Ancient Greek Military Theory and Practice. Aeneas Tacticus (I)

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The intention of this article is to present the oldest surviving work of military art of the Greek antiquity written in the mid-fourth century B.C. by of the author known today as Aeneas Tacticus. In 1609 Isaac Casaubon, its first editor, gave it the Latin title Commentarius de toleranda obsidione, How to Survive under Siege. Aeneas Tacticus was an experienced general on the battlefield, and had an equally solid theoretical training based on treatises of warfare which undoubtedly existed before his own, but were less fortunate and have not reached us. The study of this manual reveals that Aeneas Tacticus wrote or designed to write at least five books on military themes and information exists from other sources that he might have written three more books on the subject. Thus, all these works could have formed a Corpus Aeneanum, comparable in value to Clausewitz’s famous work On War. Aeneas’s work was highly appreciated and extremely useful for commanders and strategists of the Antiquity and the Middle Ages and was used and cited by all the authors of treatises on siege until the era of pre-modern warfare.

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  • [1] Aeneae Tactici Commentarius de toleranda obsidione Graece ad codices Mss. Parisienses et Mediceum recensuit versionem Latinam et commentarium integrum Is. Casauboni Notas Iac. Gronovii G. H. Koesii Caspari Orellii aliorumque et suas adiecit Io. Conradus Orellius Lipsiae in Libraria Weidmannia MDCCCXVIII.

  • [2] Dain Alphonse „Les manuscrits d'Énée le tacticien” Revue des Études Grecques Tome 48 fascicule 224 pp. 1-32 Janvier-Mars 1935 doi:

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  • [3] Delbrück H. Warfare in Antiquity. History of the Art of War Volume 1 Translated from the German by Walter J. Renfroe Jr. University of Nebraska Press Lincoln and London 1990 p. 163.

  • [4] Trundle Matthew Greek Mercenaries. From the Late Archaic Period to Alexander Routledge Taylor & Francis Group London and New York 2004 passim.

  • [5] Burliga Bogdan “The Importance of the Hoplite Army in Aeneas Tacticus’ Polis” The Greek World in the 4th and 3rd Centuries BC Jagiellonian University Press Kraków 2012 ELECTRUM * Vol. 19 (2012) pp. 61-81 doi:

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  • [6] Williams Hudson T. “The Authorship of the Greek Military Manual Attributed to 'Aeneas Tacticus'” The American Journal of Philology Vol. 25 No. 4 (1904) pp. 390-405.

  • [7] Aelianus Tacticus De instruendis aciebus Latin Translation by Theodorus Gaza Joannes Sulpitius Editor Roma Eucharius Silber 1487 pp. 2-3

  • [8] Hug Arnoldi Prolegomena critica ad Aeneae Poliorcetici editionem Turici Typis Zürcheri et Furreri 1874.

  • [9] Cf. Hug Arnold Aeneas von Stymphalos. Ein arkadischer Schriftsteller aus classicher Zeit pp. 5-8.

  • [10] Preserved in Lycophron scholia v. 1144 Scheer editor Apud Siege Defense by Aeneas Tacticus Loeb Classical Library edition 1928 p. 5 and note 6.

  • [11] Cicero The Letters to His Friends With an English translation by W. Glynn Williams London William Heinemann Ltd Cambridge Massachusetts Harvard University Press 1952 IX 25 pp. 278-279.

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