George Lawson, Politica Sacra et Civilis

A text from 1659. From Chapter II, section 3:

The name in Hebrew is ‘am in Greek polis and that may come of polus because the matter of a community is a multitude, in Latin, civitas, populus, and here observe, that polis, polus, populus, publicus seem to have some affinity; yet we must distinguish between civitas and urbs. For the former signifies the people, the latter the place, buildings, habitations of the people. The Romans promised the Carthaginians not to destroy, civitatem Carthaginis, to make good their word, they brought out the people, which was civitas, and then ruined urbem, the place, buildings, walls, houses… Civitas also differs from respublica, as the matter from the form, the body from the soul in many writers of politics.

Lots of conceptual issues here, including the relation between various ancient languages, but also the distinction between the city as the citizens and the city as the site. Also another good example from antiquity of what modern writers call ‘urbicide’, although today this goes alongside what Derek Gregory has called the ‘death of the civilian’.

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