The Ancient Library

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On this page: Vinalia – Vinea – Viribius – Virgilius – Virtus – Vis – Vitruvius Pollio – Volcanus or Vulcanus



in favour of country-houses, there arose the distinction between villa rustica and villa urbana. The former served for agri­cultural purposes; the latter, so called because built in the town style of architec­ture, only for pleasure. Many villas were designed only for one of the two objects, others were built for both. The villa rustica included apartments for the vllicus, or steward (a trustworthy slave or freed-man, who had to superintend money-matters), the book-keeper (actor), and the slaves, stalls, and store-rooms. In the erection of the villa urbana, efforts were made to unite the charm of beautiful laud-scape with the greatest comfort and con­venience, and to procure advantages which a house in the town hemmed in on all sides by other houses could not always afford. It contained separate rooms and colonnades for summer and winter, the former facing the north, the latter the south; baths, rooms set apart for physical exercises, library, and art collections. Outside were parks, preserves, fish-ponds, aviaries, etc. Towards the end of the Republic, and still more under the Empire, luxury in such establishments reached its highest point. {In Pliny's Letters, v 6, we have an ela­borate description of his Tuscan villa ; and, in ii 17, a minute account of his villa at Laurentum, on the coast of Latium. The accompanying cuta give a view of a villa marina (fig. 1) and a ground-plan of a villa suburbdna (fig. 2)].

Vinalla. A wine' festival kept by the Romans in honour of Jupiter twice every year: (1) on April 23rd (Vinalia prlSra), when the wine of the previous year was broached, and a libation from it poured on the sod; and (2) on August 19th (Vinalia rustica, the country festival of wine), when sacrifice was made for the ripening grapes. With both festivals was associated the wor­ship of Venus, who, as goddess of gardens, had vineyards also under her protection.

VInfia. A shed used by besieging armies to protect themselves against the missiles of the enemy. (See sieges.)

Virblus. An Italian god, identified with Hippolytus, who was raised to life by Ascleplus, and worshipped together with .Diana as presiding genius of the wood and the chase. (Cp. diana and hippolytos.)

Virglllns. See vergil.

Virtus. The Roman personification of bravery in war. (See honos.)

Vis. The Roman legal term for acts *>f violence. In earlier times offences of

this kind were included under the head of perduelllo (<?.v.) and high treason (see maiestas). A special offence termed vis, including disturbances of the peace, violent attacks upon the magistrates and the Senate, and the illegal use of weapons, was first ; taken cognisance of by the law of Plautius, 89 B.C., and a special standing court estab­lished to deal with it. (See qwestio.) The penalty was proscription (interdictlo aquce et ignis). Afterwards more serious cases of vis, which had meanwhile become subject to civil process, came to be considered as criminal offences, and were punished with confiscation of the third part of one's pro­perty and disqualification for public offices. Under the Empire the penalties were in­creased to death or exile.

Vitruvlus Polllo (Marcus). A military engineer who flourished in the time of Julius Caesar and Augustus. In his old age Octavia, the sister of Augustus, pro­cured him a pension. The leisure thus acquired he employed in composing a work on architecture in ten books (De Archttec-tura), drawn from Greek sources and from his own experience. This work, the only one of the kind which has come down to us from ancient times, was composed be­tween 16-14 B.C. and dedicated to Augustus. The first seven books treat of architecture proper (i, architecture in general; ii, building-materials; iii, temple-building; iv, orders of architecture ; v, public buildings; vi, private buildings in town and in the country; vii, ornamentation of buildings); book viii, of water and waterways ; ix, of the construction of water-clocks; x, of machines. Although the author is proud of his accomplishments, they do not include a capacity for giving his subject a scientific treatment. His method of expression is not seldom obscure and unintelligible; some­times it is artificial and distorted; some­times vulgar. An anonymous excerpt from the work is still preserved under the title De Dlversls Fabrlns Architectdnlcce.

Volcanus (better than Vnlcanus). The Italian god of fire and of the art of forging and smelting; corresponding to, and identi­fied with, the Greek Hephsestus. As god of the forge, he also bears the name Mtdc^ber, the softener or smelter of metal. As a beneficent god of nature, who ripens the fruit by his warmth, he is the husband of the Italian goddess of spring, Maia or Afaiesta, who shared the sacrifices offered by his priest, the flamen Volcanalis, after he had become identified with Hephaestus.

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.