On Architecture

Vitruvius Pollio

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

1. ACCORDING to the teaching of Berosus, who came from the state, or rather nation, of the Chaldees, and was the pioneer of Chaldean learning in Asia, the moon is a ball, one half luminous and the rest of a blue colour. When, in the course of her orbit, she has passed below the disc of the sun, she is attracted by his rays and great heat, and turns thither her luminous side, on account of the sympathy between light and light. Being thus summoned

by the sun's disc and facing upward, her lower half, as it is not luminous, is invisible on account of its likeness to the air. When she is perpendicular to the sun's rays, all her light is confined to her upper surface, and she is then called the new moon.

2. As she moves on, passing by to the east, the effect of the sun upon her relaxes, and the outer edge of the luminous side sheds its light upon the earth in an exceedingly thin line. This is called the second day of the moon. Day by day she is further relieved and turns, and thus are numbered the third, fourth, and following days. On the seventh day, the sun being in the west and the moon in the middle of the firmament between the east and west, she is half the extent of the firmament distant from the sun, and therefore half of the luminous side is turned toward the earth. But when the sun and moon are separated by the entire extent of the firmament, and the moon is in the east with the sun over against her in the west, she is completely relieved by her still greater distance from his rays, and so, on the fourteenth day, she is at the full, and her entire disc emits its light. On the succeeding days, up to the end of the month, she wanes daily as she turns in her course, being recalled by the sun until she comes under his disc and rays, thus completing the count of the days of the month.

3. But Aristarchus of Samos, a mathematician of great powers, has left a different explanation in his teaching on this subject, as I shall now set forth. It is no secret that the moon has no light of her own, but is, as it were, a mirror, receiving brightness from the influence of the sun. Of all the seven stars, the moon traverses the shortest orbit, and her course is nearest to the earth. Hence in every month, on the day before she gets past the sun, she is under his disc and rays, and is consequently hidden and invisible. When she is thus in conjunction with the sun, she is called the new moon. On the next day, reckoned as her second, she gets past the sun and shows the thin edge of her sphere. Three days away from the sun, she waxes and grows brighter. Removing further every day till she reaches the seventh, when her distance from the sun at his setting is about one half the extent of the

firmament, one half of her is luminous: that is, the half which faces toward the sun is lighted up by him.

4. On the fourteenth day, being diametrically across the whole extent of the firmament from the sun, she is at her full and rises when the sun is setting. For, as she takes her place over against him and distant the whole extent of the firmament, she thus receives the light from the sun throughout her entire orb. On the seventeenth day, at sunrise, she is inclining to the west. On the twenty-second day, after sunrise, the moon is about mid-heaven; hence, the side exposed to the sun is bright and the rest dark. Continuing thus her daily course, she passes under the rays of the sun on about the twenty-eighth day, and so completes the account of the month.

I will next explain how the sun, passing through a different sign each month, causes the days and hours to increase and diminish in length.

1. THE sun, after entering the sign Aries and passing through one eighth of it, determines the vernal equinox. On reaching the tail of Taurus and the constellation of the Pleiades, from which the front half of Taurus projects, he advances into a space greater than half the firmament, moving toward the north. From Taurus he enters Gemini at the time of the rising of the Pleiades, and, getting higher above the earth, he increases the length of the days. Next, coming from Gemini into Cancer, which occupies the shortest space in heaven, and after traversing one eighth of it, he determines the summer solstice. Continuing on, he reaches the head and breast of Leo, portions which are reckoned as belonging to Cancer.

2.After leaving the breast of Leo and the boundaries of, Cancer, the sun, traversing the rest of Leo, makes the days shorter, diminishing the size of his circuit, and returning to the same

course that he had in Gemini. Next, crossing from Leo into Virgo, and advancing as far as the bosom of her garment, he still further shortens his circuit, making his course equal to what it was in Taurus. Advancing from Virgo by way of the bosom of her garment, which forms the first part of Libra, he determines the autumn equinox at the end of one eighth of Libra. Here his course is equal to what his circuit was in the sign Aries.

3. When the sun has entered Scorpio, at the time of the setting of the Pleiades, he begins to make the days shorter as he advances toward the south. From Scorpio he enters Sagittarius and, on reaching the thighs, his daily course is still further diminished. From the thighs of Sagittarius, which are reckoned as part of Capricornus, he reaches the end of the first eighth of the latter, where his course in heaven is shortest. Consequently, this season, from the shortness of the day, is called bruma or dies brumales. Crossing from Capricornus into Aquarius, he causes the days to increase to the length which they had when he was in Sagittarius. From Aquarius he enters Pisces at the time when Favonius begins to blow, and here his course is the same as in Scorpio. In this way the sun passes round through the signs, lengthening or shortening the days and hours at definite seasons.

I shall next speak of the other constellations formed by arrangements of stars, and lying to the right and left of the belt of the signs, in the southern and northern portions of the firmament.

