The Ten Books on Architecture, 10.11.1

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 10.10.6 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 10.11.2 ›››

Gwilt translation

11I have explained the structure of catapultæ, their parts and proportions. The constructions of balistæ are various and different, though contrived to produce similar effects. Some of these are worked by windlasses, others by systems of pulleys, others by capstans, and others by wheels: no balista, however, is made without regard to the weight of the stones it is intended to throw. Hence the rules will only be understood by those who are acquainted with arithmetical numbers and their powers.

Morgan translation

11I have now spoken of the principles applicable to the parts and proportions of catapults.

Ballistae are constructed on varying principles to produce an identical result. Some are worked by handspikes and windlasses, some by blocks and pulleys, others by capstans, others again by means of drums. No ballista, however, is made without regard to the given amount of weight of the stone which the engine is intended to throw. Hence their principle is not easy for everybody, but only for those who have knowledge of the geometrical principles employed in calculation and in multiplication.