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Arbitrary RuleSlavery, Tyranny, and the Power of Life and Death$

Mary Nyquist

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226015538

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226015675.001.0001

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Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

(p.257) CHAPTER EIGHT Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism
Arbitrary Rule

Mary Nyquist

University of Chicago Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter analyzes early modern visual and textual conventions that project New World and African societies into a precivil past. In diverse print and visual media, identifiable conventions, such as rhetorical iteration suggesting privation, erasure of social institutions and of history, figures such as the Amazons, scenarios featuring the practice of human sacrifice, and, generally, indications that force rather than persuasion holds sway, signify the precivil character of the society in question. Taken together, they enable Europe to position itself vis-a-vis what the author refers to as the privative age—privative signifying the prepolitical absence of the privileges and stabilizing order associated with the public arena in Greco-Roman traditions. The final section of the chapter focuses on the frontispieces designed for De Cive over a period that begins in 1642 and extends into the early stages of the Commonwealth.

Keywords:   precivil past, African societies, privative age, prepolitical absence, Greco-Roman traditions, De Cive, Commonwealth

For most people, the phrase “state of nature” conjures up Hobbes’s harsh view of precivil humanity. Not so widely recognized are the protoracialist connections Hobbes finds between the state of nature and the precivil condition of America’s “savages”—connections that often inform subsequent social contract theories. In Discours sur l’origine de l’inégalité, for example, Rousseau regards both Amerindigenes and Africans as “savages” living in humankind’s natural state. Are Hobbes’s assumptions about the New World those of his culture? If so, what makes his discussion of humanity’s natural state in chapter 13 of Leviathan so memorable? In exploring these questions, we will look at Hobbes’s employment of a rhetorical convention involving iterative, negative comparison. As a recurrent feature of early modern Euro-colonial discourse, negative iteratio derives from two canonical Roman texts, Ovid’s evocation of the golden age in Metamorphoses and Cicero’s narrative of the emergence of civil society in De Inventione. At the time of European expansion, expropriation of land, and enslavement of Amerindigene and, later, African peoples, this particular rhetorical scheme has previously undreamt of meanings and repercussions.

Hobbes’s precivil age has occasionally been treated as ethnographically meaningful, more often as somehow realistic. Commenting on Hobbes’s inversion of the golden age topos in Leviathan’s thirteenth chapter, one writer says it negatively catalogs “the benefits of civilization that were unavailable to primitive man.”1 Another reads this passage in Leviathan as a “brilliant parody of the golden age topos of classical pastoral. All of the negatives that are charged with nostalgic value in literary renderings of this theme from Ovid to Milton are recharged here with the fearsome force of realism.”2 While Hobbes’s negatives are certainly charged with fearsome force, the notion that Hobbes’s state of nature is opposed to the golden age as realism is (p.258) to idealism or fantasy ignores the very features of its rhetorical artistry that signal its affiliation with Euro-colonial ethnography. Of course, realist effects are often produced by ironic or parodic inversion of idealizing rhetorical strategies. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130, “My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun,” and the antics of Cervantes’s Don Quixote exemplify this kind of “realism.” The rhetorically patterned negation used to evoke the privative age, however, has a unique mission historically: to naturalize Europe’s self-representation as bearer of civilization and simultaneously erase the history as well as the complexity of specific extra-European societies.

Its historical specificity needs to be emphasized. In highlighting the absence of civilization’s essential characteristics, early modern representations of ostensibly natural, precivil societies persistently position such societies in a temporally distant era. This is true even of idealizing critique of the sort that appears in Montaigne’s often-cited “Of the Caniballes,” though this critique must be differentiated from an emphasis on privation that reinforces conventional views of European civility or serves directly to advance colonial conquest. Whatever the brand of primitivism—whether “hard,” “soft,” or shifting between, as frequently occurs—however, rhetorically patterned emphasis on privation contributes to the project of rationalizing European supremacy, even if the discursive context in which it appears does not overtly forward such ends.

The temporal dimension of Hobbes’s state of nature rarely gets discussed. Yet the natural condition he envisions is not only conceptually but also temporally prior to civil society. In De Cive, Hobbes situates the state of nature “outside” civil society in a catalog opposing its fateful risks with the plentiful benefits of life “within.” “To sum up,” Hobbes concludes, “outside the commonwealth is the empire of the passions, war, fear, poverty, nastiness, solitude, barbarity, ignorance, savagery; within the commonwealth is the empire of reason, peace, security, wealth, splendour, society, good taste, the sciences and good-will.”3 A condition of fearful insecurity in which natural, formal equality results in competitive violence, Hobbes’s state of nature is characterized by an unreflective asociality that exhausts itself in the struggle for survival. Though Hobbes continues to use spatial figuration in Leviathan, all three of his major political treatises also invoke a temporal model to suggest that the state of nature occupies an earlier, more primitive historical register than the more developed civil state.

Further, as scholars are increasingly stressing, reliant as it is on rigorous subtraction, the state of nature is for Hobbes also an empirical reality.4 Not surprisingly, given the reports of natural a- or incivility circulating among his contemporaries in oral, visual, and written representations of the New (p.259) World, “America” best exemplifies this wasteful, insecure state for Hobbes, sometimes allusively, sometimes explicitly, though Europeans, too, formerly lived in such a precivil condition. In Leviathan, Hobbes provides the single most influential early modern example of the notion that in presentday American “savages,” Europe encounters its contemporary ancestors. Temporality is foregrounded in the paragraph immediately preceding chapter 13’s central, best-known passage on the state of nature, where Hobbes elaborates the principle (appearing in Elements of Law and De Cive) that the experience of anxiously awaiting aggressive conflict is itself a feature of war:

For warre, consisteth not in Battell onely, or the act of fighting; but in a tract of time, wherein the Will to contend by Battell is sufficiently known: and therefore the notion of Time, is to be considered in the nature of Warre; as it is in the nature of Weather. For as the nature of Foule weather, lyeth not in a showre or two of rain; but in an inclination thereto of many dayes together: So the nature of War, consisteth not in actuall fighting; but in the known disposition thereto, during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All other time is Peace.

Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time of Warre, where every man is Enemy to every man; the same is consequent to the time, wherein men live without other security, than what their own strength, and their own invention shall furnish them withall. In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short. (1.13.62)

By including in his definition of war the “tract of time” in which hostilities are anticipated, Hobbes invites his readers—actually encourages them to take time—to experience imaginatively the dreaded loss of all the valued, familiar properties of civility should they live during the “time, wherein” (simultaneously a “tract of time” and a historical epoch) the productive possibilities of civilization are canceled by the fight for survival, no holds barred.

The anaphoric no establishes its iterative pattern only gradually in this passage. Hobbes initially elaborates phrases, so that “no place for Industry” (p.260) is causally and associatively linked by way of its “uncertain” “fruit” to “no Culture of the Earth”; “no Navigation” is immediately amplified by “nor” in “nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea”; and “no Instruments of moving” similarly amplified with “removing such things as require much force.” At this point, amplification is increasingly curtailed so that the pace of anaphoric negation picks up—acceleration that seems to mimic the ruthless despoliation of all civil goods. The resulting rhetorical privatio concludes with the spare “no Arts; no Letters; no Society,” negatives that increase the rhetorical force of negation’s absence in “continuall feare, and danger of violent death,” to say nothing of the goosebump bare adjectives “solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short” that modify the “life of man.”

In illustrating his thesis that fearful anticipation is a component of war, every item Hobbes catalogs, from “no Culture of the Earth” through “no Society,” appears under the threatening clouds of pending annihilation. As a consequence of this temporal orientation, such features of the state of nature can, in turn, be associated with a threatened regression to an earlier, more primitive state. Hobbes goes on, in a passage to be discussed later in this chapter, explicitly to associate such regression with the condition of civil war, the ongoing threat of which he so often and vividly brings home to his readers, and elsewhere to the unregulated, hostile competitiveness of relations between states. More generally, though, the effect of Hobbes’s stress on temporality is to suggest that the state of nature is one from which civil society emerges but also one to which a commonwealth can at any time return if it does not take appropriate measures to establish a secure basis for itself in absolute sovereignty. Throughout Leviathan, civil society threatens to “return” to its primitive, natural state or to “relapse” into a condition of anarchy.

Examination of iterative, rhetorical negation’s dual ancestry will clarify the distinctive relations Hobbes creates among the state of nature, a privative era, and the New World. In what follows, we will look at early modern instances of a privative age that whether “soft” or “hard,” utopian or dystopian, is projected onto an antecedent temporality. We will also reflect on how the notion that Western European nations left incivility behind ages ago interacts with the assumption that they are Greco-Roman civility’s rightful heirs, and thus peculiarly equipped to transmit the antique arts and knowledge that Christianity has refined to nations unable to govern themselves. Despite his antipathy to Greco-Roman antityrannicism and to his radical compatriots’ preoccupation with “liberty,” Hobbes not only shares (p.261) but also exploits his culture’s assumptions about its privileged, civilized status. In the final section of this chapter, attention will be given the frontispieces designed for De Cive over a period that begins in 1642, as the English revolution was getting under way, and extends into the early stages of the Commonwealth, when Libertas is outfitted with a Dutch liberty cap.

The Golden-Edenic Privative Age

Rhetorically patterned negation evoking a precivilera appears regularly inearly modern representations of extra-European societies, unfamiliar features of which come to signify the absence of, and frequently the temporal anteriority to, more civilized formations. In Early Anthropology, Margaret Hodgen has shown that by the latter sixteenth century, patterned negation had become formulaic, its basic elements being, in her words, “‘no (or without) kings or magistrate, government, commonwealth, rule, commanders; no arts (or occupation); no traffic (or shipping, navigation); no husbandry (or agriculture, tillage, tilth, vineyards, sowing, or planting); no money (or no exchange, gold, riches); no weapons (no war, knives, pikes, swords, etc.); no clothes (naked); no marrying (no wedding, no respect of kindred); no bourne or bound (without waies or bounds).’”5 As this catalog indicates, the topos of a privative, precivil era acts as a remarkably compressed medium for negative cultural comparison while remaining elastic in its capacity to include new categories or items and to drop others.6

Hodgen presents formulaic negation as a neutral, nonevaluative convention. She does so, I assume, not because it actually gets used this way but out of awareness that formulaic privatio appears in both “soft” and “hard” versions of the privative age. I would like to develop the insight implicit in Hodgen’s presentation by exploring the interplay between immediate context and the affective claims of rhetorical negation when applied to an extra-European society. Despite its formulaic character, iterative negation’s rhetorical effects are variable and context-dependent. We will begin with the idealized privative age, which is more easily recognized because related to the golden age, the mythic first of the five ages mentioned by Hesiod and embellished by numerous later writers. That the topos of civil privation as used in the early modern period conventionally signals an earlier moment, developmentally, is largely owing to this ancestry, although, as will be seen, Cicero gives it a competing, equally notable lineage.

