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Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (born c. 80–70 BC, died after c. 15 BC) was a Roman writer, architect and engineer,[1] active in the 1st century BC. He is best known as the author of the multi-volume work De Architectura ("On Architecture").

By his own description[2] Vitruvius served as a ballista (artilleryman), the third class of arms in the military offices. He likely served as chief of the ballista (senior officer of artillery) in charge of doctores ballistarum (artillery experts) and libratores who actually operated the machines.[3] He has been called the world's first engineer to be known by name.[4]


Life and career

Little is known about Vitruvius' life. His first name Marcus and his cognomen Pollio are uncertain. Cetius Faventinus speaks of "Vitruvius Polio aliique auctores" in his epitome; it is possible that the cognomen derives from this mention by Cetius, meaning Vitruvius, Polio, and others. Most inferences about his life are extracted from his only surviving work De Architectura, although he appears to be known to Pliny the Elder through his description of constructing mosaics[5] in Naturalis Historia, he is not actually named in that passage, though he does appear in NH 1 (the table of contents). Frontinus, however, refers to "Vitruvius the architect" in his late 1st century work De aquaeductu.

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