Welcome to the Leviathan Index

Frontispiece for Hobbes’ Leviathan.

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The amazing title page of Hobbes’s most famous work is worth spending some time looking over in detail. The large figure of the sovereign hovering over the landscape with sword and crozier (the symbol of a bishop’s authority) is a mosaic made up of tiny human figures (the citizens of the commonwealth). The panels on the left side of the drawing (below the sword) are all symbols of the coercive powers of the state, those on the right (below the crozier) of the power of the church to compel allegiance. With respect to the ecclesiastical symbols, note that not only the infamous “Star Chamber” of counter-Reformation infamy is represented, but also the instruments of human torture. Hobbes felt that visual images were powerful political tools and he participated directly with the artist, Abraham Bosse, in the design. Many consider this the most famous title page in the history of printing.



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