Employed with reference to a primitive, blessedly trouble-free era, iterative negation associates naturalness with the absence of civilization’s (p.262) more oppressive features. In literary representations of the golden or Edenic age, negation serves to put under momentary erasure what becomes recognizably a sign of the present time’s degenerate badness the moment it is named. Ovid, for example, uses the evocative “lips with blood undy’d” when referring to the golden age, making the carnivorous practice of eating flesh distressing evidence of prior, more harmonious relations between human and nonhuman animals, relations now known only by contraries (in George Sandys’s 1626 translation): “Then Fowle through aire their wings in safetie ply’d: / The Hare, then fearelesse, wandred o’r the plaine; / Nor Fish by their credulitie were ta’ne.”7 Another influential passage in the Metamorphosis uses repetitive negation to catalog the golden age’s multitudinous absences, in the process conjuring up an originary condition of self-sufficient, naturally ordered peace:

  • The Golden Age was first; which uncompeld,
  • And without rule, in faith and Truth exceld.
  • As then, there was nor punishment, nor feare;
  • Nor threatening Lawes in brasse prescribed were;
  • Nor suppliant crouching pris’ners shooke to see
  • Their angrie Judge: but all was safe and free.
  • To visit other Worlds, no wounded Pine
  • Did yet from Hills to faithlesse Seas decline.
  • Then, unambitious Mortals knew no more,
  • But their owne Countrie’s Nature-bounded shore,
  • Nor Swords, nor Armes were yet: no trenches round
  • Besieged Townes, nor strifefull Trumpets sound:
  • The Souldier, of no use. In firme content
  • And harmlesse ease, their happy daies were spent.
  • The yet-free Earth did of her owne accord
  • (Untorne with ploughs) all sorts of fruit afford.;
  • Content with Natures un-enforced food,
  • They gather Wildings, Strawb’ries of the Wood,
  • Sowre Cornels, what upon the Bramble growes,
  • And Acornes, which Jove’s spreading Oke bestowes.
  • (book 1, lines 89–118; my emphasis)8

The repetitive, almost incantatory negation that appears in this passage becomes a conventional feature of literary evocations of the golden age and, in Christian adaptations, of prelapsarian Eden. In idealizing textual appearances such as these, where the language of negation modifies attributes of a (p.263) taken-for-granted, degraded present, the negatives of the golden age produce a singularly bittersweet Verfremdungseffekt. Animated by the phantasms of nostalgia, golden-Edenic discourse is often accompanied by defamiliarizing irony or satire, and thereby tends to function as does a double negative: the negatives logically (though not for readers experientially) cancel one another out, yielding a positive. Thus precariously poised, this vision is marked by the ineluctable movement of the blessed past into the tumultuous, civilized present: what once was is simultaneously, and threateningly, “not yet” (nondum, which appears twice in the Latin).

When used to evoke a golden privative age, the early modern practice of double negation works to make privation signify natural simplicity and plenitude, including natural, ethicospiritual innocence, limited as it must be in the absence of divine revelation. While such plenitude can appear outside the New World—a pithy example occurs in a mid-sixteenth-century text, The Fardle of Façions, on the ostensible absence of laws among the Brahmans: “Ther can no lawe appiere because none offence appeareth”9—it is, of course, a standard feature of early representations of the Americas. That attributes of the golden age or Eden could manifest themselves in an actual, earthly location is so utterly disorienting that simple wonder and longing—longing that often translates itself into a desire for commercial interchange and settlement—are the responses initially elicited by descriptions matching Ovid’s most closely.10 In his well-circulated text on the New World, Peter Martyr d’Anghiera, for example, explicitly invokes the golden age when stressing the love of liberty and absence of superfluous goods enjoyed by “inhabitants of these Islandes.” The accompanying catalog of privatives concludes with reiterated negation relating to law and concern for the future: “So that if we shall not be ashamed to confesse the truthe, they seeme to lyve in that goulden worlde of the whiche owlde wryters speake so much, wherein men lyved simplye and innocentlye without enforcement of lawes, without quarrelling, Judges, and libelles, contente onely to satisfie nature, without further vexation for knowledge of thinges to come.”11

Paradoxical double negation here benignly, halfheartedly, critiques the author’s own society, which sadly lacks such naturally harmonious social relations. At the same time, it completely obliterates Amerindigenous political and religious institutions; methods of social regulation; and practices, whether agricultural or hunting, oriented toward ecological sustainability. It also subtly infantilizes Amerindigenes in much the way the conventions of pastoral do its shepherds and goatherds: poor is as common in ethnographic as silly is in pastoral literature. Though it enables critique, and can (p.264) challenge colonialist practices or assumptions, idealization of precivility also reinforces Euro-colonial hierarchies. A temporary, rhetorical inversion of bipolar relations between barbarism and civility or between simplicity and artificiality transparently projects its own positionality, its own, idealizing nostalgia and attendant critical, even satirical, edge.

Influential instances of double negation appear in Las Casas’s Destruction of the Indies, the preface to which presents Americans as by nature without duplicity; without aggressive, antisocial impulses such as resentment or any hankering after revenge; as lacking not only material possessions but also acquisitive impulses; and as enjoying a diet equaling that of the Desert Fathers in its simplicity. In such instances, spiritual plenitude and natural abundance marry to shower natural, civil privation with paradisal blessings that are, coincidentally, precisely those of “primitive” Christianity: not-having becomes part of an exemplary, virtuous condition of not desiring what is harmful or inessential.12 Though Las Casas elsewhere uses ethnographic detail to represent Amerindigenes’ nations as self-governing, with their own, distinctive social and religious practices, in this text he foregrounds the tragic assault on their pristine innocence by tyrannous, greed-driven Spanish.

The best-known idealizing instance of rhetorical privatio appears in Montaigne’s “Of the Caniballes,” where civil privation is again overtly associated with the fabled golden age. In this essay the negative language of privation signifies the ideal absence of the vices, corruption, and superfluity that “art” inevitably introduces into an “originall naturalitie”:

It is a nation, would I answer Plato, that hath no kinde of traffike, no knowledge of Letters, no intelligence of numbers, no name of magistrate, nor of politike superioritie; no use of service, of riches or of povertie; no contracts, no successions, no partitions, no occupation but idle; no respect of kindred, but common, no apparel but naturall, no manuring of lands, no use of wine, corne, or mettle. The very words that import lying, falshood, treason, dissimulations, covetousness, envie, detraction, and pardon, were never heard of amongst them.13

Here the multiplying negatives effect a virtual cancellation of contemporaneous European social realities, clearing a space for mental transport to a simpler, more authentic way of life. Significantly, however, Montaigne does not place this nation outside a shared, human history, instead associating it with ancient Israel (regarding polygamy, their wives are compared to Leah, Rachel, and Sarah, who generously promoted their husbands’ honor (p.265) by sponsoring additional sexual partners), ancient Greece, and Rome (ibid., pp. 254–55). Although such analogies with familiar, ancient cultures continue to project Amerindigenes into a disjunctive past, they have the comparatively pacific effect of including them in a single, comprehensive human history.

A similar dynamic operates in the much-cited passage from The Tempest, where Gonzalo, referencing the golden age, envisions planting a commonwealth “by contraries”:

  • for no kind of traffic
  • Would I admit; no name of magistrate;
  • Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,
  • And use of service, none; contract, succession,
  • Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;
  • No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;
  • No occupation, all men idle, all,
  • And women too, but innocent and pure;
  • No sovereignty— (2.1.145–54)

Though Shakespeare is clearly indebted to “Of the Caniballes” for specific phrases of this speech, we need not assume that Montaigne is Shakespeare’s only source, given the prevalence of negative comparison in travel or ethnographic literature at the time.14 Even more than the patterned language they share, these examples of early modernism’s golden privative age are joined by their ironic critique of contrasting, present-day realities. If Gonzalo’s speech is too parodic to open up idealized vistas, its very inability to do so encourages the casting of a severely disenchanted gaze on the fictive island’s far from harmonious communities—a gaze much like the one Montaigne’s readers are to give the self-satisfied certainties of barbarously wartorn, present-day France.

It may be safe to say that in the early modern era, owing to its golden age genealogy but also to conventions that become established early on, idealizing use of iterative negation with reference to a privative age includes, gestures toward, or leads to ironic or satiric reflections on the author’s own society. Of course, idealization can occur by other means, and a given passage need not consistently idealize the society in question to produce ironic or satiric effects. Then, too, some representations of the privative age invite mixed, often conflicted, responses to signs that a society lacks civility and the Christianity that ought to accompany it. The following passage from Thomas Harriot’s A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, (p.266) for example, switches suddenly from an ambivalently positive to an openly negative evaluation of privation:

Dowbtless yt is a pleasant sighte to see the people, sometimes wadinge, and goinge sometimes sailinge in those Rivers, which are shallowe and not deepe, free from all care of heaping opp Riches for their posterite, content with their state, and livinge frendlye together of those thinges which god of his bountye hath given unto them, yet without givinge hym any thankes according to his desarte. So savage is this people, and deprived of the true knowledge of god.15

Conveying a conventionally satiric jibe at the greed-driven, civilized present, the phrase “heaping opp Riches for their posterite” also calls attention to the absence of concern for the future that is commonly assigned aboriginal societies (and which in Hobbes is evidence of defective rationality). With the turn at “yet without givinge hym any thankes,” the uneasiness such perfect contentment is to stir up in readers (a disapproving distance is dictated by “Dowbtless yt is a pleasant sighte”) can righteously discharge itself in judgment on the absence of true religious knowledge and worship.

