Videtur autem ultimus finis esse multitudinis congregatae vivere secundum virtutem: ad hoc enim homines congregantur ut simul bene vivant, quod consequi non posset unusquisque singulariter vivens; bona autem vita est quae est secundum virtutem, virtuosa igitur vita finis est congregationis humanae. Huius autem signum est, quia hi soli partes sunt multitudinis congregatae qui sibi invicem communicant in bene vivendo. Si enim propter solum vivere homines convenirent, animalia et servi essent pars aliqua congregationis civilis; si vero propter acquirendas divitias, omnes simul negotiantes ad unam civitatem pertinerent. Nunc autem videmus eos solos sub una multitudine computari qui sub eisdem legibus et eodem regimine diriguntur ad bene vivendum.
It is, however, clear that the end of a multitude gathered together is to live virtuously. For men form a group for the purpose of living well together, a thing which the individual man living alone could not attain. Now, the good life is a virtuous life; therefore, virtuous life is the end for which men gather together. The evidence for this lies in the fact that only those who render mutual assistance to one another in living well form a genuine part of an assembled multitude. If men assembled merely to live, then animals and slaves would form a part of the civil community. Or, if men assembled only to accrue wealth, then all those who traded together would belong to one city. Yet we see that only such are regarded as forming one multitude as are directed to live well by the same laws and the same government.
Sed quia homo vivendo secundum virtutem ad ulteriorem finem ordinatur, qui consistit in fruitione divina ut supra iam diximus, oportet autem eumdem finem esse multitudinis humanae qui est hominis unius, non est ultimus finis multitudinis congregatae vivere secundum virtutem, sed per virtuosam vitam pervenire ad fruitionem divinam.
Yet through virtuous living man is further ordained to a higher end, which consists in the enjoyment of God, as we have said above. Consequently, since society must have the same end as the individual man, it is not the ultimate end of an assembled multitude to live virtuously, but through virtuous living to attain to the possession of God.
Siquidem igitur ad hunc finem perveniri posset virtute humanae naturae, necesse esset ut ad officium regis pertineret dirigere homines in hunc finem: hunc enim regem dici supponimus cui summa regiminis in rebus humanis committitur. Tanto autem est regimen sublimius quanto ad finem altiorem ordinatur: semper enim invenitur ille ad quem pertinet ultimus finis imperare operantibus ea quae in finem ultimum ordinantur; sicut gubernator, ad quem pertinet navigationem disponere, imperat ei qui navem constituit qualem navem navigationi aptam facere debeat; civilis qui debet uti armis, imperat fabro qualia fabricet arma. Sed quia finem fruitionis divinae non consequitur homo per virtutem humanam sed virtute divina, secundum illud Apostoli Gratia Dei vita aeterna, perducere ad illum ultimum finem non est humani regiminis sed divini.
If this end could be attained by the power of human nature, then the duty of a king would have to include the direction of men to it. We are supposing, of course, that he is called king to whom the supreme power of governing in human affairs is entrusted. Now, the higher the end to which a government is ordained, the loftier that government is. Indeed, we always find that the one to whom it pertains to achieve the final end commands those who execute the things that are ordained to that end. For example, the captain, whose business it is to regulate navigation, tells the shipbuilder what kind of ship he must construct to be suitable for navigation; and the ruler of a city, who makes use of arms, tells the blacksmith what kind of arms to make. But because a man does not attain his end, which is the possession of God, by human power but by divine, according to the words of the Apostle: By the grace of God, life everlasting (Rom 6:23)—therefore, the task of leading him to that last end does not pertain to human but to divine government.
Ad illum igitur regem huiusmodi regimen pertinet qui non est solum homo sed etiam Deus, scilicet ad Dominum Iesum Christum, qui homines filios Dei faciens in caelestem gloriam introduxit. Hoc igitur est regimen ei traditum quod non corrumpetur, propter quod non solum sacerdos sed rex in Scripturis sacris nominatur, dicente Ieremia Regnabit rex et sapiens erit; unde ab eo regale sacerdotium derivatur, et quod est amplius, omnes Christi fideles in quantum sunt membra eius reges et sacerdotes dicuntur.
