This article lists and briefly discusses the most important of many treatises on military science produced in the Byzantine Empire.


The Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire was, for much of its history, one of the major powers of the medieval world. Continuing the traditions and institutions of the Roman Empire, throughout its history it was assailed on all sides by various numerically superior enemies. The empire therefore maintained its highly sophisticated military system from antiquity, which relied on discipline, training, knowledge of tactics and a well-organized support system. A crucial element in the maintenance and spreading of this military know-how, along with traditional histories, were the various treatises and practical manuals. These continued a tradition of Greek-Hellenistic type of warfare that stretched back to Xenophon and Aeneas the Tactician, and many Eastern Roman military manuals excerpt or adapt the works of ancient authors, especially Aelian and Onasander.[1][2][3]

List of works

Byzantine hand-siphon for projecting Greek fire, illumination from the Poliorcetica of Hero of Byzantium
Byzantine hand-siphon for projecting Greek fire, illumination from the Poliorcetica of Hero of Byzantium

A large corpus of Byzantine military literature survives. Characteristically Byzantine manuals were first produced in the sixth century. They greatly proliferated in the tenth century, when the Byzantines embarked on their conquests in the East and the Balkans, but production abated after the early eleventh century. There is some evidence of similar works being written in the Palaiologan era, but with one exception, none survive.[4]

  1. a treatise on land warfare under the modern titles Περὶ Στρατηγικῆς or De Re Strategica, most recently published as "The Anonymous Byzantine Treatise on Strategy".[13]
  2. a treatise on military oratory under the modern title Rhetorica Militaris, long ascribed to the same "Anonymous".[14]
  3. the Naumachia (Ναυμαχίαι), a treatise on naval warfare, which in the unique manuscript bears an ascription to a Syrianus Magister (Ναυμαχίαι Συριανοῦ Μαγίστρου).[15]
Recognition of the common authorship of all three sections necessarily assigns the entire compendium to Syrianus. A new edition of the complete compendium is reportedly in preparation.[16] The constituent parts of the compendium were traditionally dated to the sixth century, but the evidence is weak and all recent studies have identified features incompatible with late antiquity or more congruent with a date of composition in the ninth century.[17] This ninth-century dating has been widely accepted in recent scholarship on the genre.[18]


