The Ancient Library

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there are several passages in his prefaces, which show that he neither inherited great wealth, nor succeeded in acquiring it. The patronage of the emperor, to whom his work is dedicated, had early placed him beyond the reach of want for the re­mainder of his life (Lib. i. Praef.), and he was able to look with contentment, though not without indignation, upon the greater success of his rivals in obtaining the substantial rewards of their pro­fession. His allusions to this subject are couched in that tone of semi-querulous contentment and half dissatisfied moderation, which judges of human character will interpret according to the bias of their own dispositions. He had no great advan­tages of person, being of low stature, and, at the time when he wrote his work, suffering from old age and bad health.

He appears to have begun his course in public life as a military engineer. He tells us that he served in Africa ; and it is important to quote his own words, as introducing the question of the time at which he lived: " C. Julius, Masinthae (or Masinissae) films, cujus erant totius oppidi agrorum possessiones, cum patre Caesare militavit. Is hos-pitio meo est usus ; ita quotidiano convictu, &c. &c." (viii. 4. s. 3. § 25, ed. Schneider). Again, in the dedication of his work to the reigning emperor, he uses this language :—" Ideo quod primum parenti tuo [de eo] fueram notus, et ejus virtutis studiosus ; quum autem concilium coelestium in sedibus immor-talium emu dedicavisset, et imperium parentis in tuam potestatem transtulisset, idem studium meum in ejus memoria permanens in te contulit favorem." (The last words, by the way, are no bad specimen of the obscurity of his style.) He then goes on to say that he was appointed, with M. Aurelius and P. Numisius and Cn. Cornelius, to the office of superintending and improving the military engines (ad apparationem balistarum et scorpiomim reliquo-rumque tormentorum perfectionemfui praesto), with a pecuniary provision (commoda) ; and that the emperor, through his sister's recommendation, con­tinued his patronage to Vitruvius, after he had conferred upon him these favours. This emperor, we further learn from the dedication, was one who " had obtained possession of the empire of the world, and by his unconquered valour had overthrown all his enemies, while the citizens gloried in his tri­umph, and all the nations subdued under him waited on his nod, arid the Roman people and senate, delivered from fear, were governed by his deliberations and counsels • and who, so soon as he had brought into a settled state those things which related to the public welfare and social liie. devoted especial attention to public buildings, with which he adorned the empire, ivhick lie had aug­mented by new provinces.^ We have set forth this passage at length, that the reader may judge for himself whether the emperor thus addressed can be any other than Augustus, when it is remembered that, by the confession of all scholars, the time at which Vitruvius wrote is confined between the limits of the reigns of Augustus on the one hand, and of Titus on the other. Of course no proof is needed that he wrote after the death of Julius Caesar, whom he also expressly mentions as dead (divi Julii, iii. 2) ; and that he did not live after Titus is proved, apart from the mention of him by Pliny already referred to, by his silence respecting the Coliseum, and most irrefragably by his allusion to Vesuvius and the surrounding country, the vol-


canic nature of which he takes pains to prove, one of his arguments being a tradition that there had been eruptions of the mountain in ancient times (ii. 6). We think it unnecessary to pursue the discussion through all its details. The judgment of scholars is now quite decided in favour of con­sidering Augustus to be the emperor to whom the treatise of Vitruvius is dedicated ; and abundant confirmatory evidence of that position has been derived from other passages of the work. The other opinion, that that emperor was Titus, is ela­borately maintained by Newton, in the Observa­tions on the Life of Vitruvius prefixed to his translation of the work. Some of Newton's argu­ments are ingenious, but unsound; many are weak, and even puerile; some are at direct variance with the evidence, and some inconsistent with one another ; and the best of them, which are intended to prove that Vitruvius wrote after the time of Augustus, only prove, allowing them their utmost force, that he wrote somewhat late in that em­peror's reign, a fact which he himself states in the Dedication, where he says that he formed the design of his work at the beginning of the new reign, but that he feared to incur the emperor's displeasure by intruding upon him when he was fully occupied with public affairs ; but that, when he saw the care which his patron bestowed upon buildings, both public and private, and that he both had erected and was erecting many edifices, he hastened to execute his design, and to present the emperor with a set treatise, explaining the exact rules and limits of the art, as a standard by which to test the merits of the buildings he had already erected, or was intending to erect. (Con-scripsi praescriptiones terminates, ut eas attendens et antefacta et futura qualia sint opera per te, nota posses kabere.) Before noticing the further light which this somewhat remarkable language throws on the design of the treatise, it is necessary to observe the more exact limits within which the time of the author may now, with great proba­bility, be defined. We may assume him to be a young man when he served under Julius Caesar, in the African war, b. c. 46, and he was old, nay broken down with age (see above) when he com­posed his work, at a period considerably subse­quent to the complete settlement of the empire under Augustus, and after the erection of several of that emperor's public buildings. Moreover, that his book was written some time after the name of Augustus had been conferred upon the emperor (b.c. 27) is evident from the passage (v. 1) in which he speaks of the basilica at Fanum, of which he himself was the architect, as erected subse­quently to the temple of Augustus at that place. Again, from the way in which he mentions the emperor's sister in his dedication, it appears pro­bable, though, it must be confessed, not certain, that she was still alive. Now Octavia, the favour­ite sister of Augustus, died in b.c. 11. Hence the date of the composition of the work lies pro­bably between b. c. 20 and b.c. 11. At the former date, Vitruvius would be about 56, if we assume him to have been about thirty when he was in Africa with Caesar. This date is con­firmed by the way in which he speaks of Lucre­tius, Cicero, and Varro, as quite recent authors.

The object of his work appears to have had reference to himself, as well as to his subject. We have seen that he professes his intention to furnish

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