Modern Reference Works

The Roman Army

  • Bishop, M.C. & Coulston, J.C.N. Roman Military Equipment: Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2006.
  • Breeze, David J. The Frontiers of Imperial Rome: South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books Ltd., 2011.
  • Gilliver, Kate, Goldsworthy, Adrian, Whitby, Michael. Rome at War (Caesar and his Legacy): Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2005.
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian. The Complete Roman Army: London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 2003.
  • Goldsworthy, Adrian. Roman Warfare: London: Cassell & Co., 2000.
  • Keppie, Lawrence. The Making of the Roman Army: From Republic to Empire: Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998.
  • Le Bohec, Yann. The Imperial Roman Army: New York: Routledge, 2001.
  • Parker, H.M.D. The Roman Legions: Dorset Press, N.Y. (reprint of [1928] 1957 second edition); 1992.
  • Peterson, Daniel. The Roman Legions Recreated in Colour Photographs: Wiltshire: The Crowood Press Ltd., 2001.
  • Pollard, Nigel & Berry, Joanne. The Complete Roman Legions: London: Thames & Hudson, 2012.
  • Roth, Jonathan P. Roman Warfare: New York: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
  • Shirley, Elizabeth. Building a Roman Legionary Fortress: Charleston S.C.: Arcadia Publishing Inc. (a Division of Tempus), 2001.
  • Simkins, Michael. Warriors of Rome: London: Blandford, 1988.
  • Southern, Pat. The Roman Army, A Social & Institutional History: New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  • Watson, G.R. The Roman Soldier: New York: Cornell University Press, 1985.
  • Webster, Graham. The Imperial Roman Army (of the First and Second Centuries A.D.): Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1998 (3rd ed.).
  • Woolliscroft, D.I. Roman Military Signalling: Charleston: Tempus Publishing Inc., 2001.

Ancient Warfare

  • Kern, Paul Bentley. Ancient Siege Warfare: Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1999.
  • May, Elmer, Stadler, Gerald P., Votaw, John F. (Department of History, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York). Ancient & Medieval Warfare: Wayne, N.J.: Avery Publishing Group Inc., 1984.
  • Wary, John. Warfare in the Classical World: Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 1995.

Roman Cavalry

Hyland, Ann. Training the Roman Cavalry (From Arrian’s Ars Tactica): Gloucestershire; Sutton Publishing Limited, 1993.

Roman Life

  • Adkins, Lesley and Adkins, Roy A. Handbook to Life in Ancient Rome: New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
  • Connolly, Peter and Dodge, Hazel. The Ancient City – Life in Classical Athens & Rome: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.
  • Harlow, Mary and Laurence, Ray. Growing Up and Growing Old in Ancient Rome: London; Routlage, 2002.
  • Shelton, Jo-Ann. As the Romans Did: New York: Oxford University Press; 1998 (2nd ed.).

Ancient Sources of Information on the Roman Army

With respect to military manuals, there are:

  • authors describing personal experiences (Polybius, Caesar, Josephus, Frontinus, Arrianus and Marcellinus),
  • narrative historians (Livy, Dionysius, Tacitus, Appian and Dio Cassius) and
  • specialist/theoretical works (Hyginus, Vegetius and Maurice).

All time periods are not covered, and frequently the works are coloured by the personal biases and knowledge/experience levels of the authors.

Authors with Personal Experience

Polybius 200-118 BC:

  • He was not a serving Roman soldier. He was a Greek soldier who was captured after the battle of Pydna and sent to Rome where he became the tutor of the children of Aemilius Paullus. Polybius was present with Scipio Aemilianus, the natural son of Aemilius, when he laid siege to Carthage in 147-6 B.C. As a writer he strove to be impartial, and he authored the 40 book Historiae which chronicled the rise of Rome from 220-146 B.C. His writings capture valuable data regarding the legions, their composition, equipment and camps in the mid republic.

Julius Caesar 100-44 BC:

  • His works include De Bello Gallico (the war against the Gauls 58-52 BC), De Bello Civilis (the first 2 years of the war against Pompey), and the Alexandrian, African and Spanish Wars (against Pompey’s sons). The latter work may have been penned by other men in his army. His Gallic Wars provide an excellent source of information about the military while on campaign. His works describe what his armies did but not how they were organized.

