The Ten Books on Architecture, 4.9.1

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 4.8.7 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 5.0.1 ›››

Gwilt translation

9The aspect of altars should be to the east, and they should always be lower than the statues in the temple, so that the supplicants and those that sacrifice, in looking towards the deity, may stand more or less inclined, as the reverence to be shewn may proportionably require. Hence altars are thus contrived; the heights of those of Jupiter and the celestial gods are to be as high as they may conveniently be; those of Vesta, the Earth, and the Sea are made lower. On these principles, altars in the middle of temples are fitly proportioned. In this book the method of designing temples is given; in the following, rules will be given for the arrangements to be observed in public buildings.

Morgan translation

9Altars should face the east, and should always be placed on a lower level than are the statues in the temples, so that those who are praying and sacrificing may look upwards towards the divinity. They are of different heights, being each regulated so as to be appropriate to its own god. Their heights are to be adjusted thus for Jupiter and all the celestials, let them be constructed as high as possible; for Vesta and Mother Earth, let them be built low. In accordance with these rules will altars be adjusted when one is preparing his plans.

Having described the arrangements of temples in this book, in the following we shall give an exposition of the construction of public buildings.