Vitruvian Man: Alexander Crown Trilogy, book 2

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His authority extended over the sick, and the physicians who had the care of them; and he regulated the expenses relative thereto. He had the charge of providing carriages, bathhouses and the proper tools for sawing and cutting wood, digging trenches, raising parapets, sinking wells and bringing water into the camp. He likewise had the care of furnishing the troops with wood and straw, as well as the rams, onagri , balistae and all the other engines of war under his direction.

This post was always conferred on an officer of great skill, experience and long service, and who consequently was capable of instructing others in those branches of the profession in which he had distinguished himself. At various locations described by Vitruvius, [ citation needed ] battles and sieges occurred. He is the only source for the siege of Larignum in 56 BC. The circumvallation and Battle of Alesia in 52 BC; the women and children of the encircled city were evicted to conserve food, where they starved to death between the opposing walls of the defenders and besiegers.

And the siege of Uxellodunum in 51 BC. These are all sieges of large Gallic oppida. Mainly known for his writings, Vitruvius was himself an architect. In Roman times architecture was a broader subject than at present including the modern fields of architecture, construction management , construction engineering , chemical engineering , civil engineering , materials engineering , mechanical engineering , military engineering and urban planning ; [15] architectural engineers consider him the first of their discipline, a specialization previously known as technical architecture.

Frontinus mentions him in connection with the standard sizes of pipes. The Basilica di Fano to give the building its Italian name has disappeared so completely that its very site is a matter of conjecture, although various attempts have been made to visualise it. In later years the emperor Augustus, through his sister Octavia Minor , sponsored Vitruvius, entitling him with what may have been a pension to guarantee financial independence.

The date of his death is unknown, which suggests that he had enjoyed only little popularity during his lifetime. Gerolamo Cardano , in his book De subtilitate rerum , ranks Vitruvius as one of the 12 persons whom he supposes to have excelled all men in the force of genius and invention; and would not have scrupled to have given him the first place, if it could be imagined that he had delivered nothing but his own discoveries.

Vitruvius is the author of De architectura, libri decem , known today as The Ten Books on Architecture , [22] a treatise written in Latin on architecture, dedicated to the emperor Augustus. In the preface of Book I, Vitruvius dedicates his writings so as to give personal knowledge of the quality of buildings to the emperor. Likely Vitruvius is referring to Marcus Agrippa 's campaign of public repairs and improvements.

This work is the only surviving major book on architecture from classical antiquity. According to Petri Liukkonen, this text "influenced deeply from the Early Renaissance onwards artists, thinkers, and architects, among them Leon Battista Alberti — , Leonardo da Vinci — , and Michelangelo — Vitruvius is famous for asserting in his book De architectura that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitatis, utilitatis, venustatis — that is, stability, utility, beauty.

These are sometimes termed the Vitruvian virtues or the Vitruvian Triad.

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According to Vitruvius, architecture is an imitation of nature. As birds and bees built their nests, so humans constructed housing from natural materials, that gave them shelter against the elements. When perfecting this art of building, the Greeks invented the architectural orders: Doric , Ionic and Corinthian.

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It gave them a sense of proportion, culminating in understanding the proportions of the greatest work of art: the human body. This led Vitruvius in defining his Vitruvian Man , as drawn later by Leonardo da Vinci : the human body inscribed in the circle and the square the fundamental geometric patterns of the cosmic order. In this book series, Vitruvius, also wrote about climate in relation to housing architecture and how to choose locations for cities.

Vitruvius is sometimes loosely referred to as the first architect, but it is more accurate to describe him as the first Roman architect to have written surviving records of his field. He himself cites older but less complete works. He was less an original thinker or creative intellect than a codifier of existing architectural practice.

Vitruvius had a much wider scope than modern architects. Roman architects practised a wide variety of disciplines; in modern terms, they could be described as being engineers, architects, landscape architects , surveyors, artists, and craftsmen combined. Etymologically the word architect derives from Greek words meaning 'master' and 'builder'. The first of the Ten Books deals with many subjects which now come within the scope of landscape architecture.

