This edition has been based upon the oldest MS. of Vitruvius, the Harleian 2767 of the British Museum, probably of the eighth century, and from the Saxon scriptorium of Northumbria in which the Codex Amiatinus was written. The Latin closely resembles that of the workshop and the street. In my translation I have sought to retain the vividness and accuracy of the original, and have not sought a smoothness of rendering which would become a more polished style. The reader, it is possible, may discern the genial figure of Vitruvius through his utterances. In a technical treatise the risks of the translator are many. The help of Dr. Rouse has rendered them less formidable, but he is not responsible for the errors which have survived revision.
The introduction has been limited to such considerations as may enable the layman to enter into the mysteries of the craft, and the general reader to follow the stages by which the successive accretions to the text have been removed. The section upon language indicates some of the relations of Vitruvius to Old Latin generally.
My examination of fourteen MSS. has been rendered possible by the courtesy of the Directors of the MSS. Libraries at the British Museum, the Vatican, the Escorial, the Bibliothèque Nationale