Despite Alberti's well-known doubts about the usefulness of Vitruvius as a guide for the study of architecture, most architectural historians have considered that the structure of De re aedificatoria is based on, or similar to, that of the De architectura libri decem. However, when we look closely at the structure of De re aedificatoria and the way in which Alberti orders and presents his material, Vitruvius can no longer be considered as the main model for Alberti. De re aedificatoria contains a number of quite precise statements about its structure and order of presentation. A close reading of these passages and a comparison with classical and medieval discussions of method in the liberal and productive arts show that the structure of De re aedificatoria is not based on that of De architectura; rather it is in line with classical methods of rhetoric which originated in Plato's Phaedrus and Aristotle's Metaphysics.

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