Civitas is the totality of the cives, just as societas is that of the socii. Its meaning is largely synonymous with populus, but it was rarely used by the Romans for their own state (instead: populus Romanus) but instead was the official expression for all non-Roman communities, tribes and Greek poleis with republican constitutions. A people of the state is the characteristic of a civis, almost always a defined territory with a certain autonomy (suis legibus uti) and mostly an urban centre.
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Galsterer, Hartmut (Bonn),
Brill’s New Pauly, Antiquity volumes edited by: Hubert Cancik and , Helmuth Schneider, English Edition by: Christine F. Salazar, Classical Tradition volumes edited by: Manfred Landfester, English Edition by: Francis G. Gentry.
Consulted online on 19 February 2020 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/1574-9347_bnp_e235100>