Article ID: CBB443638931

The Commentario terzo by Lorenzo Ghiberti and his volgarizzamenti of Vitruvius, Alhazen and the Medieval Perspectivists (2021)


The compilative nature of the Commentario terzo by Lorenzo Ghiberti has posed serious problems to scholars as regards its structure, methodology and aim, which have been long debated. The text is a collection of volgarizzamenti from Vitruvius’ De architectura, Alhazen’s De aspectibus and the medieval optical works by Roger Bacon and John Peckham. This paper focuses on a single aspect of Ghiberti’s Third Commentary, namely his original interventions inserted within the flow of his translations. The first section of the paper recalls the main data concerning the Commentarii and their transmission in the only manuscript copy which conveyed them to us (Florence, BNC, II, I, 333); this is done through a supplementary examination of Giorgio Vasari’s statements concerning this precious witness. Then, a summary of the status quaestionis on the sources of the Commentario terzo introduces the discussion on selected specimens of Ghiberti’s volgarizzamenti from Vitruvius, Alhazen, and the medieval perspectivists. Their textual features illustrate how Ghiberti read, understood and used his scientific and literary sources in order to accomplish his huge effort to expose all aspects of a complex and multifaceted science of vision which, at his time, still spoke a demanding scholastic Latin.

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Authors & Contributors
Camerota, Filippo
Federici Vescovini, Graziella
Nader El-Bizri
Alberto Faliva
Valentina Burgassi
Unguru, Sabetai
Micrologus: Nature, Sciences and Medieval Societies
Signum: revista da ABREM
Science and Education
Journal of the History of Ideas
Galilæana: Journal of Galilean Studies
Edizioni Cadmo
Firenze University Press
Cornell University Press
Belknap Press of Harvard University Press
Science and art
Alberti, Leon Battista
Ḥasan Ibn al Haytham (Alhazen)
Blasius of Parma (1350-1416)
Vitruvius Pollio, Marcus
Taylor, Brook
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
15th century
18th century
Baghdad (Iraq)
Mediterranean region
Florence (Italy)
Tuscany (Italy)

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