The Ten Books on Architecture, 10.12

Vitruvius  translated by Morris Hicky Morgan

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The Stringing and Tuning of Catapults

12Beams of very generous length are selected, and upon them are nailed socket-pieces in which windlasses are inserted. Midway along their length the beams are incised and cut away to form framings, and in these cuttings the capitals of the catapults are inserted, and prevented by wedges from moving when the stretching is going on. Then the bronze boxes are inserted into the capitals, and the little iron bolts, which the Greeks call ἑπιξυγἱδες, are put in their places in the boxes.

2Next, the loops of the strings are put through the holes in the capitals, and passed through to the other side; next, they are put upon the windlasses, and wound round them in order that the strings, stretched out taut on them by means of the handspikes, on being struck by the hand, may respond with the same sound on both sides. Then they are wedged tightly into the holes so that they cannot slacken. So, in the same manner, they are passed through to the other side, and stretched taut on the windlasses by means of the handspikes until they give the same sound. Thus with tight wedging, catapults are tuned to the proper pitch by musical sense of hearing.

On these things I have said what I could. There is left for me, in the matter of sieges, to explain how generals can win victories and cities be defended, by means of machinery.

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