Architecture is a science arising out of many other sciences, and adorned with much and varied learning; by the help of which a judgment is formed of those works which are the result of other arts. Practice and theory are its parents. Practice is the frequent and continued contemplation of the mode of executing any given work, or of the mere operation of the hands, for the conversion of the material in the best and readiest way. Theory is the result of that reasoning which demonstrates and explains that the material wrought has been so converted as to answer the end proposed.

Wherefore the mere practical architect is not able to assign sufficient reasons for the forms he adopts; and the theoretic architect also fails, grasping the shadow instead of the substance. He who is theoretic as well as practical, is therefore doubly armed; able not only to prove the propriety of his design, but equally so to carry it into execution.

He goes on to say that the architect should be versed in drawing, geometry, optics lighting , history, philosophy, music, theatre, medicine, and law. In Book I, Chapter 3 The Departments of Architecture , Vitruvius divides architecture into three branches, namely; building; the construction of sundials and water clocks ; [26] and the design and use of machines in construction and warfare. Public building includes city planning, public security structures such as walls, gates and towers; the convenient placing of public facilities such as theatres, forums and markets, baths, roads and pavings; and the construction and position of shrines and temples for religious use.

Just so the parts of Temples should correspond with each other, and with the whole. The navel is naturally placed in the centre of the human body, and, if in a man lying with his face upward, and his hands and feet extended, from his navel as the centre, a circle be described, it will touch his fingers and toes.

It is not alone by a circle, that the human body is thus circumscribed, as may be seen by placing it within a square. For measuring from the feet to the crown of the head, and then across the arms fully extended, we find the latter measure equal to the former; so that lines at right angles to each other, enclosing the figure, will form a square.

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It was upon these writings that Leonardo da Vinci based his Vitruvian Man. The drawing itself is often used as an implied symbol of the essential symmetry of the human body, and by extension, of the universe as a whole.

In the introduction to book seven, Vitruvius goes to great lengths to present why he is qualified to write De Architectura. This is the only location in the work where Vitruvius specifically addresses his personal breadth of knowledge.

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Similar to a modern reference section, the author's position as one who is knowledgeable and educated is established. The topics range across many fields of expertise reflecting that in Roman times as today construction is a diverse field.


Vitruvius is clearly a well-read man. In addition to providing his qualification, Vitruvius summarizes a recurring theme throughout the 10 books, a non-trivial and core contribution of his treatise beyond simply being a construction book. Vitruvius makes the point that the work of some of the most talented are unknown, while many of those of lesser talent but greater political position are famous.

Vitruvius illustrates this point by naming what he considers are the most talented individuals in history. Vitruvius' De architectura was "rediscovered" in by the Florentine humanist Poggio Bracciolini in the library of Saint Gall Abbey. Leon Battista Alberti — publicised it in his seminal treatise on architecture, De re aedificatoria c.

Ryff , and Spanish and several other languages. The original illustrations had been lost and the first illustrated edition was published in Venice in with woodcut illustrations, based on descriptions in the text by Fra Giovanni Giocondo. The most famous illustration is probably Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. The surviving ruins of Roman antiquity, the Roman Forum , temples, theatres, triumphal arches and their reliefs and statues offered visual examples of the descriptions in the Vitruvian text.

Printed and illustrated editions of De Architectura inspired Renaissance , Baroque and Neoclassical architecture. Filippo Brunelleschi , for example, invented a new type of hoist to lift the large stones for the dome of the cathedral in Florence and was inspired by De Architectura as well as surviving Roman monuments such as the Pantheon and the Baths of Diocletian. Books VIII, IX and X form the basis of much of what we know about Roman technology, now augmented by archaeological studies of extant remains, such as the water mills at Barbegal in France.

The other major source of information is the Naturalis Historia compiled by Pliny the Elder much later in c. The work is important for its descriptions of the many different machines used for engineering structures such as hoists , cranes and pulleys , as well as war machines such as catapults , ballistae , and siege engines.

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As a practising engineer, Vitruvius must be speaking from personal experience rather than simply describing the works of others. He also describes the construction of sundials and water clocks , and the use of an aeolipile the first steam engine as an experiment to demonstrate the nature of atmospheric air movements wind.

Vitruvian Man -- Leonardo and Vitruvius