A new edition and translation of Hyginus, De munitionibus castrorum

An email from the editor, Duncan B. Campbell, tells me of a new edition, with facing translation, of an unusual text: ps.Hyginus, On fortifying a Roman camp (Liber de munitionibus castrorum).  He has self-published this, and it is available in eBook form for a trivial price through Amazon here (Amazon.co.uk here).

I must say when I received the email, my first question was “what on earth is this?”  It’s a rare author whom I have never heard of.

In fact this short text is one of a collection of ancient surveying texts, made in the 6th century, and preserved in the so-called Codex Arcerianus, preserved today and online in the Wolfenbüttel library in the Herzog August collection, under mysterious shelfmark “Codex Guelferbytensis 36.23 Aug. 2°”).  These are the “Gromatici” (groma-users), or “Agrimenores” (field measurers).  The groma is a Roman surveying stick, depicted on monuments. In fact part of one was found at Pompeii, I believe.

Few medieval surveyors would need to fortify a Roman camp.  The copies of the Arcerianus, therefore, always omit De munitionibus castrorum.

Top of folio 125r of the Codex Arcerianus – the title of Hyginus

Ps.Hyginus has been translated before.  Alan Richardson – Theoretical Aspects of Roman Camp and Fort Design (BAR, 2004), includes a 1925 translation of “De Munitionibus Castrorum” by Ian A. Richmond.  But few will have any access to this.

Likewise a translation is online: appendix 1 in Catherine M. Gilliver, “The Roman Art of War”, (PDF). PhD Thesis, is an English translation of De Munitionibus Castrorum, “based on the 1977 Teubner text of Grillone and the 1979 Budé text of Lenoir”.  No doubt this will do for many purposes.

Dr Campbell, however, has produced a new Latin text indicating all proposed emendations, and his version is no doubt superior.

Let us by all means encourage the production of translations at trivial prices online.


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