Ten Books on Architecture/Book VI
On Climate as determining the Style of the House
Symmetry, and Modifications in it to suit the Site
1. It is related of the Socratic philosopher Aristippus that, being shipwrecked and cast ashore on the coast of the Rhodians, he observed geometrical figures drawn thereon, and cried out to his companions: "Let us be of good cheer, for I see the traces of man." With that he made for the city of Rhodes, and went straight to the gymnasium. There he fell to discussing philosophical subjects, and presents were bestowed upon him, so that he could not only fit himself out, but could also provide those who accompanied him with clothing and all other necessaries of life. When his companions wished to return to their country, and asked him what message he wished them to carry home, he bade them say this: that children ought to be provided with property and resources of a kind that could swim with them even out of a shipwreck.
2. These are indeed the true supports of life, and neither Fortune's adverse gale, nor political revolution, nor ravages of war can do them any harm. Developing the same idea, Theophrastus, urging men to acquire learning rather than to put their trust in money, states the case thus: "The man of learning is the only person in the world who is neither a stranger when in a foreign land, nor friendless when he has lost his intimates and relatives; on the contrary, he is a citizen of every country, and can fearlessly look down upon the troublesome accidents of fortune. But he who thinks himself entrenched in defences not of learning but of luck, moves in slippery paths, struggling through life unsteadily and insecurely."
3. And Epicurus, in much the same way, says that the wise owe little to fortune; all that is greatest and essential is under the direction of the thinking power of the mind and the understanding. Many other philosophers have said the same thing. Likewise the poets who wrote the ancient comedies in Greek have expressed the same sentiments in their verses on the stage: for example, Eucrates, Chionides, Aristophanes, and with them Alexis in particular, who says that the Athenians ought to be praised for the reason that, while the laws of all Greeks require the maintenance of parents by their children, the laws of the Athenians require this only in the case of those who have educated their children in the arts. All the gifts which fortune bestows she can easily take away; but education, when combined with intelligence, never fails, but abides steadily on to the very end of life.
4. Hence, I am very much obliged and infinitely grateful to my parents for their approval of this Athenian law, and for having taken care that I should be taught an art, and that of a sort which cannot be brought to perfection without learning and a liberal education in all branches of instruction. Thanks, therefore, to the attention of my parents and the instruction given by my teachers, I obtained a wide range of knowledge, and by the pleasure which I take in literary and artistic subjects, and in the writing of treatises, I have acquired intellectual possessions whose chief fruits are these thoughts: that superfluity is useless, and that not to feel the want of anything is true riches. There may be some people, however, who deem all this of no consequence, and think that the wise are those who have plenty of money. Hence it is that very many, in pursuit of that end, take upon themselves impudent assurance, and attain notoriety and wealth at the same time.
5. But for my part, Caesar, I have never been eager to make money by my art, but have gone on the principle that slender means and a good reputation are preferable to wealth and disrepute. For this reason, only a little celebrity has followed; but still, my hope is that, with the publication of these books, I shall become known even to posterity. And it is not to be wondered at that I am so generally unknown. Other architects go about and ask for opportunities to practise their profession; but I have been taught by my instructors that it is the proper thing to undertake a charge only after being asked, and not to ask for it; since a gentleman will blush with shame at petitioning for a thing that arouses suspicion. It is in fact those who can grant favours that are courted, not those who receive them. What are we to think must be the suspicions of a man who is asked to allow his private means to be expended in order to please a petitioner? Must he not believe that the thing is to be done for the profit and advantage of that individual?
6. Hence it was that the ancients used to entrust their work in the first place to architects of good family, and next inquired whether they had been properly educated, believing that one ought to trust in the honour of a gentleman rather than in the assurance of impudence. And the architects themselves would teach none but their own sons or kinsmen, and trained them to be good men, who could be trusted without hesitation in matters of such importance.
But when I see that this grand art is boldly professed by the uneducated and the unskilful, and by men who, far from being acquainted with architecture, have no knowledge even of the carpenter's trade, I can find nothing but praise for those householders who, in the confidence of learning, are emboldened to build for themselves. Their judgment is that, if they must trust to inexperienced persons, it is more becoming to them to use up a good round sum at their own pleasure than at that of a stranger.
