The Ten Books on Architecture, 1.7.1

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 1.6.13 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 1.7.2 ›››

Gwilt translation

7The lanes and streets of the city being set out, the choice of sites for the convenience and use of the state remains to be decided on; for sacred edifices, for the forum, and for other public buildings. If the place adjoin the sea, the forum should be placed close to the harbour: if inland, it should be in the centre of the town. The temples of the gods, protectors of the city, also those of Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, should be on some eminence which commands a view of the greater part of the city. The temple of Mercury should be either in the forum, or, as also the temple of Isis and Serapis, in the great public square. Those of Apollo and Father Bacchus near the theatre. If there be neither amphitheatre nor gymnasium, the temple of Hercules should be near the circus. The temple of Mars should be out of the city, in the neighbouring country. That of Venus near to the gate. According to the regulations of the Hetrurian Haruspices, the temples of Venus, Vulcan, and Mars should be so placed that those of the first be not in the way of contaminating the matrons and youth with the influence of lust; that those of Vulcan be away from the city, which would consequently be freed from the danger of fire; the divinity presiding over that element being drawn away by the rites and sacrifices performing in his temple. The temple of Mars should be also out of the city, that no armed frays may disturb the peace of the citizens, and that this divinity may, moreover, be ready to preserve them from their enemies and the perils of war.

Morgan translation

7Having laid out the alleys and determined the streets, we have next to treat of the choice of building sites for temples, the forum, and all other public places, with a view to general convenience and utility. If the city is on the sea, we should choose ground close to the harbour as the place where the forum is to be built; but if inland, in the middle of the town. For the temples, the sites for those of the gods under whose particular protection the state is thought to rest and for Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, should be on the very highest point commanding a view of the greater part of the city. Mercury should be in the forum, or, like Isis and Serapis, in the emporium: Apollo and Father Bacchus near the theatre: Hercules at the circus in communities which have no gymnasia nor amphitheatres; Mars outside the city but at the training ground, and so Venus, but at the harbour. It is moreover shown by the Etruscan diviners in treatises on their science that the fanes of Venus, Vulcan, and Mars should be situated outside the walls, in order that the young men and married women may not become habituated in the city to the temptations incident to the worship of Venus, and that buildings may be free from the terror of fires through the religious rites and sacrifices which call the power of Vulcan beyond the walls. As for Mars, when that divinity is enshrined outside the walls, the citizens will never take up arms against each other, and he will defend the city from its enemies and save it from danger in war.