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Virtù-vious : Roman Architecture, Renaissance Virtue

Indra Kagis McEwen
p. 255-282

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Index de mots-clés :

Alberti, éthique, Filarète, postérité, Vitruve
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  • 1  An earlier version of this paper was presented in a seminar at the Canadian Centre for Architectur (...)
  • 2  Vitruvius, De architectura I, praef.. The edition used throughout is the C. U. F. edition (Vitruve(...)
  • 3 I. K. McEwen, op. cit.,p. 1-13.

1In the service initially of Julius Caesar during his meteoric rise to autocratic rule, Vitruvius wrote in the mid-first century a. C., at the fall of the Roman republic and the beginning the period of one-man rule known as the Empire1. After Caesar’s assassination in 44 a. C., Vitruvius transferred his allegiance to Caesar’s adopted son, Octavian Augustus, the first Roman emperor to whom he addressed his treatise on architecture2. My own view is that Vitruvius’s intentions are to be understood in terms of these historical circumstances, which is to say that De architectura was written largely as a plea for architecture as vindicator of the new autocracy3. But Vitruvius, as is well known, also had a flourishing afterlife : one that (like the treatise itself) has been studied almost exclusively as part of the history of architecture and of architectural theory. What interests me, however, is the politics of that afterlife.

  • 4  Vitruvius in the Renaissance, inter alia: L. A. Ciapponi, « Il De architecturadi Vitruvio nel prim (...)
  • 5  R. Chevalier (ed.), Présence de César : actes du colloque des 9-11 décembre 1983 : hommage au doye (...)

2« Rediscovery » of, and interest in De architectura, far surpassing any recorded in antiquity, began in earnest with the collapse of republican communes and the rise of principalities in the northern Italian quattrocento4. In this shift of power structure from commune and the rule of many to principality and the rule of one, it is not difficult to see a mirror of the circumstances — the transition from Republic to Empire — that first brought De architectura to light in ancient Rome. Indeed, I believe that Vitruvius’s close association with Caesar and Augustus played a major role in his appeal to the courts of the new signori, who revered Caesar and Augustus, but especially Caesar, as role models5.

  • 6 C. H. Krinsky, « Seventy-eight Vitruvius Manuscripts », Journal of the Warburg Institute 30 (1967), (...)

3Thus, for example, while there are 38 known 15th-century Italian manuscripts of De architectura,there are over five times as many — a total of 220 — manuscript copies of Caesar’s commentaries : the great general’s own accounts of his conquest of Gaul and of the civil wars from which he emerged victor and sole master of Rome6. It was generally agreed that the key to Caesar’s astounding success was what Romans called uirtus — his virtù, in Italian — a quality much prized by the new lords of city states, which had been seized for the most part by force of arms, in northern Italy where Vitruvius made his first major comeback.

  • 7  F. Petrarca, De uiris illustribus, p. 218-269 (G. Martellotti, P. G. Ricci, E. Carrara & E. Bianch (...)
  • 8 Ibid., preface.
  • 9 L. A. Ciapponi, op. cit..

4In the very earliest days of the Renaissance, Petrarch, the alleged father of humanism, was among the first to idealize the quality of uirtus in his De uiris illustribus written in Latin in the 1350’s7. The work includes the lives of 24 famous Romans beginning with Romulus and ending with a virtual apotheosis of Julius Caesar. Virtus,for Petrarch, was what made these Romans illustrious : that rare gift possessed by exceptional men who were crowned with glory because of the brilliance of their exploits, military exploits almost without exception. Virtus — not wealth or power — is the only authentic source of fame, he writes8. Not only a lover of uirtus, as hedeclared himself to be in his preface to this work, Petrarch was also an avid collector of ancient manuscripts : Vitruvius, among others. Indeed, Petrarch was the first in Italy to « rediscover », read and annotate De architectura in the 1350’s9.

  • 10  Filarete, ms. Magliabecchiano, Florence, Bib. Naz. Magl. II, 1, 140, fol. 114v, p. 432 (A. M. Fino (...)

5My aim here is to take the notion of uirtus as a lens with which to focus, less on the political role of De architectura assuch, than on how, if Caesar showed the way to ambitious warlords so too did Vitruvius, ever at the ready as Caesar’s sidekick, show the way to ambitious architects, ultimately uniting prince and architect in a common project whose avowed purpose, now, was di risucitare le virtù,as Filarete would write in his treatise on architecture of about 1460 —« to bring the ancient virtues back to life »10. In this paper, I will limit my discussion to Vitruvius and Rome, and to Alberti and Filarete, with a brief excursus into the Middle Ages.

6Now, if the renaissance project was, as Filarete claimed, « to bring the ancient virtues back to life », what exactly was to be « resurrected » ? Let us begin at the beginning, with Vitruvius and his dedication of De architecturato Augustus Caesar. The Latin word uirtus appears twice in his address to the new ruler of the Roman world : once in the very first sentence, and again in the second paragraph.

  • 11  Vitruvius, I, praef. 1. Trans. by author.

7This is how he begins : « When your divine mind and power, Imperator Caesar, were seizing command of the world and all your enemies had been crushed by your invincible uirtus and citizens were glorying in your triumph and victory […] »11. Further along, he reminds his dedicatee of his previous devotion to Augustus’s adoptive father, Julius Caesar ([…] eius uirtutis studiosus), and of his continued devotion to Caesar’s memory (studium[…] in eius memoria) after Caesar’s death. He explains that his knowledge of architecture was what made him to known to Caesar (eo fueram notus) and bound him to Caesar’s uirtus(I, praef. 2). It is worth stressing that, the way Vitruvius puts it, his knowledge of architecture bound him, not to Caesar the man, but to the man’s uirtus.

8It would be difficult to find a better illustration of what uirtus signified in Vitruvius’s world — its primary meaning, that is to say — than these two instances of its use right at the beginning of De architectura.

  • 12  Cicero, Tusculan Disputations II, 43 : appellata est enim ex uiro uirtus[…].

9Cicero points out that uirtusderives from uir, the Latin word for man, and for a man, he says, courage is the most essential thing, demanding the greatest scorn for both pain and death12.

  • 13 M. A. McDonnell, Roman Manliness :Virtus and the Roman Republic,Cambridge / New York, Cambridge Uni (...)

10An extensive study of Roman uirtus has appeared recently in a book by Myles McDonnell, and has been very helpful to me13.

  • 14 Ibid., p. 3.
  • 15 Ibid., p. 142-149.

11As McDonnell demonstrates, uirtusor what he calls « Roman manliness » was primarily a military virtue. Manifested in the refusal to accept defeat, it was the quality to which, above all others, Romans attributed their success as conquerors14. Personified as a goddess, Virtus was represented as an Amazon, in a short tunic with one breast bared, usually armed with a dagger and a spear15.

  • 16 Ibid., p. 142-149.

12Significantly enough, the goddess Roma — Rome personified as a supernatural being — was sometimes represented in exactly the same way : as an Amazon. Although it is difficult to establish which of the two, Roma or Virtus, was the first to appear in this guise, their shared iconography could not make plainer the interchangeable identity of Rome itself and the manly courage to which Romans claimed they owed their ascendancy16.

  • 17 Ibid., p. 149-154.

13Personified as a goddess, Virtus, like Roma, was an armed Amazon. The pre-eminent symbol of uirtus was not an Amazon, however, but a mounted warrior, his horse usually trampling over a fallen enemy17.

