Vegetius and Julius Caesar: A Proper Roman General

by William Carpenter

Faculty mentor: Dr. Liane Houghtalin

Little is known about Vegetius, who wrote a military handbook, Epitoma Rei Militaris (RM), most likely for Emperor Theodosius I (although even that is not certain) during the late 3rd or early 4th century CE. His manuscript is extensive, examining a wide array of military practices and norms that a proper Roman army should follow. The RM covers specific tasks and responsibilities of a general, which Vegetius appears to have drawn from earlier Roman writers, mainly those from the late Republic and early Principate. Comparing Vegetius’s writings to those of Julius Caesar, specifically to Caesar’s own narrative of his actions in Book I of De Bello Gallico (BG), provides insight into how Roman ideals of good military leadership progressed through centuries of history.

Vegetius and Julius Caesar: A Proper Roman General

4 Replies to “Vegetius and Julius Caesar: A Proper Roman General”

  1. A thoughtful cross-analysis in which you make it clear that Julius Caesar would have passed muster with Vegetius (who has some very interesting ideas — particularly concerning recruitment)! I learned a lot and your paper enticed me to go re-read Vegetius. Congratulations on a fine senior thesis, Will, and for obtaining Honors in Classics.

  2. Very interesting work, Will. I thoroughly enjoyed your analysis and I learned a lot about Vegetius!

  3. Thank you, Will! You showed why Vegetius was so influential and deserves to be looked at more today. Well done!

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