Cicero’S Savage Age

The “savage” counterpart to the golden privative age associated with the New World is, if anything, more prevalent in Euro-colonial literature but has not clearly been identified, partly because its genealogy has been obscured. Surprisingly, in their magisterial exploration of ancient and early modern primitivism, Lovejoy and Boas do not include Cicero’s De Inventione even though, well known throughout medieval and early modern Christendom, it includes a highly influential story of civilization’s emergence from an earlier, asocial condition. In Cicero’s fable, a charismatic leader effects the momentous transition to civilization by inspiring people who live in a mobile, animallike condition to enter one that is settled, socially organized, and productive. Here, as with the golden age, an earlier, primitive era is conjured up by a catalog of privatives:

For there was a time when men wandered at large in the fields like animals and lived on wild fare; they did nothing by the guidance of reason, but relied chiefly on physical strength; there was as yet [nondum; my emphasis] no ordered system of religious worship nor of social duties; no one had seen legitimate marriage nor had anyone looked upon children (p.267) whom he knew to be his own; nor had they learned the advantages of an equitable code of law.16

Like the golden, Cicero’s precivil age is marked by absence. Here, though, civilization itself has gone missing. Compared with the poignant regret awakened by loss of the golden age’s harmonies, distress is the affect aroused by this era’s privations: lacking is everything of value to a normatively human society. Unlike the pleasing social order of the golden age, Cicero’s primitive condition lacks even rudimentary social formations such as meals, religion, families, and habitations. Brute strength or force—the contrary of the rational persuasion practiced by the civilizing outsider— reigns uncontested.

Thanks to Cicero’s charismatic figure, this condition does not last. The privative era Cicero depicts is clearly precivil or savage because the boundary between human and animal—the boundary taken to be foundational to human society in Greek and Roman politico-philosophical traditions— has not yet been instituted. In Cicero’s brief fable, humans differentiate themselves from animals only when reason and eloquence intervene from without. The charismatic outsider who brings about this transformation recruits the reason and eloquence he instantiates to a civilizing end, inaugurated when he persuades precivil nomads to form a cohesive social unit. Perceiving their latent potential, he also instructs them in useful occupations. Though initially resisting their induction into civility (“[T]hey cried out against it at first because of its novelty,” Cicero says), his rapt auditors eventually become civil, gentle people.

Unlike the golden age, which is one of a series of interconnected ages, the Ciceronian savage age is the polar opposite of the civil era that supersedes it. Referring to this passage, Richard Tuck argues that Cicero’s sharp division of natural from civil orders is central to theories of natural rights introduced by early modern humanist legal and political theorists.17 Tuck’s argument can be extended by stressing the immense attractiveness of this passage as an epitome of Euro-colonialism’s civilizing enterprise, which must proceed toward its successful ending even if those who are not yet civilized resist. Cicero’s story reinforces the otherwise problematical conception of rights as at once natural and universal yet for some nations properly exercised only within a recognizably European civil order. At the same time, it has obvious merits for opponents of popular sovereignty’s glorification of natural freedom such as Hobbes.

Understandably, De Inventione most often appears in discussions of early modern humanism’s fascination with classical rhetoric. Yet selective (p.268) attention to Cicero’s influence on early modern education helps to perpetuate what Peter Rose calls the “structured silences” of Cicero’s rhetorical practice in relation to Roman imperialism. Like other scholars of ancient Rome, Rose relates the dissolution of the Republic to its imperial expansionism, which permits opportunistic generals to undermine the late Republic’s increasingly depoliticized, internally competitive oligarchy.18 It is a mistake, Rose argues, to regard Cicero as an advocate of Rome’s republican ideals against the destructive forces unleashed by its imperialism. Through carefully contextualized analyses, Rose demonstrates precisely how Cicero, “far from being the perspicacious and heroic defender of Republican freedom was from one end of his career to the other fully complicitous in the contradictions that destroyed the Republic.”19 In De Provinciis Cicero formulates a defense of preemptive aggression against Gallic barbarians that is especially pertinent. Praising Caesar for his determination to put a stop to any resistance against their Roman rulers the barbarous provincials might in the future devise, Cicero refers to the barbarians as “men unknown to us or known only as wild, savage and warlike—tribes which no one who ever lived would not wish to see crushed and subdued.” As Rose points out, this rationalization of conquest contradicts Cicero’s earlier representation of Rome’s empire as harmoniously administered for the good of its ostensible allies.20

Cicero’s endorsement of conquest does, though, suit his adaptation of Aristotle’s doctrine of natural slavery in the third book of De Republica (lost, which makes Augustine’s recording of this passage in The City of God the only source).21 Cicero’s indebtedness to Aristotle’s doctrine has been observed—Anthony Pagden points out its profound importance to modern ideologies of empire22—but not his transposition of Aristotle’s doctrine from the household to the state, which seriously compounds the already complex category of natural slave. We have seen that Aristotle’s use of figurative political slavery in Politics is overdetermined in its implication of barbaroi. Yet while Aristotle is confident that Asiatic barbarians are as a whole naturally predisposed to political servility, his primary discussion of intellectual deficiency as a disabling condition requiring rule by a master takes places in book 1 with reference to the individual household. It is this incapacity that makes for the natural slave.

By contrast, Cicero introduces his version of natural slavery in a discussion of the justice or injustice of imperial expansion in the conquest of entire societies, specifically, of course, “barbarians” or “provincials.” That empire be extended over certain naturally slavish people is not unjust, Cicero argues, because to be ruled is beneficial for them. Done properly, conquest (p.269) removes the “right to do injury” from “wicked people,” thereby doing them and their victims a service. Cicero’s reflections appear only in a fragmentary manner, so it is not clear whether the conquerors administer corrective or preventative justice. In either case, Cicero’s inclusion of natural slaves in connection with just war doctrine differs from Aristotle’s defense of chattel slavery in two ways: first, as mentioned, it situates enslavement in a transnational rather than domestic or civil arena; and, second, it postulates dangerous transgressiveness or criminality rather than, as Aristotle does, deficient humanity as a signifier of natural slavishness.

With its emphasis on uncontrolled wickedness, Cicero’s adaptation of Aristotle’s views on natural slavery is available for just war doctrine as well as for the Christianized conceptions of penal justice that insidiously inform it. Though distinct from the rhetorically patterned negation used in De Inventione, Cicero’s nationalization of natural slavery can also easily be accommodated to depictions of a savage, privative age. For these reasons it is important to early modern Euro-colonialism, which locates barbarous violations of natural law and natural slavery at the level of the nation. Cicero’s authority is great, but this passage is perhaps more authoritative than most because cited by Augustine. Cicero’s view that certain people, given to injurious wickedness, need to be conquered—reduced to “slaves” with appropriate “masters”—by those who are properly civilized easily falls into step with the notion that certain nations (formerly the ungodly “heathen nations” vilified in Scripture) suffer a supplementary form of the heritable penalty known as Original Sin.

Savagery and the Euro-Colonial Privative Age

In “hard” versions of the privative age, not-having or not-doing become the defining features of the society being disparaged. Critique does not complicate the hierarchical relationship between European and extra-European societies in representations of a savage privative age. The most consequential instance of this ideological formation is the doctrine that uncultivated land is res nullius, which thereby legitimately becomes the possession of those who cultivate it.23 Marked solely by negation, land used for hunting and gathering rather than agriculture—agriculture, when practiced, is nearly always ignored—is said to be empty in lacking not only cultivation but also permanent residences. A contemporary of Hobbes, Anthony Ascham, categorizes lands over which people roam under the heading “Civill vacancy,” from which he concludes “[T]his is a cleere case for all Planters, that those wastes, or asperi montes, which the Natives make no use of, nor (p.270) can receive any damage by their being possest by others, may be lawfully impropriated by them.”24

Derogatory use of iterative negation to evoke a privative age appears in 1436 with reference to the Guanches of the Canary Islands, whose enslavement helped to prepare the way for Portuguese trafficking expeditions to West Africa. Humbly protesting the papal prohibition against the colonization of the Canary Islands, King Duarte I of Portugal represents their inhabitants so as to encourage Pope Eugenius IV to intervene:

The nearly wild men who inhabit the forests are not united by a common religion, nor are they bound by the chains of law, they are lacking normal social intercourse, living in the country like animals. They have no contact with each other by sea, no writing, no kind of money or metal. They have no houses and no clothing except for coverlets of palm leaves or goat skins which are worn as an outer garment by the most honoured men.25

Although the palm leaves and goatskins in the concluding sentence are to lend Duarte’s account ethnographic authenticity, its emphasis on animalistic, asocial vagrancy recalls De Inventione, to which it is likely indebted. That the lack of marine travel—in the golden age a mark of respect for natural limits—signifies a natural incapacity for civility shows how intent on diagrammatic dehumanization the “savage” privative age can become. In 1612, stopping at the Cape, the English Ralph Standish applies the same formula—substituting without for no—to its African inhabitants, who appear similarly undeserving of the fertile land they leave waste. Standish presents them as “bruitt and savadg, without Religion, without language, without Lawes or government, without manners or humanittee, and last of all without apparell, for they go naked save onelie a pees of a Sheepes Skyn to cover their Members.”26 (Note also use of the “save onelie” formula.)

Iterative negation’s animalization sometimes turns into an outright denial that people living in the New World or Africa are fully human. This occurs in the famous debate between Las Casas and Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda on the question of whether it is just to use force in converting Amerindigenes to Christianity. In arguing the affirmative, Sepúlveda employs patterned negation in a wholly pejorative manner. Derisively referring to Americans as homunculi, a term suggesting not only diminutive stature but also artificial origins, Sepúlveda insists that Amerindigenes lack the rationality and dignity of the Europeans with whom he contrasts them. Eulogizing Europeans’ “wit, magnanimity, temperance, humanity and religion,” Sepúlveda (p.271) says of the homunculi: “Scarcely a trace of humanity can be discovered in them. They not only have no learning but do not even use or know letters; they retain no monuments of great deeds (apart from an obscure memory of some things, consigned to pictures), no written laws but certain customs and barbarous manners.”27 At this point Sepúlveda leaves negation to vituperate the animality evident in barbarous practices such as cannibalism and continuous warfare.

