The Ten Books on Architecture, 2.9.1

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 2.8.20 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 2.9.2 ›››

Gwilt translation

9Timber should be felled from the beginning of the Autumn up to that time when the west wind begins to blow; never in the Spring, because at that period the trees are as it were pregnant, and communicate their natural strength to the yearly leaves and fruits they shoot forth. Being empty and swelled out, they become, by their great porosity, useless and feeble, just as we see females after conception in indifferent health till the period of their bringing forth. Hence slaves about to be sold are not warranted sound if they be pregnant; for the foetus which goes on increasing in size within the body, derives nourishment from all the food which the parent consumes, and as the time of delivery approaches, the more unwell is the party by whom it is borne: as soon as the foetus is brought forth, that which was before allotted for the nourishment of another being, once more free by the separation of the foetus, returns to reinvigorate the body by the juices flowing to the large and empty vessels, and to enable it to regain its former natural strength and solidity.

Morgan translation

9Timber should be felled between early Autumn and the time when Favonius begins to blow. For in Spring all trees become pregnant, and they are all employing their natural vigour in the production of leaves and of the fruits that return every year. The requirements of that season render them empty and swollen, and so they are weak and feeble because of their looseness of texture. This is also the case with women who have conceived. Their bodies are not considered perfectly healthy until the child is born; hence, pregnant slaves, when offered for sale, are not warranted sound, because the fetus as it grows within the body takes to itself as nourishment all the best qualities of the mother’s food, and so the stronger it becomes as the full time for birth approaches, the less compact it allows that body to be from which it is produced. After the birth of the child, what was heretofore taken to promote the growth of another creature is now set free by the delivery of the newborn, and the channels being now empty and open, the body will take it in by lapping up its juices, and thus becomes compact and returns to the natural strength which it had before.