Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Roman Farm Management by Marcus Porcius Cato

Part 2 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

_d. Arrangement_

XIII. In arranging the steading, see that the cattle are put where
they will be warm in winter. Such crops as wine and oil should be
housed below ground in cellars, or rather in jars placed in such
cellars, while dry crops like beans, and hay, are best stored on high
board floors. A rest room should be provided for the comfort of the
hands where they can gather after the day's work or for protection
from cold or heat and there recruit themselves in quiet. The room of
the overseer should be near the entrance to the farm house so that he
may know who comes in and who goes out during the night, and what they
bring in or out, especially if there is no gate-keeper. The kitchen
also should be near the overseer's room because there in winter is
great activity before daylight when food is being prepared and eaten.
Good sized sheds should be built in the barn yard for the wagons and
other implements which might be damaged by the rain. For while they
may be kept safe from the thief within the gates, yet if they are
exposed to the weather they will be lost nevertheless. It is better to
have two barn yards for a large farm. The inner court should contain a
cistern like a little fish pond into which the drainage from the eaves
may collect: as here the cattle and swine and geese can drink and
bathe in summer when they are driven in from work or pasture. In the
outer court there should be another pond where you can handle lupines
and such other things as must be soaked in water. This exterior court
yard should be strewn thick with straw and chaff, which, by being
trampled under the feet of the cattle, becomes the handmaid of the
farm by reason of the service it renders when it is hauled out. Every
farm should have two manure pits, or one divided into two parts; into
one division should be put the new manure from the barn, in the other
the old manure which is ready for use on the farm: for new manure is
not as good as that which is well rotted.[69] The manure pit is more
serviceable when its sides and top are protected from the sun by
leaves and branches, for the sun draws out from the manure those
elements which the land requires; for this reason experienced farmers
sprinkle water on their manure pits, and so largely preserve its
quality: here too some establish the privies for the slaves. One
should build a barracks (what we call a _nubilarium_ because it
affords protection from the weather) and it should be large enough to
contain under its roof the entire crop of the farm: this should be
placed near the threshing floor and left open only on the side of the
threshing floor, so that while threshing you may conveniently throw
out the corn and if it begins to cloud up then quickly throw it back
again under shelter. There should be windows in this barracks on the
side most fitted for ventilation."

"A farm would be more of a farm," said Fundanius, "if the buildings
were constructed with reference to the diligence of our ancestors
rather than the luxury of their descendants. For they built for use,
while we build to gratify an unbridled luxury. Their barns were bigger
than their houses, but the contrary is often the case today. Then a
house was praised if it had a good kitchen, roomy stables and a cellar
for wine and oil fitted, according to the custom of the country, with
a floor draining into a reservoir, into which the wine can flow when,
as often happens after the new wine has been laid by, the fermentation
of the must bursts both Spanish butts and our own Italian tuns. In
like manner our ancestors equipped a country house with whatever other
things were necessary to agriculture, but now on the contrary it is
the effort to make such a house as vast and as elegant as possible,
and we vie with those palaces which men like Metellus and Lucullus
have built, to the detriment of the very state itself: in them the
effort is to contrive summer dining rooms fronting the cool east, and
those designed for use in winter facing the western sun, rather than,
as the ancients did, to adjust their windows with regard chiefly to
the cellars, since wine in casks keeps best when it is cool, while oil
craves warmth. For this reason also it would seem that the best place
to put a house is on a hill, if nothing obstructs it."

_Of the protection of farm boundaries_

_a. Fences_

XIV. "Now," resumed Scrofa, "I will speak of fences, which are
constructed for the protection of the farm or for dividing the fields.
There are four kinds of such barriers: natural, dead wood, military
and masonry. The first is the natural fence of live hedge, consisting
of planted shrubs or thorns, and, as it has roots, runs no risk from
the flaming torch of the passing traveller who may be inclined to
mischief. The second kind is built of the wood of the country, but
is not alive. It is made either of palings placed close together and
wattled with twigs, or posts placed at some distance apart and pierced
to receive the ends of rails, which are generally built two or three
to the panel, or else of trunks of trees laid on the ground and joined
in line. The third, or military fence, consists of a ditch and a
mound: but such a ditch should be so constructed to collect all the
rain water, or it should be graded to drain the surface water off the
farm. The mound is best when constructed close adjoining the ditch, or
else it should be steep so that it will be difficult to scale. It is
customary to construct this kind of fence along the public roads or
along streams. In the district of Crustumeria one can see in many
places along the via Salaria ditches and mounds constructed as dikes
against damage by the river (Tiber).[70] Mounds are some times built
without ditches and are called walls, as in the country around Reate.
The fourth and last kind of fence is of built up masonry. There are
usually four varieties: those of cut stone, as in the country around
Tusculum; those of burned brick, as in Gaul; those of unburned brick
as in the Sabine country; those of gravel concrete,[71] as in Spain and
about Tarentum."

_b. Monuments_

XV. Lacking fences, the more discreet establish the boundaries of
their property, or of their sowings, by blazed trees, and so prevent
neighbourhood quarrels and lawing about corners. Some plant pines
around their boundaries, as my wife did on her Sabine farm, or
cypresses, as I have on my property on Vesuvius.[72] Others plant elms,
as many have done in the district of Crustumeria: indeed, for planting
in plains where it flourishes there is no tree which can be set out
with such satisfaction or with more profit than the elm, for it
supports the vine and so fills many a basket with grapes, yields
its leaves to be a most agreeable forage for flocks and herds, and
supplies rails for fences and wood for hearth and oven.

"And now," said Scrofa, "I have expounded my four points upon the
physical characteristics of a farm, which were, its conformation, the
quality of the soil, its extent and layout, its boundaries and their

_Of the considerations of neighbourhood_

XVI. It remains to discuss the conditions outside the farm itself,
for the character of the neighbourhood is of the utmost importance to
agriculture on account of the necessary relations with it. There
are four considerations in this respect also, namely: whether the
neighbourhood bears a bad reputation; whether it affords a market to
which our products can be taken and whence we can bring back what we
may require at home; whether there is a road or a river leading to
that market, and, if so, whether it is fit for use; and fourth whether
there is in our immediate vicinity any thing which may be to our
advantage or disadvantage. Of these four considerations the most
important is whether the neighbourhood bears a bad reputation: for
there are many farms which are fit for cultivation but not expedient
to undertake on account of the brigandage in the neighbourhood, as in
Sardinia those farms which adjoin Oelium, and in Spain those on the
borders of Lusitania.