  • 18 Ibid., p. 385-389.

14Thus, for instance, the well-known bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius brought to the Capitol in Rome by Pope Paul III in the 16th century, would originally have had a barbarian victim cowering under the horse’s raised right hoof. In imperial times, the Roman convention was to present the emperor in this way as the essential symbol of uirtus — and so, by extension, of Rome itself18. The Marcus Aurelius statue was fetishized as an urban monument in the late Renaissance — its totemic worth immeasurably enhanced by its architectural frame.

15It is important to keep in mind Vitruvius’s claim that his knowledge of architecture was what had bound him to Caesar’s uirtus — and the implication, crucial to the Vitruvian afterlife, that the great man’s uirtus hadneeded an architect. From the time Petrarch first introduced Vitruvius to the Visconti court at Milan in the 1350’s, any prince who took the time to read the first pages of De architectura would have surely found this assertion of far more immediate interest than Vitruvius’s claim, a few paragraphs further along, that the knowledge of the architect depends on fabrica and ratiocinatio (I, 1, 1). And if a prince was not yet aware that proper deployment of his virtù required architectural support, it is safe to assume that any ambitious architect who had read his Vitruvius would have been more than happy to point it out to him.

16What the Vitruvius-reading architect would be doing in this hypothetical instance is calling on ancient precedent to validate his ambition. Encouraged by the likes of Petrarch, an ambitious warlord’s appeal to Julius Caesar’s uirtus to justify his own jockeying for power would have constituted a similar appeal to the legitimating weight of antique grandeur.

  • 19  For an overview of the education of the architect, cf. the contribution of M. Moro Ipola, supra p. (...)

17Book I, chapter 1 of De architectura deals with the education of the architect who, Vitruvius claims, is to be something of a polymath (I, 1, 3)19. One of the nine disciplines with which he says the architect is to be familiar is history so that, if called upon, he can justify the use of certain ornaments. Two stories illustrate his point. The first explains the use of caryatids.

  • 20  On this story, cf. supra the contribution of E. Romano, p. 177-199.

18As Vitruvius tells it, Carya, a city in the Peloponnese, was sacked by the Greeks for collaborating against them with the Persian invaders — in the early fifth century a. C. one naturally assumes, when the great king, Xerxes, overran much of Greece. Permanent admonitory chastisement of the Caryans’ treachery is why caryatids, statues of widowed Caryan women wearing their finest clothes, are put in the place of columns to support entablatures : « So that they might be led in triumph not just once, but enslaved forever as a lesson » (I, 1, 5)20.

19Vitruvius’s second story is also drawn from the Persian wars. At the battle of Platea, the Greeks, led by the Spartans, won their final, decisive victory over the Persians invaders. Vitruvius says that, back home in Sparta, the Spartans used their war booty to build what he calls a « Persian portico » as a trophy of their victory and « a sign » as he puts it, « of the glory and uirtus of their citizens » (I, 1, 6). As punishment for the Persians’ insolence, statues of Persian captives were used to support the roof of this portico which, Vitruvius writes, was meant to strike terror in the hearts of Sparta’s enemies, and to stand before Spartan citizens as an exemplum uirtutis — a paradigm of uirtus.

20Thus, in the first ten paragraphs of De architectura Vitruvius has used the word uirtus four times : twice as the attribute of victorious generals (Caesar and Augustus), and twice in describing a building whose attestation of victory he declares an « exemplum » of uirtus.

  • 21 L. Callebat, P. Bouet, Ph. Fleury & M. Zuinghedau, Vitruve, De architectura, Concordance, Hildeshei (...)
  • 22  At Vitruve,I, 7, 2, Vitruvius projects the contents of Book II which, he says, will deal with mate (...)

21The word occurs a total of 47 times in De architectura, with most of these usages seemingly unrelated to the primary meaning just reviewed21. The highest concentration of occurrences is in books II and VIII where uirtutes refer to the « virtues » of building materials and of water respectively : their innate natural qualities and potential use in building22.

  • 23 E. g., Vitruvius, X, 1, 1 ; 1, 2 ; 3, 1 ; 3, 6.

22Machines (book X) can also have uirtutes, the « virtue » of a machine — whether a crane or a battering ram — being a question of how effectively it performs, particularly in warfare23. It was, specifically, Vitruvius’s knowledge of war machinery that had forged his bond with Caesar’s uirtus.

  • 24  See for example, Vitruvius,I, 1, 17.
  • 25  L. B. Alberti, De re aedificatoria, praef., p. 11 (G. Orlandi ed., Milan, Polifilo, 1966) ; On the (...)

23Machines can have « virtue » then, but does an architect possess uirtus ? The answer is no, not at this point in the history of the profession. What made an architect praiseworthy, and distinguished a good one from the bad one, is what Vitruvius called sollertia : his skill, or cunning, or both24. Sollertia is a question of craft, not of artistic talent as inspiration, the latter being a gift, independent of skill. In war, the sollertia of an architect will outmanoeuvre the uirtus of even the most effective machinery, Vitruvius boasts at the conclusion of his treatise, after recalling various situations in the past where an architect’s clever strategy saved the day (X, 16, 12). Fifteen hundred years later, Alberti would make a similar claim for the worth of architects, but what he writes in his preface to De re aedificatoria is that the uirtus(not the sollertia) of architects has won more victories than the leadership of generals25.

24Yet architecture as such would indeed appear to have uirtus in Vitruvius’s day, even if the architect himself did not, as yet. Architecture understood as the knowledge of the architect at any rate — architecti scientia: precisely what Vitruvius claims to be revealing in his treatise (I, 1, 1). In his third preface, he writes that although such knowledge, because it has so far been hidden, may have been unappreciated until now, once his treatise is published, « the uirtus of our knowledge » will be made known (III, praef., 3).

  • 26  Vitruvius, II, praef.. See further, I. K. McEwen, op. cit. n. 1, p. 95-103.
  • 27  For a rhetorical perspective on this text, cf. the contribution of M. C. Calcante, supra p. 119-13 (...)

25What kind of « virtue » would this be ? Would the virtue of architecture be more like the innate virtues of materials, or more like the virtue of Julius Caesar ? Vitruvius’s second preface suggests the latter. In it, he tells the story of Dinocrates, an architect famous for his sollertia, who is trying to attract the attention of Alexander the Great26. When all else fails, he strips naked, and approaches Alexander in the immediately identifiable guise of Hercules, complete with lion skin and club. Alexander is won over by the ruse, and hires him. Now Hercules, slayer of monsters, uictor et inuictus, was a paradigm of uirtus, as Vitruvius himself notes in another context where he says that « because of their uirtus » Hercules and Mars should have temples built in the Doric order, and be free of frills (I, 2, 5)27.

26Unlike Dinocrates, Vitruvius is old and ill — or so he says. Thus, with no Herculean physique to recommend him, what he offers instead is his knowledge and writings. The rhetorical structure of the anecdote makes it quite obvious that Vitruvius means his knowledge — architectura, the knowledge of the architect — to be understood as just as effective, potentially, as the uirtus of the invincible, monster-slaying demigod impersonated by Dinocrates.

27But what about the ethical component of uirtus which, after all, is where the English word « virtue » comes from ? Although Vitruvius advocates honesty and high-mindedness in his architect (I, 1, 7), such qualities, for him, are not linked to uirtus, and his use of the word never has any ethical content. Effectiveness seems to be the common denominator linking the uirtus of the emperor and of Hercules, the « virtues » of building materials and machines, and the « virtue » of architecture itself. Success is the ultimate test of effectiveness : desirable, perhaps, even admirable, but not normally linked to moral goodness.