7. Nobody, therefore, attempts to practise any other art in his own home — as, for instance, the shoemaker's, or the fuller's, or any other of the easier kinds — but only architecture, and this is because the professionals do not possess the genuine art but term themselves architects falsely. For these reasons I have thought proper to compose most carefully a complete treatise on architecture and its principles, believing that it will be no unacceptable gift to all the world. In the fifth book I have said what I had to say about the convenient arrangement of public works; in this I shall set forth the theoretical principles and the symmetrical proportions of private houses.
ON CLIMATE AS DETERMINING THE STYLE OF THE HOUSE
1. If our designs for private houses are to be correct, we must at the outset take note of the countries and climates in which they are built. One style of house seems appropriate to build in Egypt, another in Spain, a different kind in Pontus, one still different in Rome, and so on with lands and countries of other characteristics. This is because one part of the earth is directly under the sun's course, another is far away from it, while another lies midway between these two. Hence, as the position of the heaven with regard to a given tract on the earth leads naturally to different characteristics, owing to the inclination of the circle of the zodiac and the course of the sun, it is obvious that designs for houses ought similarly to conform to the nature of the country and to diversities of climate.
2. In the north, houses should be entirely roofed over and sheltered as much as possible, not in the open, though having a warm exposure. But on the other hand, where the force of the sun is great in the southern countries that suffer from heat, houses must be built more in the open and with a northern or northeastern exposure. Thus we may amend by art what nature, if left to herself, would mar. In other situations, also, we must make modifications to correspond to the position of the heaven and its effects on climate.
3. These effects are noticeable and discernible not only in things in nature, but they also are observable in the limbs and bodies of entire races. In places on which the sun throws out its heat in moderation, it keeps human bodies in their proper condition, and where its path is very close at hand, it parches them up, and burns out and takes away the proportion of moisture which they ought to possess. But, on the other hand, in the cold regions that are far away from the south, the moisture is not drawn out by hot weather, but the atmosphere is full of dampness which diffuses moisture into the system, and makes the frame larger and the pitch of the voice deeper. This is also the reason why the races that are bred in the north are of vast height, and have fair complexions, straight red hair, grey eyes, and a great deal of blood, owing to the abundance of moisture and the coolness of the atmosphere.
4. On the contrary, those that are nearest to the southern half of the axis, and that lie directly under the sun's course, are of lower stature, with a swarthy complexion, hair curling, black eyes, strong legs, and but little blood on account of the force of the sun. Hence, too, this poverty of blood makes them over-timid to stand up against the sword, but great heat and fevers they can endure without timidity, because their frames are bred up in the raging heat. Hence, men that are born in the north are rendered over-timid and weak by fever, but their wealth of blood enables them to stand up against the sword without timidity.
5. The pitch of the voice is likewise different and varying in quality with different nations, for the following reasons. The terminating points east and west on the level of the earth, where the upper and lower parts of the heaven are divided, seem to lie in a naturally balanced circle which mathematicians call the Horizon. Keeping this idea definitely in mind, if we imagine a line drawn from the northern side of the circumference (N) to the side which lies above the southern half of the axis (S), and from here another line obliquely up to the pivot at the summit, beyond the stars composing the Great Bear (the pole star P), we shall doubtless see that we have in the heaven a triangular figure like that of the musical instrument which the Greeks call the "sambuca."
6. And so, under the space which is nearest to the pivot at the bottom, off the southern portions of the line of the axis, are found nations that on account of the slight altitude of the heaven above them, have shrill and very high-pitched voices, like the string nearest to the angle in the musical instrument. Next in order come other nations as far as the middle of Greece, with lower elevations of the voice; and from this middle point they go on in regular order up to the extreme north,where, under high altitudes, the vocal utterance of the inhabitants is, under natural laws, produced in heavier tones. Thus it is obvious that the system of the universe as a whole is, on account of the inclination of the heaven, composed in a most perfect harmony through the temporary power of the sun.
7. The nations, therefore, that lie midway between the pivots at the southern and the northern extremities of the axis, converse in a voice of middle pitch, like the notes in the middle of a musical scale; but, as we proceed towards the north, the distances to the heaven become greater, and so the nations there, whose vocal utterance is reduced by the moisture to the "hypatès" and to "proslambanomenon," are naturally obliged to speak in heavier tones. In the same way, as we proceed from the middle point to the south, the voices of the nations there correspond in extreme height of pitch and in shrillness to the "paranetès" and "netès."
