"My City Before My Soul": Reading the Discourses on Livy as a Retelling of Augustine's City of God

Doctoral Dissertation


In order to understand the educational objectives of Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy, one must study Augustine’s City of God. Particularly, one must study Augustine’s treatment of Rome and the problem of corruption (political, physical and spiritual) that Augustine treats through his analysis of the Ancient Republic and Empire. A key intention of Machiavelli’s “new modes and orders” is to re-portray Roman virtù over and against the Christian virtue of Machiavelli’s age, in such a manner that one’s otherworldly commitments do not interfere with the political stability of the city. To elucidate this point, I begin with an analysis of Augustine’s account of corruption and finitude and its implications for political life. I turn next to Augustine’s treatment of four Roman heroes — Lucretia, Romulus, Regulus and Brutus. I then turn to Machiavelli’s use of rituals and other institutions, which parallels Augustine’s use of rituals, and how Machiavelli uses these institutions and rituals to solve the problem of corruption. In the following chapters I treat the four Roman heroes Lucretia, Romulus, Regulus and Brutus from the perspective of Machiavelli. I conclude with reflections on problems with Machiavelli’s account of human psychology that impede his political conclusions.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-08052013-114105

Author Ashleen Kelly Menchaca-Bagnulo
Advisor Mary M. Keys
Contributor Mary M. Keys, Committee Chair
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Political Science
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2013-07-12

Submission Date 2013-08-05
  • United States of America

  • Discourses

  • Augustine

  • City of God

  • Rome

  • Machiavelli

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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