The Art of War

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The Art of War

Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Wed Jun 04, 2003 6:49 pm

Salvete!

Today I bought "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu. Did similar works exist in Latin?

Valete,
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Postby Publius Dionysius Mus on Thu Jun 05, 2003 12:05 pm

Publius Dionysius Mus omnibus salutem

I know of four such works, two in Latin and two in Greek:

Latin:
Sextus Iulius Frontinus: "Stratagemata" (1st or 2nd century)
Flavius Vegetius Renatus: "Epitoma Rei Militaris" (4th century)

Greek:
Aeneas Taktikos: "Peri Pyrgon" (4th century BC)
Polyaenos: "Stratagêmata" (2nd century)


I am currently reading Vegetius (almost finished). I will post a short review here soon.

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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Thu Jun 05, 2003 1:26 pm

Salve Mus,

Thanks for the tips. I was unaware of these works. I'll see if they are available in e-text.

Vale bene,
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Postby Primus Aurelius Timavus on Thu Jun 05, 2003 2:18 pm

I am familiar only with Vegetius and Polyaenus, so I cannot speak for the other two works cited by Mus. Nevertheless I suspect that all four are very different from The Art of War. Sun Tzu wrote about war at its most abstract, saying things like "All warfare is based on deception" and "The height of skill is to defeat the enemy without fighting". His work is more rarified and vague than those of Clauswitz, Jominy, Saxe, Napoleon, Hart, etc. For my taste as a former military man, The Art of War is so overarching that it is not that useful.

Vegetius and Polyaenus are on the other end of the spectrum. They filled their works with details on formations, weapons, and tactical tricks. I remember at one point Polyaenus suggests tying flaming brands to the horns of sheep and driving them away to deceive the enemy into believing that your army is fleeing at night.

Thus I found the Classical authors to not be very useful either for a modern practitioner, for the exact opposite reason that I don't fancy Sun Tzu. Their details are interesting, but quaint, and very difficult to translate to the modern battlefield.

When studying military history, I bear in mind that technology changes quickly, doctrine changes only a little less so (in historical terms), terrain is slowly overcome but still important, but men don't change (or they change very little indeed). Thus the most valuable books are those that include lessons in leadership.
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Roman Military Manuals

Postby Aldus Marius on Fri Jun 06, 2003 1:16 am

Avete, commilitones...

I posted mini-reviews of six Roman military manuals here in the ColMil last fall; said reviews may be read under the "Project: Glossary" topic.

Hope this helps,
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Postby Anonymous on Fri Jun 06, 2003 12:09 pm

Frontinus is online domo mea, in Latin and English, crosslinked, here. It will soon include a thesis on Frontinus, which focuses mostly on the Strategemata and its relationship to Polyaenus, here; the thesis is finished, but the HTML'ing is still in draft form. I'm considering putting up an English translation of Polyaenus to go with it.

B[/url][/u]
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Postby Anonymous on Fri Jun 06, 2003 12:27 pm

(Wishing posts were editable!)

Vegetius is online also, a full text in Latin, a maybe full text in English (chopped up into tiny fragments), a partial text in English (in a single chunk); the links are on David Camden's site, which is by far the most nearly complete place to check for Latin texts (and translations into any language).

The flaming horns of various animals show up regularly in Graeco-Roman literature; an example presented as actually having occurred is in the Life of Fabius Maximus, by Plutarch. Plutarch's Lives are widely available online, almost always in the 18c translation called Dryden's (not by Dryden at all, although under his general editorship; then revised several times finally by Clough in the 19c), and lacking local links. I finally got tired of the no-links, so have just about finished putting them up myself, in the Loeb edition, translation by Bernadotte Perrin. (The usefulness of the local links underscored now, since I can send you directly to the passage in question.)

I agree as to the modern usefulness; people do not change, and Plutarch is probably the most useful to a modern strategist. On the other hand, the general principles of strategy, too, are essentially "people", and a close reading of Frontinus et al. does pay off. I'll be working at this for the foreseeable future.

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[url=http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Topics/history/American_and_Military/home.html]Image
American and Military History[/url]
Last edited by Anonymous on Thu Aug 26, 2004 7:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Jun 06, 2003 7:49 pm

Greetings,

Thanks for these useful links. I'll add them in the next update!

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Postby Aulus Dionysius Mencius on Sat Jun 07, 2003 9:22 am

Salvete omnes

Since Draco already started the topic about the Art of War, I would like to add some info about oriental warfare and some more texts about the subject.

Although Master Sun's work is the most popular, there are, as far as I know, seven military classic texts from ancient China. More info I might add later, when I have acquired some reading material...