  • 28 M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p.105-128.
  • 29 M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p. 332-355.

28Yet the Latin word uirtus was also the word Romans used to translate the Greek word aretê — innate excellence in general, including ethical integrity.Myles McDonnell argues that the Romans’ increasing contact with the Greek world is what expanded the semantic field of uirtus from the military into the ethical realm28. One of the principal agents of that expansion was Vitruvius’s contemporary Cicero who translated many Greek philosophical works for a Latin-reading public29. His project was not disinterested.

29It is well known that Cicero was extremely ambitious politically. But in republican Rome, a successful military career was the prerequisite for a political one, and the road to political eminence was, without exception, via a reputation for military uirtus. Cicero, a self-made man, an orator and intellectual had had a less than stellar military career, and so was unlikely to rise to prominence in the usual way. Yet if he wanted to succeed in public life, he still had to be seen as a man who possessed uirtus. His tactic, to make a long story short, was not so much to redefine uirtus as to redefine the arena of its deployment — to redefine war, in other words.

  • 30  Cicero, Catiline Orations II, 11, cf.M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p. 350.
  • 31 M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p. 353.

30His detection of the Catilinarian conspiracy, in which Catiline and his supporters had attempted to overthrow the Republic, gave him his window of opportunity. When this great public service was duly acknowledged by the Roman senate with honours traditionally awarded for military success, Cicero hastened to proclaim that if Pompey the Great’s uirtus had defeated foreign enemies, his (Cicero’s) war was not against the armed barbarian, but against decadence, madness and vice itself30. The Republic had been saved by his uirtus, he boasted, and to the end of his career he compared his defeat of Catiline with Rome’s greatest military victories31.

  • 32 M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p. 354.

31M. McDonnell notes that, as with so much else in Latin, Cicero’s treatment of uirtus had a great impact on how the word would be used in later times32. But if Cicero impressed posterity, he failed to impress his contemporaries — the men with real military reputations who, like Caesar and Augustus, controlled armies and wielded real power. Cicero was beheaded by Augustus’s goons in the proscriptions of 43 a. C., and his ideal of civic virtue would have to wait until after the fall of Rome to find a properly appreciative public.

  • 33  On the Lorenzetti frescos, cf., inter alia, R. Starn, « The Republican Régime of the Sala dei Nove (...)
  • 34 L. Martines, op. cit. n. 4, p. 27.

32Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s so-called allegory of good government was painted on three walls of the Sala dei Nove, in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena between 1335 and 1340, just ten years before Petrarch revived the ancient Roman ideal of military uirtus with his De uiris illustribus. Lorenzetti’s famous fresco cycle could be read as the swan song of the communal era which had begun over two hundred years earlier as a daring experiment in civil government, and was now virtually at an end33. Very simply put, the commune was an association of men bound together by oath and by common interests34. Its mortal enemy, literally demonized in Lorenzetti’s work, was one-man rule.

33The commune’s avowed ideal, which the work celebrates, was the public good, brought into real, measurable existence, as Lorenzetti clearly shows, by the built fabric and the shared public spaces of the well-governed city.

  • 35 N. Pevsner, « The Term “ Architect ” in the Middle Ages », Speculum17 (1942), p. 549-562.
  • 36 E. Panofsky, Hercules am Scheidewege und andere antike Bildstoffe in der neueren Kunst, Leipzig, B. (...)

34It would be easy, but both hasty and inaccurate to point complacently to this as the « virtue of architecture » in its medieval incarnation. First of all, it is well known that the terms « architect » and « architecture » were not current at the time, for building activity in the medieval commune, initiated collectively by communal governments, was carried out and controlled collectively through a tightly regulated and cumbersome guild structure in which master builders (not yet « architects ») in charge of building sites deferred to the collective will of corporations35. And if the terms architectus and architectura ceased to be current with the eclipse of Roman antiquity, so too did the term uirtus — uirtus, that is to say, as virtue-in-general : the military uirtus already discussed at some length, but especially uirtus as the moral excellence equivalent to the « virtue » signified by the Greek word aretê36.

35Thus, in Lorenzetti’s allegory, the « goodness » of buon governo is nowhere shown to be dependent on uirtus, on virtue as such. In his complex narrative, the rule of Siena by the Sienese is presented as « Buon Governo » itself, figured in the imposing bearded man who appears at the right of the east wall of the Sala dei Nove, wearing black and white, Siena’s heraldic colours. The superhuman female figures on whose interaction good government is shown to depend are all carefully labelled in gold letters : wisdom, justice, concord, peace, fortitude, prudence, magnanimity, temperance and then justice once again, on the far right. Above the bearded man’s head fly three more women, winged and partially disembodied : faith, hope and charity, the three theological virtues.

  • 37 E. Panofsky, op. cit., p. 153.

36My point is that, as Erwin Panofsky showed 80 years ago, the Middle Ages acknowledged only multiple, individual virtues : the cardinal ones of temperance, fortitude, prudence and justice ; the theological ones of faith, hope and charity37. These plural virtues were represented as women, which is how they appear in the Lorenzetti frescos, although the artist has swelled their conventional ranks somewhat by the addition of wisdom, magnanimity, concord and peace. In the Christian Middle Ages, God was the only (unrepresentable) embodiment of virtue in general.

37That is why, in this context, it would be inappropriate to ask about the « virtue of architecture ».

38What you could say, however, is that just as virtues of all kinds, and not a single uirtus contribute to good government in this brilliantly imagined scene, so the common good which Buon Governo brings into being as a city depends not on the virtue of architecture but on the multiple virtues of many different trades and crafts: something that Lorenzetti is at some pains to demonstrate in his rendering of the well-governed city on the south wall of the Sala dei Nove. Nobody in Italy was reading Vitruvius yet.

39Petrarch, the father of humanism, did a few years later, as already mentioned, and so of course, with particular attention, did Leon Battista Alberti some eighty years after that.

  • 38 A. Grafton, Leon Battista Alberti : Master Builder of the Italian Renaissance, Cambridge, Harvard U (...)

40Alberti was a prominent member of the humanist lineage founded by Petrarch and, as an illegitimate orphan, a personal victim of the vicissitudes of fortune38. His preoccupation with virtù came well before his interest in architecture and may even have decided it. One of the things virtù was for Alberti — the main thing, in fact — was the combative quality of will demanded by the continual struggle to overcome fortuna; the quality needed to determine one’s own fate in other words. The prologue he wrote for his Della Famiglia of about 1430 leaves no doubt that his model was, as Petrarch’s had been, Roman military uirtus.

  • 39  L. B. Alberti, Della Famiglia, praef. inOpere volgari, vol. 1, (C. Grayson, ed.), Bari, G. Laterza (...)
  • 40  L. B. Alberti,Della famiiglia inOpere volgari, p. 9 (C. Grayson, ed.) ; trad.G. A. Guarino, p.32.

41Harking back to Italy’s imperial past, Alberti writes, « Can it be said that our marvellous, boundless empire, our dominion over all peoples obtained through our Latin virtues, acquired through our industry and might, was granted us by Fortune ? Shall we say that we are indebted to Fortune for what we acquired through virtù? »39. As Alberti tells it, the loss of empire was the direct result of a failure of virtù. For him, its recovery is simply a question of willpower : « We must deem virtù sufficientfor accomplishing the greatest and most sublime deeds, for creating mighty empires, gaining the highest praise and eternal fame and glory. We must not doubt that virtù is as easy to acquire as anything else, provided we desire and cherish it »40. What, you may well ask, is this sort of thing doing in an introduction to a work on the family ?

