De Cive  

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"Hominem esse animal aptum natum ad societatem"--De Cive, Hobbes

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De Cive (‘On the citizen’) is a book by Thomas Hobbes published in 1642, and one of his major works.

It anticipates the classical republican line of argument in the better-known Leviathan. The famous phrase Bellum omnium contra omnes (war of all against all) appeared first in De Cive.


In 1624 De Cive a more formal and detailed version of the third part of his scheme. Seeing that it had little impact on England, Hobbes started writing another book that would have but a big effect on England, the turnout of that was Leviathan. It was Hobbes’s intention to write on human knowledge; when this project was realised, it consisted of three works: De Corpore (‘On the body’), De Homine (‘On man’), and De Cive. Because of the political turmoil in Hobbes’s time, he set out to start with the work which would systematically come last: De Cive. This work comprises three parts: Libertas (liberty), Imperium (dominion), and Religio (religion). In the first part, he describes man’s natural condition, dealing with the natural laws; in the second, the necessity of establishing a stable government is indicated. Finally, in the third part, the most important statements are backed up theologically.


De Cive was finished in November 1641 - before the English Civil War (thus arguments repeated a decade later in Leviathan cannot exclusively be influenced by that war). The book was published in Latin in 1642; a revised edition appeared in 1647. It was translated into English, entitled Philosophicall Rudiments Concerning Government and Society (published in 1651). John Aubrey testifies that Hobbes translated part of the work into English himself with such success that an intended translator would rather leave Hobbes to do the job; it is not certain whether this was indeed the case.

The edition of the work by H. Warrender (Latin and English versions) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983) is at present standard.

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