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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 6

This webpage reproduces part of the
The General (Strategikos)


(Loeb Classical Library edition, 1928)

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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Chapter 10.1
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.


 p403  [link to original Greek text] VII. [On Leading an Army through narrow Defiles]

1 Whenever the general intends to march through a narrow pass, or to lead his army over mountainous  p405 and difficult country, he must send ahead part of his force to occupy the mountain-passes and the defiles, lest the enemy, coming first, make a stand on the summits and prevent the army from crossing. 2 This he should observe even if fearing an attack by the enemy. For naturally it is not advantageous to take the initiative, without also recognizing the necessity of taking precautions against injury; nor is it necessary to outstrip the enemy in making an invasion into his country, without taking measures to prevent the enemy from marching against one's own country.

[link to original Greek text] VIII. [On Making a palisaded Camp]

1 When encamping in the territory of the enemy, the general should fortify his camp with a palisade and a ditch, even if planning to remain in camp but one day; for on account of sudden and unexpected attacks, a fortified camp of this sort will be safe and never regretted. He should place guards, even if he believes the enemy to be at a great distance, just as if they were at hand. 2 Whenever the enemy are not attacking, and he intends to encamp for some time, either for the purpose of ravaging the country, or to await a more advantageous time for  p407 battle, he must choose a locality that is not marshy, nor damp; for such places by their rising vapours and rank smell bring disease and infection to the army, and both impair the health of many and kill many, so that the soldiers are left few in number and weakened in strength.

[link to original Greek text] IX. [On continually Changing Camp]

1 The general will find it advantageous and healthful for his army not to remain long in the same camp, unless it is winter and the army happens to be in huts on account of the time of year; for the necessary bodily excrement, deposited in the same place, gives off rank vapours and taints all the surrounding air. 2 In winter quarters he should exercise his army and train it to be skilled in war and accustomed to danger, permitting no idleness nor relaxation; for idleness makes the body soft and weak, while relaxation makes the soul cowardly and worthless; since pleasures, capturing the passions by the enticement of daily habit, corrupt even the most courageous man. 3 For this reason the soldiers must never be without occupation. When after some time spent in idleness they are compelled to go against the enemy, they do not go willingly nor  p409 do they long stand their ground, but because they have departed from their former habits, they quickly become dismayed, even before making trial of danger, and even if they do make trial, they quickly retreat, being incapable either of feeling hope or of sustaining the stress of battle.

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Page updated: 27 Jul 13