Numerous instances of dehumanizing iterative negation could be provided. So adaptable is the dystopian version of the privative age topos that it can apply to Africans, the Irish, Turkish infidels, or Amerindigenes, among others.28 In Touching an Holy War, Bacon has Martius argue that the Turks are more barbarous than other pagans or infidels. Comparing them with the more socially and culturally developed Peruvians and Mexicans, Martius characterizes the Turks as:

A Heap of Vassals, and Slaves: No Nobles, No Gentlemen, No Free-men, No Inheritance of land, No Stirp or Ancient Families: A People that is without Natural Affection, and, as the Scripture saith, that Regardeth not the desires of Women. And without Piety or Care towards their Children: a Nation without Morality, without Letters, Arts, or Sciences; That can scarce measure an Acre of Land, or an Houre of the Day: Base and Sluttish in Buildings, Diets, and the like: And, in a word, A very Reproach of Humane Societie.29

The marshaling of known, civil goods under the anaphoric no and without aims at a comprehensive disapprobation comparable to that later achieved by Hobbes, though here ostensibly with reference to a single society.

Designating the entire populace a “Heap of Vassals, and Slaves,” the opening sentence calls attention to the absence of a ruling class. If the absence of “Nobles,” “Gentlemen,” and “Free-men” were merely to reinforce the random, disorderly aggregation suggested by Heap, this privation might not be more noteworthy than any other. It would recall Smith’s claim about mere geographical aggregation: “For properly an host of men is not called a common wealth.”30 But lack of an elite stratum likely revisions Aristotle’s reflections on barbarism in Politics, where the absence of “natural rulers” is evidence of natural political slavery (1252b5–7). The Turks, too, then, are essentially a collectivity of natural “Vassals, and Slaves.” The catalog of privatives that follows amplifies this opening claim, which in context develops into the proposition that “where there is an heap of people (though we term it a kingdom or state) that is altogether unable or indign to govern, (p.272) there it is a just cause of war for another nation, that is civil or policed, to subdue them.”

In this argument, where reasoning “in the privative” foregrounds the justice of preemptive war, force is needed to establish political order for those who allegedly cannot themselves create it. Such reasoning also promotes quasijuridical justifications of offensive war. As it emerged in early modern international law, the conception of a common, universal humanity subject to a single, juridical standard—which one might naïvely expect to encourage impartiality—often rationalized Euro-colonial aggression by positioning nations that were “civil or policed” as judges and executioners of the law of nature or nations.31 In the context of European expansion, and under this ideological pressure, both natural law and jus gentium took on something of the positivity of civil law, though it was government officials and militia who interpreted, policed, and enforced them. Even so, juridical language and sensationalist, racialized portrayals of subhuman behavioral norms are more common than fully fledged theorization of a right to punish.

Vitoria, for example, concludes that the only violation of natural law for which the Amerindigenes can be prosecuted in a just war is the inhospitable defense of their lands. Yet in the process of reaching this decision, Vitoria repeatedly uses privative formulations to depict Amerindigenes as less than fully human practitioners of incest, sodomy, cannibalism, and human sacrifice, all of which violate natural law; he also often suggests they are naturally if not legally slaves.32 In the late sixteenth century, Alberico Gentili, professor of civil law at Oxford, approves Spain’s military aggression against the Amerindigenes, whose violations of normative human nature place them on a par with beasts, against whom war is legitimate.33 But even bestialization may not go far enough. Arguing that some nations “are occupants de Facto, and not de Iure, of their Territories, in respect of the Nullity, of their Policy, or Government,” Bacon’s speaker in the concluding section of Touching an Holy War introduces pirates, monsters, and foreign tyrants as examples of “Communes Humani Generis Hostes”—the enemies of humankind whom it has long been regarded as a human duty to “prosecute.”34 Approved, it is implied, by Greek and Roman authorities, the necessity of eliminating enemies of humankind lies beyond dispute, so much so that Locke, too, assumes it.

As sanctioned by jus gentium in Roman jurisprudence, the captor’s provisional, discretionary power to kill or to enslave his captives takes place on the battlefield, not in the court. Yet insofar as war slavery doctrine is bound up with just war doctrine, it, too, easily gets caught up in the vast, sticky web cast by juridical reasoning in the privative. Having cited Roman (p.273) jurists on the victors’ right to everything belonging to the defeated enemy, including its people, for example, Vitoria adds that the prince who wages a just war “becomes ipso jure the judge of the enemy, and may punish them judicially and sentence them according to their offence.”35 This rationalization of slavery prompts Bodin to take war slavery doctrine to the courtroom, where, if a war is either just or unjust, he argues, the doctrine can only result in manifest injustice: the vanquished in a just war should rightly be punished, while in an unjust war they ought to go free. To sidestep such difficulties, Grotius and Hobbes both represent the captor’s power in nonjuridical terms, though Grotius sketches in a socioeconomic context for the victor’s decision making. Locke, however, awkwardly annexes war slavery doctrine to a juridical right to punish, and is thereby perhaps more representative of Euro-colonialist ideology.

Tension between strictly military and penal constructions of servitude appears in a little-known text, A New Survey of the West-Indies by Thomas Gage, who became an important adviser to Cromwell in planning the Western Design.36 In one of many mininarratives, Gage recounts Cortés’s defeat by the Tepeacacs, allies of the Mexicans and Culhuacans, who, having repulsed Cortés, abducted twelve of the vanquished Spaniards “and sacrificed them alive to their Idols and eat their flesh.” Cortés gets several chiefs from another nation to assist him in avenging these deaths (which are, however, in keeping with war slavery as jus gentium), and with them confronts the Tepeacacs, demanding that they “now yield themselves to the obedience of the Emperour and King of Spain his Master.” The Tepeacacs refuse, arguing that they had slain the invading Spaniards “for good and just cause” since they were entering their country without permission, and threatening the Spaniards with the same fate unless they clear out. Cortés, Gage says, continues to seek peace but, when the Tepeacacs remain recalcitrant, wages war and defeats them, losing not a single one of his men.37

There are two accounts of what happens next, Gage says, but they both reduce the Tepeacacs to some kind of slavery. In the first, Cortés sentences the towns that had been privy to the murders to perpetual captivity and enslavement, while in the second, which criminalizes the Tepeacacs alone, Cortés “corrected them for their disobedience, being Sodomites, Idolaters and eaters of mans flesh, and chiefly for example of all others. And in conclusion, they were condemned for slaves.” Regarding the right to punish, there is not much to choose. The victorious Cortés holds the power to kill or to enslave, yet his office appears to be juridical. In Gage’s narrative, Cortés the vengeance seeker is gradually refashioned into a failed peace-keeper and then an executioner of the law of nature whose life-determining (p.274) judgments are made on impersonal, juridical grounds. Gage deplores the erroneous beliefs popery inculcates in Amerindigenes but clearly approves of the way Cortés has “pacified” the entire province by the end of the battle, and extols the civilizing effects of Spanish conquest. In more than one instance, colonization has made “people who formerly had been eaters of Mans flesh, now as civill and politick, as loving and courteous as any in this rode.”38

By the mid-seventeenth century, the time Gage writes, it is a commonplace that large-scale violations of natural law occur in a privative, precivil age. It also seems obvious that natural law, divinely authored, is fully legible only to European Christians, whose confessional differences often do not matter in contexts such as this, as they would detract from Western Christendom’s authoritative stance vis-à-vis ostensibly universal, natural laws. Of the justifications of this stance that have been given over the centuries of European rule, those emphasizing privation are perhaps most pernicious because least conspicuously self-serving. This makes it all the more crucial to situate the “hard” privative age in a network of conventions that tie precivility to an incapacity for self-rule.

Ancestral Liberties, Inherited Freedom

We will now turn to conventions that support Europe’s corresponding self-construction as an older, wiser exemplar of civility, having long ago outgrown the privative age. Of what is this self-construction comprised? One major component is early modern Western Europe’s self-representation as ancient Greece and Rome’s natural heir. So widely known as a marker of European identity as to seem barely worth mentioning, this inheritance not only enhances the value but also indirectly establishes the antiquity of European civility. Another is silent reschematization of Aristotle’s tripartite division of the human race. In the service of further securing Western Europe’s civil maturity, early moderns pull Greece into Western Europe’s geopolitical boundaries (not the natural home it has been made to seem) and assign themselves the very position Greece formerly held. The inhabitants of European Christendom, now Greece’s cultural heirs, therefore hold the honor of being the only people to exercise their love of freedom in governing themselves by law and consequently the only people fit to govern others.

In a comment made with reference to 1 Samuel 8, Buchanan asserts that “the peoples of Asia are more servile in spirit than Europeans.”39 Though done so subtly as almost to escape notice, Buchanan here rewrites Aristotle’s tripartite division of humanity. In Aristotle’s schema, the Greeks alone are capable of both self-rule and ruling others, while Asiatic barbarians, though (p.275) clever, are prone to servility, and the highly spirited Europeans lack the intelligence requisite for self-rule. In his matter-of-fact revision, Buchanan does not reject Aristotle’s schema—regarding natural servility, Asians are still badly off—but he does ignore Aristotle’s distinction between Greeks and Europeans, thereby casually supplanting Aristotle’s tripartite division with a polarity between Asians and Europeans, who have inconspicuously incorporated “Greeks.” Or to put this another way, the “Greeks” have been rechristened “Europeans” to honor the status Europeans now enjoy as heirs of the simultaneously spirited and intelligent Greeks. This revisioning suits early modern visual representations of the world’s four continents—America, Asia, Africa, and Europe—in which Europe regularly appears as the undisputed ruler of the other three.

Buchanan is not alone in reconfiguring Aristotle’s schema. Despite his critique of Aristotle’s orientalist barbarism and his unwillingness to disparage Asiatic, “lordly,” absolutism, Bodin occasionally relies on classical Greek biases. When explaining why “royal” is to be preferred to “lordly” monarchy, for example, Bodin mentions that the lordly rule practiced by Persian and other Asiatic kings was rejected by nations “instructed in civility.” In a similar assertion, Europeans are contrasted with both Africans and Asians: “[T]he people of Europe more couragious, and better souldiers then the people of Africke or Asia, could never endure the lordly Monarques.”40 In statements such as this, Bodin basically reworks Aristotle’s pejorative view of European spiritedness so that it becomes the basis for an instinctive, natural resistance to “lordly Monarques” shared with ancient Greece and Rome. Although it does not always appear in such lucid, propositional form, this transvaluation of European spiritedness works its way into many representations of European fitness for rule.

