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Frontispiece of Leviathan by Abraham Bosse, with input from Hobbes. Many passages in the Latin version differ from the English version. Its name derives from the biblical Leviathan. The work concerns the structure of society and legitimate government, and is regarded as one of the earliest and most influential examples of social contract theory.
Leviathan ranks as a classic western work on statecraft comparable to Machiavelli’s The Prince. Leviathan argues for a social contract and rule by an absolute sovereign.
After lengthy discussion with Thomas Hobbes, the Parisian Abraham Bosse created the etching for the book’s famous frontispiece in the géometrique style which Bosse himself had refined. The frontispiece has two main elements, of which the upper part is by far the more striking.
In it, a giant crowned figure is seen emerging from the landscape, clutching a sword and a crosier, beneath a quote from the Book of Job—”Non est potestas Super Terram quae Comparetur ei. There is no power on earth to be compared to him. The lower portion is a triptych, framed in a wooden border.