8. That it is a fact that things are made heavier from being in places naturally moist, and higher pitched from places that are hot, may be proved from the following experiment. Take two cups which have been baked in the same oven for an equal time, which are of equal weight, and which give the same note when struck. Dip one of them into water and, after taking it out of water, strike them both. This done, there will be a great difference in their notes, and the cups can no longer be equal in weight. Thus it is with men: though born in the same general form and under the same all-embracing heaven, yet in some of them, on account of the heat in their country, the voice strikes the air on a high note, while in others, on account of abundance of moisture, the quality of tones produced is very heavy.
9. Further, it is owing to the rarity of the atmosphere that southern nations, with their keen intelligence due to the heat, are very free and swift in the devising of schemes, while northern nations, being enveloped in a dense atmosphere, and chilled by moisture from the obstructing air, have but a sluggish intelligence. That this is so, we may see from the case of snakes. Their movements are most active in hot weather, when they have got rid of the chill due to moisture, whereas at the winter solstice, and in winter weather, they are chilled by the change of temperature, and rendered torpid and motionless. It is therefore no wonder that man's intelligence is made keener by warm air and duller by cold.
10. But although southern nations have the keenest wits, and are infinitely clever in forming schemes, yet the moment it comes to displaying valour, they succumb because all manliness of spirit is sucked out of them by the sun. On the other hand, men born in cold countries are indeed readier to meet the shock of arms with great courage and without timidity, but their wits are so slow that they will rush to the charge inconsiderately and inexpertly, thus defeating their own devices. Such being nature's arrangement of the universe, and all these nations being allotted temperaments which are lacking in due moderation, the truly perfect territory, situated under the middle of the heaven, and having on each side the entire extent of the world and its countries, is that which is occupied by the Roman people.
11. In fact, the races of Italy are the most perfectly constituted in both respects — in bodily form and in mental activity to correspond to their valour. Exactly as the planet Jupiter is itself temperate, its course lying midway between Mars, which is very hot, and Saturn, which is very cold, so Italy, lying between the north and the south, is a combination of what is found on each side, and her preeminence is well regulated and indisputable. And so by her wisdom she breaks the courageous onsets of the barbarians, and by her strength of hand thwarts the devices of the southerners. Hence, it was the divine intelligence that set the city of the Roman people in a peerless and temperate country, in order that it might acquire the right to command the whole world.
12. Now if it is a fact that countries differ from one another, and are of various classes according to climate, so that the very nations born therein naturally differ in mental and physical conformation and qualities, we cannot hesitate to make our houses suitable in plan to the peculiarities of nations and races, since we have the expert guidance of nature herself ready to our hand.
I have now set forth the peculiar characteristics of localities, so far as I could note them, in the most summary way, and have stated how we ought to make our houses conform to the physical qualities of nations, with due regard to the course of the sun and to climate. Next I shall treat the symmetrical proportions of the different styles of houses, both as wholes and in thenseparate parts.
SYMMETRY, AND MODIFICATIONS IN IT TO SUIT THE SITE
1. There is nothing to which an architect should devote more thought than to the exact proportions of his building with reference to a certain part selected as the standard. After the standard of symmetry has been determined, and the proportionate dimensions adjusted by calculations, it is next the part of wisdom to consider the nature of the site, or questions of use or beauty, and modify the plan by diminutions or additions in such a manner that these diminutions or additions in the symmetrical relations may be seen to be made on correct principles, and without detracting at all from the effect.
2. The look of a building when seen close at hand is one thing, on a height it is another, not the same in an enclosed place, still different in the open, and in all these cases it takes much judgment to decide what is to be done. The fact is that the eye does not always give a true impression, but very often leads the mind to form a false judgment. In painted scenery, for example, columns may appear to jut out, mutules to project, and statues to be standing in the foreground, although the picture is of course perfectly flat. Similarly with ships, the oars when under the water are straight, though to the eye they appear to be broken. To the point where they touch the surface of the sea they look straight, as indeed they are, but when dipped under the water they emit from their bodies undulating images which come swimming up through the naturally transparent medium to the surface of the water, and, being there thrown into commotion, make the oars look broken.
3. Now whether this appearance is due to the impact of the images, or to the effusion of the rays from the eye, as the physicists hold, in either case it is obvious that the vision may lead us to false impressions.
