A Source Book in Geography

Author: Aristotle  | Date: 1934

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Aristotle Considers the City-State

With reference to the position of the city itself we must pray that it turn out to be on a slope, having regard to four things. First we must have regard to health, for cities which have a slope towards the east and the breezes which blow from the sunrise are healthier than others, the second place being held by those which slope away from the north, for these have milder winters. Of the remaining considerations, a city so placed is well situated for administration and military activities. For military activities, then, it is necessary that it should have an easy exit for the people themselves, and be difficult for adversaries to approach or besiege, and as far as possible have its own plentiful supply of waters and springs, and if it does not, such a supply has been invented by building a large number of big receptacles for rain-water . . . Again, since we must take thought of the health of the inhabitants, and this depends on the locality being situated in a healthy district, and well placed as regards health, and secondly on using healthy waters, we must bestow attention on the following also, and not as on a matter of secondary importance. For it is the things which we use most of all and most often for our bodies that make the greatest contribution to our own health; and the influence of waters and of air has such a nature. Wherefore in cities of sound wisdom, if all the springs are not alike in purity and there is not a large number of them, water-supplies used for drinking and those put to other uses must be kept separate. With regard to fortified sites not all constitutions alike find the same conditions advantageous for instance, a citadel-hill suits an oligarchy and a monarchy, while level ground suits a democracy; but an aristocracy likes neither, bur rather several strong places.

Aristotle’s Politics, from E. H. Warmington Greek Geography, The Library of Greek Thought Series (New York, 1934), p. 65. Published in the United States by E. P. Dutton and reprinted by their permission.


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Chicago: Aristotle, "Aristotle Considers the City-State," A Source Book in Geography, ed. E. H. Warmington in A Source Book in Geography, ed. George Kish (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1978), 37–38. Original Sources, accessed October 4, 2022, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KJ57HDZYFHWIQZ.

MLA: Aristotle. "Aristotle Considers the City-State." A Source Book in Geography, edited by E. H. Warmington, in A Source Book in Geography, edited by George Kish, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1978, pp. 37–38. Original Sources. 4 Oct. 2022. http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KJ57HDZYFHWIQZ.

Harvard: Aristotle, 'Aristotle Considers the City-State' in A Source Book in Geography, ed. . cited in 1978, A Source Book in Geography, ed. , Harvard University Press, Cambridge, pp.37–38. Original Sources, retrieved 4 October 2022, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KJ57HDZYFHWIQZ.