The Ten Books on Architecture, 4.6

Vitruvius  translated by Joseph Gwilt

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Of the Proportions of the Doors of Temples

6The following are the rules for door-ways of temples, and for their dressings (antepagmenta). First the species is to be considered: this is Doric, Ionic, or Attic. The Doric is constructed with these proportions. The top of the cornice, which is above the upper dressing, is to be level with the top of the capitals in the pronaos. The aperture of the door is determined as follows. The height from the pavement to the lacunaria is to be divided into three parts and a half, of which two constitute the height of the doors. The height thus obtained is to be divided into twelve parts, of which five and a half are given to the width of the bottom part of the door. This is diminished towards the top, equal to one third of the dressing, if the height be not more than sixteen feet. From sixteen feet to twenty-five the upper part of the opening is contracted one fourth part of the dressing. From twenty-five to thirty feet the upper part is contracted one-eighth of the dressing. Those that are higher should have their sides vertical.

2The thickness of the dressings in front is to be equal to one-twelfth of the height of the door, and they are to diminish towards the top a fourteenth part of their width. The height of the architrave is to be equal to the upper part of the dressing. The cymatium is to be a sixth part of the dressing; its projection equal to its thickness. The cymatium is to be sculptured in the Lesbian form, with an astragal. Above the cymatium of the architrave of the dressing (supercilium), the frieze (hyperthyrum), is placed, and it is to have a Doric cymatium, with a Lesbian astragal, in low relief. Over this the corona is placed, unornamented, and with a cymatium. Its projection is to equal the height of the supercilium placed over the architrave of the dressing. On the right and left, projectures are made; and the cymatia of the dressings are connected by a mitre.

3If the doors are Ionic, their height is to be regulated as in those that are Doric. Their width is found by dividing the height into two parts and a half, and taking one and a half for the width below. The diminution is to be as in the Doric door-way. The width of the dressings is to be a fourteenth part of the height of the aperture; the cymatium a sixth part of their width; the remainder, deducting the cymatium, is to be divided into twelve parts, three of which are given to the first fascia, with the astragal, four to the second, and five to the third. The fasciæ, with the astragal, run quite round the dressings.

4The upper members of the door-way are the same as those of the Doric. The trusses (ancones), or prothyrides, which are carved on the right and left, reach to the bottom of the level of the architrave, exclusive of the leaf. Their width on the face is one-third of the dressing, and at the bottom one fourth part less. The wooden doors are to be so put together, that the hinge styles (scapi cardinales) may be one-twelfth of the height of the aperture. The pannels (tympana) between the styles are to be three out of twelve parts in width.

5The arrangement of the rails is to be such, that when the height is divided into five parts, two are given to the upper and three to the lower rail. In the centre the middle rails (medii impages) are placed; the others are disposed above and below. The width of the rail is to be one-third of the pannel, and its cymatium a sixth part of the rail itself. The width of the inner styles is one half of the rail, and the raising (replum) four sixths of the rail. The styles nearest the dressings are made one half of the rail. If the doors are folding, the height remains the same, but the width is to be increased. If in four folds, the height is to be increased.

6The Attic doors are made of the same proportion as the Doric, except that, in the dressings, the fasciæ return within the cymatium; and these are proportioned so, that exclusive of the cymatium, they are to be two sevenths. These doors are not to be inlaid (cerostrata), nor in two folds, but single folded, and to open outwards. I have explained, to the best of my power, the proportions used in setting out Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian temples, according to the approved methods. I shall now treat of the arrangement of Tuscan temples, and how they ought to be built.

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