Eurythmia is a Latin word, which comes originally from Ancient Greek (euruthmiā, or euruthmos) meaning rhythmic, well-proportioned.
The History of Eurythmia
The earliest known description of eurythmia is in the famous work Ten Books on Architecture by ancient Roman architect Vitruvius. He outlined his theories of art and architecture in a treatise that formed the basis of artistic thought for centuries.
Vitruvius’ work is the oldest text on the subject of architecture and it was one of the first to cite the ‘perfect’ architecture of the body as the inspiration for the architecture of buildings.
Comparing the architecture of buildings with that of the human body, Vitruvius believed that the proportions of the ‘ideal’ body could be used as a model of the perfection of natural proportions. For him it reflected certain ‘golden ratios’ of nature which demonstrated universal laws of proportion and symmetry.
Leonardo da Vinci’s famous drawing “Vitruvian Man” is derived from Vitruvius’ writings and shows this ‘ideal’ body fitting precisely into both a square and a circle.
Marcus Vitruvius Pollio
Vitruvius was a First Century BCE Roman engineer, architect and writer, a contemporary of Julius Caesar. (The first name Marcus and cognomen Pollio are often attributed to him, but the only part of his name we can prove for certain is his clan name Vitruvius.)
We know from his writings that he served in the Roman army under Julius Caesar, primarily as an engineer building siege engines, camp facilities and fortifications. Later he was involved in work on the Roman water supply (e.g. aqueducts) under Octavian (the later emperor Augustus).
Around 33 BCE he was awarded a pension (probably with the patronage of the Emperor’s sister Octavia), ensuring a reasonably comfortable life of leisure. Around this time, he also determined to leave a lasting monument to himself (as was the fashion amongst educated Romans of the time) in the form of a written legacy – a treatise on architectural theory.
De Architectura, dedicated to the emperor and written between 33 and 14 BCE, outlined the generally accepted theories of art and architecture at that time, and Vitruvius proudly claimed that he was the first to cover the entire field in one complete systematic work.