Thursday, March 10, 2011

Vitruvius, On Architecture


Marcus Vitruvius Pollio [Vitruvius]
80-15 BC
Trans RMBullard
Latin (Republican Era/Golden Age of Latin Literature/Imperial Era)

[Preface. While, Emperor Caesar, the innate force of your divine essence has made you the master of our global empire, and with your superiority unchallenged, all of your enemies laid low, your citizens glory in triumph and your victory]

[And all the nations, now subjugated, have witnessed your divine power, the Roman people and the senate, liberated from fear, should now be governed completely by your policies]

[I did not did dare to publish my writings about architecture amidst your great concerns and plans--I feared that I would have insulted your intelligence by interrupting you at the wrong time.]

[2] Cum vero adtenderem te non solum de vita communi omnium curam publicaeque rei constitutionem habere sed etiam de opportunitate publicorum aedificiorum,
[Truly, since I could not only assist your efforts to address the overseeing of all things in matters of the community and the Republic but also with your tending to the public buildings,]

ut civitas per te non solum provinciis esset aucta,
[not only so that cities might grow from your efforts in the provinces,]

verum etiam ut maiestas imperii publicorum aedificiorum egregias haberet auctoritates,
[but also so that the majesty of your rule can possess the renowned authority inherent in public's buildings,]

non putavi praetermittendum,
[I did not intend to procrastinate,]

 quin primo quoque tempore de his rebus ea tibi ederem,
[why, I sould even show my scrolls on these matters at the first time possible,]

ideo quod primum parenti tuo de eo fueram notus et eius virtutis studiosus.
[since I had deferred to your precedessor concerning this matter and was impressed by his good qualities.]

Cum autem concilium caelestium in sedibus immortalitatis eum dedicavisset et imperium parentis in tuam potestatem transtulisset,
[but the council of the gods, in their seats of immortality, ordained him and transferred the official position of your father into your power]

idem studium meum in eius memoria permanens in te contulit favorem.
[likewise, has my support in the service of his memory carried my favor over to you;]

Itaque cum M. Aurelio et P. Minidio et Cn. Cornelio ad apparationem balistarum et scorpionem reliquorumque tormentorum refectionem fui praesto et cum eis commoda accepi, quae cum primo mihi tribuisiti recognitionem, per sorosis commendationem servasti.
[And so, when I was commissioned to the maintenance of our catapults, and the scorpion slings, and the repair of our remaining seige machines by Marcus Aurelius, Publius Minidius, and Gnaeus Cornelius, and I received duties along these others, which you first assigned and saved for me through your sister's letter of recommendation.]

[3] Cum ergo eo beneficio essem obligatus, ut ad exitum vitae non haberem inopiae timorem,
[Therefore, since I was put under obligation by his favor, and the result was that I no longer had fear for my life's end,]

haec tibi scribere coepi,
[I began to write these things to you,] 

quod animadverti multa te aedificavisse et nunc aedificare,
[You have set your mind to constructing buildings before and do so now,]

reliquo quoque tempore et publicorum et privatorum aedificiorum,
[and in the remaining space of time, both of public and private buildings,]

pro amplitudine rerum gestarum ut posteris memoriae traderentur curam habiturum.
[it is for the greatest of your accomplishments that records should be passed down to posterity concerning the care you are about to undertake.]

 Conscripsi praescriptiones terminatas
[I have written down measured descriptions,]

ut eas adtendens et ante facta et futura qualia sint opera,
[so that you can attend to these like these and know what types of construction have been done and will be done in the future,]

per te posses nota habere.
[and so you could inform yourself by your own means.]

 Namque his voluminibus aperui omnes disciplinae rationes.
[And that's why I've introducted all the principles of my field of expertise in these scrolls.] 

Caput Primum

[1] Architecti est scientia pluribus disciplinis et variis eruditionibus ornata,
[The knowledge of the architect is decorated by so very many areas of study and diverse fields of learning]

 [cuius iudicio probantur omnia]
 quae ab ceteris artibus perficiuntur.
[all of whose affairs are approved by the good judgment, and are complemented by other areas of expertise.]

