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Leviathan -- Anonymous

One final monster, from the biblical Book of Job:
(Poem #903) Leviathan
 Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook, or press down his tongue with a
 Can you put a rope in his nose, or pierce his jaw with a hook?
 Will he make many supplications to you? Will he speak to you soft words?
 Will he make a covenant with you to take him for your servant for ever?
 Will you play with him as with a bird, or will you put him on leash for
your maidens?
 Will traders bargain over him? Will they divide him up among the merchants?
 Can you fill his skin with harpoons, or his head with fishing spears?
 Lay hands on him; think of the battle; you will not do it again!
 Behold, the hope of a man is disappointed; he is laid low even at the sight
of him.
 No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up...
 ... Who can strip off his outer garment? Who can penetrate his double coat
of mail?
 Who can open the doors of his face? Round about his teeth is terror.
 His back is made of rows of shields, shut up closely as with a seal.
 One is so near to another that no air can come between them.
 They are joined one to another; they clasp each other and cannot be
 His sneezings flash forth light, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the
 Out of his mouth go flaming torches; sparks of fire leap forth.
 Out of his nostrils comes forth smoke, as from a boiling pot and burning
 His breath kindles coals, and a flame comes forth from his mouth.
 In his neck abides strength, and terror dances before him.
 The folds of his flesh cleave together, firmly cast upon him and immovable.
 His heart is hard as a stone, hard as the nether millstone.
 When he raises himself up the mighty are afraid; at the crashing they are
beside themselves.
 Though the sword reaches him, it does not avail; nor the spear, the dart,
or the javelin.
 He counts iron as straw, and bronze as rotten wood.
 The arrow cannot make him flee; for him slingstones are turned to stubble.
 Clubs are counted as stubble; he laughs at the rattle of javelins.
 His underparts are like sharp potsherds; he spreads himself like a
threshing sledge on the mire.
 He makes the deep boil like a pot; he makes the sea like a pot of ointment.
 Behind him he leaves a shining wake; one would think the deep to be hoary.
 Upon earth there is not his like, a creature without fear.
 He beholds everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride.
-- Anonymous
 From the Bible, The Book of Job, chapter 41.

 Leviathan is, of course, the canonical monster, the "dragon in the sea"
that haunted the imagination of the Hebrew poets and seers who wrote the Old
Testament, and the clerics who translated it into Greek, Latin and English.
The descriptions of his strength and size are vastly, immensely hyperbolic,
yet that is precisely the intention of their compositors: Leviathan himself
is beyond imagining.

[The OED on Leviathan]

leviathan (lI"vaI@T@n). Forms: 4-6 levyathan, (4 -ethan), 5 lyvyatan, -on,
5- leviathan. [a. L. (Vulg.) leviathan, a. Heb. livyathan.
   Some scholars refer the word to a root lavah = Arab. laway to twist (cf.
livyah, conjecturally rendered 'wreath'); others think it adopted from some
foreign lang.]
   1. The name of some aquatic animal (real or imaginary) of enormous size,
frequently mentioned in Hebrew poetry.
   1382 Wyclif Job xl[i.] 20 [21] Whether maist thou drawen out leuyethan
with an hoc? 1535 Coverdale Ps. ciii[i.] 26 There is that Leuiathan, whom
thou hast made, to take his pastyme therin. 1555 Eden Decades To Rdr. (Arb.)
51 The greate serpente of the sea Leuiathan, to haue suche dominion in the
Ocean. 1591 Spenser Vis. World's Van. 62 The huge Leuiathan, dame Natures
wonder. 1667 Milton P.L. vii. 412 Leviathan, Hugest of living Creatures, on
the Deep Stretcht like a Promontorie. 1713 Young Last Day i. 35 Leviathans
but heave their cumb'rous mail, It makes a tide. 1725 Pope Odyss. xii. 119
She [Scylla] makes the huge leviathan her prey.
   2. (After Isa. xxvii. 1.)  The great enemy of God, Satan. Obs.
   [1382 Wyclif Isa. xxvii. 1 In that dai viseten shal the Lord in his harde
swerd,..vp on leuyathan,..a crookid wounde serpent.] c1400 Destr. Troy 4423
This fende was the first that felle for his pride..that lyuyaton is cald.
1412-20 Lydg. Chron. Troy ii. xvii, The vile serpent the Leuiathan. 1447 O.
Bokenham Seyntys (Roxb.) 150 By the envye deceyvyd of hys enmy Clepyd
serpent behemot or levyathan. 1595 B. Barnes Spir. Sonn. li, Breake thou the
jawes of olde Levyathan, Victorious Conqueror!
   3. Used by Hobbes for: The organism of political society, the
commonwealth.  (See quot. 1651.)
   1651 Hobbes Leviath. (1839) 158 The multitude so united in one person, is
called a Commonwealth... This is the generation of that great Leviathan, or
rather, to speak more reverently, of that mortal god, to which we owe under
the immortal God, our peace and defence. 1657 R. Ligon Barbadoes 20 What it
is that makes up..harmony in that Leviathan, a well governed Commonwealth.
1690 Locke Hum. Und. i. iii. (1695) 17 An Hobbist..will answer; Because..the
Leviathan will punish you, if you do not. 1714 Mandeville Fab. Bees (1725)
I. 195 The gods'd that millions of you, when well joyn'd
together, should compose the strong Leviathan.
   4. attrib. passing into adj. when sense: Huge, monstrous.
   1624 Middleton Game at Chess ii. ii, This leviathan-scandal that lies
rolling Upon the crystal waters of devotion. 1751 H. Walpole Lett. (1846)
II. 398, I had suspected that this leviathan hall must have devoured half
the other chambers. 1861 A. Smith Med. Stud. 12 He has duly chronicled every his leviathan note-book. 1892 W. Beatty-Kingston Intemper. v. 32
The leviathan liquor interests
   Hence leviathanic a., huge as a leviathan.
   1848 Tait's Mag. XV. 789 The leviathanic railway that stretches out its
fins amongst its contemporaries like Captain McQuhae's sea-serpent.

