The famous frontispiece to Thomas Hobbes’s Leviathan depicts the head and torso of a long-haired, mustachioed man. Upon close scrutiny, it becomes evident that the man’s torso and arms are composed of tiny individual persons, crowded closely together and each looking toward the head of the composite Leviathan.

Hobbe's Leviathan

The fantasy that creates the nation or sovereign: The bodies of citizens fuse or merge to create a single, omnipotent body. The phrase “body politic” contains (embodies) a fantasy, conveyed through Hobbes’ image: the dream of “national unity.”

What is your interpretation of this image? Please write to me, Richard Koenigsberg, at

From THE LEVIATHAN, by Thomas Hobbes:

“The only way to erect such a Common Power is to appoint one Man…to bear their Person. This is more than Consent, or Concord; it is a real unity of them all, in one and the same Person. This done, the Multitude so united in one Person, is called a Commonwealth.”

“A multitude of men are made one person, when they are by one man, or one person, represented so that it be done with the consent of every one of that multitude in particular. Unity cannot otherwise be understood in multitude.”