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Polyaenus or Polyenus was a 2nd century Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian author, known best for his Stratagems in War (in Greek, Στρατηγήματα), which has been preserved. The Suda
The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often...

calls him a rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

ian, and Polyaenus himself writes that he was accustomed to plead causes before the emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...

. He dedicated Stratagems in War to Marcus Aurelius (161–180) and Verus
Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus , was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.-Early life and career:Lucius Verus was the first born son to Avidia Plautia and Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, the first adopted son and heir of Roman Emperor Hadrian . He was born and raised in Rome...

 (161–169), while they were engaged in the Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

n war (162–165), about 163 CE, at which time he was too old to accompany them in their campaigns.


This work is divided into eight books, of which the first six contain an account of the stratagems
Strategems, the plural of stratagem meaning ruse or, more specifically, ruse of war, features in the title of a number of books:* Stratagems , book by the 1st-century Roman author Frontinus which concerns military stratagems drawn from Greek and Roman history.* Stratagems , book by the 2nd-century...

 of the most celebrated Greek generals, the seventh of those of foreign people, and the eighth of the Romans, and illustrious women. Parts, however, of the sixth and seventh books are lost, so that of the 900 stratagems which Polyaenus described, only 833 have survived.

The book has survived through a single copy of the 13th century, which once belonged to Michel Apostolios and is now in the Laurentian Library
Laurentian Library
The Laurentian Library is a historical library in Florence, Italy, containing a repository of more than 11,000 manuscripts and 4,500 early printed books...

 in Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

. The work is written in a clear and pleasing style, though somewhat tinged with the artificial rhetoric of the age. It contains a vast number of anecdotes respecting many of the most celebrated men in antiquity, and has uniquely preserved many historical facts.

There are no less than five Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 abridgments of this work, the most important in the same library of the original, the Laurentian. This compendium, titled Yπoθεσεις εκ των στρατηγικων πραξεων, contains fifty-eight chapters and three hundred fifty-four stratagems and is useful to elucidate and explain many passages of the original, lost or not. Despite the existence of the abridgements, Polyaenus' treatise was not popular in the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. The original is rarely cited by Byzantine sources, which suggests that it had ceased to circulate, and that the abridgements had replaced it. To this it must be added that only the Yπoθεσεις derives directly from the original, while the other four versions seem to be summaries of the first.

Polyaenus was first printed in a Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 translation, executed by Justus Vulteius, at Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

, 1549. The first edition of the Greek text was published by Isaac Casaubon
Isaac Casaubon
Isaac Casaubon was a classical scholar and philologist, first in France and then later in England, regarded by many of his time as the most learned in Europe.-Early life:...

, Lyon
Lyon , is a city in east-central France in the Rhône-Alpes region, situated between Paris and Marseille. Lyon is located at from Paris, from Marseille, from Geneva, from Turin, and from Barcelona. The residents of the city are called Lyonnais....

, 1589; the next by Pancratius Maasvicius, Leyden, 1690; the third by Samuel Mursinna, Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

, 1756; the fourth by Coray, Paris, 1809. The work has been translated into English by R. Shepherd, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, 1793; into German by Seybold, Frankfurt
Frankfurt am Main , commonly known simply as Frankfurt, is the largest city in the German state of Hesse and the fifth-largest city in Germany, with a 2010 population of 688,249. The urban area had an estimated population of 2,300,000 in 2010...

, 1793–94, and by Blume, Stuttgart
Stuttgart is the capital of the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany. The sixth-largest city in Germany, Stuttgart has a population of 600,038 while the metropolitan area has a population of 5.3 million ....

, 1834.

Other works

Polyaenus also wrote several other works, all of which have perished. The Suda has preserved the titles of two, On Thebes (Περι Θηβων) and Tactics, in three books (Τακτικα); and Stobaeus
Joannes Stobaeus , from Stobi in Macedonia, was the compiler of a valuable series of extracts from Greek authors. The work was originally divided into two volumes containing two books each...

 makes a quotation from a work of Polyaenus, Υπερ τoυ κoινoυ των Mακεδoνων (For the koinon of Macedonians
Koinon of Macedonians
The Koinon of the Macedonians was a commonwealth institution or a confederation of all Macedonian communities united around the king, resembling earliest Greek koina. Epigraphic evidence ranges from the 3rd century BC to the Roman period....

), and from another entitled Υπερ τoυ Συνεδριoυ (For the Synedrion). Polyaenus likewise mentions his intention of writing a work on the memorable actions of M. Aurelius and L. Verus.

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