Consequently, government of this kind pertains to that king who is not only a man, but also God, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ, who by making men sons of God brought them to the glory of Heaven. This, then, is the government which has been delivered to him and which shall not be destroyed (Dan 7:14), on account of which Sacred Scripture calls him not only Priest, but King. As Jeremiah says: He shall reign as king and deal wisely (Jer 23:5). Hence a royal priesthood is derived from him, and what is more, all those who believe in Christ, in so far as they are his members, are called kings and priests.
Huius ergo regni ministerium, ut a terrenis spiritualia essent discreta, non terrenis regibus sed sacerdotibus est commissum, et praecipue summo sacerdoti successori Petri, Christi vicario Romano Pontifici, cui omnes reges populi Christiani oportet esse subiectos sicut ipsi Domino Iesu Christo. Sic enim, ut dictum est, ei ad quem ultimi finis pertinet cura subdi debent illi ad quos pertinet cura antecedentium finium, et eius imperio dirigi.
Thus, so that spiritual things might be distinguished from earthly things, the ministry of this kingdom has been entrusted not to earthly kings but to priests, and most of all to the chief priest, the successor of St. Peter, the Vicar of Christ, the Roman Pontiff. To him all the kings of the Christian people are to be subject as to our Lord Jesus Christ himself. For those to whom pertains the care of intermediate ends should be subject to him to whom pertains the care of the ultimate end, and be directed by his rule.
Quia igitur sacerdotium gentium et totus divinorum cultus erat propter temporalia bona conquirenda, quae omnia ordinantur ad multitudinis bonum commune cuius regi cura incumbit, convenienter sacerdotes gentilium regibus subdebantur. Sed et in Veteri lege promittebantur bona terrena, non a daemonibus sed a Deo vero, religioso populo exhibenda; unde et in Veteri lege sacerdotes regibus leguntur fuisse subiecti. Sed in Nova lege est sacerdotium altius, per quod homines traducuntur ad bona caelestia; unde in lege Christi reges debent sacerdotibus esse subiecti.
Because the priesthood of the gentiles and the whole worship of their gods existed merely for the acquisition of temporal goods (which were all ordained to the common good of the multitude, whose care devolved upon the king), the priests of the gentiles were very properly subject to the kings. Similarly, since in the Old Law earthly goods were promised to the religious people (not indeed by demons but by the true God), the priests of the Old Law, we read, were also subject to the kings. But in the New Law there is a higher priesthood by which men are guided to heavenly goods. Consequently, in the law of Christ, kings must be subject to priests.
Unde mirabiliter ex divina providentia factum est ut in Romana urbe, quam Deus praeviderat christiani sacerdotii principalem sedem futuram, hic mos paulatim inolesceret ut civitatis rectores sacerdotibus subderentur. Sicut enim Maximus Valerius refert, omnia post religionem ponenda semper nostra civitas duxit, etiam in quibus summae maiestatis conspici decus voluit. Quapropter non dubitaverunt sacris imperia servire, ita se humanarum rerum habitura regimen existimantia, si divinae potentiae bene atque constanter fuissent famulata. Quia etiam futurum erat ut in Gallia christiani sacerdotii plurimum vigeret religio, divinitus est provisum ut etiam apud Gallos gentiles sacerdotes, quos druidas nominabant, totius Galliae ius definirent, ut refert Iulius Caesar in libro quem de Bello gallico scripsit.
It was therefore also a marvelous disposition of divine providence that, in the city of Rome, which God had foreseen would be the principal seat of the Christian priesthood, the custom was gradually established that the rulers of the city should be subject to the priests, for as Valerius Maximus relates: Our city has always considered that everything should yield precedence to religion, even those things in which it aimed to display the splendor of supreme majesty. We therefore unhesitatingly made the imperial dignity minister to religion, considering that the empire would thus hold control of human affairs if, faithfully and constantly, it were submissive to the divine power. And because it was to come to pass that the religion of the Christian priesthood should especially thrive in France, God also provided that among the Gauls their tribal priests, called druids, should lay down the law of all Gaul, as Julius Caesar relates in the book which he wrote On the Gallic War.
