Aeneas Tacticus:
War, Politics and Literature in Classical Greece

International Conference: 2nd-4th September 2010

Conference venue: Gregynog Hall, near Newtown (Powys), Wales, UK

Conference programme

Find out more about the speakers

Organised by

Maria Pretzler

Department of History & Classics
Swansea University
Swansea SA2 8PP
Wales - UK

Outline and Aims

This conference assembles internationally leading experts in various relevant fields to generate new interpretations and a deeper understanding of Aeneas Tacticus’ Poliorketika. This event gives Aeneas his due place as an essential text for the study of Greek history and literature. It offers a comprehensive re-assessment of Aeneas, highlighting his importance and opening new enquiries from different perspectives – language, literature, and social, political and military history. Previous work on the Poliorketika (thin on the ground as it is) has usually taken place in isolation. We will start an exchange of ideas and perspectives across different disciplines of classical studies. In combination, the proposed papers shed new light on Aeneas as an innovative writer and a valuable historical source, and they add up to a comprehensive overview which has never been attempted before.

In recent years, classical studies have seen shifts in scholarly interests which make a re-assessment of Aeneas an urgent objective.

  • Literary scholars are increasingly looking beyond the classical canon: in this context, Aeneas’ crucial role as a fore-runner of Hellenistic language and literature deserves particular attention, as does his relationship with the development of historiography in the classical period.
  • For Historians, the Copenhagen Polis Centre project has inspired new interest in small Greek cities beyond Athens and Sparta. Aeneas needs to play an important role in this field and will be central to new interpretations of social and political developments in the classical period.
  • Military historians are turning their attention to warfare outside the traditional hoplite battle: here, too, Aeneas’ work presents indispensible evidence which has yet to be fully investigated.

Papers cluster around four main themes:

1. Historical Context
Aeneas’ identity and background are not known, but the text offers fascinating glimpses of contemporary concerns. We shall investigate the experiences and historical context which shaped the Poliorketika.
2. The Greek Polis
Aeneas’ city under siege is a ‘generic’ small polis. There were hundreds of small states in classical Greece. Little is known about individual places, but Aeneas offers unique glimpses of life in such cities. Several papers discuss realities of small-town life, politics and society in Aeneas’ work.
3. Aeneas as a Writer
Papers in this section reflect Aeneas’ pioneering role within Greek literature, investigating his language, his relationship with historiography and rhetoric and his merits as a military writer. We shall also discuss the reception of Aeneas in antiquity and the Byzantine period.
4. Warfare in the Poliorketika
Aeneas offers technical and tactical advice, but he seems particularly interested in the psychology of army and civilians under pressure. He also documents the improvised nature of warfare in small communities.

This conference is supported by:

  • Callaghan Centre for Conflict, Power and Empire (Swansea University)


created 04/02/2010 - updated 20/08/2010