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I saperi dell’architetto nella propaganda augustea: Vitruvio, Creta e la medicina

Margherita Cassia


The Vitruvian De architectura, treatise in ten books dedicated to Augustus, documents the author’s perfect adherence to the ideological contents of the Augustan propaganda – which founded much of its success not only on territorial conquests but also on public buildings – and presents numerous points of contact with some declarations of intents expressed by Strabo in the Prolegomena to his geographical work. Like the geographer, in fact, even the architect probes the ‘goodness’ of the places – conquered or yet to be conquered – and verifies their housing suitability on the basis of the possession or not of specific requirements. According to Vitruvius, the architect’s vast knowledge had to include – in addition to literature, technical drawing, geometry, physics, arithmetic, history, philosophy, music, law, cosmology and astronomy – also medicine. In particular, the description of some peculiarities of the territory between Gortyn and Knossos offers Vitruvius the opportunity to compare the response of the traditional religion offered by the haruspicy and the rational explanation of the medical experience. It is probable that these scientific data are the result of testimonies directly collected by the architect from some exponent of Cretan medicine active in the Rome of the Caesarian era and the early Augustan age.


architecture; Augustus; culture; Gortyn; Knossos; physicians; politics; technical-scientific literature; architettura; Augusto; Cnosso; cultura; Gortina; letteratura tecnico-scientifica; medici; politica

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/erga-2020-001-cass

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