Very interesting as well : Japan, too, has his military classic, the
Tôsen-kyo. It is interesting, because when Master Sun sees strategy as a part of warfare, the Japanese author, a member of the Onoe feudal families, sees war as a part of strategy, and only as a last resort.

I do not know whether there are relations with the above mentioned Roman texts, but I thought I'd share this with you anyway.
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Sat Jun 07, 2003 12:12 pm

Ave!

Bill Thayer wrote:(Wishing posts were editable!)


You've been served at your whim ;). Postings should now be editable. There were several people who had been requesting this for some time.

Vale bene,
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Postby Anonymous on Sat Jun 07, 2003 3:19 pm

Wow; talk of response, thanks!

I might as well use the opportunity to add that Frontinus, as we now have him, is just a "recipe-book" of stratagems; but it was apparently a casebook appended to a fully treated work on strategy, which, alas, has not come down to us. Maybe it's still lurking in a library somewhere, mind you: very occasionally discoveries still get made. (He's unfortunately too late though to have been buried in that library in Herculaneum that's slowly being unravelled.)
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Postby Anonymous on Thu Aug 26, 2004 5:14 pm

Salvete...

I just readed Sun Tzu and Vegetius, but not yet the other classical author, if someone could send me an eletronic version of the text ( if that exists...), i'll be pleased...

Again, sorry for the bad english....
By the way, i speak portuguese, someone know it??

Valete!!!

Pax et laetitia, quirites...

L. CLAVDIVS INVICTVS
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Frontinus: Strategemata

Postby Anonymous on Thu Aug 26, 2004 5:21 pm

The Strategemata of Frontinus are online on my site, in Latin and English, here.
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Postby Anonymous on Thu Aug 26, 2004 6:04 pm

Salve!




Thanx...
It was reaaally a fast reply!!!!

Vale!

L.CLAVDIVS INVICTVS
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Thu Aug 26, 2004 7:21 pm

Salve Luci Claudi,

L. CLAVDIVS INVICTVS wrote:By the way, i speak portuguese, someone know it??


Well, Marcus Arminius Maior is a Brazilian. You might want to seek him out :). I have a bit of a passive understanding of Portuguese, but I can't communicate in it. There are some people here who know Spanish and Italian, and some who know French and German. So, you can always try ;).

Vale,
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Postby Quintus Pomponius Atticus on Thu Aug 26, 2004 7:38 pm

Salve Luci Claudi Invicte,

And welcome to SVR.

By the way, i speak portuguese, someone know it??


I greatly admire the Portuguese poet Pessoa, but unfortunately, I cannot read his work in the original language :(. Luckily, bilingual editions with a Dutch translation exist, more or less enabling me to understand the original thanks to my knowing French and Latin. A rather odd way of reading poetry, nonne :lol: ? I'm also very fond of fado music by the way.

Vale optime and have a good time here,

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Postby Anonymous on Thu Aug 26, 2004 7:55 pm

Salve Gnæus Dionysius Draco


Very well! If you want, translate this:


Obrigado amigo, é ótimo podermos nos entender em linguas tão diferentes, sobre a origem comum de nossa civilização...

Cogito! Ego sum
PAX ET LAETITIA
Vale!
L. CLAVDIVS INVICTVS
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Postby Marcus Pomponius Lupus on Thu Aug 26, 2004 8:54 pm

Hello Bill !

Good to see you back, and with the Strategemata no less, splendid ! This means my printer will have to do a night shift :wink:

Any plans for putting up Poluainos as well ?

Vale bene
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Polyaenus

Postby Anonymous on Thu Aug 26, 2004 9:01 pm

No plans yet for Polyaenus, but he's in the long queue. Frontinus has been up for several years – do check the Texts section of Lacus, then. Notice also, for Later Antiquity buffs, that J.B. Bury's History of the Later Roman Empire is up as well, if unproofed.
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Postby Gnaeus Dionysius Draco on Fri Aug 27, 2004 11:15 am

Salve Luci Claudi,

L. CLAVDIVS INVICTVS wrote:Salve Gnæus Dionysius Draco


In the vocative case, my name is Gnae Dionysi Draco :).

L. CLAVDIVS INVICTVS wrote:Very well! If you want, translate this:

Obrigado amigo, é ótimo podermos nos entender em linguas tão diferentes, sobre a origem comum de nossa civilização...


Okay, I'll try: "Thank you friend, [...] we can speak in such different languages, about the common origin of our civilisation."

Does that more or less capture what you were saying?

Vale,
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