Five hundred years ago, on 22 May 1511, the architect, engineer, scholar, and Franciscan friar Fra Giovanni Giocondo of Verona published his edition of the Ten Books on Architecture of Vitruvius. Printed in Venice (by Giovanni Tacuino da Tridino), Giocondo's was the fourth edition of Vitruvius to emerge in this new medium; the first, edited by Giovanni Sulpizio da Veroli, had been published in Rome, probably between 1486 and 1487, followed by a Florentine edition in 1496 and a Venetian edition in 1497; evidently Vitruvius was beginning to command a growing interest, at least in Italy, by the end of the fifteenth century.1 Giocondo, however, took special pains to make his version of Vitruvius more useful to readers than any of its predecessors: he provided woodcut illustrations—136 of them, a glossary of architectural terms, and a key to the curious...

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