Ad hoc regis studium oportet intendere qualiter multitudo bene vivat
That regal government should be ordained principally to eternal beatitude
Sicut autem ad vitam quam in caelo speramus beatam ordinatur sicut ad finem vita qua hic homines bene vivunt, ita ad bonam multitudinis vitam ordinantur sicut ad finem quaecumque particularia bona per hominem procurantur, sive divitiae, sive lucra, sive sanitas, sive facundia vel eruditio. Si igitur, ut dictum est, qui de ultimo fine curam habet praeesse debet his qui curam habent de ordinatis ad finem, et eos dirigere suo imperio, manifestum ex dictis fit quod rex, sicut divino regimini quod administratur per sacerdotum officium subdi debet, ita praeesse debet omnibus humanis officiis et ea imperio sui regiminis ordinare.
As the life by which men live well here on earth is ordered, as to its end, to that blessed life which we hope for in heaven, so too whatever particular goods are procured by man’s agency—whether wealth, profits, health, eloquence, or learning—are ordained to the good life of the multitude. If, then, as we have said, the person who is charged with the care of our ultimate end ought to be over those who have charge of things ordained to that end, and to direct them by his rule, it clearly follows that, just as the king ought to be subject to the divine government administered by the office of priesthood, so he ought to preside over all human offices, and regulate them by the rule of his government.
Cuicumque autem incumbit aliquid perficere quod ordinatur in aliud sicut in finem, hoc debet attendere ut suum opus sit congruum fini: sicut faber sic facit gladium ut pugnae conveniat, et aedificator sic debet domum disponere ut ad inhabitandum sit apta. Quia igitur vitae qua in praesenti bene vivimus finis est beatitudo caelestis, ad regis officium pertinet ea ratione bonam vitam multitudinis procurare secundum quod congruit ad caelestem beatitudinem consequendam, ut scilicet ea praecipiat quae ad caelestem beatitudinem ducunt, et eorum contraria secundum quod fuerit possibile interdicat.
Now anyone on whom it devolves to do something which is ordained to another thing as to its end is bound to see that his work is suitable to that end; thus, for example, the armorer so fashions the sword that it is suitable for fighting, and the builder should so lay out the house that it is suitable for habitation. Therefore, since the beatitude of heaven is the end of that virtuous life which we live at present, it pertains to the king’s office to promote the good life of the multitude in such a way as to make it suitable for the attainment of heavenly happiness. That is to say, he should command those things which lead to the happiness of Heaven and, as far as possible, forbid the contrary.
Quae autem sit ad veram beatitudinem via et quae sint impedimenta ipsius, ex lege divina cognoscitur, cuius doctrina pertinet ad sacerdotum officium, secundum illud Malachiae Labia sacerdotum custodiunt scientiam et legem requirent ex ore eius. Et ideo in Deuteronomio Dominus praecipit Postquam sederit rex in solio regni sui, describet sibi Deuteronomium legis huius in volumine, accipiens exemplar a sacerdotibus Leviticae tribus; et habebit secum, legetque illud omnibus diebus vitae suae, ut discat timere Dominum Deum suum et custodire verba et caeremonias eius quae in lege praecepta sunt.
What conduces to true beatitude and what hinders it are learned from the law of God, the teaching of which belongs to the office of the priest, according to the words of Malachi: The lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek law from his mouth (Mal 2:7). Therefore, the Lord prescribes in the Book of Deuteronomy that when the king sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, from that which is in charge of the Levitical priests; and it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes (Deut 7:18–19).
Per legem igitur divinam edoctus, ad hoc praecipuum studium oportet intendere qualiter multitudo sibi subdita bene vivat. Quod quidem studium in tria dividitur: ut primo quidem in subiecta multitudine bonam vitam instituat, secundo ut institutam conservet, tertio ut conservatam ad meliora promoveat.
Thus the king, taught the law of God, should have for his principal concern the means by which the multitude subject to him may live well. This concern is threefold: first of all, to establish a virtuous life in the multitude subject to him; second, to preserve it once established; and third, having preserved it, to promote its greater perfection.
