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Onasander was a philosopher rather than a military man, but The General (Στρατηγικός, Strategikos), his book on the qualities and concerns of the good general, was a recognized classic in Antiquity, and is to some extent a useful handbook even today.

The work is in a prooemium and 42 chapters, some of which are very short: I therefore present it here in 13 webpages, usually several chapters to a page, but in one case one chapter divided in two pages; keeping the chapters in sequence of course, yet grouping them by topic as much as possible. The chapter headings are not the author's, but are due to copyists.

The Greek text is not yet entirely onsite. Technical details on the layout of this site follow the Table of Contents.

Editor's Preface and Introduction



Chapter Headings
of Onasander's Strategikos





Α´. Περὶ αἱρέσεως στρατηγοῦ

Β´. Περὶ ἀγαθοῦ στρατηγοῦ διαίρεσις

Γ´. Περὶ τοῦ ἔχειν τὸν στρατηγὸν βουλευτάς


I. The Choice of a General

II. The Characteristics of a good General

III. The General's advisory Council


Δ´. Περὶ τοῦ ὅτι δεῖ ἔτην ἀρχὴν τοῦ πολέμου ἐξ εὐλόγου αἰτίας ἐπάγειν

Ε´. Περὶ τοῦ ἐξιλεοῦσθαι πρῶτον ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν τὸ θεῖον ὁ στρατηγὸς ἐξάγων εἰς πόλεμον


IV. The Necessity of a reasonable Cause for War

V. Propitiation of the divine Power by the General before leading the Army into Battle


Ϝ´. Περὶ τοῦ ἄγειν ἐν τάξει τὸ στρατόπεδον


VI. On Maintaining Military Formation


Ζ´. Περὶ τοῦ ὅταν διὰ στενῶν μέλλῃ τὸ στρατόπεδον ἄγειν

Η´. Περὶ τοῦ ποιεῖν χάρακα

Θ´. Περὶ τοῦ συνεχῶς ὑπαλλάσσειν τὰ ἄπληκτα


VII. On Leading an Army through narrow Defiles

VIII. On Making a palisaded Camp

IX. On continually Changing Camp


Ι´.α´ Περὶ τοῦ δεῖν γυμνάζειν τὸν στρατὸν ἀδείας οὔσης


X.1 The Need for Controlling the Army in Time of Peace


Ι´.β‑ι´ Περὶ προνομῶν [. . .]

ΙΑ´ Περὶ τοῦ ὅτι δεῖ τῶν πολεμίων σχηματιζομένων φεύγειν μὴ ἁπλῶς καὶ ὡς ἔτυχεν ἔχεσθαι τῆς διώξεως [. . .]

ΙΒ´ Περὶ ἀριστοποιΐας


X.2‑10 Foraging Expeditions [. . .]

XI. Pursuit of an apparently fleeing Enemy must not be careless and haphazard [. . .]

XII. Meal-times


ΙΓ´ Περὶ τοῦ εἶναι τὸν στρατηγὸν εὔθυμον ἐν ταῖς δυσπραγίαις

ΙΔ´.α´ Πότε δεῖ φόβον ἐμβάλλειν τῷ στρατεύματι τῷ ἰδίῳ τὸν ἀπὸ τῶν ἐναντίων

ΙΔ´.β´ Περὶ τὸ θαρρύνειν τὸ δεδιὸς στράτευμα


XIII. Courage on the Part of the General when in Adversity

XIV.1 When one's own Army must be made to fear the Enemy

XIV.2 Encouraging the frightened Army


ΙΕ´ Ὅτι διαφοραὶ πολλαὶ τῶν τάξεων

ΙϜ´ Ὅτι πρὸς τὸ ἀντιπόλεμον καὶ τὸ ἴδιον συντάξει

ΙΖ´ Ὅτι τοὺς ψιλοὺς ἀκοντίσας καὶ τοξότας καὶ σφενδονιστὰς πρώτους στήσει τῆς φάλαγγος

ΙΗ´ Περὶ τοῦ ἐν τοῖς τραχέσι τόποις τάττειν τοὺς ψιλούς

ΙΘ´ Περὶ τοῦ χωρία ἔχειν τὰς παρατάξεις δι’ ὧν ὀφείλουσιν οἱ ψιλοί ἐντὸς τῶν κοντῶν εἰσερχόμενοι ὑποστέλλεσθαι

Κ´ Ὅπως δεῖ, ἐὰν ἀπορῇ ψιλῆς συμμαχίας ὁ στρατηγός, οἱ δὲ πολέμιοι εὐπορῶσιν, ἐπιφέρεσθαι αὐτοῖς

