Title De architectura libri decem
Imprint Florence, s.n., 1496
Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2 Inc. c.a. 367 1a
Subject Architecture
Transcribed version of the text


     The 1496 Florentine edition was derived directly from Sulpizio’s edition. We find the same reluctance regarding Greek words, generally transcribed into Latin characters, and the epigrams in book VIII also remain suggested there by empty spaces. After the title page there is the list of books with their contents, in Latin, with chapter numbers added. There are more chapters than in the arrangement which would prevail progressively starting in 1511 (Fra Giocondo’s edition), for the author considers the main paragraphs of the long prefaces to be separate whole chapters, such as the preface to book IX, and he has a tendency to subdivide certain very long chapters dealing with several types of buildings. Thus book I contains eleven chapters instead of seven, and book X, nineteen instead of sixteen. Numbering the pages with a capital letter corresponding to the book (A for I, B for II, etc.), and giving a folio number would facilitate the consultation and recording of references, if the method was applied to the whole volume, but this is not the case. With no frontispiece it is difficult to identify the printer. Several names have been suggested : De Arigis (or De Aligi), or Christophorus de Pensis, which appears on a copy at the Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome. The date and the printing location are mentioned at the end of book X : Florence, 1496.
Lucia Ciapponi has pointed out the main changes, the mutationes exiguae by Poleni, carried out in this volume in relation to the princeps volume. There are four kinds : some lacunae have been filled in, some of them important, as in VII, praef. 14, with the correction of a page break “du même au même” which had deprived the first edition of a part of the sentence (“collecta in unum coegi corpus, et ideo maxime, quod animadverti”), variants apparently taken from other manuscripts, different from those of the family of the Harleianus 2767, such as in II, 3, 3 where the absurd Lychum of the princeps edition is replaced by a more satisfactory Lydion, conjectures, such as in I, 1, 16 de visu instead of de divisus, and alterations, as in I, 1, 3. These corrections, or additions, which remain rare, do not radically modify the text. Nonetheless they prove that real verification and proofreading were carried out for this second edition, which certainly remains philological, but permits us to note some progress in the comprehension of the whole work.
Five illustrations were added, very unpretentious to tell the truth, but which also show an effort toward clarification. The first two were placed at the end of chapiter 10, between paragraphs 11 and 12 of chapter 6 of book I. It shows a compass rose with, below it, the distribution of the main thoroughfare axes according to the same winds. The three others are found at the beginning of book IX : the end of chapter 1 (really praef. 5) of the demonstration of the Platonic method of the duplication of the square, and end of chapter 2 (really praef. 8) of the Pythagorean theorem. This last illustration is drawn twice with different dimensions. These cursory diagrams are supposed to give an idea of the formae and schemata that Vitruvius indicates at the end of the passages in question. Frontinus’ book on aqueducts and two short works by Ange Politien are bound with the De Architectura. The essentially philological nature of these authors’ concerns is seen in the grouping together of these works.

Pierre Gros (Aix-en-Provence, IUF/ Institut de France) – 2012


Critical bibliography

L. A. Ciapponi, “Fra Giocondo da Verona and his edition of Vitruvius”, Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 47, 1984, pp. 73 and appendix IA.

L. Marcucci, “Regesto cronologico e critico”, L. Vagnetti et al. (ed.), 2000 anni di Vitruvio (Studi e documenti di architettura, 8), 1978, pp. 30-31.

M. Tafuri, L’architettura del Manierismo nel Cinquecento europeo, Rome, Officina, 1966, pp. 191-192.