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Polyaenus or Polyaenus the Macedonian

4. The MACEDONIAN, the author of the work on Stratagems in war (Στρατηγήματα), which is still extant, lived about the middle of the second century of the Christian aera. Suidas (s. v.) calls him a rhetorician, and we learn from Polyaenus himself that he was accustomed to plead causes before the emperor. (Praef. lib. ii. and lib. viii.) He dedicated his work to M. Aurelius and Verus, while they were engaged in the Parthian war, about A. D. 163, at which time, he says, he was too old to accompany them in their campaigns. (Praef. lib. i.)



Polyaenus' Strategems is divided into eight books, of which the first six contain an account of the stratagems of the most celebrated Greek generals, the seventh of those of barbarous or foreign people, and the eighth of the Romans, and illustrious women. Parts, however, of the sixth and seventh books are lost, so that of the 900 stratagems which Polyaenus described, only 833 have come down to us. The work is written in a clear and pleasing style, though somewhat tinged with the artificial rhetoric of the age. It contains a vast number of anecdotes respecting many of the most celebrated men in antiquity, and has preserved many historical facts of which we should otherwise have been ignorant; but its value as an historical authority is very much diminished by the little judgment which the author evidently possessed, and by our ignorance of the sources from which he took his statements. There is an abridgmenlt of this work in a Greek manuscript in the king's library at Paris, containing only fifty-five chapters, but which serves to elu cidate and explain many passages of the original.

Other Works

Polyaenus also wrote several other works, an of which have perished. Suidas has preserved the titles of two, Περὶ Θηβῶν and Τακτικὰ βιβλία γ́ ; and Stobaeus makes a quotation from a work of Polyaenus, Ὑπὲρ τοῦ κοινοῦ τω-ν Μακεδόνων (Florileg. xliii. (or xli.) § 53), and from another entitled Ὑπὲρ τοῦ Συνεδρίου (Ibid. § 41). Polyaenus likewise mentions his intention of writing a work on the memorable actions (Ἀξιομνημόνευτα) of M. Aurelius and L. Verus (Praef. lib. vi.).


Latin Edtion

Polyaenus was first printed in a Latin translation, executed by Justus Vulteius, at Basel, 1549, 8vo.

Greek Editions

The first edition of the Greek text was published by Casaubon, Lyon, 1589, 12mo.; the next by Pancratius Maasvicius, Leyden, 1690, 8vo.; the third by Samuel Mursinna, Berlin, 1756, 12mo.; and the last by Coray, Paris, 1809. 8vo.


The work has been translated into English by R. Shepherd, London, 1793, 4to.; into German by Seybold, Frankfort, 2 vols. 8vo. 1793 and 1794, and by Blume, Stuttgart, 1834, 16mo.

Further Information

Fabric. bric. Bibl. Graec. vol. v. p. 321, &c.; Schöll, Geschichte der Griech. Litteratur, vol. ii. p. 716 ; Kronbiegel, De Dictionis Polyaeneae Virtutibus et Vitiis, Lipsiae, 1770; Droysen, Geschichte des Hellenismus, vol. i. p. 685.

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163 AD (1)
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