4. Since, therefore, the reality may have a false appearance, and since things are sometimes represented by the eyes as other than they are, I think it certain that diminutions or additions should be made to suit the nature or needs of the site, but in such fashion that the buildings lose nothing thereby. These results, however, are also attainable by flashes of genius, and not only by mere science.5. Hence, the first thing to settle is the standard of symmetry, from which we need not hesitate to vary. Then, lay out the ground lines of the length and breadth of the work proposed, and when once we have determined its size, let the construction follow this with due regard to beauty of proportion, so that the beholder may feel no doubt of the eurythmy of its effect. I must now tell how this may be brought about, and first I will speak of the proper construction of a cavaedium.
PROPORTIONS OF THE PRINCIPAL ROOMS
1. There are five different styles of cavaedium, termed according to their construction as follows: Tuscan, Corinthian, tetrastyle, displuviate, and testudinate.
In the Tuscan, the girders that cross the breadth of the atrium have crossbeams on them, and valleys sloping in and running from the angles of the walls to the angles formed by the beams, and the rainwater falls down along the rafters to the roof-opening (compluvium) in the middle.
In the Corinthian, the girders and roof-opening are constructed on these same principles, but the girders run in from the side walls, and are supported all round on columns.
In the tetrastyle, the girders are supported at the angles by columns, an arrangement which relieves and strengthens the girders; for thus they have themselves no great span to support, and they are not loaded down by the crossbeams.
2. In the displuviate, there are beams which slope outwards, supporting the roof and throwing the rainwater off. This style is suitable chiefly in winter residences, for its roof-opening, being high up, is not an obstruction to the light of the dining rooms. It is, however, very troublesome to keep in repair, because the pipes, which are intended to hold the water that comes dripping down the walls all round, cannot take it quickly enough as it runs down from the channels, but get too full and run over, thus spoiling the woodwork and the walls of houses of this style.
HOUSE OF THE SILVER WEDDING AT POMPEII
Illustrating the Tetrastyle Atrium
d. tetrastyle atrium r. peristyle
n. dining room w. summer dining room
The testudinate is employed where the span is not great, and where large rooms are provided in upper stories.
3. In width and length, atriums are designed according to three classes. The first is laid out by dividing the length into five parts and giving three parts to the width; the second, by dividing it into three parts and assigning two parts to the width; the third, by using the width to describe a square figure with equal sides, drawing a diagonal line in this square, and giving the atrium the length of this diagonal line.
4. Their height up to the girders should be one fourth less than their width, the rest being the proportion assigned to the ceiling and the roof above the girders.
The alae, to the right and left, should have a width equal to one third of the length of the atrium, when that is from thirty to forty feet long. From forty to fifty feet, divide the length by three and one half, and give the alae the result. When it is from fifty to sixty feet in length, devote one fourth of the length to the alae. From sixty to eighty feet, divide the length by four and one half and let the result be the width of the alae. From eighty feet to one hundred feet, the length divided into five parts will produce the right width for the alae. Their lintel beams should be placed high enough to make the height of the alae equal to their width.
5. The tablinum should be given two thirds of the width of the atrium when the latter is twenty feet wide. If it is from thirty to forty feet, let half the width of the atrium be devoted to the tablinum. When it is from forty to sixty feet, divide the width into five parts and let two of these be set apart for the tablinum. In the case of smaller atriums, the symmetrical proportions cannot be the same as in larger. For if, in the case of the smaller, we employ the proportion that belong to the larger, both tablina and alae must be unserviceable, while if, in the case of the larger, we employ the proportions of the smaller, the rooms mentioned will be huge monstrosities. Hence, I have thought it best to describe exactly their respective proportionate sizes, with a view both to convenience and to beauty.
PLAN OF A TYPICAL ROMAN HOUSE
7. Peristyles, lying athwart, should be one third longer than they are deep, and their columns as high as the colonnades are wide. Intercolumniations of peristyles should be not less than three nor more than four times the thickness of the columns. If the columns of the peristyle are to be made in the Doric style, take the modules which I have given in the fourth book, on the Doric order, and arrange the columns with reference to these modules and to the scheme of the triglyphs.
PLAN OF THE HOUSE OF THE VETTII, POMPEII
8. Dining rooms ought to be twice as long as they are wide. The height of all oblong rooms should be calculated by adding together their measured length and width, taking one half of this total, and using the result for the height. But in the case of exedrae or square oeci, let the height be brought up to one and one half times the width. Picture galleries, like exedrae, should be constructed of generous dimensions. Corinthian and tetrastyle oeci, as well as those termed Egyptian, should have the same symmetrical proportions in width and length as the dining rooms described above, but, since they have columns in them, their dimensions should be ampler.