Ad bonam autem unius hominis vitam duo requiruntur: unum principale quod est operatio secundum virtutem, virtus enim est qua bene vivitur; aliud vero secundarium et quasi instrumentale, scilicet corporalium bonorum sufficientia quorum usus est necessarius ad actum virtutum. Ipsa tamen hominis unitas per naturam causatur, multitudinis autem unitas quae pax dicitur est per regentis industriam procuranda. Sic igitur ad bonam vitam multitudinis instituendam tria requiruntur. Primo quidem ut multitudo in unitate pacis constituatur; secundo ut multitudo vinculo pacis unita dirigatur ad bene agendum: sicut enim homo nihil bene agere potest nisi praesupposita suarum partium unitate, ita hominum multitudo pacis unitate carens, dum se ipsam impugnat, impeditur a bene agendo; tertio vero requiritur ut per regentis industriam necessariorum ad bene vivendum adsit sufficiens copia.
For an individual man to lead a good life two things are required. The first and most important is to act in a virtuous manner (for virtue is that by which one lives well); the other, which is secondary and instrumental, is a sufficiency of those bodily goods whose use is necessary for virtuous life. Yet the unity of man is brought about by nature, while the unity of the multitude, which we call peace, must be procured through the efforts of the ruler. Therefore, to establish virtuous living in a multitude three things are necessary. First of all, that the multitude be established in the unity of peace. Second, that the multitude thus united in the bond of peace be directed to acting well. For just as a man can do nothing well unless unity within his members be presupposed, so a multitude of men lacking the unity of peace will be hindered from virtuous action by the fact that it is fighting against itself. In the third place, it is necessary that there be at hand a sufficient supply of the things required for proper living, procured by the ruler’s efforts.
Sic igitur bona vita per regis officium in multitudine constituta, consequens est ut ad eius conservationem intendat. Sunt autem tria quibus bonum publicum permanere non sinitur, quorum unum quidem est a natura proveniens: non enim bonum multitudinis ad unum tantum tempus institui debet, sed ut sit quodammodo perpetuum; homines autem cum sint mortales in perpetuum durare non possunt, neque dum vivunt semper sunt in eodem vigore, quia multis variationibus humana vita subiicitur, et sic non sunt homines ad eadem officia peragenda aequaliter per totam vitam idonei. Aliud autem impedimentum boni publici conservandi ab interiori proveniens in perversitate voluntatum consistit, dum vel desides ad ea peragenda quae requirit res publica, vel insuper sunt paci multitudinis noxii, dum transgrediendo iustitiam aliorum pacem perturbant. Tertium autem impedimentum rei publicae conservandae ab exteriori causatur, dum per incursum hostium pax dissolvitur et interdum regnum aut civitas funditus dissipatur.
When virtuous living is set up in the multitude by the efforts of the king, it then remains for him to look to its conservation. Now there are three things which prevent the permanence of the public good. One of these arises from nature. The good of the multitude should not be established for one time only; it should be in a sense perpetual. Men, on the other hand, cannot abide forever, because they are mortal. Even while they are alive they do not always preserve the same vigor, for the life of man is subject to many changes, and thus a man is not equally suited to the performance of the same duties throughout the whole span of his life. A second impediment to the preservation of the public good, which comes from within, consists in the perversity of the wills of men, inasmuch as they are either too lazy to perform what the commonweal demands, or, still further, they are harmful to the peace of the multitude because, by transgressing justice, they disturb the peace of others. The third hindrance to the preservation of the commonweal comes from without: namely, when peace is destroyed through the attacks of enemies and, as it sometimes happens, the kingdom or city is completely blotted out.
Igitur contra tria praedicta triplex cura imminet regi. Primo quidem de successione hominum et substitutione illorum qui diversis officiis praesunt; ut sicut per divinum regimen in rebus corruptibilibus, quia semper eadem durare non possunt, provisum est ut per generationem alia in locum aliorum succedant, ut vel sic conservetur integritas universi, ita per regis studium conservetur subiectae multitudinis bonum, dum sollicite curat qualiter alii in deficientium locum succedant.
