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.

From my diary

I’ve been trying to think of an Arabic text which would be suitable for a beginner to translate.  No luck so far, mainly because I am so busy.

An email tells me that the old translation of Macrobius, Saturnalia has arrived at my local library.  I look forward to perusing that!

I’ve written to Francesca Schironi, author of To Mega Biblion, which I discussed last week, asking if she has any ideas about papyri that preserve the start and end of books of the multi-volume Greek histories.  Those would surely be interesting to see.

A little time this evening I spent reading chunks of the Fabulae of Hyginus (late 1st century BC), a schoolboy abbreviation of the original, which gives us much on Greek myth.  An English translation may be found here, although the level of interest is low.  One of the more interesting entries is 221, on the Seven Sages:


Pittacus of Mitylene, Periander of Corinth, Thales of Miletus, Solon of Athens, Chilon of Sparta, Cleobulus of Lindus, Bias of Priene. Their sayings are as follows:
Moderation is best, says Cleobulus of Lindus;
Everything should be carefully studied, comes from Periander of Ephyre;
Know thy opportunity, says Pittacus of Mitylene;
Bias, he of Priene, avers that most men are bad:
and Thales of Miletus says: Suretyship is the precursor of ruin;
Know thyself, says Chilon, sprung from Lacedaemon;
and Cecropian Solon enjoins: Nothing in excess.

The association of these people with sayings, even at this date, is interesting.  Sayings literature blossoms during the imperial and Byzantine periods, and legends of the Seven Sages with it.

I gather that this text is yet another one that only just survived.  Apparently a single manuscript made it to the renaissance, only to be dismembered at the printer.

It’s a busy time of year.  Expect sporadic posting!