The Ten Books on Architecture, 10.0.2

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 10.0.1 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 10.0.3 ›››

Gwilt translation

2Would to God that such a law existed among the Roman people, not only in respect of their public, but also of their private buildings, for then the unskilful could not commit their depredations with impunity, and those who were the most skilful in the intricacies of the art would follow the profession. Proprietors would not be led into an extravagant expenditure so as to cause ruin; architects themselves, from the dread of punishment, would be more careful in their calculations, and the proprietor would complete his building for that sum, or a little more, which he could afford to expend. Those who can conveniently expend a given sum on any work, with the pleasing expectation of seeing it completed would cheerfully add one-fourth more; but when they find themselves burdened with the addition of half or even more than half of the expense originally contemplated, losing their spirits, and sacrificing what has already been laid out, they incline to desist from its completion.

Morgan translation

2Would to God that this were also a law of the Roman people, not merely for public, but also for private buildings. For the ignorant would no longer run riot with impunity, but men who are well qualified by an exact scientific training would unquestionably adopt the profession of architecture. Gentlemen would not be misled into limitless and prodigal expenditure, even to ejectments from their estates, and the architects themselves could be forced, by fear of the penalty, to be more careful in calculating and stating the limit of expense, so that gentlemen would procure their buildings for that which they had expected, or by adding only a little more. It is true that men who can afford to devote four hundred thousand to a work may hold on, if they have to add another hundred thousand, from the pleasure which the hope of finishing it gives them; but if they are loaded with a fifty per cent increase, or with an even greater expense, they lose hope, sacrifice what they have already spent, and are compelled to leave off, broken in fortune and in spirit.