In regard to these three dangers, a triple charge is laid upon the king. First of all, he must take care of the appointment of men to succeed or replace others in charge of the various offices. Just as in regard to corruptible things (which cannot remain the same forever) the government of God made provision that through generation one would take the place of another so the integrity of the universe might be maintained in this way, so too the good of the multitude subject to the king will be preserved through his care when he sets himself to attend to the appointment of new men to fill the place of those who drop out.
Secundo autem ut suis legibus et praeceptis, poenis et praemiis homines sibi subiectos ab iniquitate coerceat et ad opera virtuosa inducat, exemplum a Deo accipiens qui hominibus legem dedit, observantibus quidem mercedem, transgredientibus vero poenas retribuens. Tertio imminet regi cura ut multitudo sibi subiecta contra hostes tuta reddatur: nihil enim prodesset interiora vitare pericula, si ab exterioribus defendi non posset.
In the second place, by his laws and orders, punishments and rewards, he should restrain the men subject to him from wickedness and induce them to virtuous deeds, following the example of God who gave his law to man and requites those who observe it with rewards, and those who transgress it with punishments. The king’s third charge is to keep the multitude entrusted to him safe from the enemy, for it would be useless to prevent internal dangers if the multitude could not be defended against external dangers.
Sic igitur bonae multitudinis institutioni tertium restat ad regis officium pertinens, ut sit de promotione sollicitus: quod fit dum in singulis quae praemissa sunt si quid inordinatum est corrigere, si quid deest supplere, si quid melius fieri potest studet perficere. Unde et Apostolus monet fideles ut semper aemulentur charismata meliora.
Finally, for the proper direction of the multitude there remains the third duty of the kingly office: namely, that he be solicitous for its improvement. He performs this duty when, in each of the things we have mentioned, he corrects what is out of order and supplies what is lacking, and if any of them can be done better he tries to do so. This is why the Apostle exhorts the faithful to always earnestly desire the higher gifts (1 Cor 12:31).
Haec igitur sunt quae ad regis officium pertinent, de quibus per singula diligentius tractare oportet.
These then are the duties of the kingly office, each of which must now be treated in greater detail.
Quod ad officium regis spectat institutio civitatis
That it belongs to the office of a king to found the city
Primum igitur incipere oportet exponere regis officium ab institutione civitatis aut regni. Nam, sicut Vegetius dicit, potentissimae nationes et principes commendati nullam maiorem gloriam putaverunt quam aut fundare novas civitates, aut ab aliis conditas in nomen suum sub quadam amplificatione transferre; quod quidem documentis sacrae Scripturae concordat: dicit enim Sapiens in Ecclesiastico quod aedificatio civitatis confirmabit nomen. Hodie namque nomen Romuli nesciretur nisi quia condidit Romam.
We must begin by explaining the duties of a king with regard to the founding of a city or kingdom. For, as Vegetius declares, The mightiest nations and most commended kings thought it their greatest glory either to found new cities or have their names made part of, and in some way added to, the names of cities already founded by others. This, indeed, is in accord with Sacred Scripture, for the wise man says in Sirach: The building of a city establishes a man’s name (Sir 40:19). The name of Romulus, for instance, would be unknown today had he not founded the city of Rome.
In institutione autem civitatis aut regni, si copia detur, primo quidem est regio eligenda, quam temperatam esse oportet: ex regionis enim temperie habitatores multa commoda consequuntur. Primo namque consequuntur homines ex temperie regionis incolumitatem corporis et longitudinem vitae. Cum enim sanitas in quadam temperie humorum consistat, in loco temperato conservabitur sanitas: simile namque suo simili conservatur. Si vero fuerit excessus caloris vel frigoris, necesse est quod secundum qualitatem aeris corporis qualitas immutetur; unde quadam naturali industria animalia quaedam tempore frigido ad calida loca se transferunt, rursum tempore calido loca frigida repetentes, ut ex contraria dispositione loci et temporis temperiem consequantur.
Now in founding a city or kingdom, the first step is the choice of its location, if plenty are available. A temperate region should be chosen, for the inhabitants derive many advantages from a temperate climate. In the first place, it ensures them health of body and length of life; for, since good health consists in the right temperature of the vital fluids, it follows that health will be best preserved in a temperate clime, because like is preserved by like. Should, however, heat or cold be excessive, the condition of the body will necessarily be affected by the condition of the atmosphere. Thus some animals instinctively migrate in cold weather to warmer regions, and in warm weather return to the colder places, in order to obtain, through the contrary dispositions of both locality and weather, the due temperature of their humors.