  • 41  For example, J. Gadol, Leon Battista Alberti, Universal Man of the Early Renaissance, Chicago, Uni (...)
  • 42 G. A. Guarino, op. cit., p. 22.

42As his admirers never tire of pointing out, Alberti was good at everything — the original universal man of the Renaissance41. One area of expertise, however, never appears in the litany of his countless accomplishments, and that is military excellence, for Alberti was no soldier. It has been noted that the rhetoric of Alberti’s prologue to Della famiglia is closely modelled on Cicero and, as we have seen, Cicero had not cut much of a figure on the battlefield either42. Eager to be credited with uirtus nevertheless, Cicero’s tactic had been to relocate the arena of uirtus from the battlefield, where he had been a failure, to the floor of the Roman Senate, where he was a success : to redefine war, as I suggested earlier.

43In his prologue to Della Famiglia Alberti is, so to speak, « pulling a Cicero », taking the immensely prestigious capital accumulated by the uirtus of Roman world conquerorsand reinvesting it, as it were, in the family home, where education for a life of virtù,imparted by the family, supplies the knowledge essential for its deployment.

  • 43  L. B. Alberti, Fatum et Fortuna, p. 41-57 (F. Bacchelli & L. D’Ascia, eds., Intercenales, Bologna, (...)

44Thus, in one of his gloomier dinner pieces called Fatum et Fortuna,written around the same time as Della Famiglia, but in Latin, a philosopher relates a dream vision of the hardships entailed in navigating the turbulent river of life43. Desperate swimmers can save themselves by climbing aboard one of the boats Alberti calls Imperia which translators render variously as « Empires » or « States » : which is to say, by participating in public life. But the drowning man’s surest planche de salut is, quite literally, a plank — a tabula in Latin. As Alberti (brilliant Latinist that he was) certainly knew, tabulae can also be writing tablets, books, and paintings. Indeed the name he gives to the life-saving planks of his fable is bonae artes — the « good arts » which, according to some translators, are the liberal arts ; according to others, the « useful » or « noble » arts.

45The point of Alberti’s story is that knowledge — particularly « useful », active knowledge — supplies more of the uirtus needed for life’s struggle than anything else. Alberti would go on to promote precisely such knowledge in his books on sculpture, painting and ultimately, on architecture.

  • 44  L. B. Alberti, De re aedificatoria1, 6, p. 51 (G. Orlandi ed.) ; trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R. T (...)
  • 45  L. B. Alberti, De re aedificatoria, praef. p. 11 (G. Orlandi ed.) ; trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R (...)
  • 46  L. B. Alberti, De re aedificatoria5, 6, p. 359 (G. Orlandi ed.) ; trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R.  (...)

46De re aedificatoria, Alberti’s ten books on the art of building of the 1440’s, was also written in Latin : the first treatise on architecture since Vitruvius. Not surprisingly, a survey of how he uses the word uirtus in this work turns up much on the uirtus of learning, as for instance one passage where he insists that almost as much care be devoted to the construction of the family home as on the cultivation of uirtus,since the home is the incubator of « noble studies »44. Knowledge of « noble disciplines » is essential for architects, whose uirtus, as mentioned earlier,is declared to have won more victories than the command of any general45.Christian uirtus, also allied to learning, is likewise of a combative nature, as when temples are called the battleground for uirtus against vice46.

  • 47  L. B. Alberti,De re aedificatoria6, 3, p. 457 (G. Orlandi ed.) ; trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R. T (...)

47And the « virtue of architecture » ? In one important passage, Alberti is explicit in naming Roman building an extension of Roman military uirtus and of the uirtutes bestowed by Roman conquest47. That, he insists, is why Roman architecture is to be taken as exemplary. Alberti gave Vitruvius short shrift in his treatise, but he was closer to his Roman predecessor than he cared to admit — in the uirtus they both claimed for an architect’s knowledge above all.

  • 48 R. Tavernor, On Alberti and the Art of Building, New Haven / London, Yale University Press, 1998, p (...)

48Thus, it is hardly surprising that, as Robert Tavernor has noted, Alberti was able to inspire the leaders of three prominent northern Italian families with love for architecture all’antica and « respect for his exceptional expertise both as an intellectual and architect »48. The three men in question were northern Italian signori: Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini, Ludovico Gonzaga of Mantua, and Federico da Montefeltro of Urbino. All three were condottieri,which is to say warlords with private armies for hire, and as such would have placed Roman military uirtus high on lists of personal and professional priorities. Not surprising either, in this context, indeed predictable virtually to the point of inevitability, is Alberti’s very first project as a practicing architect.

  • 49 Ibid., p. 51-77.

49It is well known that the façade he designed for Sigismondo Malatesta to transform the medieval church of San Francesco in Rimini into a « Tempio Malatestiano », mausoleum for the Malatesta dynasty, took as its model the triumphal arch of Augustus at the eastern edge of the town49. Everyone knows this, and everyone considers it a finely-judged choice of architectural motif — and a completely original one too, at the time. A finely-judged choice indeed, but not just of a formal motif, as Alberti, learned humanist partisan of Roman uirtus, would have grasped better than anyone.

  • 50 G. Gobbi, Rimini, Rome, Laterza, 1982, p. 14.
  • 51  Suetonius, Caesar33 ; Caesar, Bellum ciuileI, 8 ; Cassius Dio, XLI, 4 ; cf.A. Campana, Il Cippo Ri (...)

50The Arch of Augustus at Rimini had been built in 27 a. C., the year Augustus became Rome’s first emperor50. It was built, that is to say, during precisely the triumphal period Vitruvius exalted in the address with which he begins De architectura: « When your divine mind and power, Imperator Caesar, were seizing command of the world and all your enemies had been crushed by your invincible uirtus,and citizens were glorying in your triumph and victory ». Every Roman triumphal arch celebrated uirtus, of course, but clearly the one at Rimini did so with special emphasis. Moreover, the forum at Ariminum, as Rimini was called in Antiquity, was where Julius Caesar rallied his troops in January of 49 a. C. in preparation for his lightning descent on Rome, right after crossing the Rubicon just north of the town51. Vitruvius, devoted as he was to Caesar’s uirtus,was probably with him at the time.

  • 52  Pius II, Commentariorum Pii Secundi Pontificis Maximi Libri XIII II, 32, vol. 1, p. 326-335 (M. Me (...)

51Hence, by choosing the triumphal motif of the arch of Augustus for his design, what Alberti’s project did for Sigismondo Malatesta was to transform a medieval church into a monument to Roman uirtus: paradigmatically, that of Caesar and Augustus.But there is more. Sigismondo Malatesta was known as a serial rapist, a vicious murderer, an incestuous adulterer, a traitor, a liar, and worse52. In short, he was the kind of ruler Lorenzetti, in the previous century, would have unhesitatingly represented as a demon. Indeed, in 1460, Pope Pius II excommunicated Sigismondo, and condemned him as a citizen of hell.

