Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, also known simply as Vitruvius, is an ancient roman engineer and architect. He was the first Roman architect to write surviving records of his studies and works.

Bildnis des Marcus Vitruvius Roman.

Image source: by ubleipzig


About His Life.

All that we know about Vitruvius’ life is gathered from some autobiographical notes in his writings, which are obscure on the subject. Of Roman origins Vitruvius was born in a prominent family and, as a military engineer, he served the Roman army in Gaul, Spain and North Africa. He was also active during the time of Julius Caesar and received a generous pension in his last year by Augustus. The date of his death is unknown.

Vitruvius, Loggia del Consiglio, Piazza dei Signori, Verona
Vitruvius, Verona

Image source: by Dimitris Graffin

File:M. Vitruvius per Iocundum solito castigatior factus cum figuris et tabula ut iam legi et intelligi possit MET DP363610.jpg
Vitruvius(De Architectura )-1557

Image source: by Creator:Fra Giovanni Giocondo da VeronaCreator:Fra Giovanni Giocondo da VeronaCreator:Giovanni TaccuinoCreator:Marcus Pollio Vitruvius


What are his major works?

Vitruvius wrote De Architectura, probably around 15 BC and dedicated it to the emperor Augustus. This treatise is structured in 10 books in which the concept of what exactly is ‘architecture’ is defined and it describes topics that include scientific disciplines as mathematics, geometry, science, astrology, astronomy, medicine, meteorology, philosophy, and how the aesthetic and practical effects of architecture affect the daily life of citizens. The treatise combines the knowledge of Greek and Roman writers, but there are some shortcomings about what are considered the greatest Roman buildings, which are treated briefly.

File:Recto- Temple Types- Amphiprostyle (Vitruvius, Book 3, Chapter 2, no. 4); Verso- Temple Types- Pseudodipteral (Vitruvius, Book 3, Chapter 2, no. 6). MET DP160087.jpg
Recto- Temple Types- Amphiprostyle (Vitruvius, Book 3, Chapter 2)

Image source: by Creator:Sangallo familyCreator:Marcus Pollio Vitruvius

The only building that we know Vitruvius worked on is the one he tells us about – a basilica built in 19 BC in Fanum Fortune (Fano). Today there is nothing left of it.

Vitruvius 'De architectura...': perspective diagram
Vitruvius ‘De architectura…’: perspective diagram

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What is his vision?

The Vitruvian picture of architecture is rooted in an empirical knowledge of creation, manufacture and craft. Vitruvius’ main concern was to write a useful manual. In Vitruvius’ view of architecture, nature is an ideal model, and he makes it an object of philosophical research. His goal was to present architecture as a worthy part of an encyclopedic program.

Roman house plan after Vitruvius

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Who was influenced by Vitruvius?

From the Renaissance period onwards, the work of Vitruvius had an extraordinary impact on many creators, including Niccoli, Brunelleschi and Leon Battista Alberti. Leonardo da Vinci‘s most famous drawing, The Vitruvian Man, is based on the concept of proportions developed by Vitruvius. 16th century architect Palladio considered Vitruvius to be his master and guide.

“Vitruvian Man”, illustration in the edition of De architectura by Vitruvius; illustrated edition by Cesare Cesariano (1521)

Image source: by Ralph Buckley


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