I quattro libri was a product of the Italian Renaissance, which flourished in Florence and Rome before spreading to the other major city-states of Italy. Renaissance architecture reinterpreted the classical tradition of architecture and relied on the built and literary remains of the ancient Roman civilization for its examples. Studies of antiquity, in situ, were an essential part of Palladio's architectural education and he reasoned that only through such study could the "greatness" of ancient architecture be understood. He believed that an essential contribution to its greatness was the concept of virtù, which was derived from a sound education in the arts and sciences, and the exercise of knowledge and wisdom for the benefit and enhancement of civic life. To illustrate his text, Palladio made spectacular drawings of pagan temples and shrines, basilicas, and the vast Roman baths and arenas, reconstructing the ruins as entire buildings, as he imagined they had been designednot as damaged or imperfect relics of the past, but as potent symbols of civilized virtù, perfect and complete.
Commentary and English translation by Robert Tavernor....Continua