The engraved title page of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan furnishes what is perhaps the most famous visual image in the history of modern political philosophy. Above a series of compartments depicting symbolic objects (representing temporal power on one side and ecclesiastical power on the other) there is a landscape, containing a town with its houses, fortress and church; and above the landscape itself there rises up a gigantic figure, with the symbols of temporal and ecclesiastical rule in its hands and a crown upon its head. What makes the image so striking is that the body of this colossus is itself made up of a mass of small figures who stand, hatted and cloaked, with their backs to the viewer, gazing upwards towards the head of the body which they compose.
This engraving is, in most respects, a very close copy of the original drawing (probably by Wenceslaus Hollar) which stands at the beginning of the manuscript of Leviathan presented by Hobbes to Charles II in Paris. 1 There is, however, one major difference between the two designs. In the drawing, the body of the colossus consists not of small full-length figures seen from behind, but of much larger faces or heads, all of them facing outwards, towards the viewer. (The length or diameter of each of these heads is roughly one third of that of the head of the colossus itself.) Most modern discussions of the iconography of the Leviathan title page have been concerned exclusively with the engraved version. However, as Keith Brown has convincingly argued, the drawing in the manuscript must have preceded the engraving; it very probably brings us closer, therefore, to Hobbes's original iconographical intentions. 2 That the overall scheme of the drawing, and many of its