Re: Lost in translation?
Book 9 of Vitruvius' “Of Architecture” is stuffed to the gills with astronomical description plus mention of sundials, water-clocks, etc. However, there is an interesting follow-on early in Book 10 (Machines et al.) that sometimes gets overlooked (and which also links directly back to the astronomical description in Book 9):
"omnis autem est machinatio rerum natura procreata ac praeceptrice et magistra mundi versatione instituta. namque animadvertamus primum et aspiciamus continentem solis lunae quinque etiam stellarum naturam, quae ni machinata versarentur, non habuissemus interdum lucem nec fructuum maturitates. cum ergo maiores haec ita esse animadvertissent, e rerum natura sumpserunt exempla et ea imitantes inducti rebus divinis commodas vitae perfecerunt explicationes. itaque comparaverunt, ut essent expeditiora, alia machinis et earum versationibus, nonnulla organis, et ita quae animadverterunt ad usum utilia esse studiis artium institutis, gradatim augenda doctrinis curaverunt."
"All mechanical contrivance is begotten from the nature of things (i.e. the laws of Nature) and established by the observation and teaching of the universe in motion. For example, let us first pay attention to and consider the continual quality of the Sun, the Moon, and the five [wandering] stars (i.e. planets), which unless they are turned by mechanical moment, we should not have had the alternation of day and night, nor the ripening of fruits. Thus, when our ancestors had realised this to be so, they took their examples from the laws of Nature, and by imitating these, having been led on on by divine facts, they developed mechanical contrivances obliging of life. Therefore, that they (i.e. the examples and contrivances) might be more expeditious, they (i.e. our ancestors) obtained some data [lit. alia = some things] with machines and their turnings, other data [nonnulla = lit. some other things] with organs (i.e. engines), and those things which they thereby discovered to be useful for the purpose of the arts in established studies, they took care to improve step by step by scientific principles."
(DA, 10.1.4: my own rough translation as modified by reference to the 1914 Harvard University Press Morgan translation – see http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20239/20239-h/29239-h.htm#Page_284)