On the second point those farms are the most profitable which have
opportunities in the vicinity for marketing what they raise and buying
what they must consume: for there are many farms which must buy corn
or wine or what ever else they lack, and not a few which have a
surplus of these commodities for sale. So in the suburbs of a city it
is fitting to cultivate gardens on a large scale, and to grow violets
and roses and many other such things which a city consumes, while it
would be folly to undertake this on a distant farm with no facilities
for reaching the market. So, again, if there is nearby a town or a
village or even the well furnished estate of a rich man where you can
buy cheap what you require on the farm, and where you can trade your
surplus of such things as props and poles and reeds, your farm will
be more profitable than if you had to buy at a distance; nay, more
profitable even than if you were able to produce all you require at
home: because in this situation you can make annual arrangements with
your neighbours to furnish on hire the services of physicians, fullers
and blacksmiths to better advantage than if they were your own: for
the death of a single such skilled slave wipes out the entire profit
of a farm. In carrying on the operation of a vast estate, the rich can
afford to provide such servants for every department of the work:
for if towns and villages are far distant from the farm, they supply
blacksmiths and all other necessary craftsmen and keep them on the
place, in order to prevent the hands from leaving the farm and
spending working days in going leisurely to and from the shop when
they might more profitably be engaged on what should be done in the
fields. So Saserna's book lays down the rule that "No one may leave
the farm except the overseer, the butler, or such a one as the
overseer sends on an errand. If any one disobeys this rule, he shall
be punished for it, but if he disobeys a second time the overseer
shall be punished." This rule may be better stated that no one should
leave the farm without the approval of the overseer, and, without the
consent of the master, not even the overseer, for more than a day at
a time, but in no event more frequently than the business of the farm

On the third point, conveniences of transportation make a farm more
profitable, and these are whether the roads are in such condition that
wagons can use them smoothly, or whether there are rivers nearby which
can be navigated. We know that each of these means of transportation
is available to many farms.

The fourth point, which is concerned with how your neighbour has
planted his land, also relates to your profits: because if he has an
oak forest near your boundary, you cannot profitably plant olives in
that vicinity, for the oak is so perverse in its effect upon the olive
that not only will your trees bear less but they will even avoid the
oaks and bend away from them until they are prostrate on the ground,
as the vine is wont to do when planted near vegetables. Like the oak,
a grove of thickly planted full grown walnut trees renders sterile all
the surrounding land.


XVII. I have spoken of the four points of husbandry which relate to
the land to be cultivated and also of those other four points which
have to do with the outside relations of that land: now I will speak
of those things which pertain to the cultivation of the land. Some
divide this subject into two parts, men and those assistants to men
without which agriculture cannot be carried on. Others divide it into
three parts, the instruments of agriculture which are articulate,
inarticulate and mute: the articulate being the servants,[73] the
inarticulate the draught animals, and the mute being the wagons and
other such implements.

_Of agricultural labourers_

All men carry on agriculture by means of slaves or freemen or both.
The freemen who cultivate the land do so either on their own account,
as do many poor people with the aid of their own children, or for
wages,[74] as when the heaviest farm operations, like the vintage and
the harvest, are accomplished with the aid of hired freemen: in which
class may be included those bond servants whom our ancestors called
_obaerati_, a class which may still be found in Asia, in Egypt and in
Illyricum. With respect to the use of freemen in agriculture, my own
opinion is that it is more profitable to use hired hands than one's
own slaves in cultivating unhealthy lands, and, even where the country
is salubrious, they are to be preferred for the heaviest kind of farm
work, such as harvesting and storing grapes and corn. Cassius has this
to say on the subject: 'Select for farm hands those who are fitted for
heavy labour, who are not less than twenty-two years of age and have
some aptitude for agriculture, which can be ascertained by trying them
on several tasks and by enquiring as to what they did for their former
master.' Slaves should be neither timid nor overconfident. The foreman
should have some little education, a good disposition and economical
habits, and it is better that they should be some what older than the
hands, for then they will be listened to with more respect than if
they were boys. It is most important to choose as foremen those who
are experienced in agricultural work, for they should not merely give
orders but lend a hand at the work, so that the labourers may learn
by imitation and may also appreciate that it is greater knowledge and
skill which entitles the foreman to command. The foreman should never
be authorized to enforce his discipline with the whip if he can
accomplish his result with words.

Avoid having many slaves of the same nation, for this gives rise to
domestic rows.

The foremen will work more cheerfully if rewards are offered them, and
particularly pains must be taken to see that they have some property
of their own, and that they marry wives among their fellow servants,
who may bear them children, some thing which will make them
more steady and attach them to the place.[75] On account of such
relationships families of Epirote slaves are esteemed the best and
command the highest prices.

Marks of consideration by the master will go far in giving happiness
to your hands: as, for instance, by asking the opinion of those of
them who have done good work, as to how the work ought to be done,
which has the effect of making them think less that they are looked
down upon, and encourages them to believe that they are held in some
estimation by the master.

Those slaves who are most attentive to their work should be treated
more liberally either in respect of food or clothes, or in holidays,
or by giving them permission to graze some cattle of their own on the
place, or some thing of that kind. Such liberality tempers the effect
of a harsh order or a heavy punishment, and restores the slaves' good
will and kindly feeling towards their master.

XVIII. On the subject of the number of slaves one will require for
operating a farm, Cato lays down the two measures of the extent of
the farm and the kind of farming to be carried on. Writing about the
cultivation of olives and vines he gives these formulas, viz.:

For carrying on an olive farm of two hundred and forty jugera,
thirteen slaves are necessary, to-wit: an overseer, a housekeeper,
five labourers, three teamsters, an ass driver, a swineherd and a
shepherd: for carrying on a vineyard of one hundred jugera, fifteen
slaves are necessary, to-wit: an overseer, a housekeeper, ten
labourers, a teamster, an ass driver and a swineherd.

On the other hand Saserna says that one man is enough for every eight
jugera,[76] as a man should cultivate that much land in forty-five
days: for while one man can cultivate a jugerum in four days, yet he
allows thirteen days extra for the entire eight jugera to provide
against the chance of bad weather, the illness or idleness of the
labourer and the indulgence of the master.[77]

At this Licinius Stolo put in.

