The Ten Books on Architecture, 1.6.1

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 1.5.8 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 1.6.2 ›››

Gwilt translation

6Their circuit being completed, it behoves us to consider the manner of disposing of the area of the space enclosed within the walls, and the proper directions and aspects of the streets and lanes. They should be so planned as to exclude the winds: these, if cold, are unpleasant; if hot, are hurtful; if damp, destructive. A fault in this respect must be therefore avoided, and care taken to prevent that which occurs in so many cities. For instance; in the island of Lesbos, the town of Mytilene is magnificently and elegantly designed, and well built, but imprudently placed. When the south wind prevails in it, the inhabitants fall sick; the north-west wind affects them with coughs; and the north wind restores them to health: but the intensity of the cold therein is so great, that no one can stand about in the streets and lanes.

Morgan translation

6The town being fortified, the next step is the apportionment of house lots within the wall and the laying out of streets and alleys with regard to climatic conditions. They will be properly laid out if foresight is employed to exclude the winds from the alleys. Cold winds are disagreeable, hot winds enervating, moist winds unhealthy. We must, therefore, avoid mistakes in this matter and beware of the common experience of many communities. For example, Mytilene in the island of Lesbos is a town built with magnificence and good taste, but its position shows a lack of foresight. In that community when the wind is south, the people fall ill; when it is northwest, it sets them coughing; with a north wind they do indeed recover but cannot stand about in the alleys and streets, owing to the severe cold.