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Bill Thayer

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Frontinus on the Water Supply of Rome

The Author, the Manuscripts

As with most ancient authors, little is known of Frontinus, and the Loeb edition's introductory material, by Charles Bennett, is about as good as one can get. It also includes a fairly detailed discussion of the authorship of both the De Aquis and the Strategemata.

The manuscripts of Frontinus are covered separately by the same author.

Text and Translations on LacusCurtius

The Latin text used is that published by Loeb in 1925, in the public domain. It is that of Clemens Herschel with minor changes.

The English translation is that by Charles E. Bennett in the Loeb edition, 1925.

It is now in the public domain pursuant to the 1978 revision of the U. S. Copyright Code, since the copyright was not renewed at the appropriate time, which would have been in 1952 or 1953. (Details here on the copyright law involved.)

For citation purposes, the Loeb edition pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode.

I also looked at, and rejected, the translation by Clemens Herschel, Dana Estes and Company (Boston), 1899.

Other Translations Online

I know of only one other: the 2003 translation by Prof. R. H. Rodgers of the University of Vermont; with many useful notes.


As almost always, I retyped the text rather than scanning it: not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

At any rate, the text has been thoroughly proofread, and I believe it to be free of errors (but if there are errors, please do report them).


The apparatus criticus for the De Aquis is quite simple, since the work has come down to us thru a single medieval manuscript, to the text of which Renaissance and later scholars have made emendations.

Search Constraints

For ease of searching, especially since it's not very long, the work is entered on a single webpage (about 160K).

Now that Unicode has caught up with me, and the great majority of people online with Unicode, the following arithmetical symbols used in the manuscript can be searched for just like more normal characters. On the other hand, they're not so easy to enter from a keyboard, so I list them here, so you can copy them to the find box of your browser window:

∞ an alternate symbol for mille, thousand.

𐆑 1/12 (an uncia or ounce). Note that this is not a dash or a hyphen.

𐆐 2/12. Note that this is not an equal-sign.

∴ 3/12

𐆒 1/24 (a semuncia). Note that this is not a pound-sign.

1/288 (a scripulum = 1/24 of an uncia). This is not the same as the Russian letter of similar appearance.

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Site updated: 10 Mar 13