Machiavelli the Pressman and the Baker

Post Philosophy
4 min readAug 1, 2022

“There is nothing more important than appearing to be religious.”

In 1486, Niccolo Machiavelli’s father got him a job at Subaico printing press. The Subiaco Press was a printing press located in Subiaco, Italy. The Press was established in 1464 by the German monks Arnold Pannartz and Konrad Sweynheim in the Abbey of Santa Scolastica, Subiaco. Sweynheim had worked with Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the mechanical movable-type printing press. Making use of the invention, Subiaco Press was the first printing press in Italy.

Every day, Machiavelli awoke with the sound of ink pads pounding in his ears. He walked into the restroom and scrubbed the black ink off his hands in vain. He took his apron off the clothesline and walked over to the printing press. Machiavelli was not particularly enthusiastic about his job. The job included manual labor and minimum human contact. Two workers are necessary to run the press: one must keep his hands clean while working with the paper, and he’s going to be pulling the press lever. The other will be working with ink pads, which are dipped in a thick black paste and then used to beat words on paper and into existence. The same process repeats itself throughout the day, and Machiavelli needed to find a means to keep his mind stimulated. He spent the entire day, from one page to the next, utilizing these primitive instruments to print books that would lead nations and armies while countless verses attracted his interest as he beat through the papers with the ink pads.

The press worked mainly on printing bibles. Consequently, some bible verses lodged in Machiavelli’s head, so he used to jot them down after he returned home. He was obviously not permitted to stop the work process in order to write down notes, as this would be deemed wasting time on the job. That’s why he used the excuse of having to go to the restroom since he realized that if he waited until he got home, he would certainly forget some of the verses that had piqued his curiosity. Unfortunately, throughout Machiavelli’s long and endless shift, a number of different texts captured his attention, so he was frequently going to the restroom with his notebook. Konrad Sweynheim (one of the monks who established the press) observed Machiavelli was taking too many restroom trips and warned him not to waste time on the job. Two hours later after Machiavelli received the warning; he went again to the restroom to note the following verses:

· Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.
(Jeremiah 10:23)

· Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.
(Proverbs 19:21)

· Dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
(Psalm 22:28)

· Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.
(Galatians 4:17)

· For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11)

· If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed.
(1 Corinthians 16:22)

· Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
(John 3:36)

· The lord is my shepherd…
(Psalm 23:1–6)

And as Machiavelli was writing the last verse, he heard a fist pounding Beethoven’s 5th symphony on the door {And I know that a smart guy will say that Beethoven wasn’t born yet. I know that. Get over it}. When Machiavelli opened the door, he saw the monk standing firmly, and in the eyes of Machiavelli, the monk seemed taller than usual; at that moment Machiavelli felt the fury of god was upon him. The monk yelled: “Didn’t I tell you not to waste time at work!” and slapped Machiavelli on his right cheek. However, Machiavelli did not turn the other cheek but he turned his back and walked home.

After Machiavelli quit his job and got another scolding from his father, he spent about a week in his chamber ruminating and revising the notes he extracted from the bible. Little by little, he came to the conclusion that religion might have to do with controlling masses, labor, and actions; and that there is nothing more important in politics than appearing to be religious.

In the following years, Machiavelli was getting more and more interested in pizza, politics, and power. He studied the bible’s teachings and kept a close eye on the clergy. He realized that it is important not to burn the pizza crust by finding the perfect balance between the dough and the oil. “Let the holy anointing oil be the savior of your political pizza.” Machiavelli preached. He began formulating the recipe that would bake a perfect supreme ruler into being and furthering his assertion that a ruler or what he referred to initially as “The Baker” and later on as “The Prince” should reject religion in his personal life in order to rule without the veil that blinds their subjects, and as a result, not burning the pizza crust.



Post Philosophy

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