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“That Giant Monster Call’d a Multitude”

A Precursor to Leviathan’s Figurative Invocation

In: Hobbes Studies
Author:
Jacob Tootalian University of South Florida, Department of English, 4202 East Fowler Ave., Cooper 286, Tampa, fl33620, USA, jtootalian@usf.edu

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Scholarship on Leviathan has not fully explored the distinctive pattern of language that Hobbes used to invoke the central conceit of the treatise—“that great Leviathan called a Commonwealth.” This note highlights an earlier instance of that rare linguistic construction, one that presented a similar image of political monstrosity several years before Hobbes’s metaphor was published. Verses in Honour of the Reverend and Learned Judge of the Law, Judge Jenkin (1648) celebrated the jurist David Jenkins as a royalist martyr in the fight against “That Giant monster call’d a multitude.” It is possible that the pamphlet might have circulated among the network of English exiles in France, offering Hobbes a linguistic model with which to reconceptualize the early modern understanding of political community.

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