On Architecture

Vitruvius Pollio

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

6. The length of the “scaena” ought to be double the diameter of the orchestra. The height of the podium, starting from the level of the stage, is, including the corona and cymatium, one twelfth of the diameter of the orchestra. Above the podium, the columns, including their capitals and bases, should have a height of one quarter of the same diameter, and the architraves and ornaments of the columns should be one fifth of their height. The parapet above, including its cyma and corona, is one half the height of the parapet below. Let the columns above this parapet be one fourth less in height than the columns below, and the architraves and ornaments of these columns one fifth of their height. If the “scaena” is to have three stories, let the uppermost parapet be half the height of the intermediate one, the columns at the top one fourth less high than the intermediate, and the architraves and coronae of these columns one fifth of their height as before.

7. It is not possible, however, that in all theatres these rules of symmetry should answer all conditions and purposes, but the

architect ought to consider to what extent he must follow the principle of symmetry, and to what extent it may be modified to suit the nature of the site or the size of the work. There are, of course, some things which, for utility's sake, must be made of the same size in a small theatre, and a large one: such as the steps, curved cross-aisles, their parapets, the passages, stairways, stages, tribunals, and any other things which occur that make it necessary to give up symmetry so as not to interfere with utility. Again, if in the course of the work any of the material fall short, such as marble, timber, or anything else that is provided, it will not be amiss to make a slight reduction or addition, provided that it is done without going too far, but with intelligence. This will be possible, if the architect is a man of practical experience and, besides, not destitute of cleverness and skill.