Keywords: Machiavelli; Political Metaphors; Early Modern Tuscany; Public Sphere; History of Communication; Social Psychology.
The metaphor of the humors in Machiavelli has been the subject of an important number of studies. Essentially concentrated on his major works, scholars have emphasized that Machiavelli uses this category of medical origin in a context marked by a reflection on institutional forms and the role of conflicts. This article proposes to study the use of this metaphor in a less-studied source: the political correspondence of Machiavelli during the crisis of the Florentine territorial state in the beginning of the XVIth century. The goal of our study is double: it aims to present a level of analysis of the body politic relative to the phenomena of opinions which, until now, have escaped critical analysis; it intends to question the residual cognitive value of this metaphor in the light of the recent historiographical debate concerning the nature and the forms of public opinion in pre-modern societies.