Journal of Roman Studies

Research Article

Teach Yourself how to be a General*

Brian Campbella1

a1 The Queen's University, Belfast

Normally, little attention is paid to the authors of military manuals in the imperial period. ‘Entertaining though trifling’ is a comment that can generally be heard. Frontinus is more familiar than most because of his distinguished career and other writings, but even his Strategemata is considered more as a source of historical anecdote than as an object of serious study in its own right. Yet the military textbooks fit into the tradition of didactic literature in antiquity and as such raise questions about their scope and purpose, and about what use could be or was made of them. This has special significance in relation to generalship and the evolution of tactics in the Roman empire.


* In the preparation of this paper I have been generously assisted by the advice of Professor Fergus Millar, and my colleagues Professor Alan Astin and Dr Raymond Davis. The courteous and friendly scepticism of Professor Peter Brunt often made me think again. For the ideas, and any errors that remain, I accept the responsibility.