The Ten Books on Architecture, 5.0.2

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

‹‹‹ Vitr. 5.0.1 | Table of Contents | Vitr. 5.0.3 ›››

Gwilt translation

2This cannot be accomplished in Architectural works, because the terms, which are unavoidably technical, necessarily throw an obscurity over the subject. These terms, moreover, are not of themselves intelligible, nor in common use; hence if the precepts which are delivered by authors extend to any length, and are otherwise explained than in few and perspicuous expressions, the mind of the reader is bewildered by the quantity and frequent recurrence of them. These reasons induce me to be brief in the explanation of unknown terms, and of the symmetry of the parts of a work, because the matter may thereby be more easily committed to and retained by the memory.

Morgan translation

2But this cannot be the case with architectural treatises, because those terms which originate in the peculiar needs of the art, give rise to obscurity of ideas from the unusual nature of the language. Hence, while the things themselves are not well known, and their names not in common use, if besides this the principles are described in a very diffuse fashion without any attempt at conciseness and explanation in a few pellucid sentences, such fullness and amplitude of treatment will be only a hindrance, and will give the reader nothing but indefinite notions. Therefore, when I mention obscure terms, and the symmetrical proportions of members of buildings, I shall give brief explanations, so that they may be committed to memory; for thus expressed, the mind will be enabled to understand them the more easily.