52Alberti’s virtù-vious façade mitigates Sigismondo’s criminal story ; even — dare I say — legitimates it, suggesting as it does that Roman-style greatness is above morals. Alberti himself would never have said so, of course. But Sigismondo would have been unbothered — indeed, no doubt delighted — by the suggestion which, thanks to Alberti, the solemn grandeur of the façade and its flawless imperial pedigree actively call forth. A Latin inscription, crisply chiselled in elegant Roman capitals onto the cool Istrian marble of the frieze, reads : « Sigismondo Pandelfo Malatesta Made This, 1450 ». The legend is repeated in smaller letters over the door and in various locations inside the church.

  • 53  Filarete, ms. fol. 1r, p. 5 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ; trad. J. R. Spencer, Filarete’sTrea (...)

53Alberti, who died in 1472, was still alive when Antonio Averlino, better known as Filarete, wrote his treatise on architecture between 1461 and 1464. It was the second architectural treatise, after Alberti’s, since Vitruvius, but the first written in Italian. It is well-known that the pseudonym, « Filarete » means « lover of virtue ». In his dedicatory preface, Filarete himself points this out : « Such as it is », he writes of his book, « take it not as written by Vitruvius nor by other worthy architects, but as by your virtue-loving architect (come dal tuo filareto architetto), Antonio Averlino the Florentine »53. But does Filarete love aretêor uirtus ? The answer takes a little unravelling.

54With Filarete, the suggestion that virtù is above morals takes a new twist. We shall see that what Filarete in fact loved, was indeed virtù — full strength Roman-style manliness, no question about it. Becauseof the pseudonym, however, we are encouraged to believe (as indeed most architects who have read, or are aware of Filarete still like to think) that what he loves is ethical integrity. Thus for Filarete who in fact loves virtù while professing to love aretê, Roman uirtus and Greek aretê have become essentially the same thing. To put it as Machiavelli would do some 50 years later, virtù was the new morality.

  • 54 P. Tigler, Die Architekturtheorie des Filarete, Berlin, De Gruyter, 1963, p. 2 ; J. B. Onians, « Al (...)
  • 55 M. Beltramini, « Francesco Filelfo et il Filarete : nuovi contributi alla storia dell’amicizia fra (...)

55The pseudonym, « Filarete », would appear to have been bestowed on him by Francesco Filelfo, his Hellenist friend at the court of Milan, where both were employed54. And for Filelfo, the terms aretêand uirtuswere interchangeable, at least on the evidence of an epigram he wrote for the architect around 1465 entitled Ad Antonium Auerlinum philaretum architectum55. The first two lines read

Philarete Antonii, studium uirtutis et archi-

  • 56  Filelfo, Ms. Ambrosiano G 93, Milan, fol 218v, cited by M. Beltramini, Ibid., p. 121.

Tecturae, danda est Gloria prima tibi56

  • 57 M. Beltramini, op. cit., p. 120.

56« Aretê-loving Antonio, devotee of uirtus and of architecture, » Filelfo begins. In addition to the equivalence of aretê and uirtus, particularly arresting here is the resonance of the phrase studium uirtutis with Vitruvius’s description of his own attachment to Caesar in his first preface, where he says he was devoted to Caesar’s uirtus (eius uirtutis studiosus) as well as to Caesar’s memory (studium [...] in eius memoria) after his death (I, praef.2). As already mentioned, Vitruvius says that his knowledge of architecture was what made him known to Caesar (eo fueram notus) and bound him to Caesar’s uirtus. Similarly, further along in the epigram, Filarete is said to have been bene notus by dux Franciscus Sphortia. Filarete knew Latin, but not very well. It was the immensely learned Filelfo, it is thought, who helped him to read De architectura57.

  • 58 L. Martines, op. cit. n. 4, p. 140-148 ; G. Ianziti, Humanistic Historiography Under the Sforzas : (...)
  • 59 L. Firpo, « La città ideale del Filarete », inF. Balbo (ed.), Studi in memoria di Gioele Solari dei (...)

57Filarete wrote his treatise on architecture for Francesco Sforza, who is, of course, the « Franciscus Sphortia » Filelfo seems to be casting as Caesar to Filarete’s Vitruvius in this epigram. Francesco Sforza was a condottiere (again) who seized Milan by force in 1450, overthrowing the existing Ambrosian Republic, so-called, although his claim to this, the richest dukedom in Italy, was strictly without legal foundation58. Filarete entered his service at the same time or shortly afterwards59. Before that, Filarete had been known principally as a sculptor, author of the famous bronze doors of St. Peter’s at Rome and also of the very first of the countless Renaissance copies of the bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome.

58The central theme of Filarete’s treatise is the project for a city, named Sforzinda after his patron. That the project for a city be the focus of this treatise is something new in a work on architecture, and in this, as in other things, Filarete sets himself apart from his forerunners. Vitruvius and Alberti dealt with urban issues, of course, but they never made it their principal aim, as Filarete did, to build (on paper) a single city from scratch : the first ideal city of the Renaissance, it has been claimed.

  • 60 Filarete, ms. fol. 68v, p. 262 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 119.
  • 61  Filarete, ms. fol. 143r, p. 532-535 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad.J. R. Spencer, p. 246-2 (...)

59Also completely new is the image of virtue Filarete presented in his work — one he says he took considerable pains to devise and which is unequivocal in confirming the essentially warlike nature of the aretê for which this filareto architetto was professing his love. He first describes the figure in Book IX of his treatise as a « beautiful invention » meant to stand at the door of the Ducal Palace of his imagined city of Sforzinda60. The same figure reappears, with illustrations this time, in book XVIII as a bronze statue standing on the summit of the House of Virtue, a monumental building Filarete refers to interchangeably as « Casa della virtù » and « Casa Areti »61.

  • 62  On diamonds and precious stones : Filarete, ms. fol. 17v, p. 74-75 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds. (...)

60He presents virtue as a winged man in full armour, his head haloed in a sunburst, his feet balanced on the point of a diamond. The diamond, Filarete explains in another context, ranks first as the hardest, most intransigent and most transparently « virtuous » in the hierarchy of stones : diamantein Italian, in Latin adamanta — from adamas, the Greek word for « invincible » (cf.fig. 1)62. « A figure of Fame flies above » he writes, expressing some pride in his invention and claiming — quite rightly, as we saw earlier — that to represent Virtue in general as a single figure was an entirely original undertaking at the time. Filarete reminds his reader that, until now, there had only been multiple, individual virtues : the four cardinal virtues, the three theological ones.

  • 63  Filarete, ms. fol. 7v, p. 39-43 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad.J. R. Spencer, p. 15-16.

61Thus our « virtue-loving architect » has, without precedent, figured the object of his affection — virtue — as an armed man crowned with glory. I would recall in this context how, in Book I of his treatise, Filarete idealized the architect’s relation to his padrone as the intimate, sexual bond between an uxorious lord and his submissive wife, with the architect, famously, becoming the « mother » of designs fathered by his (her ?) lord and master63.

  • 64  M. Warnke, The Court Artist, Cambridge / New York, Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 135 and pa (...)
  • 65 P. Boucheron, Le pouvoir de bâtir : urbanisme et politique édilitaire à Milan (XIVe-XVe siècles), R (...)

62In the real life hyperbolized here, the architect is of course Filarete himself, and the lord, the condottiere Francesco Sforza whose virtù I would claim is the model for the iron man at the top of Filarete’s Casa Areti. Also hyperbolized by Filarete as sexual intimacy is the emerging status of the court artist whose ability is now called virtù as well64. The artist’s virtù is a gift, inborn talent rather than skill, whose deployment depends on precisely that one-to-one relation between artist and prince Filarete eroticizes, rather than on a craftsman’s rather less glamorous task of negotiating the cumbersome medieval structure of guilds and corporations, which indeed both Filarete and his prince were busy trying to circumvent at Milan65.

