The Ten Books on Architecture, 1.4.1

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 1.3.2 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 1.4.2 ›››

Gwilt translation

4In setting out the walls of a city the choice of a healthy situation is of the first importance: it should be on high ground, neither subject to fogs nor rains; its aspects should be neither violently hot nor intensely cold, but temperate in both respects. The neighbourhood of a marshy place must be avoided; for in such a site the morning air, uniting with the fogs that rise in the neighbourhood, will reach the city with the rising sun; and these fogs and mists, charged with the exhalation of the fenny animals, will diffuse an unwholesome effluvia over the bodies of the inhabitants, and render the place pestilent. A city on the sea side, exposed to the south or west, will be insalubrious; for in summer mornings, a city thus placed would be hot, at noon it would be scorched. A city, also, with a western aspect, would even at sunrise be warm, at noon hot, and in the evening of a burning temperature.

Morgan translation

4For fortified towns the following general principles are to be observed. First comes the choice of a very healthy site. Such a site will be high, neither misty nor frosty, and in a climate neither hot nor cold, but temperate; further, without marshes in the neighbourhood. For when the morning breezes blow toward the town at sunrise, if they bring with them mists from marshes and, mingled with the mist, the poisonous breath of the creatures of the marshes to be wafted into the bodies of the inhabitants, they will make the site unhealthy. Again, if the town is on the coast with a southern or western exposure, it will not be healthy, because in summer the southern sky grows hot at sunrise and is fiery at noon, while a western exposure grows warm after sunrise, is hot at noon, and at evening all aglow.