Hobbes’s political state, the Leviathan, is a monster. The name “Leviathan” refers originally to the Biblical sea beast: “None is so fierce that dare stir him up . . . When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid . . . Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear” (Job 41:10-33). Paradoxically, Hobbes chooses this creature to embody his ideal political state, because the Book of Job describes the Leviathan as “King of all the children of pride.” In essence, Hobbes’s political state must be a Leviathan, the most horrifying of all creatures, because it must mollify the egotism intrinsic in its components: citizens. Thus, in typical Machiavellian fashion, Hobbes approach to statecraft is utilizing fear to prevent a relapse of the ‘state of nature,’ a term broadly used in the political philosophy of the time to denote the natural state of a people lacking the regulatory parameters of a society.
The goliath, crowned monster is drawn rising from the landscape, armed with both a sword and a croisier. Beneath him reads a quote from the Book of Job —”Non est potestas Super Terram quae Comparetur ei. Iob. ” (“There is no power on earth to be compared to him. Job 41.24”) The upper body of the monster is comprised of more than three hundred persons and, in typical fashion of Giuseppe Arcimboldo, all are facing inwards with only the giant’s face showing visible features.
The lower portion is a triptych bordered in wood. On the two sides of the title-curtain, there is a string of objects that reflect their equivalent power: earthly power on the left and the powers of the church on the right. Each side element reflects the equivalent power – sword to croisier; castle to church; crown to mitre; cannon to excommunication; weapons to judgment; the battlefield to the religious courts. The Leviathan balances the symbols of both sides, echoing the alliance of secular and spiritual in the sovereign power, as the construction of the torso also makes the figure the state itself.