Continued from page 1

In their introduction to the exhibition, Italian scholars and exhibit curators Alessandro Campi and Marco Pizzo call the book “an archaeology of power, conducted with such precision and freedom of judgment that it can offer arguments and practical suggestions to either potential tyrants or defenders of freedom” — hence its enduring appeal through the ages. But they add that it can also be seen as “a disenchanted dissertation on human nature,” in other words, the cynical work of a disappointed man who had seen it all, but was now a political outsider.

The cynicism or irreverence extends to the exhibition itself, which has not shrunk from including examples of how Niccolo Machiavelli has been subjected to the same trivialization as any 21st century celebrity. One display case includes buttons, refrigerator magnets, T-shirts and playing cards all bearing his image.

And scenes from the popular historical video game “Assassins Creed,” in which Machiavelli is the leader of the secret society of assassins, flash continuously on a screen. From Renaissance political wonk to character in a video game is a trajectory that probably would have amused him.

WHAT:Niccolo Machiavelli: The Prince and its Era (1513-2013)”

WHERE: Embassy of Italy, 3000 Whitehaven St. NW

WHEN: Through Nov. 28, by appointment only

ADMISSION: Free

PHONE: 202/612-4407

WEB: iicwashington.esteri.it