| Alberti, Leone Battista Architecture 1755, tr. Leoni, James |
Indeed, within the Temple I think detached
Pictures do much better than painting upon
the Wall itself, and in my Mind Statues are
handsomer than Pictures.
unless they be such
excellent ones as those two, for which Cæsar
the Dictator gave ninety Talents, or fourteen
hundred of our Crowns, in order to adorn the
Temple of Venus his Progenitor; and I look
upon a Picture with no less Pleasure (I mean a
good one, for ill Painting is a Disgrace to the
Wall) than I read a good History.
indeed are Pictures, only the Historian paints
with Words, and the Painter with his Pencil.
All other Qualifications are common to them
both, and they both require the greatest Genius
But I would have nothing
either on the Wall or Pavement of the Tem
ple but what savours entirely of Philosophy.
read that in the Capitol there were Tables of
Brass whereon were inscribed the Laws by
which the Empire was to be governed; which,
when the Temple was destroyed by Fire, were
restored by the Emperor Vespasian, to the
Number of three Thousand.
We are told that
at the Entrance of the Temple of Apollo at De
los, there were Verses engraved, containing se
veral Compositions of Herbs proper to be used
as Remedies against all Sorts of Poison.
I should think it would be proper among us,
by Way of Inscription, to have such Precepts
as may make us more just, more modest, more
useful, more adorned with all Virtues, and
more acceptable in the Sight of God; such as
these, Be what you would be thought; Love if
you would be beloved, and the like.
And I would
have the Composition of the Lines of the
Pavement full of musical and geometrical Pro
portions; to the Intent that which-soever Way
we may turn our Eyes, we may be sure to find
Employment for our Minds.
which the Ancients took to adorn their Tem
ples, was to fill them with Things that were
uncommon and excellent; as in the Temple of
Hercules, where were to be seen some Horns
of Emmets brought from India; or like those
Crowns made of Cinnamon which Vespasian
gave to the Capitol; or like that great Root of
Cinnamon which Augusta placed in the prin
cipal Temple of Mount Palatine, in a Cup of
At Thermus, a Town in Ætolia plun
dered by Philip, we are told, that in the Por
ticoes of the Temple there were above fifteen
thousand Suits of Armour, and to adorn the
Temple itself above two thousand Statues; all
which, according to Polybius's Relation, were
destroyed and broken by Philip, except those
which were inscribed with the Name, or bore
the Representation of some God; and perhaps
Variety is more to be consulted in such Collec
tions than Number. Solinus informs us, that
in Sicily there were some Artificers who had
the Secret of making Statues of Salt; and Pliny
tells us, that there was one made of Glass.
There is no Question but such Things must be
exceeding rare, and very worthy to raise our
Admiration of the Work both of Nature and
But of Statues we shall speak in another
The Walls and Apertures must be
adorned with Columns; but not like a Porti
There is one Thing which I have observ
ed in the Covering of some of the biggest
Temples, which is, that not having Columns
of Height sufficient to reach to the Spring of
their Arches, they heightened the Sides of the
Arches themselves in such a Manner that their
Sagitta was a third Part longer than their Se
mi-diameter, which added not a little to the
Clearness and Beauty of the Work itself.
here I must not omit one Precept, namely, that
the Spring of the Arch should have at least so
much Perpendicular, as to prevent the Projec
ture of the Cornices from taking away any Part
of the Arch from the Sight of those that staid
below in the Middle of the Temple.
Why the Roofs of Temples ought to be arched.
I am entirely for having the Roofs of Tem
ples arched, as well because it gives them
the greater Dignity, as because it makes them
And indeed I know not how
it happens that we shall hardly meet any one
Temple whatsoever that has not fallen into the
Calamity of Fire.
We read that Cambyses burnt
all the Temples in Ægypt in general, and re
moved the Treasure and Ornaments belonging
to them to Persepolis.
Eusebius relates, that the
Oracle of Delphos was burnt three Times by
the Thracians, and another Time it took Fire
of itself, and was rebuilt by Amasis, as we are
informed by Herodotus. We read too that it