Tactica of Emperor Leo VI the Wise
The Tactica is a military treatise
Byzantine military manuals
This article lists and briefly discusses the most important of a large number of treatises on military science produced in the Byzantine Empire.- Background :...

 written by or on behalf of Byzantine Emperor Leo VI the Wise
Leo VI the Wise
Leo VI, surnamed the Wise or the Philosopher , was Byzantine emperor from 886 to 912. The second ruler of the Macedonian dynasty , he was very well-read, leading to his surname...

 in ca. 895-908. Drawing on earlier authors such as Aelian
Aelian or Aelianus may refer to:* Aelianus Tacticus, Greek military writer of the 2nd century, who lived in Rome* Casperius Aelianus, Praetorian Prefect, executed by Trajan...

, Onasander
Onasander, Onisander or Onosander was a Greek philosopher. He was the author of a commentary on the Republic of Plato, which is lost, but we still possess his Strategikos , a short but comprehensive work on the duties of a general. It is dedicated to Quintus Veranius Nepos, consul in AD 49, and...

 and the Strategikon of emperor Maurice
Maurice (emperor)
Maurice was Byzantine Emperor from 582 to 602.A prominent general in his youth, Maurice fought with success against the Sassanid Persians...

, it is one of the major works on Byzantine military tactics, written on the eve of Byzantium's "age of reconquest". The original Greek title is ("short instruction of the tactics of war"). The Tactica elaborates on a wide variety of issues, such as infantry and cavalry formations, drills, siege and naval warfare etc. It comprises 20 Constitutions (Diataxeis) and an Epilogue and is concluded by 12 additional chapters, the latter mainly focusing on ancient tactics.


The text of the Tactica comes down in many manuscripts, of which the most reliable date to within a generation of Leo himself. There is at present no modern critical edition of the Tactica apart from that of J.-P. Migne. A new edition, with translation and full critical apparatus, by George Dennis, S.J., is available from Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks
Dumbarton Oaks is the conventional name for the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, situated on a historic property in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The institution is administered by the Trustees for Harvard University. Its founders, Robert Woods Bliss and his wife...

 (2010); an extended commentary will follow.


  • Preface
  • Chapter I - On Tactics and On the General
  • Chapter II -On who the General should be
  • Chapter III - On how the Decision should be taken
  • Chapter IV - On the Division of the Host and the Condition of the Officers
  • Chapter V - On Arms
  • Chapter VI - On the Equipment of Cavalry and Infantry
  • Chapter VII - On Drilling Infantry and Cavalry
  • Chapter VIII - On Military Punishments
  • Chapter IX - On Marching
  • Chapter X - On Baggage Trains
  • Chapter XI - On Camps
  • Chapter XII - On Military Preparation
  • Chapter XIII - On the Day before Battle
  • Chapter XIV - On the Day of Battle
  • Chapter XV - On Besieging a Town
  • Chapter XVI - On the Actions after the War is Concluded
  • Chapter XVII - On Surprise Attacks
  • Chapter XVIII - On the Studying of Various Heathen and Roman Formations
  • Chapter XIX - On Naval Warfare
  • Chapter XX - On Various Maxims
  • Epilogue

  • Chapter XXXII - Their (Ancient Greek) Infantry Formations
  • Chapter XXXIII - Their (Ancient Greek) Cavalry Formations
  • Chapter XXXIV - Their (Ancient Greek) Mixed Formations
  • Chapter XXXV - How the Romans Name the Officers of the Army and their Units
  • Chapter XXXVIII - Roman Infantry Arms
  • Chapter XXXIX - Roman Cavalry Arms
  • Chapter XLI - Names of Troop Maneuvers
  • Chapter XLII - Phalanx Formations
  • Chapter XLIII - On Depth, that is the Depth of Infantry and Cavalry Formations, their Length and the Space Occupied by an Infantryman within the Formation, the Cavalryman and on the Interval between them within the Formations and on the Flight of an Arrow.
  • Chapter LIII - What the General Should Do When Besieged
  • Chapter LIV - What Should the General Do When Besieging the Enemy
  • Chapter LV - How Should the General Speedily Build a Fort close to Enemy Border Without a Pitched Battle

External links

  • J.P. Migne's
    Jacques Paul Migne
    Jacques Paul Migne was a French priest who published inexpensive and widely-distributed editions of theological works, encyclopedias and the texts of the Church Fathers, with the goal of providing a universal library for the Catholic priesthood.He was born at Saint-Flour, Cantal and studied...

     Patrologia Graeca, Vol. 107 contains the original Greek text of the Tactica and a Latin translation (coll. 669-1116)
  • The 1917 edition of Rezső Vári is available at Open Library
    Open Library
    Open Library is an online project intended to create “one web page for every book ever published”. Open Library is a project of the non-profit Internet Archive and has been funded in part by a grant from the California State Library and the Kahle/Austin Foundation.-Books for the blind and...

    . (Original Greek text and a preface in Latin)
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