Mochiavelli Satire - Story of the Storyteller


The Book - Il Principio

The Storyteller
“I have decided to become a great storyteller,” Prince Ronaldo di Attore announced to the National Assembly of Nobility.
The Prince was a sometimes wise and not infrequently respected leader. His decisions were generally prudent, accepted and honoured.  But the Assembly felt it necessary to seek elucidation on this particular pronouncement.
“Well, I am not precisely certain what it means to be a great storyteller, but the Court Jester and the Royal Poet both say that storytelling is the path to wealth, influence and esteem,” Ronaldo told the Assembly members. “And I would like more of such things.”
“But, Sire, is ‘storytelling’ not the fare of children, grim academics, starving writers, and old bearded shepherds ?” asked the administrator of the treasury.
“Yes, you might think it a trivial talent limited to works that merely enlighten or entertain,” admitted the Prince. “But I am advised that, in the right mouths, storytelling skill can also be a powerful weapon to manipulate, punish and reward.”
The Assembly members shook their heads after Ronaldo left the chamber, but let the matter rest believing the Prince’s new passion to be a harmless diversion and one that would not interfere with state affairs. Later, they would wish he had chosen a less noxious enterprise such as knife throwing or explosive design that day.
Ronaldo, easily bored, always struggled to stay awake in Assembly meetings on reports, budgeting, and plans and was quickly seduced by the notion that a leader might be more effective when saying things and presenting decrees in compelling and interesting ways. 
“They call these interesting and engaging word combinations ‘stories’, my Lord,” the Jester had explained. “We find that the people tend to remember ideas that are expressed in a way that is - ah, well, ah, -  memorable.”

Aided by the Poet and Jester, the Prince pursued his interest in stories and storytelling with fervor.  From the rise of the sun to its setting at night, he studied the ancient Greek playwrights, the works of his own times, and learned papers on the imaginary arts.  Travelers, traders and troubadours visiting di Attore were summoned to the Palace to share their stories.   And the Prince persistently and increasingly expressed all of his thoughts and feelings in the format of stories filled with vivid characters, tension-filled drama, and attempted insight.
For several years, the members of the National Assembly were happy to see the Prince occupied and separate from the machinations of Principality operations. But over time, the regal storytelling tendency grew disruptive and frustrating for the nobles and the rest of the Royal Court. The Assembly had great difficulty divining the Prince’s position on important matters of state such as use of the treasury and issues judicial.  He would always respond to direct proposals with an apocryphal fable or tale that seemed to bear little relevance to the question at hand.
“If you don’t mind, I would like to summarize this otherwise complex and challenging matter in a simple illustrative narrative rich in drama and description,” the Prince would say before launching into another of his irrelevancies.
The Assembly did mind, but never seemed to muster the collective courage to object. 

The Royal Word Wizard and Advisor on Communication with the Masses had his own frustrations.
“My Liege, you must abandon these fables and tales; the people doubt your word and believe you to be a pretender,” said the Wizard and Advisor. “You must rest upon a single message, present it in staged events, use lists, and defend your proposition with short phrases - each introduced by a small, round, point-like spot - all in a framed poster on the wall.”   
While the Prince’s rejection of such counsel and concern engendered annoyance, it was the presumption that his stories were veiled attacks on individuals that carried the storytelling problem to its greatest heights.
Cardinal Rubbio and Justice Bliué took personal offense to the Prince’s sinfilled “Tale of the Cardinal and the Blue Jay” even though the Prince protested that he was merely speaking of the adventure of two birds, and the entire Assembly of Nobles found insult in the “Story of Splendid Stupidity” despite the Prince’s claim that the assembly of nobles described in the tale was one set in ancient Iceland. Finally, Ronaldo’s cousin, the Duke of Baggio, grew angry and agitated each time the Prince told a tale of greed, murderous treachery, and depravity in which the protagonist was named “the Duke of Baggio.”
It was the perfidious and touchy Baggio that forced the issue with a proposal to the Assembly for the assassination and overthrow of the Prince.  Many were ready to grab their swords and daggers and rush to the Prince’s Palace that instant; others urged caution.
“His stories are disruptive and the cause of frustration, but do they merit his death ?” one of the nobles asked. “Besides, they are at times engaging and charming.”
In the end, Baggio resentfully accepted a compromise. The nobles resolved to confront the Prince when unguarded in his throne room and demand that he sign an oath to refrain from storytelling henceforth, to remove all beauty and art from his further utterances, and to restore the Assembly to its historic manner of statistics, reports, and dry reasoning.
When the day came to unfold the plot, the Word Wizard guarded the door while the group of irritated nobles, hearts pounding and daggers drawn, surrounded the Prince and stated their issues and demands.
Prince Ronaldo reflected upon their concerns and parted his lips to speak what was to be recorded as his last words: “Interesting ! - that brings to mind the Story of the Storyteller.  
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