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Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio

born c. 8070 BC, died after c. 15 BC

Was a Roman writer, architect and engineer, active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ("On Architecture").

By his own description Vitruvius served as an artillery man, the third class of arms in the military offices. He likely served as chief of the ballista (senior officer of artillery) in charge of artillery experts and libratores who actually operated the machines. He has been called the world's first engineer to be known by name.

Life and career

Little is known about Vitruvius' life. His first name Marcus and his cognomen Pollio are uncertain. Cetius Faventinus speaks of "Vitruvius Polio aliique auctores" in his epitome; it is possible that the cognomen derives from this mention by Cetius, meaning Vitruvius, Polio, and others. Most inferences about his life are extracted from his only surviving work De Architectura, although he appears to be known to Pliny the Elder through his description of constructing mosaics in Naturalis Historia, he is not actually named in that passage, though he does appear in NH 1 (the table of contents). Frontinus, however, refers to "Vitruvius the architect" in his late 1st century work De aquaeductu.

Likely born a free Roman citizen, by his own account Vitruvius served the Roman army under Julius Caesar with the otherwise unknown Marcus Aurelius, Publius Minidius, and Gnaeus Cornelius. These names vary depending on the edition of De architectura. Publius Minidius is also written as Publius Numidicus and Publius Numidius, speculated to be the same Publius Numisius inscribed on the Theatre of Heraclea. As an army engineer he specialized in the construction of ballista and scorpio artillery war machines for sieges. It has been speculated that Vitruvius served with Julius Caesar's Chief Engineer Lucius Cornelius Balbus. The locations where he served can be reconstructed from, for example, descriptions of the building methods of various "foreign tribes". Although he describes places throughout De Architectura, he does not say he was present. His service likely included north Africa, Hispania, Gaul (including Aquitaine) and Pontus.

To place the role of Vitruvius the military engineer in context, a description of The Praefect of the camp or army engineer is quoted here as given by Flavius Vegetius Renatus in The Military Institutions of the Romans:

The Praefect of the camp, though inferior in rank to the Praefect, had a post of no small importance. The position of the camp, the direction of the entrenchments, the inspection of the tents or huts of the soldiers and the baggage were comprehended in his province. 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, battles and sieges occurred. Of the battlegrounds of the Gallic War there is reference to the siege of Avaricum 52 BC, the Battle of Gergovia 52 BC, the Battle of Alesia 52 BC, and the siege of Uxellodunum 51 BC (all centred on sieges of large Gallic oppida). Of sites involved in Caesar's civil war, we find the Siege of Massilia 49 BC, the Battle of Dyrrhachium of 48 BC (modern Albania), the Battle of Pharsalus 48 BC (Hellas - Greece), the Battle of Zela of 47 BC (modern Turkey) and the Battle of Thapsus 46 BC in Caesar's African campaign. A legion that fits the same sequence of locations is the Legio VI Ferrata, of which ballista would be an auxiliary unit.

During this same time period a Roman military officer Mamurra also served as praefectus fabrum in Hispania, Gaul and Pontus under Julius Caesar. Some have suggested that these two men may be the same, though there is no mention of Caesar's invasions of Britain in De Architectura, nor of other things with which Mamurra was associated, equestrian military practices and personal wealth. Additionally Caesar appears to have outlived Mamurra, whereas Vitruvius dedicated De Architectura to the emperor Augustus. 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.

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. Frontinus mentions him in connection with the standard sizes of pipes. The only building, however, that we know Vitruvius to have worked on is one he tells us about, a basilica completed in 19 BC. It was built at Fanum Fortunae, now the modern town of Fano. 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. The early Christian practice of converting Roman basilica (public buildings) into cathedrals implies the basilica may be incorporated into the cathedral located in Fano.

If De architectura was written by one author or is a compilation completed by subsequent librarians and copyists, remains an open question. The date of his death is unknown, which suggests that he had enjoyed only little popularity during his lifetime.

Gerolamo Cardano, in his 16th 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.

De Architectura libri decem (De architectura)

Vitruvius is the author of De architectura, known today as The Ten Books on Architecture, a treatise written of Latin and Greek on architecture, dedicated to the emperor Augustus. In the preface of Book I, Vitruvius dedicates his writings so 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. This text "influenced deeply from the Early Renaissance onwards artists, thinkers, and architects, among them Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72),Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519), and Michelangelo (1475-1564)." The next major book on architecture, Alberti's reformulation of Ten Books, was not written until 1452.

Vitruvius is famous for asserting in his book De architectura that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, venustas that is, it must be solid, useful, beautiful. 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 Greek invented the architectural orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. 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).

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. It should also be noted that 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, 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.


Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino


April 6 or March 28, 1483 April 6, 1520

Better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance, celebrated for the perfection and grace of his paintings and drawings. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.

Raphael was enormously productive, running an unusually large workshop, and despite his death at thirty-seven, a large body of his work remains.

Many of his works are found in the Apostolic Palace of The Vatican, where the frescoed Raphael Rooms were the central, and the largest, work of his career. The best known work is The School of Athens in the Vatican Stanza della Segnatura. After his early years in Rome, much of his work was designed by him and executed largely by the workshop from his drawings, with considerable loss of quality.

He was extremely influential in his lifetime, though outside Rome his work was mostly known from his collaborative printmaking. After his death, the influence of his great rival Michelangelo was more widespread until the 18th and 19th centuries, when Raphael's more serene and harmonious qualities were again regarded as the highest models.

His career falls naturally into three phases and three styles, first described by Giorgio Vasari: his early years in Umbria, then a period of about four years (from 15041508) absorbing the artistic traditions of Florence, followed by his last hectic and triumphant twelve years in Rome, working for two Popes and their close associates.

Date: 2016-01-03; view: 534

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