ΚΑ´ Περὶ τοῦ μὴ εἰς πολὺ μῆκος ἐκτείνειν τὴν φάλαγγα τὰς κυκλώσεις τῶν ἐναντίων φοβουμένους

ΚΒ´ Περὶ τοῦ ἔχειν κεχωρισμένους ἐπιλέκτους εἰς βοήθειαν τῶν καταπονουμένων. περὶ τοῦ ἔχειν ἐγκρύμματα


XV. The Difference in Battle Formations

XVI. Battle Formation with regard to that of the Enemy

XVII. Placing the light-armed Troops, Javelin-throwers, Bowmen and Slingers, before the Phalanx

XVIII. Disposition of light-armed Troops in a broken Country

XIX. The Phalanx should leave Intervals for the light-armed Troops to retire through the Ranks

XX. How to attack, without light-armed Troops, an Enemy who has many

XXI. The Needlessness of Lengthening the Phalanx in Fear of an encircling Movement of the Enemy

XXII. Holding Reserves for the Assistance of exhausted Troops. Holding Reserves in Concealment


ΚΓ´ Περὶ τοῦ ἐν τῷ καιρῷ αὐτῷ τῆς μάχης ἐκφωνεῖν χαρμόσυνα τοῖς ὑπηκόοις· εἰ καὶ ψευδῆ, ὅμως συμφέρει

ΚΔ´ Περὶ τοῦ οἰκείους πρὸς οἰκείους καὶ γνωρίμους πρὸς γνωρίμους τάττειν

ΚΕ´ Περὶ τοῦ μὴ δι’ ἑαυτοῦ διδόναι τὸν στρατηγὸν τὰ σημεῖα εἴτε τῆς συμβολῆς εἴτε ἄλλης τινὸς πράξεως, ἀλλὰ διὰ τῶν ἡγεμόνων

ΚϜ´ Περὶ τοῦ μὴ μόνον συνθήματα, ἀλλὰ καὶ παρασυνθήματα διδόναι

ΚΖ´ Περὶ τοῦ μᾶλλον λύειν τὰς τάξεις μήτε ἐν ταῖς διατάξεσι μήτε ἐν ταῖς ὑποχωρήσεσι

ΚΗ´ Περὶ τοῦ δι’ ἐπιμελείας ἔχειν τὸν στρατηγὸν λαμπρὸν ἐκτάττειν τὸ στράτευμα

ΚΘ´ Περὶ τοῦ ἐν τῷ καιρῷ τῆς συμβολῆς ἀλαλάζειν

Λ´ Ὅτι δεῖ τοιοῦτον στρατηγὸν πρὸ τοῦ πολέμου συλλογίζεσθαι, τίς ὀφείλει ὑπαντῆσαι κατὰ τὴν συμβολὴν τῷ δεῖνι καὶ τίς τῷ ἄλλῳ καὶ οὕτως καθεξῆς ἐξετάζειν τοὺς ἰδίους ἄρχοντας πρὸς τοὺς τῶν ἐναντίων

ΛΑ´ Περὶ τοῦ, ἐὰν οἱ ἐναντίοι προτερεύωσι τῷ ἱππικῷ, ἐκλέγεσθαι στενοὺς τόπους


XXIII. Announcing favourable News in the Midst of Battle; even if false it is advantageous

XXIV. In the Ranks Friends must be placed by Friends and Acquaintances by Acquaintances

XXV. The General must not give the Signal for Battle or any other Action to his Armyin Person but through his Officers

XXVI. On giving both Watchwords and Countersigns

XXVII. Soldiers should never leave the Ranks whether in Formation or in Retreat

XXVIII. The General must be attentive to the Splendour of the Army's Equipment

XXIX. Shouting in the Midst of Battle

XXX. The General must decide before Battle who should oppose whom and thus in Order arrange his own Officers against those of the Enemy

XXXI. Narrow Places must be chosen if the Enemy are superior in Cavalry


ΛΒ´ Περὶ τοῦ μηδὲν παρακεκινδυνευμένον ποιεῖν τὸν στρατηγόν

ΛΓ´ Περὶ τοῦ μὴ τὸν στρατηγὸν αὐτοχειρὶ πολεμεῖν

ΛΔ´ Περὶ τοῦ εὐεργετεῖν κατὰ τὸ μέτρον ἕνα ἕκαστον τῶν ἀνδραγαθούντων


XXXII. The General must do nothing rash

XXXIII. The General should not himself enter Battle

XXXIV. Conferring Rewards proportional to the Valour of each


ΛΕ´ Ὅτι οὐ χρὴ πάντοτε ἐπιτρέπειν τὰς ἁρπαγάς, καὶ ὅτι τὰ σώματα οὐ χρὴ ἁρπάζειν, ἀλλὰ τὸν στρατηγὸν πιπράσκειν [. . .]

