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On this page: Vitellius Eclogius – Vitia – Vitrasius Pollio



Galeria Fimdana. He was in his fiftv-seventh

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year according to Tacitus, in his fifty-fifth according to Dion. He reigned a year all but ten or twelve days, reckoning from the time of his proclamation, and a little more than eight months from the death of Otho. His brother Lucius was put to death ; and his infant son in the following year by order of Mucianus. Vespasian provided the daughter of Vitellius with an honourable marriage. The period between the death of Nero and the accession of Vespasian was a period of anarchy, in which the several successors of Nero play only a subordinate part ; and the events of this period can only be treated properly in an historical work, not in bio­graphical articles.

(Tacit. Hist. ii. iii. ; Suetonius, Vitellius ; Dion Cass. Ixv. ; Tillemont, Histoire des Empereurs, i.)

[G. L.j




VITIA, the mother of Fufius Geminus, was put to death by Tiberius in a. d. 32, because she had lamented the execution of her son, who had been consul in a. n. 29. (Tac. Ann. vi. 10, comp, v. 1.)

VITRASIUS POLLIO. [PoLLio.] VITRU'VIUS SECUNDUS. [secundus.] VITRU'VIUS VACCUS. [vaccus.] VITRU'VIUS, architects. 1, L. vitruvius L. L. cerdo architectus is an inscription twice repeated on the arch of the Gavii at Verona. (Gru-ter, p. clxxxvi.; Orelli, Inscr. Lot. Sel. No. 4145.) The genuineness of these inscriptions, which has been questioned, is successfully defended by Maffei (Veron. Illust. pt. ii. p. 20, pt. iii. p. 90, Art. Crlt. Lapid. p. 197). There is no precise indica­tion of the time at which Vitruvius Cerdo lived ; but it is most probable that he was much sub­sequent to the celebrated writer on architecture, Vitruvius Poliio. We mention him, however, first, in order to dispose at once of the question as to the identity of these two architects, which was raised by Andreas Alciatus, who attempted to support his belief in their identity by changing Pallia, which is the name of Vi­truvius in all the MSS., into Pellio, which he explained, not as a cognomen, but as a designa­tion, synonymous with Cerdo. It really seems almost superfluous to refute an opinion which rests on such an argument alone ; but, to remove all doubt, it may suffice to remark, firstly, that the praenomina, as well as the cognomina, of the two artists are different, the one being Lucius, and the other Marcus, by the unanimous consent of the MSS.; secondly, that, whereas Vitruvius Cerdo was a freedman, as we learn from the inscription (L. L. = Lucii Libertus), Vitruvius Poliio was a man of free birth and liberal education, as we are informed by himself ; and, thirdly, that the arch


erected by Vitruvius Cerdo exhibits an arrange­ment which is strongly condemned by Vitruvius Poliio, namely, the placing of dentils under mo-dillions. This arrangement belongs to the period when the Roman architects had given themselves up to that tendency, of which Vitruvius complains, to neglect altogether the more minute precepts of the Greeks. It is seen in the triumphal arches of Titus, Nerva, and Constantine, in the portico of Nerva, and in the baths of Diocletian. The in­scription also refutes the opinion which has been thrown out, evidently as a mere guess, that Vitru­vius Cerdo was the freedman of Vitruvius Poliio, for then, of course, we should have had m. l. in­stead of l. l.

2. M. vitruvius pollio. There is scarcely an ancient writer of equal eminence, of whom so little is recorded, as of the author of that treatise on Architecture, without which the remains of ancient buildings would have been extremely diffi­cult to understand, and which still forms a most important text-book of the science. Beyond the bare mention of his name by Pliny, in one of those lists of his authorities, which many critics believe not to be genuine, and one reference to him by Frontinus (de Aquaed. § 25), and passing allusions to him by Servius and Sidonius Apollinaris, all the information we possess respecting him is con­tained in scattered passages of his own work.

Respecting his birth-place, we have no inform­ation. The statement of some writers, that he was a native of Verona, arises from the mistake 'of identifying him with Vitruvius Cerdo. Bernar-dinus Baldus, in his valuable Life of Vitruvius, prefixed to the Bipont edition, suggests the pro­bability of his having been a native of Fundi or Formiae, on account of several inscriptions being found at those places, relating to the Vitruvia gens, and to individuals of it with the praenomen Marcus. See vaccus, vitruvius.

We learn from Vitruvius himself that his pa­rents gave him a liberal education, both of a general and of a professional character. (Lib. vi. Praef.) He tells, however, that he pursued his studies chiefly with a view to his profession, and only followed other branches of knowledge so far as they might appear to be useful for that object. On this ground he apologizes, and not without cause, for his style of composition, inasmuch as he had not trained himself in literature, so as to be­come a first-rate philosopher or orator or gramma­rian, " sed ut Arcfiitectus his literis imbutits, haec nisus sum scribere," In the digressions, into which he is led by his plan of ascending to the first prin­ciples of each part of his subject, he shows a fair general knowledge of the various schools of Greek philosophy. In the theoretical part of physical science he is weak ; but this was a general defect of the ancient philosophers. Baldus shows reason for supposing that, in his views of natural philo­sophy, Vitruvius was a follower of Epicurus. That he was well acquainted with the literature both of Greece and Rome, is evident from his references to the numerous Greek authors, and to the few Romans, who had written upon architecture, and also to the great writers of both nations in the different departments of general literature.

So much respecting his education. Of his sta­tion in life he says but little. That it was respec­table may be inferred from his education, and from other circumstances referred to in his works ; but

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