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Pseudo-Hyginus

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Pseudo-Hyginus

This article is part of the series on:
Military of ancient Rome (portal)
753 BC – AD 476
Structural history
Roman army (unit types and ranks, legions, auxiliaries, generals)
Roman navy (fleets, admirals)
Campaign history
Lists of wars and battles
Decorations and punishments
Technological history
Military engineering (castra, siege engines, arches, roads)
Political history
Strategy and tactics
Infantry tactics
Frontiers and fortifications (limes, Hadrian's Wall)

De Munitionibus Castrorum (About the Fortifications of Military Camps) is a work by an unknown author. Due to this work formerly being attributed to Hyginus Gromaticus, its author is conventionally called "Pseudo-Hyginus". This work is the most detailed description that survives about Roman military camps (lat. castra) and dates most probably from the 3rd century AD.

The author and the time of creation of the work

Very little is known about the author of De munitionibus castrorum. According to the text, his work was intended to be a useful manual about how to properly construct a military camp, specially written for a high-ranked officer:

"novitatem metationis ad tuam magnitudinem primus adferam, quae tibi spero placebit, si primum cottidianam metationem tractabis"[1]

He also mentions that he was a beginner author, and also used other authors' works relevant to the theme:

"In quantum potui, domine frater, pro tirocinio meo, in brevi omnes auctores sum persecutus, et quidquid circa compositionem castrorum aestalivium instituerunt, in hoc libello, priusquam numeros instruerem, sub ratione omnia declaravi"[2]

But the author still cannot be identified.

The exact date of creation of the work is also uncertain. According to Domaszewski, it is sure that the work was not written before the time of the Roman emperor Traian (it mentions Daci amongst the auxiliary forces), and was before the reforms of Diocletian (the Roman legion has its traditional structure). Domaszewski suggested that the image of the camp best fits the early second century AD, prior to the reforms of Hadrian.

Experts, however, still dispute the date, ranging from the earliest datation to the rule of Domitian.

It is also disputed whether such a large camp was ever built by the Romans. Archeological finds clearly show that in the actual practice a military camp wasn't always so regularly organized, as suggested by the author.

But, as he describes even the smallest part of the camp (including how much space is required for a soldier or a horse), it may be adopted to the requirements of the practice. He also mentions some general rules which must be considered when constructing a camp, although most of them are obvious (like a water source must be in the vicinity etc.).

The text survived in the Codex Arcerianus.

Editions

  • Hygini Gromatici liber de munitionibus castrorum. Herausgegeben und erklärt von Alfred von Domaszewski. Hildesheim, 1887. (reprint: 1972, includes the full text with apparatus criticus, German translation and Domaszewski's own studies about the work).
  • Corpus Agrimensorum Romanorum. (Codices Graeci et Latini photograpice depicti XXII) ed. A. W. Sijthof. Lungduni Batavorum, 1970. (includes facsimile of Codex Arcerianus, which contains De munitionibus castrorum).
  • Cathrine M. Gilliver: The de munitionibus castrorum: Text and Translation. Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies, Volume 4, 1993. 33-48. (the Latin text is identical to the one of Domaszewski, but without apparatus criticus; also includes a short introduction, and a small bibliography of the most important literature)
  • Alan Richardson - Theoretical Aspects of Roman Camp and Fort Design (BAR, 2004) ISBN 1-84171-390-2 (includes a translation of "De Munitionibus Castrorum" by Ian A. Richmond).

Notes

External links

  • (Latin text.)
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