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Polyaenus: Stratagems



Polyaenus was a Macedonian, who dedicated his collection of Stratagems (Strategemata) to the Roman emperors Lucius Verus and Marcus Aurelius, when they set out on a war against the Parthians, in 163 A.D. His intention was to provide the emperors with brief examples of the exploits of earlier generals, which they could imitate in their Parthian war. Some of the material, especially in book 8, seems to added more for entertainment than because of any practical value; it includes hints on such topics as how to woo a tyrant's daughter and how to force your relatives to give you money.

Polyaenus' Greek text was translated into English in 1793 by R.Shepherd, who hoped that the Stratagems would help the generals who were at that time establishing the British Empire in India. Shepherd's translation is antiquated and inaccurate in parts, and therefore many changes have been made in this version of it.

The collection is arranged in 8 books, which contain descriptions of over 800 stratagems, even though parts of some of the books have been lost. The contents of the books are arranged as follows:
  Book 1 (Chapters 1-26)   : from early times until the sixth century B.C.
  Book 1 (Chapters 27-49)   : fifth century B.C.
Book 2 : Spartans and Thebans
Book 3 : Athenians of the fourth century B.C.
Book 4 (Chapters 1-3)   : Philippus and Alexander
Book 4 (Chapters 4-21)   : other Macedonians
Book 5 (Chapters 1-15)   : Sicilians
Book 5 (Chapters 16-48)   : admirals, captains and others
Book 6 : other Greeks, and Carthaginians
Book 7 : Persians, and other barbarians
Book 8 (Chapters 1-25)   : Romans
Book 8 (Chapters 26-71)   : Women


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