Aelianus Tacticus was a Greek military writer whose famous treatise, Taktikē theōria (“Tactical theory”), is a detailed handbook for organising. Aelianus Tacticus: a phalanx of problems – CHRISTOPHER MATTHEW (revised, translated and edited by), THE TACTICS OF AELIAN, OR ON. 2nd cent. AD; Greek military writer. Works. The Taktiká, preserved under the name of Aelianus, are a textbook addressed to the Emperor Trajan. Manuscripts.

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They fought packed in a close rectangular formation, typically eight men deep, with a leader at the head of each column and a secondary leader in the middle, so that the back rows could move off to the sides if more frontage was needed. Before a facticus the sarissa were carried in two pieces and then slid together when they were being used.

Aelian (Aelianus Tacticus) – Encyclopedia

At close range such large weapons were of little use, but an intact phalanx could easily keep its enemies at a distance; the weapons of the first five rows of aelianks all projected beyond the front of the formation, so that there were more spearpoints than available targets at any given time. Phalangites were drilled to perform short forced marches if required” Wikipedia article on Macedonian phalanx, accessed This tenth century Byzantine manuscript is a collection of classical Greek, Hellenistic and Byzantine military treatises.


The manuscript contains non-figurative diagrams, using letters to represent soldiers in the infantry formations described by Aelian.

These diagrams were characterized by Sydney Anglo, The Martial Arts of Renaissance Europe 61 as “the earliest examples of diagrams representing human activity. In July a digital facsimile of that edition was available from the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek at this link.

Aelianus Tacticus: People – Ancient Greece – Resources for Ancient Biblical Studies

In the printed edition the diagrams were represented by letters of type arranged on the page to form the shapes of the infantry formations, perhaps somewhat simplified from the diagrams in the manuscript codices. In that edition Aelianus’s diagrams were also represented by letters of type. This edition also used letters to represent the infantry formations.

This finely printed and illustrated edition may have taxticus the first to use small woodcut figures of the various types of soldiers and cavalry in the diagrams of the formations. Robortello based his text on Codex Venetusdating from circain the Biblioteca Marciana, Venice.

When I wrote this entry in July I was unable to locate a digital facsimile of either Venetus or the Robortello edition. Dictionum Atticarum Collectio [et alia opera: Probably because Vascosan favored unadorned editions, he included no diagrams in his printing of Aelian.


In this letter William Louis discussed the use of ranks by soldiers of Imperial Rome tacticu explained in Aelian’s Tactica.

Just as soon as the first rank has fired, then aleianus the drill [they have learned] they will march to the back. The second rank, either marching forward or standing still, will then fire just like the first. After that, the third and following ranks will do the same.

When the last rank has fired, the first will have reloaded, aslianus the following diagram shows: Recent Themes in Military History [] As implied by the title, Bingham servered under Maurice of Nassau.

The first edition has an elegant engraved title page and beautiful engraved versions of the formations on 50 inserted folding plates. Bingham’s translation was revised by Ralph Mab and reissued in This edition, with parallel Greek and English texts, an informative introduction, and new, easier to aleianus versions of the diagrams, is highly recommended.

Hale, Renaissance War Studies Last updated December 31st,