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Frontinus


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Perhaps from southern Gaul, served as urban praetor in ad 70 and then assisted in suppressing the revolt of Julius Civilis, receiving the surrender of 70,000 Lingones. Consul in 72 or 73, he served as governor of Britain (73/4–77) where he crushed the Silures in south Wales, establishing a fortress for Legio II Augusta at Caerleon, and then attacked the Ordovices. He may have accompanied Domitian during his German campaign in 82/3, was proconsul of Asia in 86, and was subsequently appointed by Nerva in 97 as curator aquarum (superintendent of aqueducts). He held his second, suffect, consulship in 98, and his third, ordinary, consulship in 100, both times with Trajan. Pliny described him as one of the two most distinguished men of his day (Ep. 5. 1). He died in 103/4.

works Frontinus wrote in an uncluttered, direct style about several technical subjects: the history, administration, and maintenance of the aqueducts of Rome (De aquis urbis Romae); he cites engineers' reports, official documents, plans, and senatorial decrees, with details of quantity, supply, and abuses of the system. The book is a source of the highest value for the study of the working of the Roman water-supply, and the history and administration of the city of Rome in general. It combines a rhetorical pride in the Roman achievement in this field with a willingness to list very technical statistics. In the Strategemata Frontinus discusses techniques of military command, using stratagems drawn mainly from past commanders, though including several recent examples, particularly from Domitian's campaigns in Germany; the work is divided into three books by categories: before battle, during and after battle, sieges; a fourth book contains maxims on the art of generalship. Doubts about its authenticity are probably unjustified. Frontinus claims to provide practical guidance for contemporary commanders, and the Strategemata may have served as a textbook in a society with no formal means of training men for public office. Another treatise on Greek and Roman military science is now lost. Frontinus was probably the author of several works on land-surveying, partly preserved in the Corpus Agrimensorum (collection of treatises about land-surveying), covering categories of land, land measurement and division, boundary marking, and types of dispute.

John Brian Campbell, Nicholas Purcell

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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