• Vincenzo Bellino


Cunctatio. Roman Generals’ Theoretical Preparation about Low
Intensity Warfare (pp. )

Ego enim sic existimo, in summo imperatore quattuor has res
inesse oportere: scientiam rei militaris, virtutem, auctoritatem, felicitatem. With such words, Cicero expressed his opinion about the most important attributes of a good general. Among them, the most important is the scientia rei militaris because it is the aspect that makes the general a specialist. How did the Roman viri militares, that is the senators expert of military matters, learn the rules of warfare and, in particular, of low intensity warfare? The Romans had often to face guerrilla warfare, but they never developed a theory concerning irregular warfare, because it could create problems against the concept of bellum iustum. This paper argues that Greek military manuals and historical works are at the base of Roman learning about regular and irregular warfare. The examples of Lucullus and Josephus (both rei militaris rudes) who became good commanders studying strategy from books, can confirm this hypothesis,
as well as the case of Cato the Censor, who carried out military
manoeuvres taken from historical works. The existence in
Rome of theoretical studies devoted to low intensity warfare and
the possibility for Roman generals to learn counter guerrilla tactics is suggested by the circulation of Greek manuals (Graecorum militaria praecepta) in the city, like the works of Frontinus and Onasander and by the presence of numerous episodes of low intensity warfare in Roman historical works.