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The Tactics of Aelian (Kindle)

A New Translation of the Manual that Influenced Warfare for Fifteen Centuries

Napoleonic Ancient History English Civil War

By Christopher Matthew
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 27.6 MB (.prc)
Pages: 200
ISBN: 9781783378272
Published: 29th October 2012

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Aelian's work on tactics is a hugely significant piece of ancient military literature, yet the last new edition in English was published in 1814. Although writing (in his native Greek) in the second century AD, Aelian drew heavily on earlier works, such as Asclepiodotus, to put together a comprehensive manual of warfare in the Hellenistic period (late 3rd to early 1st centuries BC). His Tactica thus examines all facets of warfare in the period of Alexander the Greats successors, including the arms and armour of cavalry and infantry, formations, commands and signals.

As well as being an invaluable source for modern historians studying the Hellenistic period, the book was very influential on military theory long after Aelian's death. Arrian's work on tactics may merely be a revision of Aelian's; the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI used excerpts in his own treatise and an Arabic translation made around 1350 was used to train Muslim armies. Most significantly, it became one of the primary training aids for the pike-and-musket armies of the 16 and 17th-century Europe. A substantial edition published in London in 1616 contained a full direct translation as well as comprehensive notes and a treatise on how to apply Aelian's work to the training of English pike formations in the Macedonian manner. It was well used to train the foot regiments that fought the English Civil War. This unique longevity makes it of interest to anyone interested in warfare from the Hellenistic period right up to the English Civil War.

Christopher Matthew has used the 1552, 1613, 1630 and 1855 editions to create the fullest version ever published, and the first in dual-text format with the ancient Greek and English translation on facing pages. The new modern English is supported by many new notes as well as cross-references to the other ancient manuals (such as Arrian and Leo) that drew upon Aelian's work. There are also new renditions of all the accompanying diagrams. This is, without a doubt, the most complete and up-to-date version, in any language, of this significant work that influenced tactical thought for 1,500 years.

The book is a very complete edition, as it offers not only the Greek text, translation and notes, but also a glossary of key terms in Greek with an English transliteration and explanation. Last but not least, there are plates, which visualize the various formations discussed by Aelian. Christopher Matthew has succeeded in amalgamating ancient military history with a text edition and commentary in one accessible book. In doing so, he has not only made the ancient Greek text of the Tactics itself available to a larger public, but he has also published a work that cannot be neglected in any future study of ancient military history.

Ancient Warfare

The book is a very complete edition, as it offers not only the Greek text, translation and notes, but also a glossary of key terms in Greek with an English transliteration and explanation. Last but not least, there are plates, which visualize the various formations discussed by Aelian. Christopher Matthew has succeeded in amalgamating ancient military history with a text edition and commentary in one accessible book. In doing so, he has not only made the ancient Greek text of the Tactics itself available to a larger public, but he has also published a work that cannot be neglected in any future study of ancient military history.

Ancient Warfare Magazine

About Christopher Matthew

Christopher Matthew has just completed his doctoral thesis on hoplite warfare at MacQuarie University in Sydney, where one of his assessors has said he 'singlehandedly advanced the whole field'. He has also been invited to lecture on the subject at other Australian universities. This book, closely based on his doctoral thesis, will be his first, although he has already had several articles published in academic journals. 'He is currently working on a new translation of Aelian's work on tactics and co-editing (with Dr Matthew Trundle) Beyond the Gates of Fire: New Perspectives on the Battle of Thermopylae, both of which will be published by Pen & Sword.

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