2. Serlio, Architettura (1537-1551), IV (1)

Chapter VI, On the Doric order

XVIIr. ................
However since the ancient Romans carved Corinthian bases in a different way, as I shall show in its place, I say that the 'Attic' base described by Vitruvius in his third book is the Doric.
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The doric base, therefore should be half the width of the column in height and the plinth, called socle, a third of its height. What remains should be made into four parts, one for the upper torus, called tondino; the three remaining parts are to be divided into two equal parts, called bastone, and the other given to the trochilus or scotia - some say cavetto. Once the trochilus has, however, been divided into seven parts, one should be for the upper collar and another for the lower one. The protrusion of the base, called sporto, should be half its height, and thus the plinth will be one and a half columns wide on each face. If the base is lower than eye-level, then the collar below the upper torus, since it is obscured by it, should be made slightly larger than the other collar; if the base is higher than eye-level, then the collar above the lower torus, since it is obscured by it, should be made larger than the other. Similarly the scotia, obscured by the torus, in such a case should be larger than the measurements given. In cases like these the architect must be very ingenious and careful because Vitruvius assumes that those who study his writings are well versed in the mathematical branches of learning, which make men astute with regard to many situations.

Chapter VII, On the Ionic order and its ornaments

XXXVI. Vitruvius discusses this Order in the first chapter of his fourth book(2).
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As a general rule, the Ionic column, with its base and capital should be eight parts, even though Vitruvius describes it as eight and a half. On occasion it could be nine or more, depending on the sites and the compositions of the buildings, but this one, as I said, should be eight parts. One of these is to be its thickness at the bottom. Its base should be half the thickness. Vitruvius carefully describes this base in book iii, at chapter iii(3) in this way: the said base is to be half the column and the plinth should be a third of that. Excluding the plinth, the remainder is to be made into seven parts. Three of these should be given to the torus. The four remaining are to be given to the two scotias and their astragals and collars in this way: the said four parts are to be divided in half equally and each one of those parts should have an astragal with its collar - the astragal is to be an eighth part and the collar half the astragal. Although both scotias are the same height, nevertheless the one below will look larger because of its protrusion which comes out further than the other - the protrusion, called sporto, should be an eighth plus a sixteenth part on all sides. The plinth is to be a quarter plus an eighth part more, on all sides, than the thickness of the column. Since the collar under the torus is taken up by the greater thickness of the torus itself I think that it should be twice as large as the others, observing on all members that discretion which was mentioned on the Doric base.

XXXVII r. Since the Ionic base described by Vitruvius does not satisfy the majority of people and because, in the opinion of the many scholars who have often argued over it, the torus is very large whilst the astragals are very small below such a large member, with deep reverence an enormous respect for so great an author, I will form another according to my opinion. Once you have made the plinth in the same way as stated for the other base, the remainder should be divided up into three parts. One part is to be given to the torus. The next, under the torus, should be divided up into six parts; one is to be for the astragal - its collar should be half the said astragal; the ring under the torus should be the same as the astragal; the rest is to be for the scotia, called trochilus or cavetto. The third and last remaining part should be divided up into six parts; one is to be for the astragal, and its collar is to be half of that astragal; the same should be for the collar below, over the plinth; the remainder is to be for the lower scotia. The protrusion should be as stated for the other base and carved in the same way and with the same lines. This is shown below.

The Ionic capital should be carved in this way: its height should be a third the width of the column; the front of the abacus is to be as broad as the bottom scape of the column, but, having divided it up into xviii parts, one part is to be added to the two sides - that is, half per side - which will make a total of xix parts. Having come in one and a half parts on both sides towards the inside, draw the line called the cathetus. This should be ix and a half parts, one and a half parts should be for the abacus, carved either like the right- or the left-hand side, whichever seems best to the achitect, since both are ancient. The eight parts below the abacus should be for the volute, called viticcio(4) by the Tuscans, others call it the scroll. Since it would be difficult to put the numbers on a figure so small, especially in the eye of the volute, on the following pages I will show more clearly, both in writing and in a figure how to carve it. I will also show the way to carve the striae in the columns, that is the flutings, and you will see in a figure the side of that capital. The column, however, if it is xv feet or shorter, should be diminished in its upper sixth part according to the rule which was given on the Tuscan for all the columns. If it is xv feet up to xl feet, read Vitruvius in the second chapter of the third book where he carefully demontrates this.

