Trattato di Camillo Agrippa … di trasportar la guglia in su la piazza di San Pietro
The book “Trattato di Camillo Agrippa … di trasportar la guglia in su la piazza di San Pietro” was, as the title suggests it, written by Camillo Agrippa in 1583. The author was an architect but also a mathematician and an engineer. This treatise is in fact the first and only book Camillo Agrippa wrote about architecture. He is mostly famous for his studies about the science of Arms and Battles.
The literal translation of the title of this book means “Treatise of Camillo Agrippa, about the transport of the spire on the Piazza di San Pietro”. In the context of Rome in 1583, we understand that the subject of the book is transporting Obelisk to the Piazza San Pietro. At that time, the Obelisk was still on the location of its arrival in Rome in the year 37, the circus of Caligula. The Pope Sixtus five, wanting to show the power and the authority of Christianity decided to restore many monuments and symbols of the Antiquity and to relocate them near important Christian places. As part of this project, he decided to transport the Obelisk. The treatise of Camillo Agrippa, written three years before the transport, explain how this massive monument could be displaced.
The book is very short and quite sober, without decorations or even a list of content. It seems like the effort was put in the content of the book and not its form and appearance.The book is composed of what looks like three chapters. It doesn’t contain any drawings except for a double-sided plan illustrating the machine that could be used to transport the Obelisk.
The purpose of this book is not to be attractive and easy to read. The text is dense and, as said earlier, free of any images. This density and the fact that the book is an explanation of a project for the pope let think that it wasn’t written for the general population. It might have been written for the people organizing the displacement or for the pope himself.