No scholars have apparently noticed that the sixth part of David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion was molded on Niccolò Machiavelli’s Discourses on the first Decade of Livy II 5, in which the Florentine Secretary took position on the eternity of the world. Starting from this textual finding, the article sheds some light on Hume’s ambiguous reappropriation of Machiavelli’s works (in particular The Discourses and the History of Florence), with special regard to religion. Both the Dialogues and the Natural History of Religion bear deep traces of Hume’s meditation on Machiavelli. The connection between them helps to explain not only the making of his texts but also the longlasting influence that the Humean juxtaposition of learned and popular religion exerted on 19th and 20th century religious studies.
Keywords: Machiavelli, Hume, eternity of the world, materialism, religious studies