"Neither of these writers has given us an adequate rule," he said.
"For if Cato intended, as he doubtless did, that we should add to
or subtract from what he prescribes in proportion as our farm is of
greater or less extent than that he describes, he should have excluded
the overseer and the housekeeper from his enumeration. If you
cultivate less than two hundred and forty jugera of olives you cannot
get along with less than one overseer, while if you cultivate twice or
more as much land you will not require two or three overseers. It is
the number of labourers and teamsters only which must be added to or
diminished in proportion to the size of the farm: and this applies
only if the land is all of the same character, for if part of it is of
a kind which cannot be ploughed, as for example very rocky, or on
a steep hillside, there is that much less necessity for teams and
teamsters. I pass over the fact that Cato's example of a farm of two
hundred and forty jugera is neither a fair nor a comparable unit.[78]
The true unit for comparison of farms is a centuria, which contains
two hundred jugera, but if one deducts forty jugera, or one-sixth,
from Cato's two hundred and forty jugera, I do not see how in applying
this rule one can deduct also one-sixth of his thirteen slaves; or,
even if we leave out the overseer and the housekeeper, how one can
deduct one-sixth of eleven slaves. Again, Cato says that one should
have fifteen slaves for one hundred jugera of vineyard, but suppose
one had a _centuria_ half in vines and half in olives, then, according
to Cato's rule, one would require two overseers and two housekeepers,
which is absurd. Wherefore it is necessary to find another measure
than Cato's for determining the number of slaves, and I myself think
better of Saserna's rule, which is that for each jugerum it suffices
to provide four days work of one hand. Yet, if this was a good rule
on Saserna's farm in Gaul, it might not apply on a mountain farm in
Liguria. In fine you will best determine what number of slaves and
what other equipment you will require if you diligently consider
three things, that is to say, what kind of farms are there in your
neighbourhood, how large are they, and how many hands are engaged in
cultivating them, and you should add to or subtract from that number
in proportion as you take up more or less work. For nature gave us two
schools of agriculture, which are experience and imitation. The most
ancient farmers established many principles by experiment and their
descendants for the most part have simply imitated them. We should
do both these things: imitate others and on our own account make
experiments, following always some principle, not chance:[79] thus we
might work our trees deeper or not so deep as others do to see what
the effect would be. It was with such intelligent curiosity that some
farmers first cultivated their vines a second and a third time, and
deferred grafting the figs from spring to summer."

_Of draught animals_

XIX. In respect of those instruments of agriculture which are called
inarticulate, Saserna says that two yokes of oxen will be enough for
two hundred jugera of arable land, while Cato prescribes three yokes
for two hundred and forty jugera in olives: thus if Saserna is
correct, one yoke of oxen is required for every hundred jugera, but if
Cato is correct a yoke is needed for every eighty jugera. My opinion
is that neither of these standards is appropriate for all kinds of
land, but each for some kind: for some land is easy and some difficult
to plough, and oxen are unable to break up some land except by great
effort and often they leave the ploughshare in the furrow broken from
the beam: wherefore in this respect we should observe a triple rule on
every farm, when we are new to it, namely: find out the practice of
the last owner; that of the neighbours, and make some experiments of
our own.

"Cato adds," resumed Scrofa, "that on his olive farm there are
required three asses to haul out the manure and one to turn the mill,
and on his hundred jugera vineyard a yoke of oxen and a pair of asses
for the manure, and an ass for the wine press."

In respect of cattle kept for all these purposes, which it is
customary to feed in the barn yard, it should be added that you should
keep as many and only as many as you need for carrying on the work of
the farm, so that more easily you can secure diligent care of
them from the servants whose chief care is of themselves. In this
connection the keeping of sheep is preferable to hogs not only by
those who have pastures but also by those who have none, for you
should keep them not merely because you have pasture, but for the sake
of the manure.

Watch dogs should be kept in any event for the safety of the farm.

XX. The most important consideration with respect to barn yard cattle
is that the draft oxen should be fit for their work: when bought
unbroken they should not be less than three years old nor more than
four, strong, but well matched, lest the stronger wear out the weaker:
with large horns, black rather than any other color, broad foreheads,
flat noses, deep chests and heavy quarters. Old steers which have
worked in the plains cannot be trained to service in rough and
mountain land; a rule as applicable when reversed. In breaking young
steers it is best to begin by fastening a fork shaped yoke on their
necks and leaving it there even when they are fed; in a few days they
will become used to it and disposed to be docile. Then they should be
broken to work gradually until they are accustomed to it, as may be
done by yoking a young ox with an old one, so that he may learn what
is expected of him by imitation. It is best to work them first on
level ground without a plough, then with a light plough, so that their
first lessons may be easy and in sand and mellow soil.

Oxen intended for the wagon should be broken in the same way, at first
by drawing an empty cart, if possible through the streets of a village
or a town, where they may become quickly inured to sudden noises and
strange sights. You should not work an ox always on the same side of
the team, for an occasional change from right to left relieves the
strain of the work.

Where the land is light, as in Campania, they do not plough with heavy
steers but with cows or asses, as they can be driven more easily to
a light plough. For turning the mill and for carrying about the farm
some use asses, some cows and others mules: a choice determined by the
supply of provender. For an ass is cheaper to feed than a cow, though
a cow is more profitable.[80]

In the choice of the kind of draft animals he is to keep, a farmer
should always take into consideration the characteristics of his soil:
thus on rocky and difficult land the prime requirement is doubtless
strength, but his purpose should be to keep that kind of stock which
under his conditions yields the largest measure of profit and still do
all the necessary work.

_Of watch dogs_

XXI. It is more desirable to keep a few dogs and fierce ones than a
pack of curs. They should be trained to watch by night and to sleep by
day chained in the kennel [so that they may be the more alert when set

It remains to speak elsewhere of unyoked cattle, like the flocks, but
if there are meadows on the farm and the owner keeps no live stock, it
is the business of a good farmer after he has sold his hay to graze
and feed another's cattle on his land.

_Of farming implements_

XXII. Concerning the instruments of agriculture which are called mute,
in which are included baskets, wine jars and such things, this may be
said: Those utensils which can be produced on the farm or made by the
servants should never be bought, among which are what ever may be made
out of osiers or other wood of the country, such as hampers, fruit
baskets, threshing sledges, mauls and mattocks, or what ever is made
out of the fibre plants like hemp, flax, rushes, palm leaves and
nettles, namely: rope, twine and mats. Those implements which cannot
be manufactured on the farm should be bought more with reference to
their utility than their appearance that they may not diminish your
profit by useless expense, a result which may be best secured by
buying where the things you need may be found at once of good quality,
near at hand and cheap. The requirement of the kind and number of such
implements is measured by the extent of the farm because the further
your boundaries lie apart the more work there is to do."

