The Ten Books on Architecture, 4.1.12

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 4.1.11 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 4.2.1 ›››

Gwilt translation

12the remainder is to be divided into three parts, one of which is to be given to the lower leaf, the middle leaf will occupy the space of the next third part, the stalks or caulicoli will be the same height as the last named, out of which the leaves spring for the reception of the abacus. Large volutes are generated from these, which branch out towards the angles. The smaller volutes spread out towards the flowers, which are introduced in the centre of each abacus. Flowers whose diameters are equal to the height of the abacus, are to be placed in the central part of each its faces. By attention to these rules the Corinthian capital will be properly proportioned. Other sorts of capitals are however placed on these columns, which, differing in proportion, and standing on a different sort of shaft, cannot be referred to any other class; but their origin, though the detail be changed, is traced to, and deduced from the Corinthian, the Ionic, and the Doric, their only differences arising from a variation of the arrangement of the sculpture on them.

Morgan translation

12Omitting the height of the abacus, let the rest be divided into three parts, of which one should be given to the lowest leaf. Let the second leaf occupy the middle part of the height. Of the same height should be the stalks, out of which grow leaves projected so as to support the volutes which proceed from the stalks, and run out to the utmost corners of the abacus; the smaller spirals between them should be carved just under the flower which is on the abacus. The flowers on the four sides are to be made as large as the height of the abacus. On these principles of proportion, Corinthian capitals will be finished as they ought to be.

There are other kinds of capitals set upon these same columns and called by various names, but they have no peculiarities of proportion of which we can speak, nor can we recognize from them another order of columns. Even their very names are, as we can see, derived with some changes from the Corinthian, the cushion-shaped, and the Doric, whose symmetrical proportions have been thus transferred to delicate sculptures of novel form.