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||1-26||Greek text||English translation|| from early times
until sixth century B.C.
|27-49||Greek text||English translation||fifth century B.C.|
|Book 2||Greek text||English translation||Spartans and Thebans|
|Book 3||Greek text||English translation||Athenians of fourth century B.C.|
|Book 4||1-3||Greek text||English translation||Philippus and Alexander|
|4-21||Greek text||English translation||other Macedonians|
|Book 5||1-15||Greek text||English translation||Sicilians|
|16-48||Greek text||English translation||admirals, captains and others|
|Book 6||Greek text||English translation||other Greeks, and Carthaginians|
|Book 7||Greek text||English translation||Persians, and other barbarians|
|Book 8||1-25||Greek text||English translation||Romans|
|26-71||Greek text||English translation||Women|
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