The Ten Books on Architecture, 1.4.12

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 1.4.11 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 1.5.1 ›››

Gwilt translation

12When the marshes are stagnant, and have no drainage by means of rivers or drains, as is the case with the Pontine marshes, they become putrid, and emit vapours of a heavy and pestilent nature. Thus the old city of Salapia, in Apulia, built, as some say, by Diomedes on his return from Troy, or, as others write, by Elphias the Rhodian, was so placed that the inhabitants were continually out of health. At length they applied to Marcus Hostilius, and publicly petitioned him, and obtained his consent, to be allowed to seek and select a more wholesome spot to which the city might be removed. Without delay, and with much judgment, he bought an estate on a healthy spot close to the sea, and requested the Roman senate and people to permit the removal of the city. He then set out the walls, and assigned a portion of the soil to each citizen at a moderate valuation. After which, opening a communication between the lake and the sea, he converted the former into an excellent harbour for the city. Thus the Salapians now inhabit a healthy situation, four miles from their ancient city.

Morgan translation

12But marshes that are stagnant and have no outlets either by rivers or ditches, like the Pomptine marshes, merely putrefy as they stand, emitting heavy, unhealthy vapours. A case of a town built in such a spot was Old Salpia in Apulia, founded by Diomede on his way back from Troy, or, according to some writers, by Elpias of Rhodes. Year after year there was sickness, until finally the suffering inhabitants came with a public petition to Marcus Hostilius and got him to agree to seek and find them a proper place to which to remove their city. Without delay he made the most skilful investigations, and at once purchased an estate near the sea in a healthy place, and asked the Senate and Roman people for permission to remove the town. He constructed the walls and laid out the house lots, granting one to each citizen for a mere trifle. This done, he cut an opening from a lake into the sea, and thus made of the lake a harbour for the town. The result is that now the people of Salpia live on a healthy site and at a distance of only four miles from the old town.