In 1526, the Protestant reformer Heinrich Bullinger co-wrote a history and description of the Kappel monastery outside Zurich, where he had been teaching and preaching.

As he is giving a verbal tour of the monastery, he comes to the common domicile. At this point he says something about the winds. He elsewhere shows interest in the health effects of proper airflow, so I'd really like to understand his point here.

First, the use of libere as a modifier of constructa is curious to me. It seems to mean "unconstricted" in some way. Does it mean that the building has what we would call today an open floor plan?

Second, I am not sure I am correctly understanding the section from libere to pervagari. Maybe I'm getting tripped up by the multiple negatives. Is he saying that all the winds (nullus ex ventis ... non queat) are allowed to roam freely (pervagari) though the house at "full-sail strength" (pleno velo)?

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2 Answers 2


I would read libere constructa as "generously built" in the sense that the house does not bear the signs of material constraints shaping its construction.

Is he saying that all the winds (nullus ex ventis ... non queat) are allowed to roam freely (pervagari) though the house at "full-sail strength" (pleno velo)?

That would be my reading as well. Nullus ventus est, qui non queat omnes domus partes pervagari = there is no wind that cannot spread through all parts of the house.

Now what it actually says is: nullus ex omnibus [est] ventis : iisque salubrioribus, qui non queat etc. I would read that as: "There is none among all the winds, including the more wholesome ones, that cannot spread at full-sail strength through nearly all parts of the house."

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    I'm not sure about iisque salubrioribus = "including the more wholesome ones"; wouldn't we expect something like etiam (ex) salubrioribus, and wouldn't the implication that the unwholesome winds also have the run of the house be out of place? I wonder if it's intended as an ablative absolute: "none among all the winds -- and they are quite wholesome --..."
    – TKR
    Oct 28, 2022 at 19:19
  • That reading of libere makes sense to me: the builders were not miserly or overly utilitarian in their work. I think I was trying too hard to connect libere to the following sic ut clause. Oct 28, 2022 at 20:33
  • @TKR Well, I don't quite know what to make of this insertion, it seems strange as an ablative too. I guess it depends on what Bullinger thought about the overall quality of winds... Oct 29, 2022 at 13:04
  • @TKR I don’t know if I would call that an ablative absolute, but I am interpreting it along the lines you suggested, as an almost parenthetical specifier: — and these winds are of the healthier variety. This seems to me in keeping with how “id” + adjective/adverb often functions when appended to a statement. Oct 29, 2022 at 21:08

My reading would be along the lines of:

But the house is spacious and regal, yet ancient and constructed in the traditions of antiquity: freely, and into a higher place, such that none but the more healthy of the winds, is able to fill a curtain, and to spread through nearly every part of the house; at the same time, in height (the house) encompasses that of at least three dwellings, one of which, if I am not mistaken, is short by four cubits, for nothing concerning the tops of the roof will be discussed by us.

Comment on Ventilation: In former times, it was a common practice to throw refuse and human waste into the streets. This could lead to a situation where the air was quite noisome at street level. By having vents in the upper reaches of a tall building, it may have been possible to introduce fresher air into the building.

I interpret libere (freely) as the ability of "more healthy" air to freely enter the building and pervagari (spread through the house).

Notable phrases/relevant idioms:

pleno velo refers to a billowing curtain

Locum editiorem, quam victoribus decebat, capit. (He took a loftier place, than it was proper for victors to adopt.) Sallust

alibi sermo erit (will be discussed elsewhere) -- a standard phrase

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