On Roman Military Matters, commonly referred to as De Re Militari, by Flavius Vegetius Renatus is essentially a field manual focusing on Roman military organization and how to field an army in a time of war. Vegetius discusses not only the development of the Roman soldier, from recruitment to final training, but also the organization, weaponry, strategy and tactics employed by the Romans legions. Though Vegetius, through evidence, had no military background or experience, and it is unclear on what evidence he based his argument, he accurately and in great detail described the structure of the Military of the late Roman Empire.
Vegetius was an author of the 5th Century Roman Empire with only two surviving works, De Re Militari and Digesta Artis Mulomedicinae, a guide to veterinary medicine. Vegetius wrote De Re Militari as an ode to the greatness of the Romans legions and to impress his admiration to the Roman Emperor Valentinian. It appears that the work was comprised from the works of “old historians of military affairs” which Vegitius collected and penned in a simpler and more comprehendible manner for both the Emporer and the general public. The first installment of the work seems to be written on the author’s own accord, however, the following entries appeared to have been commissioned by the Emperor to provide an abridged reference to the military prowess of “the ancient” Roman military leaders.
Book I, “The Selection and Training of New Levies” was an in-depth instruction manual concerned with the recruitment, training, and equipping of new Roman soldiers. Vegetius explained how the Romans, outnumbered, less skilled, less knowledgeable and inferior in wealth could defeat the great armies of the day using superior training, discipline and “cultivation of the other arts of war.” Vegetius said that the first step in forming an effective army is recruitment. He accurately described what was required of a new foot soldier and referenced age, size,...
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