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Were the polis more than a place, but a concept?

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    When the Spartan forces were invading Athens during the Peloponnesian War the Athenian general Pericles is given to have said: "What we should lament is not the loss of houses or of land, but the loss of men's lives".... “I would urge you[Athenian citizens] to go out and lay waste to your property with your own hands and show the Peloponnesians that it is not for the sake of this that you are likely to give in to them”. 

    Later in the War the Athenian commander Nicias reiterated these words of Pericles: “reflect that you yourselves, wherever you settle down, are a city already, that the essence of Athens lies in an idea, a way of life that locales cannot contain."...."It is citizens who make the city, and not walls or ships with no men inside."

    Source(s): Thucydides, Book 1.143 and Book 7.77
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