9. The following will be the distinction between Corinthian and Egyptian oeci: the Corinthian have single tiers of columns, set either on a podium or on the ground, with architraves over them and coronae either of woodwork or of stucco, and carved vaulted ceilings above the coronae. In the Egyptian there are architraves over the columns, and joists laid thereon from the architraves to the surrounding walls, with a floor in the upper story to allow of walking round under the open sky. Then, above the architrave and perpendicularly over the lower tier of columns, columns one fourth smaller should be imposed. Above their architraves and ornaments are decorated ceilings, and the upper columns have windows set in between them. Thus the Egyptian are not like Corinthian dining rooms, but obviously resemble basilicas.
10. There are also, though not customary in Italy, the oeci which the Greeks call Cyzicene. These are built with a northern exposure and generally command a view of gardens, and have folding doors in the middle. They are also so long and so wide that two sets of dining couches, facing each other, with room to pass round them, can be placed therein. On the right and left they have windows which open like folding doors, so that views of the garden may be had from the dining couches through the opened windows. The height of such rooms is one and one half times their width.
11. All the above-mentioned symmetrical relations should be observed, in these kinds of buildings, that can be observed without embarrassment caused by the situation. The windows will be an easy matter to arrange if they are not darkened by high walls; but in cases of confined space, or when there are other unavoidable obstructions, it will be permissible to make diminutions or additions in the symmetrical relations, — with ingenuity and acuteness, however, so that the result may be not unlike the beauty which is due to true symmetry.
THE PROPER EXPOSURES OF THE DIFFERENT ROOMS
1. We shall next explain how the special purposes of different rooms require different exposures, suited to convenience and to the quarters of the sky. Winter dining rooms and bathrooms should have a southwestern exposure, for the reason that they need the evening light, and also because the setting sun, facing them in all its splendour but with abated heat, lends a gentler warmth to that quarter in the evening. Bedrooms and libraries ought to have an eastern exposure, because their purposes require the morning light, and also because books in such libraries will not decay. In libraries with southern exposures the books are ruined by worms and dampness, because damp winds come up, which breed and nourish the worms, and destroy the books with mould, by spreading their damp breath over them.
2. Dining rooms for Spring and Autumn to the east; for when the windows face that quarter, the sun, as he goes on his career from over against them to the west, leaves such rooms at the proper temperature at the time when it is customary to use them. Summer dining rooms to the north, because that quarter is not, like the others, burning with heat during the solstice, for the reason that it is unexposed to the sun's course, and hence it always keeps cool, and makes the use of the rooms both healthy and agreeable. Similarly with picture galleries, embroiderers' work rooms, and painters' studios, in order that the fixed light may permit the colours used in their work to last with qualities unchanged.
HOW THE ROOMS SHOULD BE SUITED TO THE STATION OF THE OWNER
1. After settling the positions of the rooms with regard to the quarters of the sky, we must next consider the principles on which should be constructed those apartments in private houses which are meant for the householders themselves, and those which are to be shared in common with outsiders. The private rooms are those into which nobody has the right to enter without an invitation, such as bedrooms, dining rooms, bathrooms, and all others used for the like purposes. The common are those which any of the people have a perfect right to enter, even without an invitation: that is, entrance courts, cavaedia, peristyles, and all intended for the like purpose. Hence, men of everyday fortune do not need entrance courts, tablina, or atriums built in grand style, because such men are more apt to discharge their social obligations by going round to others than to have others come to them.
2. Those who do business in country produce must have stalls and shops hi their entrance courts, with crypts, granaries, storerooms, and so forth in their houses, constructed more for the purpose of keeping the produce in good condition than for ornamental beauty.
For capitalists and farmers of the revenue, somewhat comfortable and showy apartments must be constructed, secure against robbery; for advocates and public speakers, handsomer and more roomy, to accommodate meetings; for men of rank who, from holding offices and magistracies, have social obligations to their fellow-citizens, lofty entrance courts in regal style, and most spacious atriums and peristyles, with plantations and walks of some extent in them, appropriate to their dignity. They need also libraries, picture galleries, and basilicas, finished in a style similar to that of great public buildings, since public councils as well as private law suits and hearings before arbitrators are very often held in the houses of such men.