  1. ^ A. Dain, L’Histoire du texte d’Élien le Tacticien des origines à la Fin du Moyen Âge (Paris 1946); P. Rance, "Maurice's Strategicon and the Ancients: the Late Antique Reception of Aelian and Arrian" in P. Rance and N.V. Sekunda (edd.), Greek Taktika. Ancient Military Writing and its Heritage (Gdańsk 2017) 217-255.
  2. ^ A. Dain, Les manuscrits d’Onésandros (Paris 1930) 145–157
  3. ^ P. Rance, "The Reception of Aineias' Poliorketika in Byzantine Military Literature" in M. Pretzler and N. Barley (eds.), Brill's Companion to Aineias Tacticus (Leiden/Boston 2017) 290-374.
  4. ^ Bartusis (1997), p. 10
  5. ^ R. Förster (1877), ‘Studien zu den griechischen Taktikern’, Hermes 12:426–71 at 467–71
  6. ^ G. Greatrex, H. Elton and R. Burgess (2005), ‘Urbicius’ Epitedeuma: an edition, translation and commentary’, Byzantinische Zeitschrift 98:35–74
  7. ^ P. Rance, The Etymologicum Magnum and the "Fragment of Urbicius" Archived 2010-06-14 at the Wayback Machine, Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies 47 (2007) 193–224
  8. ^ G.T. Dennis (ed.), Das Strategikon des Maurikios, Ger. trans. E. Gamillscheg (CFHB 17] Vienna 1981); G.T. Dennis (Eng. trans.), Maurice’s Strategikon: Handbook of Byzantine Military Strategy (Philadelphia 1984)
  9. ^ Różycki, Łukasz (2021-06-22). Battlefield Emotions in Late Antiquity: A Study of Fear and Motivation in Roman Military Treatises. BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-46255-7.
  10. ^ K. K. Müller 'Ein griechisches Fragment über Kriegswesen', Festschrift für Ludwig Urlichs (Würzburg 1880) 106–38. New edition with Italian translation: I. Eramo (ed.), Appunti di tattica (De militari scientia). Testo critico, traduzione e commento (Besançon 2018).
  11. ^ P. Rance, 'The De Militari Scientia or Müller Fragment as a philological resource. Latin in the East Roman army and two new loanwords in Greek: palmarium and *recala', Glotta. Zeitschrift für griechische und lateinische Sprache 86 (2010) 63-92
  12. ^ See most recently F. Lammert, 'Die älteste erhaltene Schrift über Seetaktik und ihre Beziehung zum Anonymus Byzantinus des 6. Jahrhunderts, zu Vegetius und zu Aineias’ Strategika, Klio 33 (1940) 271–788; C. Zuckerman, 'The Compendium of Syrianus Magister', Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 40 (1990) 209–224; S. Cosentino, "Syrianos’ Strategikon– a 9th-Century Source?", Bizantinistica 2 (2000) 243–80; P. Rance, The Date of the Military Compendium of Syrianus Magister (formerly the Sixth-Century Anonymus Byzantinus), Byzantinische Zeitschrift 100.2 (2007) 701-737
  13. ^ G.T. Dennis (ed.), Three Byzantine Military Treatises (CFHB Series Washingtoniensis 25] Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C., 1985) 10–135
  14. ^ Ed. with Italian trans. by I. Eramo, Siriano. Discorsi di guerra. Testo, traduzione e commento (Bari 2010). This edition supersedes H. Köchly (ed.), Rhetorica Militaris (Δημηγορίαι προτρεπτικαὶ πρὸς ἀνδρείαν ἐκ διαφόρων ἀφορμῶν λαμβάνουσαι τὰς ὑποθέσεις) in: Index Lectionum in Literarum Universitate Turicensi… habendarum (Zurich 1855-56), 2 parts, which was based on defective secondary manuscripts.
  15. ^ Ed. with Eng. trans. by Pryor and Jeffreys (2006) 455–481
  16. ^ C. Zuckerman, 'The Compendium of Syrianus Magister', Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 40 (1990) 209–224
  17. ^ B. Baldwin, 'On the Date of the Anonymous ΠΕΡΙ ΣΤΡΑΤΗΓΙΚΗΣ', Byzantinische Zeitschrift 81 (1988) 290–3; A.D. Lee and J. Shepard, 'A Double Life: Placing the Peri Presbeon', Byzantinoslavica 52 (1991) 15–39 esp. 25–30; S. Cosentino, 'Syrianos’ Strategikon– a 9th-Century Source?', Bizantinistica 2 (2000) 243-80; P. Rance, 'The Date of the Military Compendium of Syrianus Magister (formerly the Sixth-Century Anonymus Byzantinus)', Byzantinische Zeitschrift 100.2 (2007) 701-737; L. Mecella, 'Die Überlieferung der Kestoi des Julius Africanus in den byzantinischen Textsammlungen zur Militärtechnik' in M. Wallraff and L. Mecella (edd.), Die Kestoi des Julius Africanus und ihre Überlieferung ([Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 165] Berlin/New York 2009) 85-144 at 96-8.
  18. ^ Pryor and Jeffreys (2006) 180; McGeer (2008) 910; Sullivan (2010) 151-2.
  19. ^ A. Dain (ed.), Leonis VI Sapientis Problemata (Paris 1935)
  20. ^ a b Antonopoulou, Theodora (1997). The Homilies of the Emperor Leo VI. BRILL. p. 10. ISBN 978-90-04-10814-1.
  21. ^ G.T. Dennis (ed.), The Taktika of Leo VI. Text, Translation and Commentary ([CFHB 49] Dumbarton Oaks, Washington, D.C. 2010).
  22. ^ Haldon (1999), pp. 109–110
  23. ^ Kazhdan (1991), p. 2008
  24. ^ Greek text: A. Dain (ed.), Sylloge tacticorum quae olim Inedita Leonis Tactica dicebatur (Paris 1938); Eng. trans.: G. Chatzelis and J. Harris, A Tenth-Century Byzantine Military Manual: The Sylloge Tacticorum (London 2017).
  25. ^ a b Kazhdan (1991), p. 1980
  26. ^ Dennis (1985), pp. 139–140
  27. ^ a b Kazhdan (1991), p. 615
  28. ^ a b c Kazhdan (1991), p. 1709
  29. ^ Rance (2018) 257-260
  30. ^ C. Knowles (ed.), Les Enseignements de Théodore Paléologue (London 1983)
  31. ^ Bartusis (1997) 10–11; Haldon (1999) 5–6; Rance (2018) 264-268