I’m participating in the A to Z Challenge for the entire month of April, by posting an interesting topic for each letter of the alphabet. This excludes Sneak Peek Sundays. Follow this link to nearly 2000 other bloggers and authors.
The A to Z Challenge – participating blogs
Today’s Calliope’s Writing Tablet post is brought to you by the letter V for Vitruvian Man.
In the 1st century BCE, a Roman architect named Marcus Vitruvius wrote about perfect architecture in a book entitled De Architectura. His book was considered the authority on architecture, city planning, and machines. De Architectura was written in cyclopedic sytle – that is one book with many topics (not to be confused with encyclopedic style that has many books on many topics). In one of these sections he discusses the building of temples. This is where the Vitruvian Man is born:
Similarly, in the members of a temple there ought to be the greatest harmony in the symmetrical relations of the different parts to the general magnitude of the whole. Then again, in the human body the central point is naturally the navel. For if a man can be placed flat on his back, with his hands and feet extended, and a pair of compasses centered at his navel, the fingers and toes of his two hands and feet will touch the circumference of a circle described therefrom. And just as the human body yields a circular outline, so too a square figure may be found from it. For if we measure the distance from the soles of the feet to the top of the head, and then apply that measure to the outstretched arms, the breadth will be found to be the same as the height, as in the case of plane surfaces which are completely square.
– Marcus Vitruvius, De Architectura
That’s it, no actual image. It would take 1400 years for someone to intrinsically know what Vitruvius was getting at.
Vitruvius’ opinions influence architecture even today, but in the Renaissance, De Architectura was extremely popular. As a young man of fifteen, Leonardo da Vinci headed to Florence to work as an apprentice in the distinguished workshop of artist Andrea del Verrocchio. It was there he discovered Vitruvius’ book and was captivated by the architect’s notion that the proportions and measurements of the human body, being divinely created, were perfect and correct, and this perfection could carry over in the architecture of temples. Leonardo was all about symmetry.
Guided by Vitruvius’ description of perfection as it related to man, Leonardo da Vinci encapsulated, in one distinct and commanding image, the ideas of divine human proportion and symmetry.
Many believe his Vitruvian Man is an analogy for the workings of the universe.
I’m fascinated by Leonardo d Vinci (notice my book covers). What an amazing man.
I’ve had so much fun discussing my historical posts in the A to Z Challenge. To keep conversations going, I’ve just launched a new blog — a Salon Blog called Another Stone Unturned Pressed for time now that my edits are in progress, I’ve put my Gobekli Tepe post there to reanimate the discussion. Let’s talk about it. What have you found on the web? What stone might still be unturned for interested learners? What can you share? I’d love to see! Read the details and let’s start the ball rolling. http://anotherstoneunturned.blogspot.com/
Rose Anderson ~ Love Waits in Unexpected Places
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