The Ten Books on Architecture, 8.0.3

Vitruvius  Parallel editions

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Gwilt translation

3Lastly, animals deprived of moisture, from want of water dry up, and are bloodless and parched. Divine Providence has made those things neither scarce nor dear which are necessary for mankind, as are pearls, gold, silver, and the like, which are neither necessary for the body nor nature; but has diffused abundantly, throughout the world, those things, without which the life of mortals would be uncertain. Thus, if a body be deficient in spirit, the deficiency is supplied by the air. The power of the sun, and the discovery of fire, are always ready to assist us, and render life more certain. The fruits of the earth also, furnishing nourishment even to excess, feed and support animals continually. Water is of infinite utility to us, not only as affording drink, but for a great number of purposes in life; and it is furnished to us gratuitously.

Morgan translation

3Finally, without the influence of moisture, living creatures will be bloodless and, having the liquid element sucked out of them, will wither away. Accordingly the divine intelligence has not made what is really indispensable for man either hard to get or costly, like pearls, gold, silver, and so forth, the lack of which neither our body nor our nature feels, but has spread abroad, ready to hand through all the world, the things without which the life of mortals cannot be maintained. Thus, to take examples, suppose there is a deficiency of breath in the body, the air, to which is assigned the function of making up the deficiency, performs that service. To supply heat, the mighty sun is ready, and the invention of fire makes life more secure. Then again, the fruits of the earth, satisfying our desires with a more than sufficient store of food stuffs, support and maintain living beings with regular nourishment. Finally, water, not merely supplying drink but filling an infinite number of practical needs, does us services which make us grateful because it is gratis.