The Ten Books on Architecture, 10.1.5

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 10.1.4 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 10.2.1 ›››

Gwilt translation

5Let us, for an instant, reflect on an invention, necessarily of an early period, that of clothing; wherein, by the organic arrangement of the loom, the connexion of the warp to the woof not only defends our bodies by the covering it affords, but is likewise an ornament to them. Again; how should we be supplied with food, but for the yokes and ploughs to which oxen and other animals are harnessed? Without the aid of wheels and axles, of presses and levers, we could enjoy neither the comforts of good oil, nor of the fruit of the vine. Without the aid of carts and waggons on land, and ships on the sea, we should be unable to transport any of our commodities. How necessary also, is the use of scales and weights in our dealings, to protect us from fraud. Not less so are innumerable different machines, which it is unnecessary here to discuss, since they are so well known from our daily use of them, such as wheels generally, the blacksmith’s bellows, chariots, calêches, lathes, and other things which our habits constantly require. We will, therefore, proceed to explain, in the first place, those which are more rarely wanted.

Morgan translation

5Let us take first a necessary invention, such as clothing, and see how the combination of warp and woof on the loom, which does its work on the principle of an engine, not only protects the body by covering it, but also gives it honourable apparel. We should not have had food in abundance unless yokes and ploughs for oxen, and for all draught animals, had been invented. If there had been no provision of windlasses, pressbeams, and levers for presses, we could not have had the shining oil, nor the fruit of the vine to give us pleasure, and these things could not be transported on land without the invention of the mechanism of carts or waggons, nor on the sea without that of ships. The discovery of the method of testing weights by steelyards and balances saves us from fraud, by introducing honest practices into life. There are also innumerable ways of employing machinery about which it seems unnecessary to speak, since they are at hand every day; such as mills, blacksmiths’ bellows, carriages, gigs, turning lathes, and other things which are habitually used as general conveniences. Hence, we shall begin by explaining those that rarely come to hand, so that they may be understood.