Nothing is known of his life or station beyond what is contained in his two surviving works: Epitoma rei militaris also referred to as De re militari , and the lesser-known Digesta Artis Mulomedicinae , a guide to veterinary medicine. He identifies himself in the opening of his work Epitoma rei militaris as a Christian. The latest event alluded to in his Epitoma rei militaris is the death of the Emperor Gratian ; the earliest attestation of this work is a subscriptio by one Flavius Eutropius, writing in Constantinople in the year , which appears in one of two families of manuscripts, suggesting that a division of the manuscript tradition had already occurred. Despite Eutropius' location in Constantinople, the scholarly consensus is that Vegetius wrote in the Western Empire. Vegetius' epitome mainly focuses on military organization and how to react to certain occasions in war.
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Vegetius, Epitoma rei militaris, [Cologne, circa ] from the copy in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. Despite Eutropius' location in Constantinople, the scholarly consensus is that Vegetius wrote in the Western Empire. Vegetius dedicates his work to the reigning emperor, who is identified as Theodosius, ad Theodosium imperatorem , in the manuscript family that was not edited in ; the identity is disputed: some scholars identify him with Theodosius the Great , while others.
Vegetius explains how one should fortify and organize a camp, how to train troops, how to handle undisciplined troops, how to handle a battle engagement, how to march, formation gauge, and many other useful methods of promoting organization and valour in the legion.
Watson observes, Vegetius' Epitoma 'is the only ancient manual of Roman military institutions to have survived intact. Vegetius also describes in detail the organisation training and equipment of the army of the early Empire. The third contains a series of military maxims, which were rightly enough, considering the similarity in the military conditions of the two ages the foundation of military learning for every European commander from William the Silent to Frederick the Great.
When the French Revolution and the "nation in arms" came into history, we hear little more of Vegetius. Some of the maxims may be mentioned here as illustrating the principles of a war for limited political objectives with which he deals:.
Famine is more terrible than the sword. His 'seven normal dispositions for battle,' once in honor among European students of the art of war, are equally useful if applied to more modern conditions. His book on siegecraft is important as containing the best description of Late Empire and Medieval siegecraft. From it, among other things, we learn details of the siege engine called the onager , which afterwards played a great part in sieges, until the development of modern cannonry.
The fifth book is an account of the materiel and personnel of the Roman navy. Its rules of siegecraft were much studied in the Middle Ages. Milner observes that it was 'one of the most popular Latin technical works from Antiquity, rivalling the elder Pliny's Natural History in the number of surviving copies dating from before AD The first printed editions are ascribed to Utrecht , Cologne , Paris , Rome in Veteres de re mil.
A German translation by Ludwig Hohenwang appeared at Ulm in Manuscript 18A. It ends with a paragraph starting: "Here endeth the boke that clerkes clepethe in Latyne Vegecii de re militari. The translator is identified in Manuscript No. That work, first published in print in , was the first printed work on technology and the first book with informational rather than decorative illustrations.
Vegetius' Epitoma rei militaris was first published in print in an undated edition, probably issued one or two years later in or by Nicolaus Ketelaer and Gerardus de Leempt in Utrecht. Their edition had no illustrations. ISTC no. Book History.
Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus
Vegetius , in full Flavius Vegetius Renatus , flourished 4th century ad , Roman military expert who wrote what was perhaps the single most influential military treatise in the Western world. His work exercised great influence on European tactics after the Middle Ages. A patrician and reformer with little actual military experience, Vegetius lived in an era when cavalry and foreign auxiliary levies had diluted and corrupted the traditional legionary formation, which had been based on a disciplined infantry and cohesive organization. His treatise Rei militaris instituta , also called Epitoma rei militaris , written sometime between and , advocated a revival of the old system but had almost no influence on the decaying military forces of the later Roman Empire. His rules on siege craft and on the need for discipline , however, were studied during the Middle Ages; partly because Vegetius was the first Christian Roman to write on military affairs, his work became, and remained for centuries, the military bible of Europe.
Flavius Vegetius Renatus
De re militari Latin "Concerning Military Matters" , also Epitoma rei militaris , is a treatise by the late Latin writer Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus about Roman warfare and military principles as a presentation of methods and practices in use during the height of Rome's power, and responsible for that power. The extant text dates to the 5th century. Vegetius emphasized things such as training of soldiers as a disciplined force, orderly strategy , maintenance of supply lines and logistics , quality leadership and use of tactics and even deceit to ensure advantage over the opposition. He was concerned about selection of good soldiers and recommended hard training of at least four months before the soldier was accepted into the ranks. The leader of the army dux had to take care of the men under his command and keep himself informed about the movements of the enemy to gain advantage in the battle. De re militari became a military guide in the Middle Ages. Even after the introduction of gunpowder to Europe, it was carried by general officers and their staffs as a field guide to methods.
A number of maxims have their origin in Vegetius, the most familiar of which is "He Others are collected in III. Indeed, the number of surviving manuscripts rival the Natural History of Pliny. Other sage advice includes the following:. It is the nature of war that what is beneficial to you is detrimental to the enemy and what is of service to him always hurts you. It is much better to overcome the enemy by famine, surprise or terror than by general actions, for in the latter instance fortune has often a greater share than valor.