On Architecture

Vitruvius Pollio

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

1. THERE are five classes of temples, designated as follows: pycnostyle, with the columns close together; systyle, with the intercolumniations a little wider; diastyle, more open still; araeostyle, farther apart than they ought to be; eustyle, with the intervals apportioned just right.


2. The pycnostyle is a temple in an intercolumniation of which the thickness of a column and a half can be inserted: for example, the temple of the Divine Caesar, that of Venus in Caesar's forum, and others constructed like them. The systyle is a temple in which

the thickness of two columns can be placed in an intercolumniation, and in which the plinths of the bases are equivalent to the distance between two plinths: for example, the temple of Equestrian Fortune near the stone theatre, and the others which are constructed on the same principles.

3. These two kinds have practical disadvantages. When the matrons mount the steps for public prayer or thanksgiving, they cannot pass through the intercolumniations with their arms about one another, but must form single file; then again, the effect of the folding doors is thrust out of sight by the crowding of the columns, and likewise the statues are thrown into shadow; the narrow space interferes also with walks round the temple.

4. The construction will be diastyle when we can insert the thickness of three columns in an intercolumniation, as in the case of the temple of Apollo and Diana. This arrangement involves the danger that the architraves may break on account of the great width of the intervals.

5. In araeostyles we cannot employ stone or marble for the architraves, but must have a series of wooden beams laid upon the columns. And moreover, in appearance these temples are clumsy-roofed, low, broad, and their pediments are adorned in the Tuscan fashion with statues of terra-cotta or gilt bronze: for example, near the Circus Maximus, the temple of Ceres and Pompey's temple of Hercules; also the temple on the Capitol.

6. An account must now be given of the eustyle, which is the most approved class, and is arranged on principles developed with a view to convenience, beauty, and strength. The intervals should be made as wide as the thickness of two columns and a quarter, but the middle intercolumniations, one in front and the other in the rear, should be of the thickness of three columns. Thus built, the effect of the design will be beautiful, there will be no obstruction at the entrance, and the walk round the cella will be dignified.

7. The rule of this arrangement may be set forth as follows. If a tetrastyle is to be built, let the width of the front which shall

have already been determined for the temple, be divided into eleven parts and a half, not including the substructures and the projections of the bases; if it is to be of six columns, into eighteen parts. If an octastyle is to be constructed, let the front be divided into twenty-four parts and a half. Then, whether the temple is to be tetrastyle, hexastyle, or octastyle, let one of these parts be taken, and it will be the module. The thickness of the columns will be equal to one module. Each of the intercolumniations, except those in the middle, will measure two modules and a quarter. The middle intercolumniations in front and in the rear will each measure three modules. The columns themselves will be nine modules and a half in height. As a result of this division, the intercolumniations and the heights of the columns will be in due proportion.

8. We have no example of this in Rome, but at Teos in Asia Minor there is one which is hexastyle, dedicated to Father Bacchus.

These rules for symmetry were established by Hermogenes, who was also the first to devise the principle of the pseudodipteral octastyle. He did so by dispensing with the inner rows of thirty-eight columns which belonged to the symmetry of the dipteral temple, and in this way he made a saving in expense and labour. He thus provided a much wider space for the walk round the cella between it and the columns, and without detracting at all from the general effect, or making one feel the loss of what had been really superfluous, he preserved the dignity of the whole work by his new treatment of it.