        -- Oxford English Dictionary

[Other biblical references]

"Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the
 Thou didst divide the sea by thy might; thou didst break the heads of the
dragons on the waters.
 Thou didst crush the heads of Leviathan, thou didst give him as food for
the creatures of the wilderness."
        -- Psalm 74

 "O Lord, how manifold are thy works! In wisdom hast thou made them all; the
earth is full of thy creatures.
 Yonder is the sea, great and wide, which teems with things innumerable,
living things both small and great.
 There go the ships, and Leviathan which thou didst form to sport in it."
        -- Psalm 104

 "In that day the Lord with his hard and great and strong sword will punish
Leviathan the fleeing serpent, Leviathan the twisting serpent, and he will
slay the dragon that is in the sea."
        -- Isaiah 27

(all biblical quotations are from the revised standard version, which is
available online at (for instance)


As mentioned in the OED entry above, "Leviathan" is also the title of a
famous political treatise by Thomas Hobbes. In it, Hobbes argues that
mankind's natural state (not to be confused with that of Rousseau's "noble
savage") is one of conflict; life is "nasty, brutish and short". In order to
rise out of the morass, it becomes necessary to sacrifice individual
liberties for the sake of "the common wealth". This monster he calls
"Leviathan" - a being that is greater than any one man. Hobbes than goes on
to argue that Leviathan's power is properly concentrated in the person of
the sovereign, who has a "divine right" to rule.

An excellent set of excerpts at serves to
summarize Hobbes' arguments, which I have only glanced upon above.

John Locke refined Hobbes' arguments a generation later in his "Two
Treatises on Government"; however, his liberal and humanistic view rejects
the "divine right of kings" on the grounds that there is no appealing the
sovereign's decisions; the common wealth is a contract that one cannot opt
out of, and is hence unsatisfactory. The following websites compare and
contrast the two systems:
 [broken link]
 [broken link]
 [broken link]
Recommended, if you're at all interested in this sort of thing.

[Minstrels Links]

A previous extract from the Book of Job:
poem #40

Poem #52, Jabberwocky  -- Lewis Carroll
Poem #215, The Loch Ness Monster's Song  -- Edwin Morgan
Poem #370, Troll sat alone on his seat of stone  -- J. R. R. Tolkien
Poem #775, The Maldive Shark -- Herman Melville
Poem #895, August 1968 -- W. H. Auden
Poem #896, The Kraken -- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Poem #897, Grendel -- Anon. (Old English, pre-10th century)
Poem #899, The Diatonic Dittymunch -- Jack Prelutsky

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so you mentioned this legendary creature, since the ancient ages the leviathan has been mentioned in many histories, not only in the bible, greeks talked about a creature with this name, pirates fear the fury of this creature, inclusive in our days we can hear about this monster.

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