"In this connection," put in Stolo, "given the size of the farm, Cato
recommends with respect to implements as follows: he who cultivates
240 jugera in olives should have five sets of oil making implements,
which he enumerates severally, such as the copper utensils, including
kettles, pots, ewers with three spouts, etc.; the implements made out
of wood and iron, including three large wagons, six ploughs with their
shares, four manure carriers, etc. So of the iron tools, what they
are and how many are needed, he speaks in great detail, as eight iron
pitch forks, as many hoes and half as many shovels, etc.

"In like manner he lays down another formula of implements for a
vineyard, viz.: if you cultivate 100 jugera you should have three sets
of implements for the wine press and also covered storage vats of
a capacity of eight hundred _cullei_, as well as twenty harvesting
hampers for grapes and as many for corn, and other things in like

"Other writers advise a smaller quantity of such conveniences, but I
believe Cato prescribed so great a capacity in order that one might
not be compelled to sell his wine every year, for old wine sells
better than new, and the same quality sells better at one time than
another. Cato writes further in great detail of the kind and number
of iron tools which are required for a vineyard, such as the falx or
pruning hook, spades, hoes. So also several of these instruments are
of many varieties, as for instance the falx, of which this author says
that there must be provided forty of the kind suitable for use in a
vineyard, five for cutting rushes, three for pruning trees and ten for
cutting briers."

So far Stolo, when Scrofa began again. "The owner should have an
inventory of all the farm implements and equipment, with a copy on
file both at the house and at the steading, and it should be the
duty of the overseer to see that everything is checked against this
inventory and is assigned its appropriate keeping place in the barn.
What cannot be kept under lock and key should be kept in plain sight,
and this is particularly necessary in respect of the utensils which
are used only at intervals, as at harvest time, like the grape baskets
and such things, for what ever one sees daily is in the least danger
from the thief."


XXIII. "And now," interposed Agrasius, "as we have discussed the
two first parts of the four-fold division of agriculture, namely:
concerning the farm itself and the implements with which it is worked,
proceed with the third part."

_Of planting field crops_

"As I hold," said Scrofa, "that the profit of a farm is that only
which comes from sowing the land, there are two considerations which
remain for discussion, what one should sow and where it is most
expedient to sow it, for some lands are best suited for hay, some for
corn, some for wine and some for oil. So also should be considered the
forage crops like basil, mixed fodder, vetch, alfalfa, snail clover
and lupines. All things should not be sown in rich land, nor should
thin land be left unsown, for it is better to sow in light soil those
things which do not require much nourishment, such as snail clover and
the legumes, except always chick peas (for this also is a legume like
the other plants which are not reaped but from which the grain is
plucked) because those things which it is the custom to pluck (legere)
are called legumes. In rich land should be sown what ever require
much nourishment, such as cabbage, spring and winter, wheat and flax.
Certain plants are cultivated not so much for their immediate yield as
with forethought for the coming year, because cut and left lying they
improve the land. So, if land is too thin it is the practice to plough
in for manure, lupines not yet podded, and likewise the field bean, if
it has not yet ripened so that it is fitting to harvest the beans.[81]

"Not less should you make provision for cultivating what yields you
profit in mere pleasure, like arbours and flower gardens: and those
plantations which do not serve either for the support of man or the
delight of the senses, but are not the less useful in the economy of
the farm. Thus suitable places must be set aside for growing willows
and reeds and other such things which affect wet places. On the other
hand, you should sow field beans as much as possible in your corn
land. There are other plants which seek dry places, and still others
demand shade, like asparagus, both when wild and cultivated: while
violets and garden flowers, which flourish in the sun should be set
out in the open.

"So other things demand other planting conditions, like the osiers
from which you derive your material for making basket ware, for wagon
frames, winnowing baskets and grape hampers. Elsewhere you might plant
and cultivate a forest for cut wood and a spinney for fowling.

"So you should reserve ground for planting hemp, flax, rush and Spanish
broom (spartum) which serve to make shoes for the cattle, thread,
cord and rope. Other situations are suitable for still other kinds
of planting, as, for example, some plant garden truck and some plant
other things, in a nursery, or between the rows of a young orchard
before the roots of the trees have spread far out, but this should
never be done when the trees have grown lest the roots be injured."

"In this respect," said Stolo, "what Cato says about planting is in
point, that a field which is rich and in good heart and without shade
should be planted in corn, while a low lying field should be set in
turnips, radishes, millet and panic grass."

_Of planting olives_

XXIV. Scrofa resumed: "The varieties of olives to plant in rich and
warm land are the preserving olive _radius major_, the olive of
Sallentina, the round _orchis_, the bitter _posea_, the Sergian, the
Colminian, and the waxy _albicera_: which ever of these does best in
your locality, plant that most extensively. An olive yard is not worth
cultivating unless it looks to the west wind and is exposed to the
sun; if the soil is cold and thin there you should plant the Licinian
olive, for if you set out this variety in a rich and warm soil it will
never make a _hostus_ and the tree will exhaust itself in bearing and
will become infected with red moss. (_Hostus_ is the country name for
the yield of oil from a single tree at each _factus_ or pressing: some
claim this should amount to 160 _modii_, while others reduce it to 120
_modii_, and even less in proportion to the size and number of their
storage vats.)

"Cato advises you to plant elms and poplars around the farm so as to
obtain from them leaves to feed the sheep and cattle as well as a
supply of lumber: while this is not necessary on all farms, nor in
some for the forage alone, it may be done with advantage as a wind
break against the north where the trees will not shut out the sun."

Stolo added the following advice from the same author: 'If you have a
piece of wet ground there plant cuttings of poplars, and also reeds
which are set out as follows: having turned the sod with a hoe plant
the scions of reed three feet one from the other. Wild asparagus (from
which you may cultivate garden asparagus) should also be set out in
such a place because the same kind of cultivation is suitable for it
as for reeds. You should set out Greek willows around the reed bed to
supply ties for your vines.'

_Of planting vines_

XXV. "In respect of planting vines," resumed Scrofa, "it should be
observed that the varieties fitted for the best land and exposure to
the sun are the little Aminean, the twin _Eugeneam_ and the little
yellow kind: while on rich or wet land the best varieties are the
large Aminean, the Murgentine, the Apician and the Lucanian. Other
vines, and especially the mixed varieties, do well in any kind of

XXVI. "In all vineyards care is taken that the prop should shelter the
vine against the north wind. And if live cypresses are used as props
they are planted in alternate rows and are not allowed to grow higher
than is necessary for use as a prop. Cabbages are never planted near
vines because they do each other damage."

