The Wolf Motif in the Hobbesian Text

in Hobbes Studies
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Hobbesian anthropology makes use of the wolf motif, a Roman and Republican one, by which Hobbes defines a state of nature as a state of war where men live in diffidence each other and where fear is law; the wolf is there a timid or unsociable animal, not a sanguinary or savage creature. But against ancient philosophers and moral writers – Aristotle, Cicero – who regard man as a rational being and who believe in a right reason, the modern philosopher reuses this motif to set before men eyes that monarchy is the only way to protect citizens from gatherings of wolves in the city; reflections on civil wars conduct him to side with the sovereign power of one. Against upholders of regicide who compare the king to a tyrant, Hobbes inscribes the political motif of the wolf in his text by which beast – 'arrant wolf ' – is distinguishable from animal; he mainly rewrites it on Seneca's text, the Stoic who expounded a desperate vision of humankind. By focusing on a Graeco-Roman heritage, this study shows in three parts that the philosopher of De Cive and Leviathan is not really – not only – the man of a pessimistic view on mankind; it is a portrait of a Renaissance philosopher who never, exactly, wrote that 'man is a wolf to man'.

The Wolf Motif in the Hobbesian Text

in Hobbes Studies


Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 71 71 10
Full Text Views 131 131 0
PDF Downloads 17 17 0
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0