  • 66  Filarete, ms. fol. 114r-114v, p. 430-433 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. (...)
  • 67  Trans. by author. On the medal, cf. L. Firpo, op. cit., p. 34-35 ; P. Boucheron, op. cit., p. 335- (...)

63Moreover, the pool of honey at the feet of Filarete’s iron man is a direct reference to how the prince should reward artistic virtù, something Filarete discusses in some detail elsewhere in his treatise66. The matter was dear to his heart, since he even made it explicit in the personal motto that appears on the reverse of the portrait medal he devised for himself earlier in his career. The legend reads ut sol auget apes sic nobis comoda princeps : « As the sun feeds the bee, so the prince lavishes his favour on us »67.

  • 68  Vitruvius,I, praef. 3 : « Thus, bound to you by the benefice that freed me from fear of want for t (...)
  • 69  Vitruvius, I, praef. 2 : […] et cum eis commoda accepi.

64Filarete may very well have in mind, as evidence of another ancient virtue to be « resurrected », the princely favour Vitruvius says he enjoyed, claiming in his first preface that his gratitude for the benefits bestowed on him by Augustus was why he began to write De architectura68. Indeed, a few lines earlier, Vitruvius uses the same word, commoda, to refer to gratifications received, just as Filarete does in the motto on his medal69.

  • 70  P. Boucheron, op. cit., p. 356.

65What interests me, as I mentioned earlier is how the interdependence of princely and artistic virtù, so clearly set out in Filarete’s image, brings into focus the politics of antique revival and Vitruvius’s role in it. The ancient ways of building Filarete draws from Vitruvius, and his scorn for what he calls la maniera gotica is not just an expression of a stylistic preference for « ancient » over « modern » : it is also a rejection of the cumbersome corporate bureaucracy that inhibited the free play of virtù — both the artist’s and that of his prince70. The ancients, Vitruvius seemed to attest, had not been hampered in this way.

  • 71  Filarete, ms. fols. 144r and 145r.
  • 72  Filarete, ms. fols. 142v-151r, p. 531-562 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p (...)

66As Filarete describes it, the sprawling Casa Areti includes not only the huge coliseum-like structure drawn in section and in elevation in the margins of his manuscript pages71, but also a temple, a theatre and a house for the architect, one « Onitolan Noliaver » which is an anagram for Antonio Averlino — Filarete himself72. One significantly recurring motif in this mammoth construction of princely and artistic virtù is Filarete’s obsessive use of what he calls « figures in the place of columns » which support the bronze roof of the uppermost storey of the House of Virtue. Over them towers the figure of Virtue just described.

  • 73  Filarete, ms. fol. 150r, p. 557 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 256.

67« Figures in the place of columns » reappear on three levels as the internal supports for the dome of the Temple of Virtue, as well as paired up on two levels of a portico outside the same temple. At the top of the theatre, for which there is no drawing, the roof, Filarete writes, is « supported by columns in the shape of human figures and made like certain peoples who had rebelled and were then forced in to subjugation. They were made in this form in order to increase contempt for them »73. Vitruvius’s lesson concerning the role of caryatids and Persian prisoners as the sign and very paradigm of uirtus has been taken enthusiastically to heart.

  • 74  Filarete, ms. fol. 102v, p. 389-390 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 180- (...)

68In addition to the armies of such figures deployed throughout the Casa Areti of book XVIII, Filarete also uses extensive Caryatid / Persian underpinning in two monuments he describes elsewhere in his treatise. Both are monuments to one « King Zogalia » whose identity I will explain shortly. In one of them, presented in book XIV, the king is seated on a throne balanced on a sphere at the summit of an obelisk74. The obelisk itself, with its sphere and supporting lions is a fairly exact rendering of the Vatican obelisk at Rome, before it was moved to the front of St. Peter’s at the end of the 16th century. In Filarete’s day, the bronze sphere at the top of the obelisk was thought to contain the ashes of Julius Caesar. The two ranks of human figures lifting the obelisk from below are, of course, Filarete’s own addition to the assembly.

  • 75  Filarete, ms. fol. 172r, p. 633-635 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 293- (...)
  • 76 J. R. Spencer, op. cit., p. 293, n. 4.

69In book XXI, King Zogalia re-appears, fully armed this time, brandishing a sword, and sitting astride a rearing horse. This second statue stands on the top of a revolving tower with no fewer than five levels of « figures instead of columns »75. John Spencer, Filarete’s English translator, notes rather primly that this structure « is quite impractical and seems to serve no definite function in the city but to demonstrate the abilities of the architect »76. Joint celebration of princely and architectural virtù could hardly be more flagrant. But who is king Zogalia ?

  • 77  Filarete, ms. fol. 103r-103v, p. 393 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 181

70In Book XIV, just over half way through his treatise, excavations for the port of Sforzinda turn up a long-buried, mysterious stone chest, which is discovered to contain an ancient so-called « Golden Book ». The book begins, « I, King Zogalia […] leave this treasure in your guardianship […] No one will ever be able to touch this treasure until there comes a man who will rise from a small principate and through his own virtù acquire a substantial kingdom. Because he will be magnanimous, his state will be at peace. He will have large buildings built »77. The fictional prophesy is of the reign of Francesco Sforza.

  • 78  Filarete, ms. fol. 104v, p. 398 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 183.

71King Zogalia is the ancient king of this very land where once flourished a magnificent city called Plusiapolis. His narrative continues with a history of his own dynasty — how his heroic father, « by virtù of battle and through celestial grace acquired the signoria » and so on78. The account is an instantly recognizable, if epically enhanced, history of the Sforza themselves and their rise to power. « Zogalia », in fact, is an anagram for Galeazzo, Francesco Sforza’s eldest son and heir.

  • 79  On the appeal to precedent, most recently, S. Price & P. Thonemann, The Birth of Classical Europe, (...)

72The golden book also contains descriptions of the many splendid monuments and buildings in Plusiapolis — including the two just described — built under the direction of the virtuoso architect « Onitolan Noliaver » which as I said is an anagram for Antonio Averlino, i. e. Filarete, who forthwith, takes these ancient models and rebuilds them in the fictional present for the lord of Sforzinda. The role of the Golden Book in Filarete’s treatise is to show how the past legitimates the present, for in traditional societies it was customary to invoke imperishability, autochthony and the greatness of ancestors as justification for present claims79. Filarete takes the tactic a step further, for the fictions of the Golden Book are made identical to the present. The principle of antiquity as legitimator, embedded in the stories about King Zogalia et al., is another impetus driving Filarete’s argument for the virtue of architecture, and the preference for « ancient » over « modern ».

73As virtually every commentator on the treatise has noted, Sforzinda is to a large extent identifiable with the realcity of Milan. To this idealized Milan Filarete has given the name Sforzinda — « Sforza-town » — a city which is like Milan, only much better, thanks to the revival of ancient tradition through the tandem deployment of princely and architectural virtù. Thus Filarete’s treatise lays out a picture of « Sforza-town » (Milan under Sforza rule) which demonstrates, hyperbolically of course, how as Sforza-town the city propitiates the common good.

  • 80 G. Ianziti, op. cit. n. 58,p. 20-30 ; L. Martines, op. cit. n. 4, p. 140-148.

