When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garmets; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed upon the food that is alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reason for their actions; and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours, I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me. I deliver myself entirely to them.
Machiavelli, "Letter to Vettori," 10 December 1513 (trans. Mansfield).