3. If, therefore, houses are planned on these principles to suit different classes of persons, as prescribed in my first book, under the subject of Propriety, there will be no room for criticism; for they will be arranged with convenience and perfection to suit every purpose. The rules on these points will hold not only for houses in town, but also for those in the country, except that in town atriums are usually next to the front door, while in country seats peristyles come first, and then atriums surrounded by paved colonnades opening upon palaestrae and walks.I have now set forth the rules for houses in town so far as I could describe them in a summary way. Next I shall state how farmhouses may be arranged with a view to convenience in use, and shall give the rules for their construction.
THE VILLA RUSTICA AT BOSCOREALE
1. In the first place, inspect the country from the point of view of health, in accordance with what is written in my first book, on the building of cities, and let your farmhouses be situated accordingly. Their dimensions should depend upon the size of the farm and the amount of produce. Their courtyards and the dimensions thereof should be determined by the number of cattle and the number of yokes of oxen that will need to be kept therein. Let the kitchen be placed on the warmest side of the courtyard, with the stalls for the oxen adjoining, and their cribs facing the kitchen fire and the eastern quarter of the sky, for the reason that oxen facing the light and the fire do not get rough-coated. Even peasants wholly without knowledge of the quarters of the sky believe that oxen ought to face only in the direction of the sunrise.
2. Their stalls ought to be not less than ten nor more than fifteen feet wide, and long enough to allow not less than seven feet for each yoke. Bathrooms, also, should adjoin the kitchen; for in this situation it will not take long to get ready a bath in the country.
Let the pressing room, also, be next to the kitchen; for in this situation it will be easy to deal with the fruit of the olive. Adjoining it should be the wine room with its windows lighted from the north. In a room with windows on any other quarter so that the sun can heat it, the heat will get into the wine and make it weak.
3. The oil room must be situated so as to get its light from the south and from warm quarters; for oil ought not to be chilled, but should be kept thin by gentle heat. In dimensions, oil rooms should be built to accommodate the crop and the proper number of jars, each of which, holding about one hundred and twenty gallons, must take up a space four feet in diameter. The pressing room itself, if the pressure is exerted by means of levers and a beam, and not worked by turning screws, should be not less than forty feet long, which will give the lever man a convenient amount of space. It should be not less than sixteen feet wide, which will give the men who are at work plenty of free space to do the turning conveniently. If two presses are required in the place, allow twenty-four feet for the width.
4. Folds for sheep and goats must be made large enough to allow each animal a space of not less than four and a half, nor more than six feet. Rooms for grain should be set in an elevated position and with a northern or north-eastern exposure. Thus the grain will not be able to heat quickly, but, being cooled by the wind, keeps a long time. Other exposures produce the corn weevil and the other little creatures that are wont to spoil the grain. To the stable should be assigned the very warmest place in the farmhouse, provided that it is not exposed to the kitchen fire; for when draught animals are stabled very near a fire, their coats get rough.
5. Furthermore, there are advantages in building cribs apart from the kitchen and in the open, facing the east; for when the oxen are taken over to them on early winter mornings in clear weather, their coats get sleeker as they take their fodder in the sunlight. Barns for grain, hay, and spelt, as well as bakeries, should be built apart from the farmhouse, so that farmhouses may be better protected against danger from fire. If something more refined is required in farmhouses, they may be constructed on the principles of symmetry which have been given above in the case of town houses, provided that there is nothing in such buildings to interfere with their usefulness on a farm.
6. We must take care that all buildings are well lighted, but this is obviously an easier matter with those which are on country estates, because there can be no neighbour's wall to interfere, whereas in town high party walls or limited space obstruct the light and make them dark. Hence we must apply the following test in this matter. On the side from which the light should be obtained let a line be stretched from the top of the wall that seems to obstruct the light to the point at which it ought to be introduced, and if a considerable space of open sky can be seen when one looks up above that line, there will be no obstruction to the light in that situation.
7. But if there are timbers in the way, or lintels, or upper stories, then, make the opening higher up and introduce the light in this way. And as a general rule, we must arrange so as to leave places for windows on all sides on which a clear view of the sky can be had, for this will make our buildings light. Not only in dining rooms and other rooms for general use are windows very necessary, but also in passages, level or inclined, and on stairs; for people carrying burdens too often meet and run against each other in such places.
I have now set forth the plans used for buildings in our native country so that they may be clear to builders. Next, I shall describe summarily how houses are planned in the Greek fashion, so that these also may be understood.