ΛϜ´ Περὶ τοῦ θάπτειν τοὺς ἐν πολέμῳ ἀναιρουμένους [. . .]

ΛΖ´ Περὶ τοῦ ἐν καιρῷ εἰρήνης μὴ ἀφυλάκτως εἶναι

ΛΗ´ Περὶ τοῦ τὰς προσαγομένας πόλεις ἐν ἀδείᾳ ἔχειν καὶ φιλανθρωπίᾳ [. . .]


XXXV. Indiscriminate Pillage must not always be permitted; Prisoners must not be regarded as Loot, but must be sold by the General [. . .]

XXXVI. On the Burial of the Fallen [. . .]

XXXVII. Precautions in Time of Peace

XXXVIII. Treatment of surrendered Cities with Trust and Humanity [. . .]


ΛΘ´ Περὶ τοῦ τὸν στρατηγὸν ἐν γνώσει εἶναι τῆς τῶν ἄστρων κινήσεως [. . .]

Μ´ Περὶ πολιορκίας

ΜΑ´ Περὶ τοῦ ἔχειν ἐνέδρας τὸν πολιορκοῦντα πρὸ τῶν πυλῶν

ΜΒ´ Περὶ τοῦ ὅτι ὁ φόβος ψευδὴς μάντις ἐστίν [. . .]


XXXIX. On the General's Knowledge of the Courses of the Stars [. . .]

XL. Sieges

XLI. Ambush laid by the Besieger before the Gates of a Town

XLII. Fear is a false Prophet [. . .]


Technical Details

Edition Used, Copyright

I transcribed this Web edition from a 1986 reprint of the Loeb Classical Library volume containing Aeneas Tacticus, Asclepiodotus and Onasander, Greek text and facing English translation: Harvard University Press, 1928. The translations are by the Illinois Greek Club.

The book is 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 1955/1956. (Details on the copyright law involved.)


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand 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: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if successful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. I run a first proofreading pass immediately after entering each section; then a second proofreading, detailed and meant to be final: in the table of contents above, the chapters are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe them to be completely errorfree; any red backgrounds would mean that the chapter had not received that second final proofreading. The header bar at the top of each chapter page will remind you with the same color scheme.

The print edition was very well proofread; I spotted only one very minor typographical error, which I marked with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the underscored words to read the variant. Bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

Inconsistencies or errors in punctuation are remarkably few; they have been corrected to the editor's usual style, in a slightly different color — barely noticeable on the page when it's a comma for example like this one, but it shows up in the sourcecode as <SPAN CLASS="emend">. Finally, a number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any other mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have the printed edition in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation purposes, the pagination is indicated by local links in the sourcecode and made apparent in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line p57 ). Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

Local links are also provided for each section, and a few other links that were required to accommodate the cross-references or for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

[image ALT: The Greek name Ὀνάσανδρος superimposed on a fragment of a rectangular stone inscription. It serves on this website as the icon for my transcription of the Loeb edition and translation of Onasander.]

The icon with which I indicate this work is shaded the same purple that I use in the Roman Gazetteer section of this site as the background for Roman monuments of the imperial period, to which our author belongs. His name is superimposed on this inscription:

[image ALT: The Greek name Ὀνάσανδρος superimposed on a fragment of a rectangular stone inscription. It serves on this website as the icon for my transcription of the Loeb edition and translation of Onasander.]
Funerary inscription of Quintus Veranius — to whom Onasander dedicated his book — and a son or daughter of his, aged 6 years and 10 months. Veranius' name is fragmentary (. . . anio can be made out at the very top next to the clamp), and it is his cursus honorum, the better-preserved summary of his career on the stone, that allows him to be identified; see Introduction, p347 and note 12.

Museo Nazionale Romano (Museo delle Terme), Rome
Photograph © Jona Lendering, by kind permission

The 'forward' and 'back' thumbnails in the chapter header bars on the other hand are taken from the diagram of the wedge formation on p319 of the English translation of Asclepiodotus in the same Loeb volume.

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Site updated: 27 Jul 13