Mainly known for his writings, Vitruvius was himself an architect; Frontinus says he was in charge of the aqueducts of Rome.
Among notable concepts contained in De Architectura (probably written between 23 and 27 B.C.), Vitruvius declares that fame depends on social relevance of the artist's work, not on the work by itself.
Vitruvius' work is one of many examples of Latin texts that owe their survival to the palace scriptorium of Charlemagne in the early ninth century. (This activity of finding and recopying classical manuscripts is called the Carolingian Renaissance.) Many of the surviving manuscripts of Vitruvius' work derive from an existing manuscript that was written there, British Library manuscript Harley 2767.
Vitruvius studied human proportions (third book) and his canones were later resumed in a very famous drawing by Leonardo da Vinci (Homo Vitruvianus). The 16th century architect Palladio considered him his master and guide, and made some drawings based on Vitruvius's rules for architecture before conceiving his own ones.
Though De architectura had been known throughout the middle ages, the work was popularized in 16th century. Inigo Jones, English architect, was perhaps the first together with French Salomon De Caus to reconsider those disciplines that Vitruvius considered a necessary element of architecture: arts and sciences based upon the number and the proportions, music, perspective, painting.
Among his sources Vitruvius recalls Ctebisius of Alexandria and Archimedes for their inventions, Aristossenes (Aristotle's apprentice) for music, Agatarch for theatre, and Terentius Varro for architecture.