On Architecture

Vitruvius Pollio

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

1. I SHALL now treat of the ways in which water should be conducted to dwellings and cities. First comes the method of taking the level. Levelling is done either with dioptrae, or with water levels, or with the chorobates, but it is done with greater

accuracy by means of the chorobates, because dioptrae and levels are deceptive. The chorobates is a straightedge about twenty feet long. At the extremities it has legs, made exactly alike and jointed on perpendicularly to the extremities of the straightedge, and also crosspieces, fastened by tenons, connecting the straightedge and the legs. These crosspieces have vertical lines drawn upon them, and there are plumblines hanging from the straightedge over each of the lines. When the straightedge is in position, and the plumblines strike both the lines alike and at the same time, they show that the instrument stands level.

2. But if the wind interposes, and constant motion prevents any definite indication by the lines, then have a groove on the upper side, five feet long, one digit wide, and a digit and a half deep, and pour water into it. If the water comes up uniformly to the rims of the groove, it will be known that the instrument is level. When the level is thus found by means of the chorobates, the amount of fall will also be known.

3. Perhaps some reader of the works of Archimedes will say that there can be no true levelling by means of water, because he holds that water has not a level surface, but is of a spherical form, having its centre at the centre of the earth. Still, whether water is plane or spherical, it necessarily follows that when the straightedge is level, it will support the water evenly at its extremities on the right and left, but that if it slopes down at one end, the water at the higher end will not reach the rim of the groove in the straightedge. For though the water, wherever poured in, must have a swelling and curvature in the centre, yet the extremities on the right and left must be on a level with each other. A picture of the chorobates will be found drawn at the end of the book. If there is to be a considerable fall, the conducting of the water will be comparatively easy. But if the course is broken by depressions, we must have recourse to substructures.