I brought this up in a side note in another thread a while back, but we never really addressed it.
I'm not sure there's any definitive proof to conjure either way, but do you think the amoral (often times immoral) Machiavel character that emerged so notably on the English Renaissance stage was based upon eronious notions of Machiavelli and "The Prince", or did that just become a convenient label for a sort of character that had already been invented?
Does anyone actually know the history of dramatic antagonists on the stage? Obviously, it began with didactic, religious plays that preached a moral message at the end, and the antagonist was frequently a devil or other such form of bad influence trying to win the convictions of the central character, but how did human antagonists spring from that? Did they start off as amoral and Machiavellian, simple evil-doers, enemies with no more or less morals than the protagonist, etc?
I honestly have no idea, and would love to know!
"Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices, that, if I then had wak'd after long sleep, will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming, the clouds methought would open and show riches ready to drop upon me, that, when I wak'd, I cried to dream again"