Thursday, October 06, 2005

Vitruvius De Architectura

Vitruvian Man - Leonardo da Vinci


I never tire of discovering polymathic figures from the past, who make the multiskilling of today seem rather tame. Vitruvius, who lived during the first century B.C. is another of those who appears to have had gifts in a range of disciplines.

De Architectura (now referred to as The Ten Books of Architecture) was the first known treatise on the subject and in it Vitruvius displays talent in engineering, art as well of course as extensive architectural understanding. His account of human proportions in Book III inspired the very famous drawing above by Da Vinci. Vitruvius was an architect himself but the single construction definitely attributable to him has long since disappeared.


One famous quote (which could itself be a misquote from translation from latin in the 16th century) is - "Well building hath three conditions: firmness, commodity, and delight."

The history of the written text and many illustrations he drafted is very convoluted. There have been translation problems at the very minimum and if I understood correctly, the illustrations posted here are among a set sketched during the renaissance as faithful renditions from the original text.


Bill Thayer's University of Chicago website
would appear to be the best resource on textual fidelity on the web. Clicking on the roman numerals will should WILL take you to his posted translation of each book (and they are very detailed and obviously well referenced) - but they aren't working at the moment. He has very short summaries and commentary on the homepage however (and has updated lately too).

There are 11 pages of scanned illustration thumbnails
(fast loading) at the Australian National University website.

Wikipedia on De Architectura.

2 comments :

Bill Thayer said...

Thanks for the kudos re textual fidelity, but am quite mystified about the links not working yet. They do work, and have been working for years! (And because odd things do happen, I just checked.)

BT

pk said...

One of those momentary glitches I guess.

The links are definitely working now and I'm very impressed at first glance. That's exemplary use of hypertext.

Sorry for the misrepresentation.

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