Clearly Shakespeare and Machiavelli, responding to similar concerns among their responders, albeit in different chronological and geographic contexts, share significant values and attitudes towards the qualities required of a successful ruler during political uncertainty. It is not the idealist Brutus valued for his personal virtues but the pragmatist, often duplicitous and ruthless Antony who is equipped to protect and advance the state and the good of the people.
Roe, Shakespeare and Machiavelli, Martlesham, D.S
Shakespeare’s evolving engagement with problems of integrity and prudence is quite distinct from traditional Aristotelian conceptions of virtue on the one hand, and from the emerging religious puritanism of the age in which he lived, on the other; Shakespeare’s engagement with integrity and prudence, or practical wisdom, is closer in its pragmatic and rhetorical flexibility to Machiavelli’s engagement with virtù and fortuna in The Prince and Mandragola. Shakespeare adopts rhetorical methods of presentation such that, as John Roe notes in the opening chapter of Shakespeare and Machiavelli,
the debate on the relation between Shakespeare and Machiavelli
John Roe is a professor in Renaissance literature and a member of the (CREMS). He took a BA (subsequently MA) in English Literature at the University of Cambridge and an MA and PhD in Comparative Literature at Harvard University. Comparative Literature, mainly English and Italian, has remained a keen interest, which shows principally in his monograph Shakespeare and Machiavelli. He has taught at York since 1973. Before that he taught at the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and at Harvard. During his time at York he has enjoyed long sojourns at universities in other countries, for example, at the University of the Saarland in Germany, at Kyoto University, Doshisha University, and Kobe Jogakuin, in Japan; and most recently a year as the visiting Gillespie Professor at the College of Wooster in Ohio.
John Roe, Shakespeare and Machiavelli (Cambridge, 2002) p