XXXVII v. Once you have formed part of the Ionic capital as I have shown, the volute remains. It should be made in this way: the line under the abacus, called the cathetus, is to be divided up from the abacus downwards into eight parts, of which one should be for the eye of the volute; four should be left above the eye and three below, so that the total comes to eight. The eye is to be divided up into six parts and the numbers placed as in the figure; place one point of the compasses on the number 1 and the other point under the abacus and arc down to the cathetus, stopping the point of the compasses there; place the other on number2, arc up to the cathetus, stopping the point of the compasses there; place the other on the number 3 and arc down to the cathetus, stopping the point of the compasses there; place the other on the number 4 and arc up to the cathetus, stopping the point of the compasses there; place the other on the number 5 and arc down to the cathetus, stopping the point of the compasses there; by placing the other point on the number 6 and arcing up you will come to join the circular line of the eye. When you have formed the volutes on the left- and the right-hand sides you should make in the eye a rosette in bas-relief as ornament.

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The other individual measurements can be easily deduced and measured with a pair of compasses in hand. the striae of the column, that is the flutings, should be xxiiii in number. One of those parts should be divided up into five parts, four given to the fluting and one to its flat surface. Draw a straight line from one of the flat surfaces to the other; the middle of the line should be the centre of the fluting. If on occasions you want to make a slender column appear thicker, the striae could number xxviii so that the line of sight, spreading out over a greater number of flutings, becomes extended and makes the object appear by artifice larger than it is. The abacus of this capital is, as I said, as wide at the side as it is on the front - its side is the one opposite (see figure below) marked A, which is the twin in measurement and proportion to that on the page above. Gentle reader, I have gone as far with this volute as my poor intellect could, because the text of vitruvius is difficult to understand, especially since that author promised that the figure of this element together with many other beautiful things would be in his last book, a book which is no longer to be found.
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XXXIX r. The epistyle, called architrave, should be made like this: if the column is twelve to fifteen feet tall the the architrave is to be half the column at the bottom; if the column is fifteen to twenty feet tall then it should be divided into thirteen parts, one being the height of the architrave; again, if twenty to twenty-five feet then its height should be divided up into twelve and a half parts and one given to the architrave; furthermore, if its height is twenty-five to thirty feet, the architrave is to be a twelfth of that height. As the columns get taller so the height of the architrave increases proportionately, because the more such things recede from view the more they lose their size surrounded as they are by the spacious air. When, therefore, you have made the architrave to its due height it should be divided up into seven parts: one is to be for the cymatium, called cyma reversa - its projection should be the same; what remains should be divided up into twelve parts, three given to the first fascia, four to the second and five given to the third. The thickness of the underside of the architrave should be the same as the column at its top, but the thickness of the underside of the architrave should be the same as the column at the bottom. The zophorus, called frieze, should be a quarter taller than the architrave if anything is to be sculpted into it. But if it is to be smooth and without sculpture it must be a quarter less than the architrave. Above the frieze should go its cyma reversa, whose height is to be a seventh of it - the projection of the cyma reversa should be the same as its height. Above the cyma reversa the denticoli, called dentils, should be placed and they are to be as tall as the middle fascia - their projection should be the same as their height. Their fronts are to be twice as high as they are wide and the hollow between each one should be a third less than their width - their cymatium is to be a sixth of their height. The corona, with its cyma reversa but without the cymatium, should be the same height as the middle fascia. The projection of the corona with the dentils is to be the same as the height of the frieze with its cyma. The cymatium called cyma recta should be the same as the corona plus an eighth; its band is to be a sixth of it, and its projection should be the same as its height. Thus every member of the cornice will always turn out in that each one, with the exception of the corona, has the same projection as height.

Since the objects in Rome differ greatly from the writings of Vitruvius, I shall form another column upon which the architrave, frieze and cornice should be built. The height of the entablature should be a quarter the height of the column and divided up into x parts: three to be for the architrave, divided up in the way mentioned; three given to the pulvinate, that is, bulging frieze; and four to the cornice. This should be divided up into six parts: one to be given to the dentils, one to the cyma reversa which supports the modillions, two for the modillions, one for the corona, and the last should be for the cymatium. Its projection should be at least as much as its height. A similar cornice was found at S. Sabina in Rome on a storey of lonic.
If on occasions the columns have to be raised, since you are not bound by the necessity of harmonising with an accompanying element, the proportion of the pedestal should be such that, with the front plumb with the plinth, the height of the dado is a square and a half. This should be divided up into six parts: you should add one for its base, another for the cornice above, which will make eight parts in all. Thus this pedestal will be eight parts proportioned like the column which is also eight parts. The whole is always understood with reference to the general rule, on all occasions leaving many things to the judgement of the sensible architect.

