Monday, October 06, 2003

Ancient Visionary Mostly Ignored by Modern Scholars

"In the late fourth century A.D., a citizen of the Roman Empire wrote a treatise known to history as De Rebus Bellicis (On Matters of Warfare). The author, whose name is unknown, offered dramatic proposals for inventions and reforms to shore up the Empire's defense. The manuscript was addressed to the highest level: the Emperor himself.

Among the proposals (complete with illustrations) were an oxen-powered warship, a portable bridge, and new types of chariots and artillery. Anonymous (as I'll call the author) pressed for an expansion of border fortifications and faster promotion and discharge of soldiers. Anonymous also called for nonmilitary reforms, including changes in the monetary and legal systems and an end to corruption by provincial officials."
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