The Ten Books on Architecture, 6.5

Vitruvius  translated by Joseph Gwilt

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Of the Forms of Houses Suited to Different Ranks of Persons

5The aspects proper for each part being appropriated, we must determine the situation of the private rooms for the master of the house, and those which are for general use, and for the guests. Into those which are private no one enters, except invited; such are bed chambers, triclinia, baths, and others of a similar nature. The common rooms, on the contrary, are those entered by any one, even unasked. Such are the vestibule, the cavædium, the peristylia, and those which are for similar uses. Hence, for a person of middling condition in life, magnificent vestibules are not necessary, nor tablina, nor atria, because persons of that description are those who seek favours which are granted by the higher ranks.

2Those, however, who have to lay up stores that are the produce of the country, should have stalls and shops in their vestibules: under their houses they should have vaults (cryptæ), granaries (horrea), store rooms (apothecæ), and other apartments, suited rather to preserve such produce, than to exhibit a magnificent appearance. The houses of bankers and receivers of the revenue may be more commodious and elegant, and well secured from the attacks of thieves. For advocates, and men of literature, houses ought to be still handsomer and more spacious, to allow the reception of persons on consultations. But for nobles, who in bearing honours, and discharging the duties of the magistracy, must have much intercourse with the citizens, princely vestibules must be provided, lofty atria, and spacious peristylia, groves, and extensive walks, finished in a magnificent style. In addition to these, libraries, pinacothecæ, and basilicæ, of similar form to those which are made for the public use, are to be provided; for in the houses of the noble, the affairs of the public, and the decision and judgment of private causes are often determined.

3If, therefore, houses are erected, thus adapted to the different classes of society, as directed in the first book under the head of propriety, there will be nothing to reprehend, for they will be suitable to their destination. These rules are no less applicable to country than to town dwellings, except that in town the atria must be close to the gates, whereas, in the country villa, the peristylium is near the entrance, then the atrium, with paved porticos round it looking towards the palæstra and walk. I have thus briefly described the proportions of town residences as I promised. I shall now proceed to those of houses in the country, so that they may afford the requisite accommodation.

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