The idea of a Grand Roman Strategy was put forward by Dr. Edward Luttwak in his 1976  book, The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire from the First Century AD to the Third.  This work by Luttwak sought to answer questions on the basic strategy of the Romans, and if there was a long term strategy at all.  The book focuses on the Roman Army and the defense of the Roman frontier.  The Roman Empire was one of the world’s largest empires of all time and the task of defending such a vast area of territory was an incredible undertaking.  Although, at times, the Roman Empire struggled to maintain its most distant borders, it wasn’t until the third century that the Roman Empire was forced to give up ground against its will.  The Roman army won every war they had fought in for almost a thousand years straight.  Of course, with any major power there were battles lost but for many years the wars always ended the same way, with the well-organized Roman Army emerging victorious (Mann, 509).  This leaves us to wonder why Rome? What made the Roman army so special?

The Roman Empire at its greatest extent in the year 117 AD, rule of Roman emperor Trajan

File:Roman Empire Trajan 117AD.png(Image Source:


The work of Dr. Luttwak received much criticism and led to many historians questioning The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire.  There are many arguments made against what Luttwak wrote.  Much of the debate is about the strategy of the Roman Empire, and whether they had a long-term plan.  Did the Romans understand what expansion would do to the empire, and was there a reason to their quests?

It can be said that Luttwak provoked an important and intriguing subject in the field of Roman history.  Although modern research and a more in depth look at Roman strategy shows not all of Luttwak’s conclusions can stand.  The Roman emperors developed many methods and institutions to meet the forces that threatened the empire.  Roman opportunities had to keep in mind the protection of the empire, security was important.  If Roman emperors set priorities among objectives and allocated resources among them, they then made grand strategic decisions (Kagan, 361).

When looking back at the historical evidence of the Roman Empire we must keep in mind that just like today, the people who wrote about their Empire had opinions.  In order to gather any type of valuable information we must ignore anything that seems bias in any way.  For instance, many written records that have been discovered have soon after been proven to be falsified Imperial documents.  Many documents that were given out were often untrue, or if not untrue certainly unverifiable (Millar, 2).