Rursus, cum animal vivat per calidum et humidum, si fuerit calor intensus, cito naturale humidum exsiccatur et deficit vita, sicut lucerna cito extinguitur si humor infusus cito propter ignis magnitudinem consumatur. Unde in quibusdam calidissimis Aethiopum regionibus homines ultra triginta annos non vivere perhibentur; in regionibus vero frigidis in excessu, naturale humidum de facili congelatur et calor naturalis extinguitur. Deinde ad opportunitates bellorum quibus tuta redditur humana societas, regionis temperies plurimum valet. Nam, sicut Vegetius refert, omnes nationes quae vicinae sunt soli, nimio calore siccatae, amplius quidem sapere sed minus sanguinem habere dicuntur, ac propterea constantiam atque fiduciam de propinquo pugnandi non habent, quia metuunt vulnera qui modicum sanguinem se habere noverunt. Contra, septentrionales populi remoti a solis ardoribus inconsultiores quidem, sed tamen largo sanguine redundantes, sunt ad bella promptissimi. His autem qui in temperatioribus habitant plagis, et copia sanguinis suppetit ad vulnerum mortisque contemptum, nec prudentia deficit quae modestiam servet in castris et non parum prodest in dimicatione consiliis.
Again, since it is warmth and moisture that preserve animal life, if the heat is intense the natural moisture of the body is dried up and life fails, just as a lantern is extinguished if the liquid poured into it be quickly consumed by too great a flame. Thus it is said that in certain very torrid parts of Ethiopia a man cannot live longer than thirty years. On the other hand, in extremely cold regions the natural moisture is easily frozen and the natural heat soon lost. Then, too, a temperate climate is most conducive to fitness for war, by which human society is kept in security. As Vegetius tells us, All peoples that live near the sun and are dried up by the excessive heat have keener wits but less blood, so that they possess no constancy or self-reliance in hand-to-hand fighting; for, knowing they have but little blood, they have great fear of wounds. On the other hand, Northern tribes, far removed from the burning rays of the sun, are more dull-witted indeed, but because they have an ample flow of blood, they are ever ready for war. Those who dwell in temperate climes have, on the one hand, an abundance of blood and thus make light of wounds or death, and, on the other hand, no lack of prudence, which puts a proper restraint on them in camp and is of great advantage in war and peace as well.
Demum temperata regio ad politicam vitam non modicum valet. Ut enim Aristoteles dicit in sua Politica, Quae in frigidis locis habitant gentes sunt quidem plenae animositate, intellectu autem et arte magis deficientes, propter quod libere perseverant magis: non vivunt autem politice et vicinis propter imprudentiam principari non possunt. Quae autem in calidis locis sunt, intellectivae quidem sunt et artificiosae secundum animam, sine animositate autem, propter quod subiectae quidem et servientes perseverant. Quae autem in mediis locis habitant et animositatem et intellectum habent, propter quod et liberi perseverant et maxime politice vivere possunt, et sciunt aliis principari.
Finally, a temperate climate is of no little value for political life. As Aristotle says in his Politics: Peoples that dwell in cold countries are full of spirit but have little intelligence and little skill. Consequently, they maintain their liberty better but have no political life and (through lack of prudence) show no capacity for governing others. Those who live in hot regions are keen-witted and skillful in the things of the mind but possess little spirit, and so are in continuous subjection and servitude. But those who live between these extremes of climate are both spirited and intelligent; hence they are continuously free, their political life is very much developed, and they are capable of ruling others.
Est igitur eligenda regio temperata ad institutionem civitatis vel regni.
Therefore, a temperate region should be chosen for the foundation of a city or a kingdom.
