Translated, with a commentary, by Richard Kay
R. Kay (ed.)
492 p., 160 x 235 mm, 1998
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Dante's Monarchia is the most famous example of medieval political thought. The book attracts the modern reader by its search for peace and justice, by its proposal for a world government, and by its rigorous separation of religious authority from government. Dante's solution to the political disunity and social disorder of his time was to revive the authority of the Roman Empire, which once had imposed unity, peace and prosperity not only on Italy but on much of the civilised world. Like all of Dante's works, this one is a treasure house of early fourteenth-century culture in which philosophy is blended with theology, history with poetry, politics with religion, and scholasticism with humanism. In order to persuade the university-educated Italians to whom the argument was addressed, Dante combined Latin rhetorical elegance with an impressive display of scholastic logic, supported by a host of recognised authorities, notably Aristotle, Virgil and the Bible. Above all, the treatise is important as the most explicit, and probably the most mature, expression of the poet's political ideas.
Because the Monarchia is deeply rooted in medieval culture, its modern reader requires not only an accurate translation but also extensive explanations. The present work is the first to provide both for English readers. The translation of Dante's Latin here maintains a balance between technical precision and readability; the commentary guides the nonspecialist through a maze of scholastic arguments and authorities, while for the specialist it confronts the critical cruxes of the work, such as its date and purpose, the author's apparent Averroism, and what he thought the emperor owed to the pope.
On the left hand openings, opposite the translation and commentary, is provided the Latin text and a textual and source apparatus.