Add-ons to the category of naturally servile Asians are not infrequent. Like Buchanan, Milton, for example, joins 1 Samuel 8 to Aristotle’s distinction between good and tyrannous rule, associated with Asiatic barbarism: “[G]enerally the people of Asia,” Milton begins, “and with them the Jews also, especially since they chose a King against the advice and counsel of God, are noted by wise Authors much inclinable to slavery.”41 Given the allusion to 1 Samuel 8, the English word slavery here clearly references internal, political slavery, to which Europeans, like ancient Greeks, are naturally averse. Milton’s addition of Jews may also suggest that Christianity is in part responsible for Europe’s alignment with its Greco-Roman forbears, though the anti-Judaism of this passage may owe something to Cicero as one of its unnamed “wise Authors.”42

Bodin’s pairing of “Africke” and “Asiatics” is more common, though.

(p.276) In his Cosmographie in four books (1652), Peter Heylyn mentions in one breath “the effeminateness of the Asiaticks, or the crueltie or implacableness of the African Nations.”43 Later in the seventeenth century, in a treatise whose antityrannicism shares much with Locke’s, Algernon Sidney’s Discourses Concerning Government presents the tenet that human “Liberty” consists in being ruled only by laws to which consent has been given as

the principle in which the Grecians, Italians, Spaniards, Gauls, Germans, and Britains, and all other generous Nations ever lived, before the name of Christ was known in the World; insomuch that the base effeminate Asiaticks and Africans, for being careless of their Liberty, or unable to govern themselves, were by Aristotle and other wise men called Slaves by Nature, and looked upon as little different from Beasts.44

For his catalog of “generous” European nations, individually named, Sidney brings pre-Christian Athenians and Romans in under the names of “Grecians” and “Italians.” At the same time, Sidney rewrites Aristotle and other unnamed “wise men” by claiming that Africans, too, are “Slaves by Nature.” By adding “Africans” to the “effeminate Asiaticks” whose internal, political self-governance is at issue, Sidney reproduces Aristotle’s slippery, double encoding of slavery. Though political rule is Sidney’s ostensible topic, cues relating to chattel slavery—the very term Slaves by Nature as well as the dehumanization of “little different from beasts”—dominate the concluding clauses, where “Africans” are the last mentioned.

One of the things Spaniards, Gauls, Germans, and Britains have in common is their history as former Roman colonies. Even where aspects of Romanization were apparently resisted, pride is taken in the civility it bequeathed. For the early modern English, what galls is memory of the “Norman Yoke,” or the Roman papacy’s yoke, not necessarily that imposed by ancient Rome.45 As it gathers momentum over the revolutionary era, English protest against the “Norman Yoke” is accompanied by passionate defenses of England’s “ancient liberties.” The antiquity of these liberties is slightly ambiguous. On the one hand, gesturing to a pre-Norman, sometimes pre-Roman, past, appeal to “ancient liberties” evokes something of the primitive, naturally feisty character that the ancient Greeks and Romans attribute to Europeans. On the other hand, these ancient—or often “ancestral”—liberties are almost invariably plural. Where “liberty” usually has the potential to decline into its bitterly reviled, nasty cousin “license,” “liberties” gesture toward privileges that are secured by law. Metonymically, the “liberties” are the very laws that guarantee individual, civil, (p.277) and national liberty, thereby making the English “free.” Even if currently threatened, these liberties are, or ought to be, ineradicable, not just because they are natural but on account of their revered history, sanctioned and bound up with the ordered civility of the ancients. Ancient liberties have a collective, increasingly national, identity, an identity with a history that includes civilization by Rome.

In the course of the seventeenth century, liberty becomes an attribute of England as a whole, one that often appears as a collective, legal status that is natural, inalienable, and also, significantly, hereditary. Ancestral liberties help legitimate the claim that the English are “freeborn.” While in ancient Greece or Rome such a modifier would indicate the citizenry’s actual legal standing, in seventeenth-century England it is primarily a figure of speech: the “freeborn” have no “slaveborn” English counterparts. Rhetorically, proclamations that the English are “freeborn” often emerge in antityrannicism’s polemical assault on tyrannous rule in its treatment of citizens as “slaves.” Initially, the national basis of this freeborn status most frequently appears in contexts where this degradation is being challenged or, more positively, where the commonwealth’s consensual basis is being affirmed. Thomas Fairfax, for instance, claims that the violence recently done to Parliament by Charles I has been done “in that to all the freeborne Subjects of England that are or hereafter shall be.”46 Gradually, though, the heritability of this “free” status becomes a commonplace.

Laudatory allusions to “ancient” liberties—as well as to the “ancient” constitution whose importance J. G. A. Pocock has memorialized—accompany England’s self-representation as a “free” nation whose members are “freeborn.”47 Genealogically, the term freeborn gestures to the legally heritable status enjoyed by individual Greeks and Romans. Transposed to the national plane, the English are “free” or “freeborn” not only because they have preserved a naturally spirited, precivil love of freedom and do not permit the enslavement of citizens but also because they are a people with history, a history that includes their former conquest and acculturation by Rome. Without necessarily denying that England formerly may have had barbarous ways, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writers of all political persuasions are generally eager to emphasize England’s aptitude for civility as well as the history involving the creation of its own charters, jurisprudence, and laws. The notion that freedom is heritable on a national level has affective power that far exceeds overt, propositional formulations. Widely disseminated during the English Civil Wars, hereditary freedom becomes a common, national treasure during the very period when heritable chattel slavery is becoming entrenched in English colonies.

(p.278) Yet freedom is also represented as a “birthright,” which means it has Hebraic as well as Greco-Roman ancestry. For example, The Humble Remonstrance of 1641 is prefaced with the claim that “the Rights and Priviledges of Parliament are the Birth-right and Inheritance not onely of themselves, but of the whole Kingdome.”48 The term birthright is most popularly known by the story of Esau’s selling to Jacob his birthright, meaning the set of entitlements customarily granted the firstborn son. Despite their very different genealogies, birthright and freeborn are often used interchangeably to signify heritable, national liberty, the value of which is partly owing to their restricted, exclusionary character. Heritable, national liberty is also enhanced by the fact that chattel slavery had no basis in English common law and continued to lack any jurisprudential foundation long after it was institutionalized as a set of practices in England’s colonies. To an extent, England’s self-representation as a nation of the “free” could be said to substitute for the jurisprudential reasoning unavailable regarding the hereditary enslavement installed in Atlantic plantations. At the least, once conceptualized as hereditary, freedom as a national good contributes to a shared perception of essential, racialized differences between the English and the Africans enslaved in their colonies.

Its ideological power appears in the debate that took place in 1659 regarding a petition Marcellus Rivers and Oxenbridge Foyle present to Parliament, addressed as “the representative of the freeborn people of England.”49 Accused of participating in a royalist rising against Cromwell, the English Rivers and Foyle claim to have been sold into “slavery” in Barbados. By this time, the practice of coercively transporting political prisoners and other undesirables (notably the Irish) to the colonies, and to Barbados in particular, was in decline owing to increases in the abduction, trade, and importation of Africans. The involuntary servitude that British outcasts endured was usually extremely harsh, besides being in some respects like chattel slavery. Yet because it was, in theory if not always in practice, limited in duration by contract, it was a form of “white” servanthood that was differentiated from slavery as a permanent, irremediable condition, associated with the Africans who had no expectation or means of terminating their captivity.50

In referring to their condition as “slavery,” Rivers and Foyle exploit knowledge of this differential racialization of servants and slaves together with England’s self-identification as a “free” nation of “freeborn” citizens, identities paradoxically secured by the volley of invective against political slavery discharged during the revolution. As it is recorded, discussion of their petition inspires passionate defense of liberty as an ancestral, national (p.279) entitlement. “Our ancestors,” one speaker declares, “have ever been tender of the liberties of Englishmen,” while another declaims, “Our ancestors left us free men. If we have fought our sons into slavery, we are of all men most miserable.” Another proudly claims, “We are the freest people in the world.” Christian and Greco-Roman identities are syncretized by a speaker who reminds his auditors of “Paul’s case,” an allusion to Acts 22:25, where Paul asserts his status as a free Roman in order to challenge the centurion about to beat him. “A Roman ought not to be beaten,” this speaker asserts, and then says, “We are miserable slaves, if we may not have this liberty secured to us.” Agreeing with him, another speaker says that if this encroachment on English liberty is ignored, “our lives will be as cheap as those negroes.”51 Accused of having sold the two Englishmen, Mr. Noell says in his defense that the service is not all that hard: “The work is mostly carried on by the negroes.”52

The petitioners themselves protest the “arbitrary power” that was used to sell them into slavery, and warn that a like “unlimited power” could at any time be used against any of the English, as currently happens “amongst the cruel Turks, to sell and enslave those of their own country.”53 This is the language of antityrannicism. Sir Henry Vane takes this protest against arbitrary rule to be an expression of solidarity with “the old cause”54—understandably, because though aggrieved at the loss of their personal liberty, the petitioners protest intrastate political power, not the arbitrary power of slaveholders. Not once do the petitioners refer to Barbados’s steadily growing population of enslaved Africans, though they would daily have experienced its manifold repercussions. Preserving their distance from those who were actually enslaved, the two royalists spark a debate the emergent, transatlantic context of which liberates references to ancestral liberties and freeborn English from partisan loyalties to the “old cause.” A decade earlier, the eminent royalist Henry Hammond had grudgingly acknowledged that the political subject may have to be considered free when he drops the parenthetical “(call it Subjects or Free-mans)” into his protest against the impending trial and execution of Charles I.55 No longer attached to political radicalism, the notion of national, hereditable liberty is one of the lasting legacies of the English revolution.