THE GREEK HOUSE
1. The Greeks, having no use for atriums, do not build them, but make passage-ways for people entering from the front door, not very wide, with stables on one side and doorkeepers' rooms on the other, and shut off by doors at the inner end. This place between the two doors is termed in Greek θυρωρεῖον. From it one enters the peristyle. This peristyle has colonnades on three sides, and on the side facing the south it has two antae, a considerable distance apart, carrying an architrave, with a recess for a distance one third less than the space between the antae. This space is called by some writers "prostas," by others "pastas."
PLAN OF VITRUVIUS' GREEK HOUSE ACCORDING TO BECKER
2. Hereabouts, towards the inner side, are the large rooms in which mistresses of houses sit with their wool-spinners. To the right and left of the prostas there are chambers, one of which is called the "thalamos," the other the "amphithalamos." All round the colonnades are dining rooms for everyday use, chambers, and rooms for the slaves. This part of the house is termed "gynaeconitis."
3. In connexion with these there are ampler sets of apartments with more sumptuous peristyles, surrounded by four colonnades of equal height, or else the one which faces the south has higher columns than the others. A peristyle that has one such higher colonnade is called a Rhodian peristyle. Such apartments have fine entrance courts with imposing front doors of their own; the colonnades of the peristyles are decorated with polished stucco in relief and plain, and with coffered ceilings of woodwork; off the colonnades that face the north they have Cyzicene dining rooms and picture galleries; to the east, libraries; exedrae to the west; and to the south, large square rooms of such generous dimensions that four sets of dining couches can easily be arranged in them, with plenty of room for serving and for the amusements.
4. Men's dinner parties are held in these large rooms; for it was not the practice, according to Greek custom, for the mistress of the house to be present. On the contrary, such peristyles are called the men's apartments, since in them the men can stay without interruption from the women. Furthermore, small sets of apartments are built to the right and left, with front doors of their own and suitable dining rooms and chambers, so that guests from abroad need not be shown into the peristyles, but rather into such guests' apartments. For when the Greeks became more luxurious, and their circumstances more opulent, they began to provide dining rooms, chambers, and store-rooms of provisions for their guests from abroad, and on the first day they would invite them to dinner, sending them on the next chickens, eggs, vegetables, fruits, and other country produce. This is why artists called pictures representing the things which were sent to guests "xenia." Thus, too, the heads of families, while being entertained abroad, had the feeling that they were not away from home, since they enjoyed privacy and freedom in such guests' apartments.
From Bull. de. Corr. Hell. 1896
5. Between the two peristyles and the guests' apartments are the passage-ways called "mesauloe," because they are situated midway between two courts; but our people called them "andrones."
This, however, is a very strange fact, for the term does not fit either the Greek or the Latin use of it. The Greeks call the large rooms in which men's dinner parties are usually held ἀνδρῶνες, because women do not go there. There are other similar instances as in the case of "xystus," "prothyrum," "telamones," and some others of the sort. As a Greek term, ξυστός means a colonnade of large dimensions in which athletes exercise in the winter time. But our people apply the term "xysta" to uncovered walks,
From Mitt. d. Deutsch. Arch. Inst.
GREEK HOUSE DISCOVERED AT PERGAMUM IN 1903
13. Prothyron7. Tablinum.
which the Greeks call παραδρομίδες. Again, πρόθυρα means in Greek the entrance courts before the front doors; we, however, use the term "prothyra" in the sense of the Greek διάθυρα.
6. Again, figures in the form of men supporting mutules or coronae, we term "telamones"—the reasons why or wherefore they are so called are not found in any story—but the Greeks name them ἄτλαντες. For Atlas is described in story as holding up the firmament because, through his vigorous intelligence and ingenuity, he was the first to cause men to be taught about the courses of the sun and moon, and the laws governing the revolutions of all the constellations. Consequently, in recognition of this benefaction, painters and sculptors represent him as holding up the firmament, and the Atlantides, his daughters, whom we call "Vergiliae" and the Greeks Πλειάδες, are consecrated in the firmament among the constellations.
7. All this, however, I have not set forth for the purpose of changing the usual terminology or language, but I have thought that it should be explained so that it may be known to scholars.
I have now explained the usual ways of planning houses both in the Italian fashion and according to the practices of the Greeks, and have described, with regard to their symmetry, the proportions of the different classes. Having, therefore, already written of their beauty and propriety, I shall next explain, with reference to durability, how they may be built to last to a great age without defects.
