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University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy


In his masterpiece Leviathan (1651), Thomas Hobbes used a series of rhetorical devices in order to persuade the English reader of the truth of his political theories and of his civil science. The first rhetorical device is the engraved frontispiece of the book, where the sword of justice held by the sovereign is also a powerful sword of rhetoric (as shown by the table depicting Rhetoric in a Martianus Capella’s manuscript owned by the Duke of Urbino). Moreover, Hobbes employs directly the metaphor of the state as a body politic and the analogy of the sovereign as the soul of the state and he also refers—though indirectly—to the Platonic analogy of the sovereign as physician of the state, evoking political thinkers, such as King James VI & I and Edward Forset.


Hobbes, Plato, Forset, James VI & I, rhetoric, body politic, diseases of the body politic, physician of the body politic, the safety of the people (salus populi)

Cite this paper

Raffaella Santi. (2020). Politics and Salus Populi: Hobbes and the Sovereign as Physician of the State. Philosophy Study, 10(11), 693-702.


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