M. C. L. Vitruvius (Pollio)
architect and writer on architecture; b. about 83-73 B.C.
The author of a Latin work in ten books on architecture, the earliest existing manual on that subject, dating from about 30 B.C. Considerable portions of his book are quoted by Pliny in his Historia Naturalis without acknowledgment, and he is mentioned by Frontinus in his work on aqueducts. The little basilica at Fano described in his book is the only building which can be attributed to him. Among the many sources from which he derived information are the writings of Anaxagoras, Ctesiphon, Ictinus, Theodorus, etc. In a letter to the Councillor C.F.L. Schultz to the poet Goethe, the theory was first brought forward that Vitruvius' work was really a compilation made in the reign of the emperor Theodosius, and afterward ascribed to Vitruvius, a well know architect of the time of Augustus. This theory, with some changes, has been developed by Dr. Ussing, and the arguments against it presented by Brown. Leake (Peloponnesiaca, 1846, pp. 128-129) supposes "that we possess no more than parts of the original work of Vitruvius, blended with productions of a later age." The work was highly esteemed during the Middle Ages and frequently transcribed. The manuscript of S. John's College, Oxford, was made as late as 1316 and belonged to the Abbey of Canterbury. There was a manuscript of Vitruvius in the palace of the popes at Avignon, which was carried to Spain in the fifteenth century. The editio princeps was published by Johannes Sulpitius Verulanus about 1468. During the reign of Julius II (Pope 1503-1513) Fra Giocondo published his critical edition, which he dedicated to the Pope. The most important editions of the text are that of Poleni, 1825-1830, 4 vols. 4to., and the standard edition of Marini (Rome, 1836, 4 vols. folio). There are English translations by Newton (1791), Wilkins (London, 1872), and Gwilt (1826).