Hobbes’S State of Nature and Libertas

This could not but displease Hobbes, as for him such “liberty” misleadingly conflates personal and interstate freedom. “[B]y the specious name of Libertie,” Hobbes instructs readers, people are led to “mistake that for (p.280) their Private Inheritance, and Birth right, which is the right of the Publique only” (2.21.110). Hobbes’s theorization of sovereignty systematically undercuts antityranny ideology in order to demystify its discourse on liberty. Hobbes rejects Aristotle’s conceptualization of tyranny along with his barbarization of Asiatic societies, critiques the Greco-Roman association of monarchy with tyranny and slavery, and rejects the polarity of free/unfree that underwrites antityranny ideology. For Hobbes, it makes no sense to speak of civil subjects as freeborn or of liberty as an individual or national birthright. True, everyone in the state of nature enjoys natural freedom. But such freedom leads only to anarchic conflict. The whole point of entering civil society is to renegotiate the terms on which individual liberty can be exercised. Once civil society is instituted, Hobbes argues, liberty becomes a matter of whatever is legally permitted by the state (with the exception of bodily self-defense, which is not relinquished).

In another passage from chapter 21 that has received much attention, Hobbes takes his demystification of liberty further by claiming that the liberty possessed in the state of nature is the same as that which one state holds vis-à-vis other states: a lawless interstate war of each against each. The Athenians and Romans were “free,” Hobbes provocatively claims, as if it were an indisputable truth, only in the sense that their sovereign representative “had the Libertie to resist, or invade other people.”56 In my view, commentators may not have taken the full measure of Hobbes’s aim here, which is to deny the very existence of the intrastate collective, political liberty and slavery treasured by antityrannicism. In this astonishingly tendentious proclamation, Greco-Roman liberty applies only to the individual and the nation, both of which Hobbes represents as maximally given to the pursuit of momentary gain. Significantly, Hobbes demonstrates this claim by recurring to the iterative negation he used in chapter 13:

For as amongst masterless men there is perpetuall war, of every man against his neighbour; no inheritance, to transmit to the Son, nor to expect from the Father; no propriety of Goods, or Lands; no security; but a full and absolute Libertie in every Particular man: So in States, and Common-wealths not dependent on one another, every Common-wealth, (not every man) has an absolute Libertie, to doe what it shall judge (that is to say, what that Man, or Assemblie that representeth it, shall judge) most conducing to their benefit. But withal, they live in the condition of a perpetuall war, and upon the confines of battle, with their frontiers armed, and canons planted against their neighbours. (2.21.110, my emphasis)

(p.281) Inserted, briefly, between the anarchic ferocity of privative personal and interstate liberty, what Hobbes calls “the right of the Publique”—what for antityrannicism would be intrastate political liberty—is held by the “Common-wealth” (that is, the “Man” or “Assemblie” who represents it) only insofar as it is not subject to another state. Written out of the script is the complex interplay between intra- and interstate freedom and slavery that enabled freedom as a positive value to appear in classical Athens and that currently facilitates England’s emergence as a major colonial power.

Hobbes’s pretense, here, is that contemporary radicals confuse individual personal freedom and individual political freedom (in the phrase “not every man”), whereas he is blankly refusing to recognize the collective political liberty asserted by antityranny discourse. Hobbes programmatically focuses attention on the individual, a rhetorical strategy that is frequently reproduced by modern commentators. In the passage above, the two references to a collective—“masterless men” and “States, and Common-wealths”—both precede a reference to “perpetuall war.” Hobbes makes use of the plural only in order to open up a collective space for intensely chaotic and destructive one-on-one conflict. The designation “masterless men” suggests that human beings in the state of nature share the condition assigned the Turks in the passage by Bacon cited above or the Amerindigenes in “hard” versions of the privative age: without knowing it, they are natural servi in need of being ruled.

Without overtly advocating colonial expansion, Hobbes works with many Euro-colonialist assumptions, just as despite his wholesale rejection of radicalism’s glamorized liberty, Hobbes inventively revisions resistance’s theory’s contractualism so as to make sovereignty by institution a creative act of communal self-fashioning and the sovereign representative an artificial construct. To specify the distinctiveness of Hobbes’s appropriation of Euro-colonialist discourse, we need to return to chapter 13 of Leviathan, where Hobbes observes evidence of the state of nature in the daily lives of contemporary Europeans, as when they distrustfully lock their doors at night before going to sleep. Are these signs of a condition that has not sufficiently been left behind or of privative nature’s incursions into the civilized present? Without resolving this unnerving ambiguity, Hobbes argues that these signs of humanity’s originary, ineradicable hostility should not be viewed as good or bad because they preexist ethical categories. Hobbes’s supraethical decriminalization of natural violence has the effect of heightening the state of nature’s fearful insecurities, since it suggests that laws against theft are as meaningless as locks on doors unless backed by superior, sovereign force. Hobbes then continues:

(p.282) It may peradventure be thought, there was never such a time, nor condition of warre as this; and I believe it was never generally so, over all the world: but there are many places, where they live so now. For the savage people in many places of America, except the government of small Families, the concord whereof dependeth on naturall lust, have no government at all; and live at this day in that brutish manner, as I said before. Howsoever, it may be perceived what manner of life there would be, where there were no common Power to feare; by the manner of life, which men that have formerly lived under a peacefull government, use to degenerate into, in a civill Warre. (1.13.62)

In its very offhandedness, the phrase “in that brutish manner, as I said before” signals something of the complexity of the relations between Hobbes’s state of nature and “America.” On the one hand, the phrase invites readers to consider America the most apt, perhaps even the completely obvious, historical exemplar of the state of nature, with brutish serving as a shorthand expression for the entire catalog of ills associated with the state of nature, which has been given its more general definition two paragraphs “before.” Besides actually appearing in the phrase that concludes Hobbes’s earlier privative catalog—“solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short”—the word brutish is a signal feature of literature disparaging Americans or Africans.

On the other hand, the entire phrase—“in that brutish manner, as I said before”—acts as a reminder that the state of nature is to be identified neither directly nor exclusively with America, however well America exemplifies it. This is why, after mentioning the inhabitants of America as exemplars of the condition outlined “before,” Hobbes goes on to associate their state with what he refers to as “the manner of life, which men that have formerly lived under a peacefull government, use to degenerate into, in a civill Warre.” By introducing this possibility only after having made explicit the association of the state of nature with America as well as other unnamed, precivil societies—an association, it must be stressed, implicit in the early modern privative age topos itself—Hobbes maximizes the rhetorical import of the threat of regression he attaches to civil war. Another way of putting this is that Hobbes avoids making his own, earlier version of Locke’s claim that “in the beginning all the World was America.”57 The state of nature is not a primitive, global occurrence on the order of Noah’s flood: it “was never generally so, over all the world.” Nor is it simply a matter of uneven development.

The disjunction Hobbes installs between abstract condition and its instantiation in America is an ingenious strategy for awakening fear of loss in (p.283) his readers, as it creates the possibility that civilized nations can “degenerate into” such a condition. If antityrannicism has a central, vital source of rhetorical power, it lies in the fear of loss—of honor, of freeborn status, possessions, even life itself, to say nothing of the many natural “rights” that these entail. In creating the potential for a return to the privative age, Hobbes could be said to invent a complementary fear of loss for absolutism. This fear Hobbes exploits rhetorically to make the radical step of transferring autonomy to an absolute sovereign appear necessary. Hobbes represents civil war as a regressive condition, one in which civility, formerly enjoyed, is lost. In doing so, he stimulates his compatriots’ anxiety regarding not only ongoing, civil insecurity but also the superior, European nation-state’s fitness to rule other nations. If a return to the state of nature is possible, even minor regression could deliver a blow to England’s imperial aspirations.

In devising this sophisticated rhetorical maneuver, Hobbes is aware of the uses to which “hard” rhetorical privation can be put, and of the company he keeps in his take on the privative age.58 The radically pejorative character of Hobbes’s appropriation nevertheless needs stressing. Even by the low bar set by Euro-colonialist discourses, Hobbes’s claim that “the savage people in many places of America, except the government of small Families, the concord whereof dependeth on naturall lust, have no government at all” is outrageously reductive. Vitoria, for instance, acknowledges that Amerindigenes possess reason “because they have some order (ordo) in their affairs,” examples of which he provides. Hobbes’s privative age is not merely, or vaguely, dystopian but is designed to recall a bygone European era that New World human-on-human violence enacts on the contemporary, global stage. His “no government at all” assigns “savage people” to an age that is radically privative—that is, without any “Publique.”

It should also be noted that at this time, however generalized the features or formulaic the language, the privative age topos conventionally has reference to a particular locale. Even Gonzalo has an isle. That Hobbes’s state-of-nature-as-war has no such geopolitical particularity contributes significantly to its oracular, universalizing force. By omitting geographical or historical specificity, Hobbes represents the condition as essentially generic, potentially applying equally to all human beings at any and all times. For academic philosophy, this has been its preferred significance. Hobbes’s use of patterned, rhetorical negation also, however, calls up the privative age associated with extra-European nations, especially those of America, associations he goes on to make explicit. Throughout chapter 13’s famous passage, Hobbes does both: the pseudoethnographic language of the privative (p.284) age topos evokes the actual existence of such an asocial, primitive society while its generic, universal potentiality is contrariwise affirmed.

The condition Hobbes depicts does not, of course, merely lack rule but is actively, belligerently hostile to it. Hobbes’s representation of natural human violence draws on the discourse of savagery that develops in response to active resistance on the part of Amerindigenes to English and French conquest.59 That “industry” occurs only when the “fruit thereof” can be identified is an assumption born of the investment in legally recognized, individual ownership of property by Hobbes’s society. By means of a network of associations so often invoked that they crystallize into a set of commonplaces on “savagery”—just how widely accepted can be judged from the subtlety of their exploitation here—socially instituted geographical mobility is associated with the absence of permanent settlements, which, in turn, is associated with asociality, life in the wilds, and, finally, as befits inhabitants of the forests, with animality.

