On Architecture

Vitruvius Pollio

Vitruvius Pollio, creator; Morgan, M. H. (Morris Hicky), 1859-1910, translator

5. His larger tower, he adds, was one hundred and twenty cubits high and twenty-three and one half cubits broad, diminishing like the other to one fifth less; the uprights, one foot at the bottom and six digits at the top. He made this large tower twenty stories high, each story having a gallery round it, three cubits wide. He covered the towers with rawhide to protect them from any kind of missile.

6. The tortoise of the battering ram was constructed in the same way. It had, however, a base of thirty cubits square, and a height, excluding the pediment, of thirteen cubits; the height of the pediment from its bed to its top was seven cubits. Issuing up and above the middle of the roof for not less than two cubits was a gable, and on this was reared a small tower four stories high, in which, on the top floor, scorpiones and catapults were set up, and on the lower floors a great quantity of water was stored, to put out any fire that might be thrown on the tortoise. Inside of this was set the machinery of the ram, termed in Greek kpiodo/xh, in which was placed a roller, turned on a lathe, and the ram, being

set on top of this, produced its great effects when swung to and fro by means of ropes. It was protected, like the tower, with rawhide.

7. He explained the principles of the borer as follows: that the machine itself resembled the tortoise, but that in the middle it had a pipe lying between upright walls, like the pipe usually found in catapults and ballistae, fifty cubits in length and one cubit in height, in which a windlass was set transversely. On the right and left, at the end of the pipe, were two blocks, by means of which the iron-pointed beam, which lay in the pipe, was moved. There were numerous rollers enclosed in the pipe itself under the beam, which made its movements quicker and stronger. Numerous arches were erected along the pipe above the beam which was in it, to hold up the rawhide in which this machine was enveloped.

8. He thought it needless to write about the raven, because he saw that the machine was of no value. With regard to the scaling machine, termed in Greek e)piba/qra and the naval contrivances which, as he wrote, could be used in boarding ships, I have observed that he merely promised with some earnestness to explain their principles, but that he has not done so.

I have set forth what was written by Diades on machines and their construction. I shall now set forth the methods which I have learned from my teachers, and which I myself believe to be useful.

1. A TORTOISE intended for the filling of ditches, and thereby to make it possible to reach the wall, is to be made as follows. Let a base, termed in Greek e)sxa/ra, be constructed, with each of its sides twenty-one feet long, and with four crosspieces. Let these be held together by two others, two thirds of a foot thick and half a foot broad; let the crosspieces be about three feet and

a half apart, and beneath and in the spaces between them set the trees, termed on Greek a(maco/podes in which the axles of the wheels turn in iron hoops. Let the trees be provided with pivots, and also with holes through which levers are passed to make them turn, so that the tortoise can move forward or back or towards its right or left side, or if necessary obliquely, all by the turning of the trees.

2. Let two beams be laid on the base, projecting for six feet on each side, round the projections of which let two other beams be nailed, projecting seven feet beyond the former, and of the thickness and breadth prescribed in the case of the base. On this framework set up posts mortised into it, nine feet high exclusive of their tenons, one foot and a quarter square, and one foot and a half apart. Let the posts be tied together at the top by mortised beams. Over the beams let the rafters be set, tied one into another by means of tenons, and carried up twelve feet high. Over the rafters set the square beam by which the rafters are bound together.

3. Let the rafters themselves be held together by bridgings, and covered with boards, preferably of holm oak, or, this failing, of any other material which has the greatest strength, except pine or alder. For these woods are weak and easily catch fire. Over the boardings let there be placed wattles very closely woven of thin twigs as fresh as possible. Let the entire machine be covered with rawhide sewed together double and stuffed with seaweed or straw soaked in vinegar. In this way the blows of ballistae and the force of fires will be repelled by them.