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Machiavelli "TO FRANCESCO VETTORI, FLORENCE, DECEMBER 10, 1513"

The necessity that chases me makes me give it, because I am becoming worn out, and I cannot remain as I am for a long time without becoming despised because of poverty, besides the desire I have that these Medici lords begin to make use of me even if they should begin by making me roll a stone. For if I should not then win them over to me, I should complain of myself; and through this thing, if it were read, one would see that I have neither slept through nor played away the fifteen years I have been at the study of the art of the state.

I know the proverb "a rolling stone (gathers no moss)".

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  • This is probably translated from Italian. It may be an Italian idiom that is not common in English.
    – The Photon
    Apr 27 '18 at 5:40
  • For that matter, even idioms that were common in English 500 years ago might have dropped out of use since then.
    – The Photon
    Apr 27 '18 at 5:41
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    At a guess, it might mean "make someone do something difficult but useless".
    – The Photon
    Apr 27 '18 at 5:42
  • @ThePhoton Is "even if they should begin" subjunctive?
    – Zhang Jian
    Apr 27 '18 at 7:45
  • Yes it's subjunctive. This use is not very common in contemporary English, but is seen enough (for example, in quotations from the Bible) that people understand it, and people use it to sound formal or literary.
    – The Photon
    Apr 27 '18 at 19:31
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To "make someone do something" means "to force or compel someone to do something"

The teacher made me finish my work after school.

A stone is another word for rock. This could be an allusion to Sisyphus, who was condemned by the gods to eternally have to roll a boulder up a hill only for it to roll down the other side.

1
  • Is "even if they should begin" subjunctive?
    – Zhang Jian
    Apr 27 '18 at 7:46

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