Hobbes also, however, unites this discourse of savagery with a profoundly secularized version of the fallen human depravity with which Protestantism is so preoccupied, converting, along the way, a frequently idealized, natural nonacquisitiveness specific to the Americas into a naturally aggressive human acquisitiveness that only capitalist states can hope to regulate, as C. B. MacPherson has argued.60 In these and many other ways, Hobbes transmutes heavily evaluative, contemporary discourses into the seemingly neutral language of political philosophy in which he posits a general, abstract condition of uninhibited competitiveness. Such a condition is not only antithetical to civilization but also remote, developmentally, from the present. In the universalizing context Hobbes creates, the privative age represents a primeval condition to which even the most civilized societies can regress.


De Cive’s division into three sections—“Libertas” (Liberty), “Imperium”(Rule or Dominion), and “Religio” (Religion)—is indicated on the title page of early editions, though with differences that merit discussion. In the manuscript and the first edition (1642), “Religio” is represented by the Last Judgment, well populated supernaturally, while both “Libertas” and “Imperium” appear as individual figures (fig. 9). Imperium wears a scepter, bears a sword in her left hand, and scales of justice in her right; she wears a long, flowing, toga-like robe and sandals on her feet. In the landscape that appears behind her are a small number of people employing scythes in agricultural (p.285) labor, behind whom, in the distance, a city lies. Libertas, unmistakably Amerindigene, by contrast is scantily clad, does not stand upright, and is without head- or footwear. In addition to bearing an elongated bow and spear, De Cive’s Libertas is ambiguously gendered. Though her hair is pulled back and her legs are slightly bent, possibly signifying femininity, her breasts are not visible, her waist is uncharacteristically thick, and on her countenance appears an unpleasant scowl. (In this way, she resembles Matoake, commonly known as Pocahontas, as represented in an engraving made while she was in (p.286) London; she is portrayed with a severe, slightly threatening masculine bearing and gaze, the departure from European codes of femininity suggesting resistance to her Christianization as Rebecca.)61

Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

Figure 9. Title page from De Cive (Paris, 1642).

In his description of this plate, Howard Warrender refers to Libertas as “a savage,” a term that avoids assigning gender.62 A separate issue of the 1647 edition (hereafter referred to as 1647 separate, to distinguish it from the 1647 second edition) contains a related illustration in which Libertas is more—I hesitate to say unambiguously, yet that may be so—masculine, (p.287) with a head that is mostly shaved and legs that are comparatively straight (fig. 10). In both illustrations, Amerindigenous figures engaged in warfare appear in the landscape behind Libertas. In the earlier, first edition, two fires and spits appear faintly in the middle distance on the right against a fortified area on the left.63 Arising from the first spit appears a sketchily drawn human arm, unmistakable signifier of cannibalism, by this time almost de rigueur in representations of New World “savagery.” This particular image duplicates one of de Bry’s widely circulated portrayals of ritual cannibalism (fig. 11). Its dismembered arm is even more distinct in 1647 separate, which also positions the bows and arrows of the warring Amerindigenes slightly more prominently. Agricultural scythes (accoutrements of Imperium) and military weapons (of Libertas) are obviously set in symbolic opposition, as, implicitly, and in keeping with the opposition between life within and without civil society posited by De Cive, are the fruits of industry and the horrors of war.

Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

Figure 10. Title page from De Cive (Amsterdam, 1647 separate).

Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

Figure 11. Theodor de Bry, How the slave who had spoken ill of me was himself eaten. From Hans Staden’s Narrative (1592).

(p.288) In many respects, the Libertas of the 1642 and 1647 separate editions resembles early modern representations of “America,” one of four continents figured as queens. In such representations, America, like De Cive’s Liberty, not only wears little clothing but has a masculine, martial stance, reinforced by the bow and arrows she carries together with spear or club. Resemblance to an Amazon is occasionally created by a belt strapped across America’s right breast (the breast Amazons were supposed to have seared), while “savagery” is signaled by a dismembered limb or head (the head being more common) at her feet.64 De Cive’s earliest Liberty is associated with cannibalism, but does not assert her dominion over a dismembered human part in this way. Even this form of rule is absent. The benefits of civil society are reserved for Imperium, who is patterned on Europe, invariably represented as unquestioned ruler of the three other continents—Asia, Africa, and America—because alone bearing the insignia of both civilization and power (though Europe is conventionally Christian in ways De Cive’s Imperium is not). Further, where America is frequently accompanied by treasure and animal life symbolic of its wealth, De Cive’s Liberty is deprived of such conventional trophies. Imperium, not Liberty, is the site of symbolic plenty.

Amazonian Libertas does not appear in the 1647 second edition’s frontispiece, which differs dramatically from its predecessors (fig. 12). Liberty has not disappeared, but has been made over so as to fit in with Dominion, who remains female throughout all variants, and Religion, who has also morphed into a female figure. In this new, less frequently discussed representation of De Cive’s tripartite structure, Religion, Dominion, and Liberty appear as three graces, all of whom wear full-length gowns. The resulting emphasis on similarities discourages polarization of Liberty with Dominion. Feminized and civilized, Liberty has been transformed so as to represent “Liberty” as internal to Europe’s self-understanding of its own (threatened) civility. Yet whereas Religio is veiled and Dominion wears a crown, even with her makeover Libertas alone has no headdress, in this respect remaining like her privative, American forebear. (In later variants of this illustration, Liberty’s hair is progressively unbound.)

Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

Figure 12. Anon., title page to De Cive, Second Edition (Amsterdam, 1647). Photograph: Courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

What, then, of the dark, broad-rimmed hat Liberty bears upon her bent, raised arm, where it drapes her hand? To say that this hat does not match Liberty’s classically inspired outfit is to make a statement as absurdly in-decorous as the hat itself. Two detailed studies of the illustrations accompanying various editions of De Cive have identified the hat as the classical pileus or liberty cap.65 It can, I think, be identified more precisely as the Dutch liberty cap. As the frontispiece declares, Hobbes’s text is published (p.289) in Amsterdam, which would encourage such identification since the Dutch liberty cap was a well-established icon of the republic. This does not necessarily diminish the hat’s incongruity, however, since the three figures are not Dutch. While De Cive’s Religion, too, is more than a little eccentric in appearance, with her hat-adorned forearm, its Liberty looks downright goofy.

Why has Hobbes chosen the Dutch liberty hat as an accessory for Liberty? Strongly associated with the Greek and Roman antityrannicism that (p.290) receives new life in the English Civil Wars—much to Hobbes’s consternation—the liberty cap that first appears in the 1647 second edition of De Cive thereafter accessorizes its Liberty. Its position alters, however. Beginning with the frontispiece of the 1649 edition, instead of resting on Liberty’s hand, it perches on the very tip-top of the lengthy spear she holds in her right hand (fig. 13). Of course, 1649 is the year in which Charles I is executed. Interestingly, this new, lofty location closely resembles the triumphal position the liberty cap is awarded on Dutch public monuments as (p.291) well as in the iconography of the American and French revolutions—whose relations, historically, with the English revolution of the mid-seventeenth century Hobbes could only have regarded bitterly as evidence of the perverse attractiveness of Greco-Roman ideals. In these contexts, though, as in the Netherlands of the late sixteenth century, the Libertas who holds the liberty cap aloft represents the intensely desirable end of militarized revolutionary struggle.

Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

Figure 13. Anon., title page to De Cive (French edition, 1649). Photograph: Courtesy of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto.

It has been suggested that in providing Libertas with a liberty hat in the second edition of 1647, Hobbes hopes to mislead authorities in Holland who might prevent publication.66 A related argument could be made about the 1649 edition: in giving the liberty cap a more triumphal placement, Hobbes seeks to placate England’s victorious, republican regime. Hobbes’s liberty hat may also, however, be an ironic, iconographic conceit, which is how I prefer to understand it. Interpreted in conjunction with Hobbes’s political philosophy, like the earlier, Amerindigene Libertas, the pseudocivil Libertas signifies the delusive conviction that liberty has positive value outside the sovereign’s absolute rule. Though the length and placement of her (p.292) spear suggests an affinity with her Amerindigenous forebear, there are no overt signs of warfare in the second and later editions’ depictions of Liberty. This may, though, enhance the violence encoded in the Dutch liberty cap atop the pike, which celebrates liberty’s victory over slavery and tyranny. Symbolically, this victory is the product of violence, achieved militarily by the Dutch and the English parliamentarians, as well as by tyrannicide in England.

Tyrannicide is the occasion for the first, celebratory appearance of the liberty cap on Marcus Brutus’s coin. Appian’s critical account of Julius Caesar’s assassination reports that the assassins put the liberty cap on top of a bloody pike, and an emblem referencing Appian’s narrative would likely have been known to Hobbes (fig. 14). If read alongside the privative, Amerindigene Libertas and the subversion of antityrannicism that Hobbes undertakes in his major treatises, the civil Libertas of the second and later editions appears to be a witty, visual epitome of Hobbes’s counterrevolutionary discourse. Functioning as a parodic pileus, the Dutch liberty hat held by Libertas suggests that Hobbes is ready with a critique of Marx’s famous remark on repetition, elaborated with reference to the English and French bourgeois revolutions. Gracing its purposes with the heroic ideals of the past, the revolutionary crisis initially has the stature of tragedy, Marx says, while the unheroic reality that emerges reproduces its features as farce.67 For Hobbes, however, the first, great European revolution, iterating Greco-Roman ideals and then Dutch, is already both tragedy and farce.

Hobbes’s State of Nature and “Hard” Privativism

Figure 14. A captive or servile libertie. From Claude Paradin’s Heroical Devises (1557). Photographed from the 1591 edition.


(1) . Levin, assuming that such acivil societies exist, continues, “[Hobbes’s] realism has prevailed, on the whole, and most of us would be reluctant to exchange our lot for the kind of society that comes under the investigations of anthropology.” Myth of the Golden Age, 31.

(2) . Robert E. Stillman, “Hobbes’s Leviathan: Monsters, Metaphors, and Magic,” En­glish Literary History 62, no. 4 (1995): 805.

(3) . Hobbes, De Cive, 2.10.1.

(4) . Richard Ashcraft makes this point in “Leviathan Triumphant: Thomas Hobbes and the Politics of Wild Men,” in The Wild Man Within, ed. Edward Dudley and Maximillian Novak, 148–54 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1972). See also Richard Tuck’s remarks in Rights of War and Peace, 8.

(5) . Hodgen, Early Anthropology, 199–200.