Quod civitas habeat aerem salubrem
That the city should have wholesome air
Post electionem autem regionis, oportet civitati construendae idoneum locum eligere, in quo primo videtur aeris salubritas requirenda. Conversationi namque civili praeiacet naturalis vita, quae per salubritatem aeris conservatur illaesa. Locus autem saluberrimus erit, ut Vitruvius tradit, excelsus, non nebulosus, non pruinosus, regionesque caeli spectans neque aestuosus neque frigidus, demum paludibus non vicinus. Eminentia quidem loci solet ad aeris salubritatem conferre, quia locus eminens ventorum perflationibus patet quibus redditur aer purus; vapores etiam, qui virtute radii solaris resolvuntur a terra et aquis, multiplicantur magis in convallibus et in locis demissis quam in altis. Unde in locis altis aer subtilior invenitur.
After deciding on the locality of the kingdom, the king must select a site suitable for building a city. Now the first requisite would seem to be wholesome air, for civil life presupposes natural life, whose health in turn depends on the wholesomeness of the air. According to Vitruvius, the most healthful spot is a high place, troubled neither by mists nor frosts and facing neither the sultry nor the chilly parts of the sky. Also, it should not lie near marsh country. The altitude of the place contributes to the wholesomeness of the atmosphere because highlands are open to all the breezes which purify the air; besides, the vapors, which the strength of the sun’s rays causes to rise from the earth and waters, are more dense in valleys and in low-lying places than in highlands. For this reason the air on mountains is rarer.
Huiusmodi autem subtilitas aeris quae ad liberam et sinceram respirationem plurimum valet, impeditur per nebulas et pruinas quae solent in locis multum humidis abundare; unde loca huiusmodi salubritati inveniuntur esse contraria. Et quia loca paludosa nimia humiditate abundant, oportet locum construendae urbi electum a paludibus esse remotum. Cum enim aurae matutinae sole oriente ad locum ipsum pervenient, et eis ortae a paludibus nebulae adiungentur, flatus bestiarum palustrium venenatarum cum nebula mixtos spargent et locum facient pestilentem. Si tamen moenia constructa fuerint in paludibus quae fuerint prope mare spectentque ad septentrionem vel circa, haeque paludes excelsiores fuerint quam littus marinum, rationabiliter videbuntur esse constructa. Fossis enim ductis exitus aquae patebit ad littus, et mare tempestatibus auctum in paludes redundando non patietur animalia palestria nasci. Et si aliqua animalia de superioribus locis advenerint, inconsueta salsedine occidentur.
Now this rarified air, which is the best for easy and natural breathing, is vitiated by mists and frosts which are frequent in very damp places; as a consequence, such places are found to be inimical to health. Since marshy districts have an excess of humidity, the place chosen for the building of a city must be far from any marshes. For when the morning breezes come at sunrise to such a place, and the mists that rise from the swamps join them, they will scatter through the town the breath of the poisonous beasts of the marshes mingled with the mist, and will render the site pestilential. Should, however, the walls be built in marshes that lie along the coast and face the north (or thereabouts) and if these marshes be higher than the seashore, they would seem to be quite reasonably built, since, by digging ditches, a way will be opened to drain the water of the marshes into the sea, and when storms swell the sea it will flow back into the marshes and thus prevent the propagation of the animals there. And if any animals come down from higher places, the unwonted saltiness of the water will destroy them.
Oportet etiam locum urbi destinatum ad calorem et frigus temperate disponi secundum aspectum ad plagas caeli diversas. Si enim moenia maxime prope mare constituta spectabunt ad meridiem, non erunt salubria: nam huiusmodi loca mane quidem erunt frigida quia non respiciuntur a sole, meridie vero erunt ferventia propter solis respectum. Quae autem ad occidentem spectant, orto sole tepescunt vel etiam frigent, meridie calent, vespere fervent propter caloris continuitatem et solis aspectum. Si vero ad orientem spectabunt moenia, mane quidem propter solis oppositionem directam temperate calescent; nec multum in meridie calor augebitur, sole non directe spectante ad locum, vespere vero totaliter radiis solis adversis loca frigescent. Eademque vel similis temperies erit si ad aquilonem locus urbis respiciat. Experimento autem cognoscere possumus quod in maiorem calorem minus salubriter aliquis transmutatur: quae enim a frigidis regionibus corpora traducuntur in calidas non possunt durare sed dissolvuntur, quia calor sugendo vaporem naturales virtutes dissolvit; unde etiam in salubribus locis corpora aestate infirma redduntur.
