and Numa. Where these other founders lacked virtue, Romulus triumphed.