"I fear," said Agrius, turning to Fundanius, "that the Sacristan may
get back before we have reached the fourth head of our subject, that
of the vintage, for I am looking forward thirstily to the vintage."

"Be of good cheer," said Scrofa, "and prepare the grape baskets and
the ewer."


XXVII. We have two standards of time, the first that of the revolution
of the year, because in it the sun completes his circuit, the other
the measure of the month, because it includes the waxing and the
waning of the moon.

_Of the solar measure of the year_

First I will speak of the sun, whose recurring journey is divided with
reference to the pursuits of agriculture into four seasons of three
months each, or more accurately into eight seasons of a month and a
half each. The four seasons are Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter. In
Spring certain crops are sown and the sod fields are broken up,[82]
so that the weeds in them may be destroyed before they have seeded
themselves again, and the clods, by drying out in the sun, may become
more accessible to the rain and when broken down by its action easier
to cultivate. Such land should be ploughed not less than twice, but
three times is better.[83] The Summer is the season of the grain
harvest; the Autumn, when the weather is dry, that of the vintage: and
it is also the fit time for thinning out the woods, when the trees to
be removed should be cut down close to the ground and the roots should
be dug up before the first rains to prevent them from stooling. In
Winter the trees may be pruned, provided this is done at a time when
the bark is free from frost and rain and ice.

XXVIII. Spring begins when the sun is in Aquarius, Summer when it is
in Taurus, Autumn when it is in Leo, and Winter when it is in Scorpio.
Since the beginning of each of the four seasons is the twenty-third
day after the entrance of the sun in these signs respectively, it
follows that Spring has ninety-one days, Summer ninety-four, Autumn
ninety-one and Winter eighty-nine: which, reduced to the dates of our
present official calendar,[84] makes the beginning of Spring on the
seventh day before the Ides of February (February 7), of Summer on the
seventh day before the Ides of May (May 9), of Autumn on the third day
before the Ides of August (August 11), and of Winter on the fourth day
before the Ides of November (November 10).


By a more exact definition of the seasons, the year is divided into
eight parts, the first of forty-five days from the date of the rising
of the west wind (February 7) to the date of the vernal equinox (March
24), the second of the ensuing forty-four days to the rising of the
Pleiades (May 7), the third of forty-eight days to the summer solstice
(June 24), the fourth of twenty-seven days to the rising of the Dog
Star (July 21), the fifth of sixty-seven days to the Autumn equinox
(September 26), the sixth of thirty-two days to the setting of the
Pleiades (October 28), the seventh of fifty-seven days to the winter
solstice (December 24), and the eighth of forty-five days to the
beginning of the first.[85]

_1 deg. February 7-March 24_

XXIX. These are the things to be done during the first of the seasons
so enumerated: All kinds of nurseries should be set out, the vines
should be first pruned, then dug, and the roots which have protruded
from the ground should be cut out, the meadows should be cleaned,
willows planted and the corn hoed. We call that corn land (_seges_)
which has been ploughed and sowed as distinguished from plough land
(_arva_) which has been ploughed but not yet sowed, while that land
which was formerly sowed and lies awaiting a new ploughing is called
stubble (_novalis_). When land is ploughed for the first time it is
said to be broken up (_proscindere_), and at the second ploughing to
be broken down (_offringere_) because at the first ploughing large
clods are turned up and at the second ploughing these are reduced. The
third cultivation, after the seed has been sown, is called ridging
(_lirare_), that is, when by fastening mould boards on the plough, the
sown seed is covered up in ridges[86] and at the same time furrows are
cut by means of which the surface water may drain off. Some farmers
who cultivate small farms, as in Apulia, are wont to harrow their land
after it is ridged, if perchance any large clods have been left in the
seed bed. The hollow channel left by the share of the plough is called
the furrow, the raised land between two furrows is called the ridge
(_porca_,) because there the seed is as it were laid upon an altar
(_porricere_) to secure a crop, for when the entrails are offered to
the gods this word _porricere_ is used to describe the oblation.

2 deg. _March 24-May 7_

XXX. These are the things to be done during the second season between
the vernal equinox and the rising of the Pleiades. Weed the corn land,
break up old sod, cut the willows, close the pastures (to the stock)
and complete any thing left undone in the preceding season. Plant
trees before the buds shoot and they begin to blossom, for deciduous
trees are not fit to transplant after they put forth leaves. Plant and
prune your olives.

3 deg. _May 7-June 24_

XXXI. These are the things to be done during the third season between
the rising of the Pleiades and the summer solstice. Dig the young
vines or plough them, and afterwards put the land in good order; that
is to say, fine the soil so that no clods shall remain. This is called
fining the soil (_occare_) because it breaks down (_occidare_) the
clods. Thin out the vines, but let it be done by one who knows
how, for this operation which is considered of great importance is
performed only on vines and not on the orchard. To thin a vine is to
select and reserve the one, two and some times even three best new
tendrils sprung from the stem of the vine, cutting off all the others,
lest the stem may be unable to furnish nourishment for those which
have been reserved. So in a nursery it is the custom to cut it back
at first so that the vine may grow with a stronger stem and may have
greater strength to produce fruitful tendrils: for a stem which grows
slender like a rush is sterile through weakness and cannot throw out
tendrils. Thus it is the custom to call a weak stem a flag, and
a strong stem, which bears grapes, a palm. The name _flagellum_,
indicating something as unstable as a breeze, is derived from
_flatus_, by the change of a letter, just as in the case of the word
_flabellum_, which means fly fan. The name _palma_, which is given
to those vine shoots which are fruitful in grapes, was it seems, at
first, parilema, derived from _parire_ (to produce), whence by a
change of letters, such as we find in many instances, it came to be
called _palma_.

From another part of the vine springs the _capreolus_, which is a
little spiral tendril, like a curled hair, by means of which the vine
holds on while it creeps towards the place of which it would take
possession, from which quality of taking hold of things (_capere_) it
is called _capreolus_.

All forage crops should be saved at this season; first, basil, then
mixed fodder (_farrago_)[87] and vetch, and last of all the hay. Our
name for basil is _ocinum_, which is derived from the Greek word
[Greek: ocheos] and signifies that it comes quickly, like the pot herb
of the same name. It has this name also because it quickens the action
of the bowels of cattle and so is fed to them as a purgative. It is
cut green from a bean field before the pods are formed. On the other
hand that forage which is cut with a sickle from a field in which
barley and vetch and other legumes have been sown in mixture for
forage, is called _farrago_ from the instrument (_ferro_) with which
it is cut, or perhaps because it was first sown in the stubble of a
field of corn (_far_). It is fed to horses and other cattle in the
spring to purge and to fatten them.