When laying out the city, further provision for the proper proportion of heat and cold must be made by having it face the correct part of the sky. If the walls, particularly of a town built on the coast, face the south, it will not be healthy, since such a locality will be cold in the morning, for the rays of the sun do not reach it, but at noon will be baked in the full glare of the sun. As to places that face the west, at sunrise they are cool or even cold, at noon quite warm, and in the evening unpleasantly hot, both on account of the long-continued heat and the exposure to the sun. On the other hand, if it has an eastern exposure, in the morning, with the sun directly opposite, it will be moderately warm, at noon it will not be much warmer since the sun does not reach it directly, but in the evening it will be cold, as the rays of the sun will be entirely on the other side. And there will be the same or a similar proportion of heat and cold if the town faces the north. By experience we may learn that the change from cold to heat is unhealthy: Animals which are transferred from cold to warm regions cannot endure but are dissolved, since the heat sucks up their moisture and weakens their natural strength; whence even in salubrious districts all bodies become weak from the heat.
Quia vero ad corporum sanitatem convenientium ciborum usus plurimum confert, oportet loci salubritatem qui constituendae urbi eligitur, etiam ex conditione ciborum discernere qui nascuntur in terra; quod quidem explorare solebant antiqui ex animalibus ibidem nutritis. Cum enim hominibus aliisque animalibus commune sit uti ad nutrimentum his quae nascuntur in terra, consequens est ut, si occisorum animalium viscera inveniuntur bene valentia, quod homines etiam in loco eodem salubriter possint nutriri. Si vero animalium occisorum appareant morbida membra, rationabiliter accipi potest quod nec etiam hominibus illius loci habitatio sit salubris.
Again, since suitable food is very helpful for preserving health, we must further judge of the salubrity of a place which has been chosen as a town-site by the condition of the food which grows upon its soil. The ancients were wont to explore this condition by examining the animals raised on the spot. For man, like other animals, finds nourishment in the products of the earth. Hence, if in a given place we kill some animals and find their entrails to be sound, the conclusion will be justified that man also will get good food in the same place. If, however, the members of these animals should be found diseased, we may reasonably infer that that country is no healthy place for men either.
Sicut autem aer temperatus, ita et aqua salubris est requirenda: ex his enim maxime dependet sanitas corporum quae saepius in usum hominis assumuntur. Et de aere quidem manifestum est quod continue ipsum respirando introrsum attrahimus usque ad ipsa vitalia; unde principaliter eius salubritas ad incolumitatem hominum confert. Inter alia vero quae assumuntur per modum nutrimenti, aqua saepissime utimur tam in potibus quam in cibis, unde nihil post aeris puritatem magis pertinet ad loci sanitatem quam aquarum salubritas.
Just as temperate air is required, so is good water, for the body depends for its health on those things which men more frequently put to their use. With regard to the air it is clear that, breathing it continuously, we draw it down into our very vitals; as a result, purity of air is what conduces most to the preservation of men. But of all things put to use as nourishment, water is used most frequently both as drink and food. Nothing, therefore, so much helps to make a district healthy as does pure water (except good air).
Est et aliud signum ex quo considerari potest loci salubritas, si videlicet hominum in loco commorantium facies bene coloratae apparent, robusta corpora et membra bene disposita, si pueri multi et vivaces, si senes multi reperiantur ibidem. E contrario vero, si facies hominum deformes apparent, debilia corpora, exinanita membra vel inordinate tumentia, si pauci et morbidi pueri et adhuc pauciores senes, dubitari non potest locum fore mortiferum.
There is still another means of judging the healthfulness of a place: by the ruddy complexion of the inhabitants, their sturdy, well-shaped limbs, the presence of many and vivacious children, and of many old people. On the other hand, there can be no doubt about the deadliness of a climate where people are misshapen and weak, their limbs either withering or swollen beyond proportion, where children are few and sickly, and old people rather scarce.
Quod civitas habeat ubertatem propter victum
That the city should have an abundant supply of food