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NORMA (γωνία, Plat. Phileb. p. 51 C; γνώμων, Arist. Categ. 14), a square, used by carpenters, masons, and other artificers, to make their work rectangular (Vitr. 7.3; Plin. Nat. 36.172). It was made by taking three flat wooden rulers [REGULA] of equal thickness, one of them being 2 feet 10 inches long, the others (called ancones, Vitr. 8.6) each 2 feet long, and joining them together by their extremities so as to assume the form of a right-angled triangle. (Isid. Orig. 19.18.) This method, though only a close approximation, must have been quite sufficient for all common purposes. For the sake of convenience, the longest side, i. e. the hypotenuse of the triangle, was discarded, and the instrument then assumed the form in which it is exhibited among other tools in woodcut at Vol. I. p. 429. A square of a still more simple fashion, made by merely cutting a rectangular piece out of a board, is shown on another sepulchral monument, found at Rome and published by Gruter (p. 229), and copied in the woodcut which is here introduced.

Norma. (Gruter.)

The square was used in making the semicircular striae of Ionic columns [COLUMNA], a method founded on the proposition in Euclid, that the angle contained in a semicircle is a right angle (Vitr. 3.5.14).

From the use of this instrument a right angle was also called a normal angle. (Quint. Inst. 11.3, p. 446, ed. Spalding.) Any thing misshapen was called abnormis. (Hor. Sat. 2.2, 3.)

A rather more elaborate norma made of iron is preserved in the Museum at Zurich. It has another leg added at right angles to the long side of the triangle at one end of it, so that angles of 45°, 90°, and 135° can be measured. (Blümner, Technol., ii. p. 236.)

[J.Y] [G.E.M]

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 3.5.14
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 7.3
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 8.6
    • Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria, Book 11, 3
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