Vetch (_vicia_) is so called from its quality of conquering
(_vincire_) because this plant, like the vine, has tendrils by means
of which it creeps twisting upward on the stalks of lupines or other
plants where it clings until it over-tops its host.

If you have irrigated meadows, proceed to water them at this season,
as soon as you have saved the hay.

During droughts water your grafted fruit trees every evening. They
probably derive their name, (_poma_), from their appetite for drink

4 deg. _June 24-July 21_

XXXII. During the fourth season between the summer solstice and the
rising of the Dog Star most farmers make their harvest, because it is
claimed that to mature properly corn should be allowed fifteen days to
germinate and shoot, fifteen days to bloom and fifteen days to ripen.

Finish your ploughing: it will be more profitable in proportion as the
earth is ploughed warm, when the land is broken up, fine it, that is,
work it again in order that all the clods may be reduced, for at the
first ploughing large clods are always turned up. This is the time
also to sow vetch, lentils, the small variety of chick peas, pulse
(_ervilia_) and the other things which we call legumes, but which
others, as for example the Gauls, call _legarica_, both of which names
come from the practice of picking their fruit (_legere_) because they
are not cut but gathered.

Work the old vines a second time and the young ones thrice, especially
if there are any clods left.

5 deg. _July 21-September 26_

XXXIII. During the fifth season between the rising of the Dog Star
and the autumn equinox thresh your straw and rick it, continue the
harrowing of your fallow land, prune your fruit trees, and mow your
irrigated meadow the second time.

6 deg. _September 26-October 28_

XXXIV. The authorities advise you to begin to sow at the commencement
of the sixth season immediately after the autumn equinox and to keep
it up for the following 91 days, but not to attempt to sow any thing
after the winter solstice, unless it is absolutely necessary, because
seed sown before the winter solstice germinates in seven days, while
that sown later hardly ever sprouts for 40 days.

In like manner the authorities say that you should not begin your
sowing before the equinox, lest continued rains cause the seed to rot
in the ground. The best time to plant beans is at the setting of the
Pleiades, but gather the grapes and make the vintage between the
equinox and the setting of the Pleiades. Immediately afterward begin
to prune the vines, to propagate them and plant fruit trees, but in
those regions where the frost comes early it is better to postpone
these operations until the following spring.

7 deg. _October 28-December 24._

XXXV. These are the things to do during the seventh season between
the setting of the Pleiades and the winter solstice. Plant lilies and
crocuses and propagate roses, which may be done by making cuttings
about three inches in length from a stem already rooted, set these out
and later, after they have formed their own roots, transplant them.
The cultivation of violets has no place on a farm because they require
elevated beds for which the soil is scraped up and these are damaged
or even washed away by heavy rains, thus wasting the fertility of the
land. At any time of the year between the rising of the west wind and
the rising of Arcturus (February-September) it is proper to transplant
from the seed beds thyme, an herb, which owes its name, _serpyllum_,
to its creeping habit (_quod serpit_). This is the season also to
dig new ditches, clean the old ones, and to prune the trees in the
arbustum and the vines which are married to them, but be careful that
you suspend most of your work during the fifteen days before and after
the winter solstice: it is fitting, however, to set out some trees
during this period, as, for example, elms.

8 deg. _December 24-February 7_

XXXVI. These are the things to do during the eighth season between the
winter solstice and the rising of the west wind. Drain the fields, if
any water is standing on them, but if they are dry and the land is
friable, harrow them. Prune the vines and the orchard. When it is not
fitting to work in the fields then those things should be done which
can be done under cover during the winter twilight.

All these rules should be written out and posted in the farmstead and
the overseer especially should have them at the tip of his tongue.

_Of the influence of the moon on agriculture_

XXXVII. The lunar seasons also must be considered. They are divided
into two terms, that from the new moon to the full, and that from
the full moon to the next moon, or until that day which we call
_intermenstruus_, or the last and the first of a moon, whence at
Athens this day is called [Greek: henae kai nea] (the old and the
new), though the other Greeks call it [Greek: triakas] the thirtieth
day. Some agricultural operations may be undertaken with more
advantage during the increase of the moon, others during the
decrease,[88] as, for example, the harvest or cutting of wood."

"I observe a practice which I learned from my father," said Agrasius,
"not only never to shear my sheep, but not even to have my own hair
cut on the decrease of the moon, for fear that I might become bald."

"What are the quarters of the moon," said Agrius, "and what bearing
have they on agriculture?"

"Have you never heard in the country," said Tremelius, "the lore about
the influence of Jana (Diana) on the eighth day before her waxing, and
again on the eighth day before her waning; how certain things which
ought to be done during the increase can be done to better advantage
in the second quarter than the first, and that what ever is fitting to
do on the wane of the moon can be better done when her light is less?
This is all I know about the effect of the four quarters of the moon
upon agriculture."


"There is another division of the year," said Stolo, "which takes
account of both the sun and the moon, namely: into six seasons,
because almost all the cultivated fruits of the earth come to maturity
and reach the vat or the granary after five successive agricultural
operations and are put to use by a sixth, and these are, first, the
preparing (_praeparandum_); second, the planting (_serendum_); third,
the cultivating of the growing crop (_nutricandum_); fourth, the
ingathering (_legendum_); fifth, the storing (_condendum_), and sixth,
the consuming (_promendum_)."


_Of tillage_

In the matter of preparation there are different things to be done for
different crops, as, if you wish to make an orchard or an arbustum,
you trench and grub and plough; if you plant grain, you plough and
harrow; while, if you cultivate trees, you mulch their roots by
breaking the earth with a mattock, more or less according to the
nature of the tree, for some trees, like the cypress, have a small,
and others like the plane tree have a large, root system (for example,
that in the Lyceum at Athens described by Theophastus, which, when
it was still a young tree, had a spread of roots to the extent of 33
cubits). If you break the ground with a plough and cattle, it is well
to work the land a second time before you sow your seed. So, if you
are making a meadow the preparation is to close it to the stock, and
this is usually done when the pear tree is in bloom: if it is an
irrigated meadow the preparation is to turn in the water at the proper

_Of manuring_

XXXVIII. As part of this same operation should be considered what
places in a field need manure and what kind of manure you can use
to the greatest advantage, for the several kinds have different
qualities. Cassius says that the best manure is that of birds, except
swamp and sea birds,[89] but the best of all is, he claims, the manure
of pigeons because it is the hottest and causes the land to ferment.
This ought to be sown on the land like seed, not distributed in heaps
like the dung of cattle. I myself think the best manure is that from
aviaries in which thrushes and blackbirds are kept, because it is not
only good for the land but serves as a fattening food for cattle and
hogs: for which reason those who farm aviaries pay less rent when the
owner stipulates that the manure is to be used on the farm, than those
to whom it is a perquisite. Cassius advises that the manure next in
value to that of doves is human feces, and third that of goats and
sheep and asses. The manure of horses is of the least value on corn
land, but on meadows it is the best, because, like the manure of other
draught animals fed on barley, it brings a heavy stand of grass. The
manure pit should be near the barn in order that it may be available
with the least labour. If you plant a stake of oak wood in the manure
pit it will not harbour serpents.


