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OT civitas (was: OT Roman names)

From:R A Brown <ray@...>
Date:Tuesday, June 13, 2006, 10:07
Michael Adams wrote:
> I had thougth Civites was more in line with civil.. Such as your > obligations to the civil authority?
The Latin word _ciuitas_ had two distinct meanings: 1. It is, of course, derived from _ciuis_ = citizen. Thus its original meaning, which it always kept, was "citizenship" or "rights & privilege of citizenship". It was this _ciuitas_ that got St Paul out of more trouble than he would otherwise have faced, and ensured he had the 'humane' execution of beheading. 2. The whole body of citizens united in one place with one (or more) city (cities) and the surrounding territory. This was an administrative division. In this sense, Paul's 'civitas' was Tarsus in Asia Minor. This is where he could vote, if he so chose, for city council & its magistrates. But, as a citizen, he was protected by _ciuitas_ in sense (1) throughout the Empire. It is in meaning (2) that I wrote about the civitas (plural: civitates) of the Atrebates & the Regni/Regnenses in Britain.
> Or is Civites as suggested more related in theory to the Tuatha > of Ireland or like concept,
As far as I understand it, túatha ranged from being sovereign, autonomous "kingdoms" to states comprising a much larger sovereign kingdom, such as Connacht or Ulaid. The meaning seems to have varied at different stages of Irish history; but I leave it our Irish members to comment. The Roman _civitates_ were not sovereign, autonomous "kingdoms" to larger states. They did not have kings, but were governed by an elected city council & magistrates; they had some local autonomy, subject to overall Roman law. The were analogous to states in the US, tho smaller in size. Strictly speaking the Regni/Regnenses were not a civitas during Cogidubnus' reign - they formed a nominally independent kingdom. But they had the same sort of "independent" government that Vichy France had during WWII, while Germans occupied the northern part of France. Cogidubnus, like a good client king everywhere, would leave his kingdom to the Emperor & people of Rome, and the Regni then became a regular civitas with its administrative city of Noviomagus (Chichester).
> much like the later Anglo-Saxon Burh > later known as a Borough, but more based on the idea of defense, > namely against the invading Danes?
No - nothing defensive about them. Just political & administrative divisions. In later times, _ciuitas_ came to denote the capital city of the civitas, hence it came to mean just "city". Indeed, it is from the Latin _cuitate-_ that we derive the word 'city' through French cité, as is also the Italian _città_, Catalan _ciutat_, Spanish _ciudad_, Portuguese _cidade_, Romanian _cetate_. -- Ray ================================== ================================== "A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language." J.G. Hamann, 1760


Michael Adams <abrigon@...>