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Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Oct 26, 2005 11:41 pm

• leviathan •

Pronunciation: lê-vay-ê-thên • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. A huge sea monster mentioned in the Bible (Old Testament). 2. Anything of monstrous size: ship, whale, government out of control. 3. A titan, a person of gigantic, formidable wealth and power.

Notes: Today's Good Word is known mostly through the title of Thomas Hobbes' famous political treatise, The Leviathan (1660), a term he uses to refer to the state. Hobbes argues in favor of a large government so long as it rests on a social contract among all those it protects. The adjective is leviathanic "huge, monstrous in size and/or power".

In Play: English speakers share a long tradition of referring to large ships as leviathans: "The Titanic was a leviathan who lost its battle with an even more leviathanic iceberg." Today's word is also reserved for the biggest of the big-shots" "Les Cheatham thinks he is a leviathan of industry but he is just a wealthy snake."

Word History: Today's Good Word comes from Hebrew livyathan, an enormous Biblical sea creature. This word is based on the verb root *l-w-y "to wind, twist, circle, encircle", akin to Ugaritic *l-t-n "sea monster". It is also related to Arabic laway "to twist" and liwyah "wreath", not to mention Akkadian lamu "to surround, encircle".
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Postby Stargzer » Thu Oct 27, 2005 1:09 am

Leviathan is the title of a very good song by a very good group, Schooner Fare:
Steve Romanoff (from We the People)
Steve wrote "Leviathan" as the theme music for a television
documentary produced by Tim Dietz about the whales of the Gulf of
Maine. The undulating 12/8 time simulates the movement of the
great beasts. The term Leviathan was taken from Herman Melville's
description of the great whale.

Once upon the land,
Before the hour of Man,
Creatures who, like me and you,
Left footprints in the sand,
Through the primal mud,
Warm of milk and blood,
Returned once more unto the shore,
And to the sea for good,
The humpback, the finback, the pilot whale, too,
The right and the sperm and the blue,
Sing me your song that I, someday,
May sing it with you.

Leviathan, King of the sea,
Sing me your song and when I sing along,
You may share all your myst'ries with me,
Leviathan, King of the sea,
Leviathan, King of the sea.

As creatures swim and crawl,
Our kingdoms rise and fall,
We show our worth as kings of Earth
By how we treat them all.
From crocodile and crane,
To hunters on the plain,
We turn once more unto the shore
And to the sea again.
The humpback, the finback, the pilot whale, too,
The right and the sperm and the blue,
Sing me your song that I, someday,
May sing it with you.
Sorry, I can't find an audio sample online, even at Amazon. You'll just have to tune in to your favorite folk station on the radio or the Web and hope it comes around.

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee

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Postby tcward » Thu Oct 27, 2005 1:59 pm

Well, at least you can purchase Schooner Fare's album, Our Maine Songs, which contains the song Leviathan, from Amazon.com.



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