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Lettris is a curious tetris-clone game where all the bricks have the same square shape but different content. Each square carries a letter. To make squares disappear and save space for other squares you have to assemble English words (left, right, up, down) from the falling squares.
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The Discourses on Livy (Italian: Discorsi sopra la prima deca di Tito Livio, literally "Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livy") is a work of political history and philosophy written in the early 16th century (ca. 1517) by the Italian writer and political theorist Niccolò Machiavelli, best known as the author of The Prince. The Discourses were published posthumously with papal privilege in 1531.
The title identifies the work's subject as the first ten books of Livy's Ab urbe condita, which relate the expansion of Rome through the end of the Third Samnite War in 293 BCE, although Machiavelli discusses what can be learned from other parts of Roman history, as well. Machiavelli makes liberal references and allusions to the other surviving books of Ab urbe condita, as well as to other works of classical literature. He particularly makes jibes—mainly indirect—at Aristotle's Politics. He also cites examples from Polybius and Plutarch, as well as Xenophon. There is also much implicit criticism of medieval prejudices against early Rome, deriving from such influential patristic works as Augustine's City of God.
Discourses on Livy comprises a dedicatory letter and three books with 142 numbered chapters. The first two books (but not the third) are introduced by unnumbered prefaces. A good deal has been made of the coincidence that Livy's history also contained 142 books in addition to its introduction and other numerological curiosities that turn up in Machiavelli's writings. Machiavelli says that the first book will discuss things that happened inside of Rome as the result of public counsel (I 1.6), the second, decisions made by the Roman people pertaining to the increase of its empire (II Pr.3), and the third, how the actions of particular men made Rome great (III 1.6).
Machiavelli dedicates the Discourses to two friends, Zanobi Buondelmonti and Cosimo Rucellai, both of whom appear in Machiavelli's Art of War. Rucellai had died in 1519, but this did not lead Machiavelli to find a new dedicatee, as he had with the Prince. Machiavelli justifies dedicating the Discourses to his two friends because they deserve to be princes, even if they lack principalities, and he criticizes the custom (which he had adopted in the Prince) of dedicating works to men who are princes but do not deserve to be.
Machiavelli notes that Rome's actions as recounted by Livy proceeded either by "public counsel" or by "private counsel," and that they concerned either things inside the city or things outside the city, yielding four possible combinations. He says that he will restrict himself in Book I to those things that occurred inside the city and by public counsel (I 1.6)
The preface to Book I explains why Machiavelli wrote the Discourse. He notes that he brings new modes and orders, a dangerous task given the envy of men, but one motivated by the desire to work for the common benefit of everyone. He complains that the Italian Renaissance has stimulated a desire to imitate the ancients in art, law, and medicine, but that no one thinks of imitating ancient kingdoms or republics. He traces this to an improper reading of history that suggests that imitation of ancient political virtue is impossible. He declares his intention to overcome this view of the ancient world by examining Livy and modern politics.
Francesco Guicciardini, Machiavelli's friend, read the book and wrote critical notes (Considerazioni) on many of the chapters. Jean-Jacques Rousseau considered the Discourses (as well as the Florentine Histories) to be more representative of Machiavelli's true philosophy:
Machiavelli was a proper man and a good citizen; but, being attached to the court of the Medici, he could not help veiling his love of liberty in the midst of his country's oppression. The choice of his detestable hero, Cesare Borgia, clearly enough shows his hidden aim; and the contradiction between the teaching of the Prince and that of the Discourses on Livy and the History of Florence shows that this profound political thinker has so far been studied only by superficial or corrupt readers. The Court of Rome sternly prohibited his book. I can well believe it; for it is that Court it most clearly portrays.—Rousseau, The Social Contract, Book III.
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