Flavius Josephus 37-95 AD:

  • He was a Jewish historian and Pharisee who was born in Jerusalem. He participated in the Jewish Revolt and later wrote a 7 book history of the Jewish war titled Bellum Iudaicum. His description of the Roman army is as detailed and informative as that of Polybius. He authored several other works including his own autobiography.

Sextus Julius Frontinus 30-104 AD:

  • He was a consul of Rome and later a governor of Britannia prior to Agricola. He composed works on the water supply in Rome and land surveying. His four book Stratagemata on military science was published in 84 AD, but his military manual (lauded by Trajan) has been lost.

Flavius Arrianus Xenophon (Arrian) 85-190 AD:

  • He was born in Nicomedia. As a soldier he served under Trajan and commanded troops during his Parthian Campaign in the Darial Pass in the Caucasus. He was proconsul of Baetica under Hadrian and later governor of Cappadocia before retiring. He authored books on the lectures of stoic philosophers, the art of hunting, a navigational guide, a history of Alexander the Great, various military campaigns and the Ars Tactica (this later work being a cavalry guide).

Ammianus Marcellinus 325-395 AD:

  • A Praetorian Guard officer, he was born in Antioch and fought in a number of actions. He composed the 31 book Restrum Gestarum Libri, which started where Tacitus’ works left off and covered the years 96-378. His writings describe sieges, invasions and raids.

Narrative Historians

Livy (Titus Livius) 59 BC – 12 AD:

  • He was a Roman historian from Padua who wrote the Ab Urbe Condita, a 142 book history of Rome to 9 BC.

Appian d ca. 160 AD:

  • Born in Alexandria, he was an imperial bureaucrat who composed a 24 volume history of Roman conquests, the Romaica. His writings covered the period up to and including the reign of Vespasianus.

Dio Cassius 155-235 AD:

  • He was born in Nicae and became a Roman senator. His 80 volume Historia Romanae (written in Greek) covered the history of Rome from the time of Aeneas to 229 AD. He also authored a biography of Arrian as well as a work on Septimius Severus.

Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus (Plutarch) 50-120 AD:

  • A Greek, philosopher and historian who composed many works including over 50 biographies (Vitae).

Gaius/Publius Cornelius Tacitus 56-117 AD:

  • He was a Gaul who wrote a biography (De Vita Julii Agricolae) about his father-in-law, Agricola. Tacitus authored the 16 book Annales (from the death of Augustus to the demise of Nero) and the 14 book Historiae (from the death of Nero to the end of Domitian’s reign). His other work is Germania.

Military Manuals

Hyginus (Pseudo-Hyginus) 100 AD(?):

  • De Munitionibus Castrorum (or De Metatione Castrorum) is a book about military camp layouts that was written sometime between the 1st and fourth centuries. It has been attributed to Gaius Julius Hyginus (64 B.C.-17 A.D.), but authorship is unknown.

Flavius Vegetius Renatus (3-400 AD?):

  • A 4th-5th century author, his “Epitoma Rei Militaris” (aka De Re Militari), summarized the manuals of Imperial authors whose works have been lost (only their names survive). According to Southern, Vegetius had a hidden agenda, which was to write about the army as he thought it should operate, so he searched the military works of the past to produce an amalgam of procedures and practices which in his own day probably did not feature in army organization … “Vegetius’ military manual is as good as it gets … and there is nothing to rival it in all the other surviving literature.”

Flavius Mauricius Tiberius Augustus: 539-27 Nov 602 AD (ruler of Byzantine from 582-602 AD)

  • In English he was identified as Maurice and in Greek as Maurikios. The Strategikon, an elementary handbook/manual of war, was either authored or commissioned by Maurice. The reforms codified in the 12 chapters, or “books” remained static until the 11th century, and the Strategikon is recognized as the first and most comprehensive military manual until WWII. It covered military violations (and punishments) the organization, training and support of mounted troops, peasant militia recruitment and a section regarding enemies of the empire.