_Of the four methods of propagating plants_

XXXIX. The second operation, namely that of propagating, must be
considered in relation to the proper time for sowing each kind of
seed, for this concerns the aspect of the field you are to sow and the
season fitting for what you are to plant. Do we not see some things
grow best in the spring, others in summer, some in autumn, and others
again in winter? For each plant is sowed or propagated or harvested in
season according to its nature: so while most trees are grafted most
successfully in spring, rather than the autumn, yet figs may be
grafted at the summer solstice, and cherries even in winter.

And since there are four methods of propagation of plants, by nature
and by the several processes of art, namely: transplanting from one
place to another, as is done in layering vines, what is called cuttage
or propagating quick sets cut from trees, and graftage, which consists
in transferring scions from one tree to another, let us consider at
what season and in what locality you should do each of these things.

_a. Seeding, and here of seed selection_

XL. In the first place, the seed, which is the principle of all
germination, is of two kinds, that which is not appreciable by
our senses and that which is. Seed is hidden from us when it is
disseminated in the air, as the physicist Anaxagoras holds, or is
distributed over the land by the surface water, as Theophrastus
maintains. The seeds which the farmer can see should be studied with
the greatest care. There are some varieties, like that of the cypress,
which are so small as to be almost invisible, for those nuts which the
cypress bears, that look like little balls covered with bark, are not
the seed but contain it. Nature gave the principle of germination to
seed, the rest of agriculture was left for the experience of man to
discover, for in the beginning before the interference of man plants
were generated before they were sown, afterwards those seeds which
were collected by man from the original plants did not generate until
after they had been sown.

Seed should be examined to ascertain that it is not sterile by age,
that it is clean, particularly that it is not adulterated with other
varieties of similar appearances: for age has such effect upon seed as
in some respects to change its very nature, thus it is said that rape
will grow from old cabbage seed, and vice versa.[90]

_b. Transplanting_

In respect of transplanting, care should be taken that it is
done neither too soon nor too late. The fit time, according to
Theophrastus, is spring and autumn and midsummer, but the same rule
will not apply in all places and to all kinds of plants: for in dry
and thin clay soil, which has little natural moisture, the wet spring
is the time, but in a rich and fat soil it is safe to transplant in
autumn. Some limit the practice of transplanting to a period of thirty

_c. Cuttage_

In respect of cuttage, which consists in planting in the ground a live
cutting from a tree, it behooves you especially to see that this is
done at the proper time, which is before the tree has begun to bud or
bloom: that you take off the cutting carefully rather than break
it from the parent tree, because the cutting will be more firmly
established in proportion as it has a broad footing which can readily
put out roots: and that it is planted promptly before the sap dries
out of it.

In propagating olives select a truncheon of new grown wood about
a foot in length and the same size at each end: some call these
_clavolae_ and others call them _taleae_.

_d. Graftage_

In respect of graftage, which consists in transferring growing wood
from one tree to another, care must be taken in selecting the tree
from which the scion is taken, the tree on which it is grafted, and
the time and the manner in which it is done: for the pear cannot
be grafted on an oak, even though it may upon the apple. In this
operation many men who have great faith in the sayings of the
soothsayers give heed to their warning that as many kinds of grafts
there may be on a tree so many bolts of lightning will strike it,
because a bolt of lightning is generated by each graft (_ictu_).[91]

If you graft a cultivated pear upon a wild pear tree no matter how
good it may be, the result will not be as fortunate as if you had
grafted on another cultivated pear. Having regard for the result, on
what ever kind of tree you graft, if it is of exactly the same kind,
as, for instance, apple on apple, you should take care that the scion
comes from a better tree than that on which it is grafted.

_e. A "new" method--inarching_

There is another operation recently suggested,[92] for propagating one
tree from another, when the trees are neighbours. From the tree from
which you wish to take a scion a branch is trained to that on which
you wish to make the graft and the scion is bound upon an incision in
a branch of the stock. The place of contact of both scion and stock is
cut away with a knife so that the bark of one joins evenly with the
bark of the other at the point of exposure to the weather. Care
should be taken that the growing top of the scion is pointed straight
upwards. The following year when the graft has knitted, the scion may
be cut from its parent tree.

_Of when to use these different methods_

XLI. The most important consideration in propagating is, however, the
time at which you do it: thus things which formerly were propagated in
the spring now are propagated in summer, like the fig, whose wood is
not heavy and so craves heat, as a consequence of which quality
figs cannot be grown in cold climates. For the same reason water is
dangerous to a new fig graft because its soft wood rots easily. For
these reasons it is now considered that midsummer is the best season
to propagate figs. On the other hand it is the custom to tie a pot
of water above a graft of hard wood trees so that it may drip on
the graft and prevent the scion from drying up before it has been
incorporated with the stock. Care must be taken that the bark of the
scion is kept intact, and to that end it should be sharpened but so
that the pith (_medulla_) is not exposed. To prevent the rain or the
heat from injuring it from without, it should be smeared with clay and
bound with bark. It is customary to take off the scion of a vine three
days before it is to be grafted so that the superfluity of moisture
may drain out before the scion is inserted, or, if the graft is
already in place, an incision is made in the stock a little below the
graft from which the adventitious moisture may drain off: but this
is not done with figs and pomegranates, for in all trees of a
comparatively dry nature the graft is made immediately. Indeed, some
trees, like the fig, are best grafted when the scion is in bud.

