The Ten Books on Architecture, 1.7

Vitruvius  translated by Joseph Gwilt

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Of the Choice of Situations for Public Buildings

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.

2The temple of Ceres should be in a solitary spot out of the city, to which the public are not necessarily led but for the purpose of sacrificing to her. This spot is to be reverenced with religious awe and solemnity of demeanour, by those whose affairs lead them to visit it. Appropriate situations must also be chosen for the temples and places of sacrifice to the other divinities. For the construction and proportions of the edifices themselves, I shall give rules in the third and fourth books; because it appears to me, that in the second book I ought to explain the nature of the different materials employed in building, their qualities and use; and then, in the other books, to give rules for the dimensions of buildings, the orders, and their proportions.

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