Vitruvius Pollio

Vitruvius Pollio
b. early first century BC
d. c. 25 BC
Roman writer on architecture and engineering subjects.
Nothing is known of Vitruvius apart from what can be gleaned from his only known work, the treatise De architectura. He seems to have been employed in some capacity by Julius Caesar and continued to serve under his heir, Octavianus, later Emperor Augustus, to whom he dedicated his book. It was written towards the end of his life, after Octavianus became undisputed ruler of the Empire by his victory at Actium in 31 BC, and was based partly on his own experience and partly on earlier, Hellenistic, writers.
The De architectura is divided into ten books. The first seven books expound the general principles of architecture and the planning, design and construction of various types of building, public and domestic, including a consideration of techniques and materials. Book 7 deals with interior decoration, including stucco work and painting, while Book 8 treats water supply, from the location of sources to the transport of water by aqueducts, tunnels and pipes. Book 9, after a long and somewhat confused account of the astronomical theories of the day, describes various forms of clock and sundial. Finally, Book 10 deals with mechanical devices for handling building materials and raising and pumping water, for which Vitruvius draws on the earlier Greek authors Ctesibius and Hero.
Although this may seem a motley assembly of subjects, to the Roman architect and builder it was a logical compendium of the subjects he was expected to know about. At the time, Vitruvius' rigid rules for the design of buildings such as temples seem to have had little influence, but his accounts of more practical matters of building materials and techniques were widely used. His illustrations to the original work were lost in antiquity, for no later manuscript includes them. Through the Middle Ages, manuscript copies were made in monastic scriptoria, although the architectural style in vogue had little relevance to those in Vitruvius: these came into their own with the Italian Renaissance. Alberti, writing the first great Renaissance treatise on architecture from 1452 to 1467, drew heavily on De architectura; those who sought to revive the styles of antiquity were bound to regard the only surviving text on the subject as authoritative. The appearance of the first printed edition in 1486 only served to extend its influence.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Vitruvius was used as a handbook for constructing machines and instruments. For the modern historian of technology and architecture the work is a source of prime importance, although it must be remembered that the illustrations in the early printed editions are of contemporary reproductions of ancient devices using the techniques of the time, rather than authentic representations of ancient technology.
Of the several critical editions of De architectura there are the Teubner edition, 1899. ed. V.Rose, Leipzig; the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1962, ed. F.Granger, London: Heinemann, (with English trans. and notes); and the Collection Guillaume Budé with French trans. and full commentary, 10 vols, Paris (in progress).
Further Reading
Apart from the notes to the printed editions, see also: H.Plommer, 1973, Vitruvius and Later Roman Building Manuals, London. A.G.Drachmann, 1963, The Mechanical Technology of Greek and Roman Antiquity Copenhagen and London.
S.L.Gibbs, 1976, Greek and Roman Sundials, New Haven and London.

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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  • Vitruvĭus Pollĭo — Vitruvĭus Pollĭo, Kriegsbaumeister unter Cäsar und Augustus, von dem er auf Verwendung von dessen Schwester Octavia im Alter eine lebenslängliche Pension erhielt, verfaßte zwischen 16 und 13 v. Chr. nach griechischen Quellen und eigner Erfahrung… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Vitruvius Pollio — Vitruvĭus Pollĭo, Marcus, röm. Baumeister und Schriftsteller unter Cäsar und Augustus; schrieb: »De architectura«, neu hg. von Rose (2. Aufl. 1899), deutsch von Reber (1864) …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • VITRUVIUS Pollio (M.) — M. VITRUVIUS Pollio parentum curâ liberalibus disciplinis ab ineunte aetate fuit institutus, Encyclopaediamque absolvit, quod ipse fatetur in libri sexti prooemio. Iulio Caesari fuit non ignotus, post cuius obitum ab Octavia fratri Augusto… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • VITRUVIUS POLLIO, Marcus — (c. 80 BC c. 25 BC)    Vitruvius was an Ancient Roman architect and engineer famous for his treatise on construction called De architectura, known today as The Ten Books on Architecture. Little is known of the life or architectural constructions… …   Historical Dictionary of Architecture

  • Vitruvius Pollio — Vitruvian, adj. /vi trooh vee euhs pol ee oh / Marcus, fl. 1st century B.C., Roman architect, engineer, and author. * * * …   Universalium

  • VITRUVIUS, POLLIO —    Roman architect and engineer; wrote on architecture, lived in the days of Augustus …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Vitruvius Pollio — Vi•tru•vi•us Pol•li•o [[t]vɪˈtru vi əs ˈpɒl iˌoʊ[/t]] n. big Marcus, fl. 1st century b.c., Roman architect, engineer, and author …   From formal English to slang

  • Vitruvius Pollio — /vɪˌtruviəs ˈpɒlioʊ/ (say vi.troohveeuhs poleeoh) noun Marcus, lived in the 1st century BC, Roman architect, engineer, and author. –Vitruvian, adjective …  

  • Vitruvius Pollio — Vitruvian, adj. /vi trooh vee euhs pol ee oh / Marcus, fl. 1st century B.C., Roman architect, engineer, and author …   Useful english dictionary

  • Marcus Vitruvius Pollio — (Renaissance Portrait) Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (auch: Vitruv oder Vitruvius) war ein römischer Architekt, Ingenieur und Schriftsteller des 1. Jahrhunderts v. Chr. Inhaltsverzeichnis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • VITRUVIUS POLLIO, Marcus — (first century BC)    The Roman architectural writer, best known for his De Re Architectura, who defined various attributes of Etruscan architecture, including the Tuscan order …   Historical Dictionary of the Etruscans

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