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"The De Monarchia" of Dante Alighieri

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"The De Monarchia" of Dante Alighieri
Edited with translation and notes by Aurelia Henry Reinhardt
Houghton, Mifflin&Co, Riverside Press, Cambridge | 1559/1904 | ISBN: n/a | 267 pages | PDF | 7 Mb

"The aim of the whole and the part is to remove those living in this life from a state of misery, and to guide them to a state of happiness." D.A.
This is a facsimile ed.&cleared PDF of the original book.

The great Italian poet turns his hand to political thought and defends the reign of a single monarch ruling over a universal empire. He believed that peace was only achievable when a single monarch replaced divisive and squabbling princes and kings. However, he also believed in a separation of powers in that the Emperor has jurisdiction over temporal matters, whilst the Pope administered over things spiritual.

"The De Monarchia" is easily accessible in Latin editions. The earliest edition of the De Monarchia was printed at Basle in 1559. It had been translated into Italian in the fifteenth century by Marsilio Ficino. There are two German versions, that of Kannegiesser, Leipzig, 1845, and that of Hubatsch, Berlin, 1872.
It has twice been done into English, once by Mr. F. J. Church (Macmillan, 1878), and again by Mr. P. H. Wicksteed (Hull, 1896). If the former translation had not been long out of print, and the latter had not been published for private circulation only, the present volume would have less excuse for being.
The principal Latin texts of the De Monarchia are those edited by Fraticelli, Florence, 1860; Witte, Vienna, 1874; Giuliani, Florence, 1878; and Moore, Oxford, 1894. The Oxford text has been followed without exception, though in a few cases variant readings have been given in the notes.

Starting from man's dual nature, "The De Monarchia" sets forth the manner in which the earthly happiness of the human race may be acquired by the right ordering of temporal affairs, the overlordship of a sole Monarch, the presence in the world of a Universal Empire.
But the "De Monarchia", though it embodies Dante's political ideals, can be read understandingly and sympathetically only when these political ideals are related to those of his religion as set forth in his other works. These in turn depend upon his theory of the universe and of moral order.

The body of the work is divided into three books, in each of which is expounded one side of the question at issue: first, the necessity of Universal Empire is proved; second, the right of the Romans to imperial authority; third, the direct bequeathing by God of this authority to the Romans without the mediation of the Church. In the first chapter the author says, "The knowledge of temporal Monarchy, one of the most important and most obscure of subjects, is brought forth from its hiding-place and explained for the good of the world."
But the invaluable part of Dante's political message, and the pith of the De Monarchia, lies in the third division, where are discussed the relations of the Empire and Papacy, and where Dante publishes his belief in the separate existence of the Church and State.
Book I: Whether Temporal Monarchy Is Necessary For the Well-being of the World
Book II: Whether the Roman People Rightfully Appropriated the Office of Monarchy
Book III: Whether the Authority of the Roman Monarch Derives From God Immediately Or From Some Vicar of God

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