(6) . This is not to say that all privatives are equal. Within a Christian ethos, the absence of weapons or monetary exchange, for example, is more praiseworthy than the absence of monogamous, patriarchal marriage. (Having granted women idleness, Shakespeare’s Gonzalo hurriedly adds “but innocent and pure.”) Absence of laws provokes especially polarized responses to civil privation, being a sign either of natural self-regulation (as in Ovid’s set piece) or, in disparaging appropriations, of savagery’s neglect of all order. Everything depends on the language employed and the rhetorical import of the topos in both immediate and embedded contexts.

(7) . Ovid’s Metamorphosis, bk. 15, lines 98, 99–111.

(8) . Levin refers to this passage as “the grandly rhetorical set-piece that would be imitated, plagiarized, paraphrased, parodied, reinterpreted, controverted, distorted, and meta-morphosed into so many shapes” by Renaissance writers, stressing the importance of the Latin nondum (“not yet”). Myth of the Golden Age, 15–16.

(9) . Johann Boemus, The Fardle of Façions (1555), Lviiv–Miir. Cited by Hodgen, Early Anthropology, 198.

(10) . See Paul Stevens on how “an idealized form of the familiar in the midst of the other” evokes “wonder” in colonial literature, and “powerfully animates early modern colonial settlement at its most idealistic.” “Colonial Imperative,” 12–13.

(11) . Pietro Martire Anghiera, The Decades of the newe worlde or west India, trans. Rycharde Eden (London, 1555), 8. Cited by Levin, Myth of the Golden Age, 61.

(12) . Bartolomé de Las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies, trans. Andrew Hurley, ed. Franklin W. Knight (1552; repr., Indianapolis: Hackett, 2003), 4–8. Page citations are to the reprint edition.

(13) . (p.401) Montaigne, Essayes, 1:245.

(14) . Hodgen, Early Anthropology, 197.

(15) . Harriot, Briefe and True Report, 56.

(16) . Cicero, De Inventione, trans. H. M. Hubbell, Loeb Classical Library (London: Heinemann, 1949), 1.1.2, pp. 4–6 (cited by book, chapter, and section).

(17) . Tuck cites this passage in Natural Rights Theories, 33; Lovejoy, Boas, and Levin do not mention it.

(18) . Peter Rose, “Cicero and the Rhetoric of Imperialism: Putting the Politics Back into Political Rhetoric,” Rhetorica 13 (Autumn 1995): 359–99.

(19) . Ibid., 397.

(20) . Ibid., 396–97.

(21) . See Cicero, On the Commonwealth, 3.36.

(22) . Anthony Pagden, Lords of All the World (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1995), 20–21. Richard Tuck discusses this passage by Cicero in connection Polybius and Gentili in Rights of War and Peace, 40.

(23) . Anthony Pagden discusses the importance of this doctrine to English colonial activities in the Americas in “The Struggle for Legitimacy and the Image of Empire in the Atlantic to c. 1700,” in The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. 1, The Origins of Empire, ed. Nicholas Canny, 41–50 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998).

(24) . Ascham, Confusions, 80–81.

(25) . James Muldoon, ed., The Expansion of Europe: The First Phase (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1977), 54. Cited in Hulme, “Tales of Distinction,” 187. Hulme comments on how different ideologically this passage is from that of the golden age as deployed by Montaigne and Shakespeare in spite of “their shared use of the vocabulary of deprivation” (ibid.).

(26) . Cited by Linda E. Merians, Envisioning the Worst: Representations of “Hottentots” in Early­Modern England (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2001), 45.

(27) . Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda, Demócrates Segundo, ed. J. Brufau Prats and A. Coroleu Lletget, Obras Completas, vol. 3 (Pozoblanco, Spain: Excmo. Ayuntamiento de Pozoblanco, 1997), 65–66. Winston Black’s assistance with this translation is gratefully acknowledged. Anthony Pagden mentions this passage in discussing Sepúlveda’s transgressively literary mode of presenting his theological assertions. Fall of Natural Man, 113.

(28) . It can also be used to aid and abet intra-European competitiveness. Mary Louise Pratt cites the English John Barrow, for example, employing the topos in Travels into the Interior of Southern Africa (1801) to heap scorn on the lazy, ineffectual Afrikaners. Imperial Eyes, 57–58.

(29) . Bacon, Holy War, 104–5.

(30) . Smith, De Republica, 1.10.57.

(31) . This is what Sylvia Wynter means by the “natural law charter,” which, in displacing the papal donation and traditional just/unjust discourses, inaugurates a secular system of essentialized, global “modes of the human.” “New Seville,” pt. 2, 52. Robert A. Williams Jr. explores these issues in American Indian.

(32) . Vitoria, “On the American Indians,” in Political Writings, 283.

(33) . (p.402) Alberico Gentili, De Iure Belli, ed. C. Phillipson, trans. J. C. Rolfe (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1933), 123–24. Cited by Tuck, who observes that Gentili is aware of his departure from Aristotle’s nationalization of barbarians’ slavery, which Aristotle attributes to a collectively servile disposition. Rights of War and Peace, 35.

(34) . Bacon, Holy War, 126.

(35) . Vitoria, “On the American Indians,” in Political Writings, 283.

(36) . See S. A. G. Taylor, The Western Design: An Account of Cromwell’s Expedition to the Caribbean (Kingston: Institute of Jamaica, 1965), 5, 6.

(37) . Thomas Gage, A New Survey of the West­Indias (London, 1648), 27–28.

(39) . Buchanan, Dialogue, 111.

(40) . Bodin, Six Bookes, 202.

(41) . Milton, Tenure, 11.

(42) . For Cicero’s use of a remarkably similar locution, see Rose, “Rhetoric of Imperialism,” 395–96.

(43) . Peter Heylyn, Cosmographie in four books (London, 1652), 20.

(44) . Algernon Sidney, Discourses Concerning Government (London, 1698), 6. Steven Jablonski draws attention to this passage in “Ham’s Vicious Race,” 181.

(45) . Christopher Hill, “The Norman Yoke,” in Puritanism and Revolution, 58–125 (1958; repr., London: Panther Books, 1968). Page citations are to the reprint edition.

(46) . A Declaration from Sir Thomas Fairfax, and the Army under his Command (London, 1647), 9.

(47) . J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law: A Study of English Historical Thought in the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1957), 30–55.

(48) . A Remonstrance of the State of the Kingdom (1641), A2.

(49) . See Englands Slavery, or Barbados Merchandize Represented in a Petition to the High and Honourable Court of Parliament, by Marcellus Rivers and Oxenbridge Foyle Gentlemen (London, 1659), A2.

(50) . On the complex, shifting relations between indentured servitude and slavery, see Hilary McD. Beckles, White Servitude and Black Slavery in Barbados, 1627–1715 (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1989). Elsewhere Beckles notes that this debate takes place at a time that England was beginning actively to sponsor trade in African slaves. “The ‘Hub of Empire’: The Caribbean and Britain in the Seventeenth Century,” in The Oxford History of the British Empire, vol. 1, ed. Nicholas Canny (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 231–32. In his discussion of this debate, Robin Blackburn writes that the captive royalists were to be “sold as servants to the planters” (my emphasis). New World Slavery, 248.

(51) . Proceedings and Debates of the British Parliaments Respecting North America, vol. 1, 15421688, ed. Leo Francis Stock (Washington: Carnegie Institution, 1924), 253–57.

(52) . Ibid., 250.

(53) . Ibid.

(54) . Ibid., 251.

(55) . Hammond, Humble Addresse, 10.

(56) . (p.403) In Hobbes and Republican Liberty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 161–62, Quentin Skinner recurs to this paragraph (only partly cited here), stressing the outrageousness of Hobbes’s pronouncements.

(57) . Locke, Two Treatises, 2.5.49.

(58) . Richard Tuck, “Hobbes’s Moral Philosophy,” in The Cambridge Companion to Hobbes, ed. Tom Sorell, 175–207 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). Tuck mentions Bacon’s approving citation of a passage from Plato’s Laws in which Clinias says, “[H]umanity is in a condition of public war of every man against every man.” The passage appears in Considerations Touching a War with Spain, a defense of preemptive war Tuck speculates Hobbes may even have had a hand in writing. Rights of War and Peace, 126–27.

(59) . Richard Ashcraft relates this change to the uprisings of the 1620s, 1640s, and 1670s, noting how convenient for “genocidal retaliation” it was “to have available a widely publicized theory which saw in the actions of the Indians the hostility of natural men rather than the scourge of an angry Deity.” “Leviathan Triumphant,” in Wild Man Within, 170n122. Alden T. Vaughan discusses the effects of the 1622 uprising on Anglo-Amerindian relations in “‘Expulsion of the Salvages’: English Policy and the Virginia Massacre of 1622,” in Roots of American Racism: Essays on the Colonial Experience, 105–27 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).

(60) . MacPherson, Possessive Individualism.

(61) . For a discussion and reproduction of this engraving, see Robertson, “Pocahontas.”

(62) . Thomas Hobbes, De Cive: The Latin Version, ed. Howard Warrender (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1983), xiii.

(63) . Quentin Skinner discusses this frontispiece and its appropriation of a different image by de Bry, in Hobbes and Republican Liberty, 98–104.

(64) . This iconography is discussed in my “‘Profuse, Proud Cleopatra,’” 89–90.

(65) . M. M. Goldsmith, “Picturing Hobbes’s Politics? The Illustrations to Philosophical Rudiments,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 44 (1981): 232–37; and Cornelis W. Schoneveld, “Some Features of the Seventeenth-Century Editions of Hobbes’s De Cive Printed in Holland and Elsewhere,” in Thomas Hobbes: His View of Man, ed. J. G. van der Bend, 125–42 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1982).

(66) . Schoneveld, “Seventeenth-Century Editions,” 128.

(67) . Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” (1852), trans. by Saul Padover and Frederick Engels, http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1852/18th-brumaire/ch01.htm. Terry Eagleton uses Marx’s reflections on revolution as a springboard for his own in partTitle="The God That Failed" in Re­membering Milton: Essays on the Texts and Traditions, ed. Mary Nyquist and Margaret W. Ferguson, 342–49 (New York: Methuen, 1987).