Vitruvius, On Architecture

LCL 251: 152-153

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Liber Tertius

1Delphicus Apollo Socratem omnium sapientissimum Pythiae responsis est professus. Is autem memoratur prudenter doctissimeque dixisse, oportuisse hominum pectora fenestrata et aperta esse, uti non occultos haberent sensus sed patentes ad considerandum. Utinam vero rerum natura sententiam eius secuta explicata et apparentia ea constituisset! Si enim ita fuisset, non solum laudes aut vitia animorum ad manum aspicerentur, sed etiam disciplinarum scientiae sub oculorum consideratione subiectae non incertis iudiciis probarentur, sed et doctis et scientibus auctoritas egregia et stabilis adderetur. Igitur quoniam haec non ita, sed uti natura rerum voluit, sunt constituta, non efficitur ut possint homines obscuratis sub pectoribus ingeniis scientias artificiorum penitus latentes, quemadmodum sint, iudicare. Ipsique artifices pollicerentur suam prudentiam, si non pecunia sint copiosi sed vetustate officinarum habuerint notitiam; aut etiam gratia forensi et eloquentia cum fuerint parati, pro industria studiorum auctoritates possunt habere, ut eis, quod 2profitentur scire, id crederetur. Maxime autem id animadvertere possumus ab antiquis statuariis et pictoribus, quod ex his, qui dignitates notas et


Book III.

Book III


1. Delphic Apollo, by the replies of the Pythian priestess, declared Socrates the wisest of all men. He is recorded to have said with wisdom and great learning that the hearts of men ought to have had open windows so that they might not keep their notions hidden, but open for inspection. Would that Nature had followed his opinion, and made them explicit and manifest! For if it had been so, not only would the merits or defects of human minds be seen at once, but the knowledge of disciplines also, lying under the view of the eyes, would be tested by no uncertain judgments; and a distinguished and lasting authority would be added both to learned and to accomplished men. Therefore since these things have been ordained otherwise, and as Nature willed, it is impossible for other men, when talent is concealed in the breast, to judge how such deeply hidden knowledge of the arts really stands. Yet those craftsmen1 themselves would offer their skill who while they lack wealth yet have the knowledge based on workshop experience; or indeed when they are equipped with the graceful eloquence of the pleader, they can gain the authority corresponding to their industry, and have the credit of knowing what they profess. 2. Now we can best observe this in the case of ancient statuaries and painters; for of these, those who have a recognised dignity and the influence

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.vitruvius-architecture.1931