1. THE Great Bear, called in Greek a)/rktos or e(likh, has her Warden behind her. Near him is the Virgin, on whose right shoulder rests a very bright star which we call Harbinger of the Vintage, and the Greeks protrughth/s. But Spica in that constellation is brighter. Opposite there is another star, coloured, between

the knees of the Bear Warden, dedicated there under the name of Arcturus.

2. Opposite the head of the Bear, at an angle with the feet of the Twins, is the Charioteer, standing on the tip of the horn of the Bull; hence, one and the same star is found in the tip of the left horn of the Bull and in the right foot of the Charioteer. Supported on the hand of the Charioteer are the Kids, with the She-Goat at his left shoulder. Above the Bull and the Ram is Perseus, having at his right . . . [*](From this point to the end of section 3 the text is often hopelessly corrupt. The translation follows, approximately, the manuscript reading, but cannot pretend to be exact.) with the Pleiades moving beneath, and at his left the head of the Ram. His right hand rests on the likeness of Cassiopea, and with his left he holds the Gorgon's head by its top over the Ram, laying it at the feet of Andromeda.

3. Above Andromeda are the Fishes, one above her belly and the other above the backbone of the Horse. A very bright star terminates both the belly of the Horse and the head of Andromeda. Andromeda's right hand rests above the likeness of Cassiopea, and her left above the Northern Fish. The Waterman's head is above that of the Horse. The Horse's hoofs lie close to the Waterman's knees. Cassiopea is set apart in the midst. High above the He-Goat are the Eagle and the Dolphin, and near them is the Arrow. Farther on is the Bird, whose right wing grazes the head and sceptre of Cepheus, with its left resting over Cassiopea. Under the tail of the Bird lie the feet of the Horse.

4. Above the Archer, Scorpion, and Balance, is the Serpent, reaching to the Crown with the end of its snout. Next, the Serpent-holder grasps the Serpent about the middle in his hands, and with his left foot treads squarely on the foreparts of the Scorpion. A little way from the head of the Serpent-holder is the head of the so-called Kneeler. Their heads are the more readily to be distinguished as the stars which compose them are by no means dim.


5. The foot of the Kneeler rests on the temple of that Serpent which is entwined between the She-Bears (called Septentriones). The little Dolphin moves in front of the Horse. Opposite the bill of the Bird is the Lyre. The Crown is arranged between the shoulders of the Warden and the Kneeler. In the northern circle are the two She-Bears with their shoulder-blades confronting and their breasts turned away from one another. The Greeks call the Lesser Bear kuno/soura and the Greater e(li/kh. Their heads face different ways, and their tails are shaped so that each is in front of the head of the other Bear; for the tails of both stick up over them.

6. The Serpent is said to lie stretched out between their tails, and in it there is a star, called Polus, shining near the head of the Greater Bear. At the nearest point, the Serpent winds its head round, but is also flung in a fold round the head of the Lesser .Bear, and stretches out close to her feet. Here it twists back, making another fold, and, lifting itself up, bends its snout and right temple from the head of the Lesser Bear round towards the Greater. Above the tail of the Lesser Bear are the feet of Cepheus, and at this point, at the very top, are stars forming an equilateral triangle. There are a good many stars common to the Lesser Bear and to Cepheus.

I have now mentioned the constellations which are arranged in the heaven to the right of the east, between the belt of the signs and the north. I shall next describe those that Nature has distributed to the left of the east and in the southern regions.

1. FIRST under the He-Goat lies the Southern Fish, facing towards the tail of the Whale. The Censer is under the Scorpion's sting. The fore parts of the Centaur are next to the Balance and the Scorpion, and he holds in his hands the figure which astronomers

call the Beast. Beneath the Virgin, Lion, and Crab is the twisted girdle formed by the Snake, extending over a whole line of stars, his snout raised near the Crab, supporting the Bowl with the middle of his body near the Lion, and bringing his tail, on which is the Raven, under and near the hand of the Virgin. The region above his shoulders is equally bright.

2. Beneath the Snake's belly, at the tail, lies the Centaur. Near the Bowl and the Lion is the ship named Argo. Her bow is invisible, but her mast and the parts about the helm are in plain sight, the stern of the vessel joining the Dog at the tip of his tail. The Little Dog follows the Twins, and is opposite the Snake's head. The Greater Dog follows the Lesser. Orion lies aslant, under the Bull's hoof; in his left hand grasping his club, and raising the other toward the Twins.

3. At his feet is the Dog, following a little behind the Hare. The Whale lies under the Ram and the Fishes, and from his mane there is a slight sprinkling of stars, called in Greek a(rpedo/nai, regularly disposed towards each of the Fishes. This ligature by which they hang is carried a great way inwards, but reaches out to the top of the mane of the Whale. The River, formed of stars, flows from a source at the left foot of Orion. But the Water, said to pour from the Waterman, flows between the head of the Southern Fish and the tail of the Whale.