 Opera ea nascitur et fabrica et ratiocinatione.
[From this body of work are accompanied both construction and account-keeping]

Fabrica est continuata ac trita usus meditatio,
[The field of construction was advanced, and the philosophy of its use refined,]

 quae manibus perficitur
[and these things are performed by use of the hands,]

e materia cuiuscumque generis opus est ad propositum deformationis.
[and the finished product is constructed from the very same type of material intended for engineering.]

 Ratiocinatio autem est.
[And then there is recording keeping.]

quae res fabricatas sollertiae ac rationis proportione demonstrare atque explicare potest.
[This area of expertise can demonstrate and explain the manifest facts of ingenuity, and through the measure of reason.]

[2] Itaque architecti, qui sine litteris contenderant,
[And so the architects who had previously struggled without the use of writing,]

ut manibus essent exercitati,
[and so it happened that they worked using their hands,]

 non potuerunt efficere,
[and they weren't able to make it happen]

 ut haberent pro laboribus auctoritatem;
[that they could possession of authorship for their toils;]

 qui autem ratiocinationibus et litteris solis confisi fuerunt,
[and in any event, they were men who relied upon the recordkeepers and their unique master of writing,]

 umbram non rem persecuti videntur.
[they did not seem to pursue the matter, at least one in obscurity.] 

 At qui utrumque perdidicerunt,
[But those on either side who adamantly declare]

uti omnibus armis ornati citius cum auctoritate,
[as though adorned in full armor, and with even quicker authority,]

quod fuit propositum,
 sunt adsecuti.
[that whatever was planned, they have seen to its execution.]

[3] Cum in omnibus enim rebus, tum maxime etiam in architectura haec duo insunt,
[You see, not only are these things significant in architecture, but also in all things,]

 quod significatur et quod significant.
[that which is meant, and what things mean.[

 Significatur proposita res, de qua dicitur;
[A matter is signified by its proposition, about which it speaks;]

hanc autem significat demonstratio rationibus doctrinarum explicata.
[and yet, the exposition of its precepts, once they've been explained by its principles, implies this.]

 Quare videtur utraque parte exercitatus esse debere,
[By that account, it seems that one ought to be trained in each aspect,]

 qui se architectum profiteatur.
[whoever should be make his living as an architect.]

 Itaque eum etiam ingeniosum oportet esse
 et ad disciplinam docilem.
[And so, it behooves him that he be intelligent and accepting up of its doctrines.]

 Neque enim ingenium sine disciplina aut disciplina sine ingenio perfectum artificem potest efficere.
[You see, neither can talent accomplish a finished task without discipline, or discipline anything without talent.]

 Et ut litteratus sit,
[And just as he should be literate,]

 peritus graphidos, eruditus geometria,
[he should be experienced in drawing, and fully trained in geometry,]

 historias complures noverit,
[he should understand a great deal of history,]

philosophos diligenter audierit,
[and should've diligently learned philosophy,]

musicam scierit,
[and be familiar with music,]

medicinae non sit ignarus
[nor should he lack knowledge of medicine]

 responsa iurisconsultorum noverit,
[and he should understand the official opinions of our legal experts,]

 astrologiam caelique rationes cognitas habeat.
[and be competent in astrology and knowledge of the sky.]

[4] Quae cur ita sint, haec sunt causae.
[Well here are the reasons why these things are determined to be true.]

 Litteras architectum scire oportet,
[An architect needs to know literature]

 uti commentariis memoriam firmiorem efficere possit.
[so that he can strengthen his memory when he reads commentaries.]

Deinde graphidis scientiam habere, quo facilius exemplaribus pictis quam velit operis speciem deformare valeat.
[Then, he must have knowledge of drawing, from which he can be able to deconstruct the appearance of any design that he wishes more easily, from examples that have been drawn down.]

Geometria autem plura praesidia praestat architecturae;
[On the other hand, he should have a great deal of experience in architectural geometry;]