74But many people thought Sforza rule of Milan was doing just the opposite : that it was undermining the common good. Many — particularly the old oligarchs of the Ambrosian republic Sforza overthrew in 1450 — contended that the condottiere’s claim to the dukedom was founded in nothing but raw ambition and brute force ; that he had no legal right to rule the city. For his numerous critics, Francesco Sforza was a usurping warlord80.

  • 81 G. Ianziti, op. cit. n. 58, p. 61-64.
  • 82 Ibid., p. 103-127.

75As Gary Ianziti has shown, one consequence, among other tactics, was the new regime’s mobilization of literary and scholarly talent. In 1452, Filarete’s friend Filelfo began an epic called the Sforziade, modelled on the Iliad, and planned to write a work on the Life and Deeds of Francesco Sforza, which never came to fruition81. Between 1457 and 1462, however, just as Filarete was beginning to write his treatise, one Lodrisio Crivelli, Francesco Sforza’s secretary and Filelfo’s protégé, did write a life of Francesco Sforza82.

76With no possible appeal to constitutional or dynastic legitimacy, Crivelli’s book, written in Latin, justified the condottiere’s claim to Milan on the grounds of sheer personal merit ; on the grounds, exclusively, of the Sforza lord’s uirtus which, so went the argument, had earned him the right to rule. Other works had similar legitimating aims.

77I would contend that Filarete’s treatise is to be understood in this context : that its presentation of architecture as a privileged demonstration of princely virtùmade it an essential part of the same legitimating project. The project of legitimation was, with variants, shared by signorithroughout the Italian Renaissance. The virtù-viousappeal of De architecturawas the promise it was thought to hold for its realization.

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Notes

1  An earlier version of this paper was presented in a seminar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal in 2008.  Many thanks to Joseph Rykwert for his valuable comments on the current version of it pubished here. B. Baldwin, « The Date, Identity and Career of Vitruvius », Latomus49 (1990), p. 425-424 ; I. K. McEwen,Vitruvius : Writing the Body of Architecture, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1993, p. 1-13.

2  Vitruvius, De architectura I, praef.. The edition used throughout is the C. U. F. edition (Vitruve, De architectura, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1969-2009).

3 I. K. McEwen, op. cit.,p. 1-13.

4  Vitruvius in the Renaissance, inter alia: L. A. Ciapponi, « Il De architecturadi Vitruvio nel primo umanesimo », Italia medioevale e umanisticaIII (1960), p. 59-99 ; P. N. Pagliara, « Vitruvio da testo a canone », inS. Settis (ed.), Memoria dell’antico nell’arte italiana, Turin, Einaudi, 1986, vol. 3, p. 3-85 ; G. Ciotta (ed.), Vitruvio nella cultura architettonica antica, medievale et moderna : atti del convegno internazionale de Genova, 5-8 novembre 2001, vol. II :Età moderna, Gênes, De Ferrari, 2003. On the fall of the communes and rise of signorie, inter alia: L. Martines, Power and Imagination : City States in Renaissance Italy, Baltimore, Johns Hopkins, 1988 ;P. J. Jones, The Italian City-state : from Commune to Signoria, Oxford / New York, The Clarendon Press, 1997 ; P. Boucheron, « De l’urbanisme communal à l’urbanisme seigneurial : cités, territoires et édilité publique en Italie du Nord (XIIIe-XVe siècles) », inE. Crouzet-Pavan (ed.), Pouvoir et édilité. Les grands chantiers dans l’Italie communale et seigneuriale, Rome, École française de Rome, 2002, p. 41-77.

5  R. Chevalier (ed.), Présence de César : actes du colloque des 9-11 décembre 1983 : hommage au doyen Michel Rambaud, Paris, Les Belles lettres, 1985.

6 C. H. Krinsky, « Seventy-eight Vitruvius Manuscripts », Journal of the Warburg Institute 30 (1967), p. 36-70 ; L. A. Ciaponni, « Vitruvius », inP. O. Kristeller & F. E. Cranz (eds.), Catalogus translationum et commentariorum, Washington, D. C., Catholic University of America Press, 1976, vol. III, p. 399-409. V. Brown, « Caesar », inIbid., p. 87-139.

7  F. Petrarca, De uiris illustribus, p. 218-269 (G. Martellotti, P. G. Ricci, E. Carrara & E. Bianchi, eds., Francesco Petrarca : Prose, Milan / Naples, Riccardo Ricciardi Editore, 1955).

8 Ibid., preface.

9 L. A. Ciapponi, op. cit..

10  Filarete, ms. Magliabecchiano, Florence, Bib. Naz. Magl. II, 1, 140, fol. 114v, p. 432 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds., Filarete : Trattato di architettura, Milan, Il Polifilo, 1972).

11  Vitruvius, I, praef. 1. Trans. by author.

12  Cicero, Tusculan Disputations II, 43 : appellata est enim ex uiro uirtus[…].

13 M. A. McDonnell, Roman Manliness :Virtus and the Roman Republic,Cambridge / New York, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

14 Ibid., p. 3.

15 Ibid., p. 142-149.

16 Ibid., p. 142-149.

17 Ibid., p. 149-154.

18 Ibid., p. 385-389.

19  For an overview of the education of the architect, cf. the contribution of M. Moro Ipola, supra p. 159-176.

20  On this story, cf. supra the contribution of E. Romano, p. 177-199.

21 L. Callebat, P. Bouet, Ph. Fleury & M. Zuinghedau, Vitruve, De architectura, Concordance, Hildesheim / New York, Olms-Weidmann, 1984, s. u. uirtus.

22  At Vitruve,I, 7, 2, Vitruvius projects the contents of Book II which, he says, will deal with materials, […]quibus sint uirtutes et quem habeant usum. Cf. II, praef. 5 ; II, 1, 6 ; 4, 3 ; 5, 2, etc. For Book VIII, see, e. g., praef. 4 ; VIII, 2, 1 ; 3, 4 ; 3, 12.

23 E. g., Vitruvius, X, 1, 1 ; 1, 2 ; 3, 1 ; 3, 6.

24  See for example, Vitruvius,I, 1, 17.

25  L. B. Alberti, De re aedificatoria, praef., p. 11 (G. Orlandi ed., Milan, Polifilo, 1966) ; On the Art of Building in Ten Books, p. 4 (trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R. Tavernor, Cambridge, MIT Press, 1988).

26  Vitruvius, II, praef.. See further, I. K. McEwen, op. cit. n. 1, p. 95-103.

27  For a rhetorical perspective on this text, cf. the contribution of M. C. Calcante, supra p. 119-139.

28 M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p.105-128.

29 M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p. 332-355.

30  Cicero, Catiline Orations II, 11, cf.M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p. 350.

31 M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p. 353.

32 M. A. McDonnell, op. cit. n. 14, p. 354.

33  On the Lorenzetti frescos, cf., inter alia, R. Starn, « The Republican Régime of the Sala dei Nove in Siena 1338-1340 », inR. Starn & L. Partridge (eds), Arts of Power : Three Halls of State in Italy, 1300-1600, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1992, p. 11-53 ; R. Starn, Ambrogio Lorenzetti : The Palazzo Pubblico, Siena, New York, George Braziller, 1994 ; Q. Skinner, « Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the Portrayal of Virtuous Government » and « Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the Power and Glory of Republics »,Visions of Politics, Vol. 2, Cambridge / New York, Cambridge University Press, 2002, p. 39-117.