Because of the great discrepancy that I find between the objects in Rome and those which Vitruvius describes, I wanted to show several better-known examples, a number of which can be seen in Rome still on their buildings. The cornice, frieze and architrave, marked T, are in the Theatre of Marcellus in Ionic work above the Doric Order.206 The small pilaster with the base above marked T is on the same storey below the lonic columns. The small cornice as impost for an arch, marked T, is in the said Theatre of Marcellus - it supports the arch on the lonic storey. The cornice with the modillions marked A was found between S. Adriano and S. Lorenzo in Rome. The architrave marked F was found at Oderzo in Friuli. Since this architrave had three fascias without astragals I judged it to be Ionic. I have not put the measurements of these elements in any other way because I have scaled them down from their originals to this with very great care: they can be found with a pair of compasses.

COMMENT

Serlio follows closely the Vitruvian model. This is clear when we compare his explanation of the Ionic base to the text of Vitruvius. But this does noet mean that he don't have his own ideas about the Ionic style. The Vitruvian model is not satisfying since the torus is to heavy in respect to the other parts of the base. That's why Serlio made his own proposition in which he really simplifies things. When he has fixed the height of the plinth he divided the rest of the base in three equal parts. In the table below we can see the differences in both approaches.

Vitruvius

Serlio 1

Serlio 2

1. Diameter of column

1 M

1 M

1 M

2. Height base

0,5 M

0,5 M

0,5 M

3. Height plinth

0,167 M

0,167 M

0,167 M

4. Lower trochilus + astragal

0,095 M

0,095 M

0,111 M

5. Upper trocilus + astragal

0,095 M

0,095 M

0,111 M

6. Torus

0,143 M

0,143 M

0,111 M

The Serlian entablature is also closely related to the Vitruvian principles. He adopted the same categories in the height of the column, but since his ratio lower diameter/height column is 1/8 (Vitruvius: 1/9) the proportions of the different parts diverge from the Vitruvian rules. Apart from this he developed his own - simplified - method (Serlio 2 in the table). This is particularly clear when we read the table below.

H Column 12-15 feet

H Column 15-20 feet

H Column 20-25 feet

H Column 25-30 feet

Vitruvius

Serlio

Vitruvius

Serlio

Vitruvius

Serlio

Vitruvius

Serlio

Serlio 2

1. Lower diameter column

1 M

1 M

1 M

1 M

1 M

1 M

1 M

1 M

1 M

2. Height architrave

0,5 M

0,5 M

0,69 M

0,61 M

0,72 M

0,64 M

0,75 M

0,66 M

0,6 M

3. Cyma architrave

0,071 M

0,071 M

0,099 M

0,087

0,103 M

0,091 M

0,107 M

0,095 M

0,085 M

4. Lower fascia

0,107 M

0,107 M

0,148

0,131 M

0,154 M

0,137 M

0,16 M

0,142 M

0,128 M

5. Middle fascia

0,142 M

0,142 M

0,198 M

0,176 M

0,206 M

0,182 M

0,214 M

0,19 M

0,171 M

6. Upper fascia

0,178 M

0,178 M

0,247 M

0,22 M

0,257 M

0,228 M

0,268 M

0,238 M

0,214 M

7a. Unadorned frieze

0,375 M

0,375 M

0,52 M

0,461 M

0,54 M

0,48 M

0,562 M

0,5 M

8a. Cyma unadorned frieze

0,053 M

0,053 M

0,074 M

0,065 M

0,077 M

0,068 M

0,08 M

0,071 M

7b. Adorned frieze

0,625 M

0,625 M

0,865 M

0,77 M

0,9 M

0,8 M

0,937 M

0,833 M

0,6 M

8b. Cyma adorned frieze

0,089 M

0,089 M

0,123 M

0,109 M

0,128 M

0,114 M

0,134 M

0,12 M

9. Height dentils

0,143 M

0,143 M

0,198 M

0,176 M

0,205 M

0,183 M

0,214 M

0,19 M

0,133 M

10. Cyma dentils

0,029 M

0,029 M

0,033 M

0,029 M

0,034 M

0,03 MM

0,035 M

0,031 M

0,133 M

11. Height cornice

0,143 M

0,303 M

0,198 M

0,373 M

0,205 M

0,388 M

0,214 M

0,404 M

0,533 M

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(1) Translation of Vaughan Hart and Peter Hicks, Yale University Press, (1996)
(2) Here Serlio makes a mistake. Vitruvius' book IV is about the Corinthian order.
(3) Our chapter 5 of book III
(4) Viticcio = tendrill





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