Cross-Post: Conference on Greek and Roman Military Manuals, Winnipeg MB, October 2016
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Categories: Ancient

Cross-Post: Conference on Greek and Roman Military Manuals, Winnipeg MB, October 2016

21 & 22 OCTOBER 2016

While scholars acknowledge the ubiquity of military manuals in antiquity, systematic study of this genre has yet to be undertaken To be sure, military manuals are enigmatic and at the same time intrinsically fascinating texts. This workshop seeks to provide a forum for scholars to reflect upon ancient Greek and Roman military manuals as a genre, with a view to exploring and demonstrating their utility in ancient historical research. Moreover, military manuals ought to be seen not as existing entirely as a separate genre, as has been largely the case heretofore, but rather as texts deliberately constructed to engage with other genres in which warfare plays a central role (for example, epic poetry and historical narrative).

Abstracts for papers of approximately 30 minutes (to be followed by 15 minutes of discussion) are invited. Possible topics of discussion include:

— the ethical context(s) of military manuals;
— the utility of military manuals as historical sources;
— the role of the reader in the genre;
— the relationship(s) between military manuals and other literary genres;
— narrative and structure of military manuals;
— the political context(s) of military manuals;
— the influence of ancient military manuals in the post-Classical world.

Papers may focus on a particular author or text, or may offer a genre-wide analysis. Proposals for papers on Byzantine and Medieval military manuals are also welcome.

Interested participants are invited to contact the workshop organisers: James T. Chlup ( and Conor Whately ( The organisers ask that proposals be submitted no later than 31 January 2016.

I am not sure that I can spare the carbon or the money to attend, but ancient military manuals are important yet rarely used sources, and ones which could be placed in a much broader context than the narrowly Greek one which is often assumed. I am always puzzled to read discussions of sources for Greek military history which accuse the tactical writers of being academic and pedantic and removed from practical experience before continuing with their own abstract and intricate writings about things which they have never seen or done. (How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child …)

Further Reading: Murray Dahm wrote his PhD thesis on Greek and Roman military writing, and turned it into a series of articles for Ancient Warfare Magazine. There are recent volumes from Pen and Sword books and a forthcoming volume edited by Philip Rance and Nicholas Sekunda on the three surviving Hellenistic tacticians.

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