34 L. Martines, op. cit. n. 4, p. 27.

35 N. Pevsner, « The Term “ Architect ” in the Middle Ages », Speculum17 (1942), p. 549-562.

36 E. Panofsky, Hercules am Scheidewege und andere antike Bildstoffe in der neueren Kunst, Leipzig, B. G. Teubner, 1930, p. 150-170 ; T. E. Mommsen, « Petrarch and the Story of the Choice of Hercules », Journal of the Warburg and Courtault Institutes 16 (1953), p. 178-192.

37 E. Panofsky, op. cit., p. 153.

38 A. Grafton, Leon Battista Alberti : Master Builder of the Italian Renaissance, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2000, p. 32-33.

39  L. B. Alberti, Della Famiglia, praef. inOpere volgari, vol. 1, (C. Grayson, ed.), Bari, G. Laterza, 1960, p. 5-6 ; trad. G. A. Guarino, The Albertis of Florence : Leon Battista Alberti’sDella Famiglia, Lewisburg, Bucknell University Press, 1971, p. 29.

40  L. B. Alberti,Della famiiglia inOpere volgari, p. 9 (C. Grayson, ed.) ; trad.G. A. Guarino, p.32.

41  For example, J. Gadol, Leon Battista Alberti, Universal Man of the Early Renaissance, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1969.

42 G. A. Guarino, op. cit., p. 22.

43  L. B. Alberti, Fatum et Fortuna, p. 41-57 (F. Bacchelli & L. D’Ascia, eds., Intercenales, Bologna, Pendragon, 2003).See alsoL. B. Alberti, Dinner Pieces, p. 23-27 (D. Marsh, ed. and trad., Binghamton, Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1987).

44  L. B. Alberti, De re aedificatoria1, 6, p. 51 (G. Orlandi ed.) ; trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R. Tavernor, p. 4. Cf.H.-K. Lûcke, Alberti Index, Munich, Prestel, 1975, s. u. uirtus.

45  L. B. Alberti, De re aedificatoria, praef. p. 11 (G. Orlandi ed.) ; trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R. Tavernor, p. 4.

46  L. B. Alberti, De re aedificatoria5, 6, p. 359 (G. Orlandi ed.) ; trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R. Tavernor, p. 126.

47  L. B. Alberti,De re aedificatoria6, 3, p. 457 (G. Orlandi ed.) ; trad. J. Rykwert, N. Leach & R. Tavernor, p. 159.

48 R. Tavernor, On Alberti and the Art of Building, New Haven / London, Yale University Press, 1998, p. 48.

49 Ibid., p. 51-77.

50 G. Gobbi, Rimini, Rome, Laterza, 1982, p. 14.

51  Suetonius, Caesar33 ; Caesar, Bellum ciuileI, 8 ; Cassius Dio, XLI, 4 ; cf.A. Campana, Il Cippo Riminiese di Giulio Cesare, Rimini, La libreria Arnaud, 1933, p. 7.

52  Pius II, Commentariorum Pii Secundi Pontificis Maximi Libri XIII II, 32, vol. 1, p. 326-335 (M. Meserve & M. Simonetta, eds., Pius II Commentaries, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 2003). Pius’s chapter heading reads : « Sigismondo Malatesta and his unspeakable crimes ».

53  Filarete, ms. fol. 1r, p. 5 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ; trad. J. R. Spencer, Filarete’sTreatise on Architecture, New Haven / London, Yale University Press, 1965, p. 3.

54 P. Tigler, Die Architekturtheorie des Filarete, Berlin, De Gruyter, 1963, p. 2 ; J. B. Onians, « Alberti and Φιλάρετη : A Study in their Sources », Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 34 (1971), p. 96-114.

55 M. Beltramini, « Francesco Filelfo et il Filarete : nuovi contributi alla storia dell’amicizia fra il letterato e l’architetto nella Milano Sforzesca », Annali della Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, ser. IV, 1-2 (1996), p. 119-125.

56  Filelfo, Ms. Ambrosiano G 93, Milan, fol 218v, cited by M. Beltramini, Ibid., p. 121.

57 M. Beltramini, op. cit., p. 120.

58 L. Martines, op. cit. n. 4, p. 140-148 ; G. Ianziti, Humanistic Historiography Under the Sforzas : Politics and Propaganda in Fifteenth-century Milan, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1988.

59 L. Firpo, « La città ideale del Filarete », inF. Balbo (ed.), Studi in memoria di Gioele Solari dei discepoli, Turin, Edizioni Ramella, 1954, p. 11-59 (p. 33).

60 Filarete, ms. fol. 68v, p. 262 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 119.

61  Filarete, ms. fol. 143r, p. 532-535 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad.J. R. Spencer, p. 246-247.

62  On diamonds and precious stones : Filarete, ms. fol. 17v, p. 74-75 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 52. On their properties, Pliny, Natural History XX, 1, 2 ; XXXVII, 15, 4.

63  Filarete, ms. fol. 7v, p. 39-43 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad.J. R. Spencer, p. 15-16.

64  M. Warnke, The Court Artist, Cambridge / New York, Cambridge University Press, 1993, p. 135 and passim.

65 P. Boucheron, Le pouvoir de bâtir : urbanisme et politique édilitaire à Milan (XIVe-XVe siècles), Rome, École française de Rome, 1998, p. 335-377.

66  Filarete, ms. fol. 114r-114v, p. 430-433 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 199-200.

67  Trans. by author. On the medal, cf. L. Firpo, op. cit., p. 34-35 ; P. Boucheron, op. cit., p. 335-336.

68  Vitruvius,I, praef. 3 : « Thus, bound to you by the benefice that freed me from fear of want for the rest of my life, I began to write this work for you ». Trans. by author.

69  Vitruvius, I, praef. 2 : […] et cum eis commoda accepi.

70  P. Boucheron, op. cit., p. 356.

71  Filarete, ms. fols. 144r and 145r.

72  Filarete, ms. fols. 142v-151r, p. 531-562 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 245-259.

73  Filarete, ms. fol. 150r, p. 557 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 256.

74  Filarete, ms. fol. 102v, p. 389-390 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 180-181.

75  Filarete, ms. fol. 172r, p. 633-635 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 293-294.

76 J. R. Spencer, op. cit., p. 293, n. 4.

77  Filarete, ms. fol. 103r-103v, p. 393 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 181.

78  Filarete, ms. fol. 104v, p. 398 (A. M. Finoli & L. Grassi, eds.) ;trad. J. R. Spencer, p. 183.

79  On the appeal to precedent, most recently, S. Price & P. Thonemann, The Birth of Classical Europe, Harmondsworth, Allen Lane, 2010.

80 G. Ianziti, op. cit. n. 58,p. 20-30 ; L. Martines, op. cit. n. 4, p. 140-148.

81 G. Ianziti, op. cit. n. 58, p. 61-64.

82 Ibid., p. 103-127.

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Indra Kagis McEwen, « Virtù-vious : Roman Architecture, Renaissance Virtue », Cahiers des études anciennes, XLVIII | 2011, 255-282.

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Indra Kagis McEwen, « Virtù-vious : Roman Architecture, Renaissance Virtue », Cahiers des études anciennes [En ligne], XLVIII | 2011, mis en ligne le 28 mai 2011, consulté le 11 décembre 2017. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/etudesanciennes/334

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Indra Kagis McEwen

Université Concordia

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