ON FOUNDATIONS AND SUBSTRUCTURES
1. Houses which are set level with the ground will no doubt last to a great age, if their foundations are laid in the manner which we have explained in the earlier books, with regard to city walls and theatres. But if underground rooms and vaults are intended, their foundations ought to be thicker than the walls which are to be constructed in the upper part of the house, and the walls, piers, and columns of the latter should be set perpendicularly over the middle of the foundation walls below, so that they may have solid bearing; for if the load of the walls or columns rests on the middle of spans, they can have no permanent durability.
2. It will also do no harm to insert posts between lintels and sills where there are piers or antae; for where the lintels and beams have received the load of the walls, they may sag in the middle, and gradually undermine and destroy the walls. But when there are posts set up underneath and wedged in there, they prevent the beams from settling and injuring such walls.
3. We must also manage to discharge the load of the walls by means of archings composed of voussoirs with joints radiating to the centre. For when arches with voussoirs are sprung from the ends of beams, or from the bearings of lintels, in the first place they will discharge the load and the wood will not sag; secondly, if in course of time the wood becomes at all defective, it can easily be replaced without the construction of shoring.
4. Likewise in houses where piers are used in the construction, when there are arches composed of voussoirs with joints radiating to the centre, the outermost piers at these points must be made broader than the others, so that they may have the strength to resist when the wedges, under the pressure of the load of the walls, begin to press along their joints towards the centre, and thus to thrust out the abutments. Hence, if the piers at the ends are of large dimensions, they will hold the voussoirs together, and make such works durable.
5. Having taken heed in these matters to see that proper attention is paid to them, we must also be equally careful that all walls are perfectly vertical, and that they do not lean forward anywhere. Particular pains, too, must be taken with substructures, for here an endless amount of harm is usually done by the earth used as filling. This cannot always remain of the same weight that it usually has in summer, but in winter time it increases in weight and bulk by taking up a great deal of rain water, and then it bursts its enclosing walls and thrusts them out.
6. The following means must be taken to provide against such a defect. First, let the walls be given a thickness proportionate to the amount of filling; secondly, build counterforts or buttresses at the same time as the wall, on the outer side, at distances from each other equivalent to what is to be the height of the substructure and with the thickness of the substructure. At the bottom let them run out to a distance corresponding to the thickness that has been determined for the substructure, and then gradually diminish in extent so that at the surface their projection is equal to the thickness of the wall of the building.
7. Furthermore, inside, to meet the mass of earth, there should be saw-shaped constructions attached to the wall, the single
(From the edition of Vitruvius by Fra Giocondo, Venice 1511)
teeth extending from the wall for a distance equivalent to what is to be the height of the substructure, and the teeth being constructed with the same thickness as the wall. Then at the outermost angles take a distance inwards, from the inside of the angle, equal to the height of the substructure, and mark it off on each side; from these marks build up a diagonal structure and from the middle of it a second, joined on to the angle of the wall. With this arrangement, the teeth and diagonal structures will not allow the filling to thrust with all its force against the wall, but will check and distribute the pressure.
8. I have now shown how buildings can be constructed without defects, and the way to take precautions against the occurrence of them. As for replacing tiles, roof timbers, and rafters, we need not be so particular about them as about the parts just mentioned, because they can easily be replaced, however defective they may become. Hence, I have shown by what methods the parts which are not considered solid can be rendered durable, and how they are constructed.
9. As for the kind of material to be used, this does not depend upon the architect, for the reason that all kinds of materials are not found in all places alike, as has been shown in the first book. Besides, it depends on the owner whether he desires to build in brick, or rubble work, or dimension stone. Consequently the question of approving any work may be considered under three heads: that is, delicacy of workmanship, sumptuousness, and design. When it appears that a work has been carried out sumptuously, the owner will be the person to be praised for the great outlay which he has authorized; when delicately, the master workman will be approved for his execution; but when proportions and symmetry lend it an imposing effect, then the glory of it will belong to the architect.
10. Such results, however, may very well be brought about when he allows himself to take the advice both of workmen and of laymen. In fact, all kinds of men, and not merely architects, can recognize a good piece of work, but between laymen and the latter there is this difference, that the layman cannot tell what it is to be like without seeing it finished, whereas the architect, as soon as he has formed the conception, and before he begins the work, has a definite idea of the beauty, the convenience, and the propriety that will distinguish it.
I have now described as clearly as I could what I thought necessary for private houses, and how to build them. In the following book I shall treat of the kinds of polished finish employed to make them elegant, and durable without defects to a great age.