I’m not really much of an ancient world kinda guy, though I do admit to presently reading Victor Davis Hanson (ed.), Makers of Ancient Strategy. However, I thought I should pass on a link to a new website that I’ve found devoted to Aeneas Tacticus’ military manual, Poliorketika, or How To Survive Under Siege. The manual is thought to have been written about 350 BC by a man, still unidentified, who had military expertise and who lived in a relatively small, though also unidentified, city state in Greece.
The website is well organized, has some great explanatory material, a bibliography containing works in all sorts of languages including Russian and Czech, and a full copy of Aeneas Tacticus’ text. Well, a full copy of all of it that exists. The surviving manuscript is incomplete and the last sentence suggests that the author was about to take up the topic of naval warfare. Oh well. The text is short and can very easily be read in one sitting. A comment on the site that I found particularly thought provoking was that Aeneas wrote about military affairs with a recognition that things don’t always work properly. Clausewitz and friction, anybody? For instance, he discusses the potential confusion that can arise from a poorly chosen password when one has a coalition force that speaks more than one dialect of Greek.
The website is the work of Dr. Maria Pretzler of Swansea University in the UK. Her She seems to be well-liked, which I don’t find surprising given the spritely prose on her website: her students have created a Facebook fan page entitled “I’d Go To Megalopolis with Maria Pretzler Any Day!” (One student did post something comparing her to Severus Snape, however that comment may have been meant to be jocular.)
Kudos to Dr. Pretzler.