Anonymi auctoris De rebus bellicis recensuit Robert. I. Ireland, Lipsiae 1984 (Bibliotheca Scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana).
An unknown author wrote the treatise De rebus bellicis in the fourth century AD. The majority of scholars accept a dating around 368 AD, in the age of Valens and Valentinianus . In any case, the work was written between the age of Constantine and the battle of Adrianopolis.
The author suggests a series of different solutions to the crisis of the Roman Empire, dealing with economic, administrative, social (chapters 1-5 and 20-21) and military problems (chapters 6-19).
Scholars have advanced the opinion that the treatise is not meant as a serious proposal; some of the political or military suggestions are hardly realistic. For instance, the author suggests that all workers employed in the coinage industry should be segregated to an island and banned from contact with other people (a societate prohibiti); this measure would supposedly prevent the counterfeiting of money. The author also describes fantastic military machines, such as the tichodrifus (a device made of two wicker screens nailed to each other, provided with wheels, which supposedly allowed armies to advance unseen against the enemies) and ascogefyrus (a portable bridge made of goatskins, which soldiers would assemble and inflate in case of need).
In the past, the author was long thought to be an inventor of genius, deeply conversant with the mechanisms of Roman Imperial administration and the details of its financial and fiscal system. The interpretive hypothesis which is currently gaining more and more support sees this work as an imaginative and playful text, critical of contemporary politics and ethics.
The final product is a short treatise of heterogeneous nature, halfway between a polemographical treatise and a political pamphlet, inviting readers to read between the lines with critical spirit. [D. Paniagua; trad. L. Battezzato]