Artist rendering of Hindu statesman and philosopher Kautilya.


(c. 350 BC - c. 300 BC)

Born into a Brahmin family and educated in present-day Pakistan, Kautilya served as an adviser to Chandragupta, founder of the Mauryan empire in northern India, who came to power not long after the death of Alexander the Great. Kautilya wrote the Arthashastra, a tome on statecraft and government, the latter of which he assessed as “the science of punishment.” Lost until the early twentieth century, when an ancient copy written on palm leaves was given to an Indian librarian by an anonymous donor, the book prompted the German sociologist Max Weber to say, “In contrast…Machiavelli’s Prince is harmless.”

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