The Ten Books on Architecture, 1.5.2

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 1.5.1 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 1.5.3 ›››

Gwilt translation

2From the exterior face of the wall towers must be projected, from which an approaching enemy may be annoyed by weapons, from the embrasures of those towers, right and left. An easy approach to the walls must be provided against: indeed they should be surrounded by uneven ground, and the roads leading to the gates should be winding and turn to the left from the gates. By this arrangement, the right sides of the attacking troops, which are not covered by their shields, will be open to the weapons of the besieged. The plan of a city should not be square, nor formed with acute angles, but polygonal; so that the motions of the enemy may be open to observation. A city whose plan is acute-angled, is with difficulty defended; for such a form protects the attacker more than the attacked.

Morgan translation

2The towers must be projected beyond the line of wall, so that an enemy wishing to approach the wall to carry it by assault may be exposed to the fire of missiles on his open flank from the towers on his right and left. Special pains should be taken that there be no easy avenue by which to storm the wall. The roads should be encompassed at steep points, and planned so as to approach the gates, not in a straight line, but from the right to the left; for as a result of this, the right hand side of the assailants, unprotected by their shields, will be next the wall. Towns should be laid out not as an exact square nor with salient angles, but in circular form, to give a view of the enemy from many points. Defence is difficult where there are salient angles, because the angle protects the enemy rather than the inhabitants.