Page:1899 The Growth of Cities in the Nineteenth Century.djvu/34

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tion —were phenomena of the great capitals like Memphis, Thebes, Nineveh, Babylon. In classic antiquity, indeed, the identification of city and civilization becomes complete; the Greek republics were city states, and when Aristotle wishes to characterize man as a social or gregarious animal he says man is by nature a citizen of the city (πολίς). The essential identification of the city with all the higher interests of humanity by the Greeks and Romans is to be observed at the present day in the English word "city" and "civilization," both of which are derived from the Latin "civis". The tremendous influence of the classic city on the life of society has since been equaled by the mediaeval city republics in Italy (Venice, Florence, Genoa) and Germany (the Hansa towns and free imperial cities. Society then entered upon a new phase of development, and it is only with the prodigious growth of the great centres of population and industry in the last half of the present century that the city has come once more to have something like the dominating influence that it exercised in antiquity.

The ancient city was a walled town and hence was easily distinguished from the surrounding rural districts. Similarly, in the middle ages the only places of collective residence were the enclosed towns which were absolutely cut off from the scattered population in the rest of the country. In such circumstances there could be but one distinction between city and country. This distinction, moreover, was recognized by the law, which by royal charter conferred certain privileges upon the towns as compared with the open country. The basis of the distinction was the pursuit of industry and commerce, i.e., the cities were manufacturing or market places. Hence it was that the differentiation of population into town and country came to signify a contrast between manufacturing industry and commerce on the one hand, and agriculture on the other, and this distinction was the one