Vegetius, Epitoma rei militaris, recognovit brevique adnotatione critica instruxit M. D. Reeve, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004.
A typographical error present in the text of this edition has been corrected: at IV 8, 4 we read machinamenta instead of machinamanta.
The Epitoma rei militaris by Flavius Vegetius Renatus is a compendium of the whole Latin polemological tradition. According to the author, his work collects, synthesizes and proposes material and information taken from the treaties by Cato, Cornelius Celsus, Julius Frontinus, Tarruntenus Paternus and from the military constitutiones of the emperors Augustus, Trajan and Hadrian.
The date of composition of the work is a uexata quaestio. It is certain that the text was written between the death of Gratian, 25 August 383, and the year 450, when the work was copied in Constantinople by Flavius Eutropius. Scholars have different opinions on the identity of the Emperor to whom Vegetius’ treaty is dedicated. The two dominant hypotheses propose to identify the dedicatee of the work with either Theodosius or Valentian III.
The Epitoma rei militaris consists of four books: in origin the first book was a short, independent treatise, which later caused the author to write a complete work on the ars militaris; it concerns the recruitment of soldiers and their training; the second book reports what the characteristics of the mos ueteris militiae were, and explains the organization of the Roman army; the third book discusses the combat techniques and strategies; the fourth book comprises, in turn, two sections that part of the manuscript tradition transmits as two separate books (Book IV and V): the first section is devoted to military machines and devices, while the second section deals with the fleet and naval warfare.
The polemological work of Vegetius immediately became part of the canon of scriptores latini de re militari. John Lydus already cites him as an auctoritas. The Epitoma rei militaris had a huge impact from Carolingian times until the fifteenth century, and was one of the first Latin works to be translated into Romance languages. [D. Paniagua; tr. L. Battezzato]