Of the four kinds of propagation which I have discussed, that of
graftage is preferred in respect of those trees which, like the fig,
are slow in developing: for the natural seeds of the fig are those
grains seen in the fruit we eat and are so small as scarcely to be
capable of sprouting the slenderest shoots. For all seeds which are
small and hard are slow in germinating, while those which are soft are
more spontaneous, just as girls grow faster than boys. Thus by reason
of their feminine tenderness the fig, the pomegranate and the vine are
quicker to mature than the palm, the cypress and the olive, which are
rather dry than humid by nature. Wherefore we some times propagate
figs in nurseries from cuttings rather than attempt to raise them from
seed: unless there is no other way to secure them, as happens when one
wishes to send or receive seed across the sea. For this purpose the
ripe figs which we eat are strung together and when they have dried
out are packed and shipped wheresoever we wish, and thereafter being
planted in a nursery they germinate. In this way the Chian, the
Chalcidian, the Lydian, the African and other foreign varieties of
figs were imported into Italy.

For the same reason olives are usually propagated in nurseries from
truncheons such as I have described, rather than from its seed, which
is hard like a nut and slow to germinate.

_Of seeding alfalfa_

XLII. You should take care not to plant alfalfa[93] in soil which is
either too dry or half wet,[94] but in good order. The authorities say
that if the soil is in proper condition a _modius_ (peck) and a half
of alfalfa seed will suffice to sow a _jugerum_ of land. This seed is
sowed broad-cast on the land like grass and grain.

_Of seeding clover and cabbage_

XLIII. Snail clover (_cytisus_) and cabbage is sowed in beds well
prepared and is transplanted from them and set out so that the plants
are a foot and a half apart, also cuttings are taken from the stronger
plants and set out like those which were raised from seed.

_Of seeding grain_

XLIV. The quantity of seed required for one _jugerum_ is, of beans,
four modii, of wheat five modii, of barley six modii, and of spelt ten
modii: in some places a little more or a little less; if the soil is
rich, more; if it is thin, less. Wherefore you should observe how much
it is the custom to sow in your locality in order that you may do what
the region and the quality of the soil demands, which is the more
necessary as the same amount of seed will yield in some localities ten
for one, and in others fifteen for one, as in Etruria. In Italy also,
in the region of Sybaris it is said that seed yields as much as one
hundred for one, and as much is claimed for the soil of Syria at
Gadara, and in Africa at Byzacium.[95]

It is also important to consider whether you will sow in land which
is cropped every year which we call _restibilis_, or in fallow land
(_vervactum_), which is [ploughed in the spring and so] allowed an
interval of rest."

"In Olynthia," said Agrius, "they are said to crop the land every year
but to get a greater yield every third year."

"A field ought to lie fallow every other year," said Stolo, "or at
least be planted with some crop which makes less demand upon the


"Tell us," said Agrius, "about the third operation which relates to
the cultivation and the nourishment of the crops."

_Of the conditions of plant growth_

"All things which germinate in the soil," replied Licinius, "in the
soil also are nourished, come to maturity, conceive, are pregnant and
in due time bear fruit or ear, so each fruit after its kind yields
seed similar to that from which it is sprung. Thus if you pluck a
blossom or a green pear from a pear tree, or the like from any other
tree, nothing will grow again in that place during the same year,
because a tree cannot have two periods of fruition in the same season.
They produce only as women bear children, when their time has come."

XLV. Barley usually sprouts in seven days after it has been sowed, and
wheat not much later, while the legumes almost always sprout in four
or five days, except the bean, which is somewhat later. Millet and
sesame and the other similar grains sprout in the same time unless
some thing in the nature of the soil or the weather retards them. If
the locality is cold, those plants which are propagated in the nursery
and are tender by nature ought to be protected from the frosts by
coverings of leaves or straw, and, if rains follow, care should be
taken that water is not permitted to stand any where about them, for
ice is a poison to tender roots under ground, as to sprouts above, and
prevents them from developing normally. In autumn and winter the
roots develop more than does the leaf of the plant because they are
nourished by the warmth of the roof of earth, while the leaf above is
cut down by the frosty air. We can learn this by observation of the
wild vegetation which grows without the intervention of man, for the
roots grow more rapidly than that which springs from them, but only so
far as they are actuated by the rays of the sun. There are two causes
of the growth of roots, the vitality of the root itself by which
nature drives it forward, and the quality of the soil which yields a
passage more easily in some conditions than in others.

_Of the mechanical action of plants_

XLVI. In their effect upon plants such natural forces as I have
mentioned produce some curious mechanical results. Thus it is possible
to determine the time of the year from the motion of the leaves of
certain trees like the olive, the white poplar and the willow, for
when the summer solstice has arrived their leaves turn over. Not less
curious is the habit of that flower which is called the heliotrope,
which in the morning looks upon the rising sun and, following its
journey to its setting, never turns away its face.

_Of the protection of nurseries and meadows_

XLVII. Those plants, which, like olives and figs, are grown in the
nursery from cuttings and are of a tender nature, should be protected
by sheds built of two planks fastened at each end: moreover they
should be weeded, and this should be done while the weeds are still
young, for after they have become dry they offer resistance, and more
readily break off in your hand than yield to your pull. On the other
hand the grass which springs in the meadows and gives you hope of
forage not only should not be rooted out while it is growing, but
should not even be walked upon; hence both the flock and the herd
should be excluded from the meadow at this time and even man himself
should keep away, for grass disappears under the foot and the track
soon becomes a path.

_Of the structure of a wheat plant_

XLVIII. A corn plant consists of a culm bearing at its head a spike,
which, when it is not mutilated, has, as in barley and wheat, three
parts, namely: the grain, the glume and the beard, not to speak of the
sheath which contains the spike while it is being formed. The grain is
that solid interior part of the spike, the glume is its hull and the
beard those long thin needles which grow out of the glume. Thus as the
glume is the pontifical robe of the grain, the beard is its apex. The
beard and the grain are well known to almost every one, but the glume
to very few: indeed I know only one book in which it is mentioned,
the translation which Ennius made of the verses of Evhemerus. The
etymology of the word _gluma_ seems to be from _glubere_, to strip,
because the grain must be stripped from this hull: and by a like
derivation the hull of the fig which we eat is called a glume. The
beard we call _arista_ because it is the first part of the corn to dry
(_arescere_), while we call the grain _granum_ from the fact that it
is produced (_gerere_), for we plant corn to produce grain, not glumes
or beards, just as vines are planted to produce grapes, not tendrils.
The spike, which, by tradition, the country people call _speca_, seems
to get its name from _spes_, hope. For men plant with hope of the
harvest. A spike which has no beard is called polled (_muticus_), for,
when the spike is first forming, the beard, like the horns of a young
animal, is not apparent but lies hid like a sword in its scabbard
under a wrapping of foliage which hence is called the sheath. When the
spike is mature its taper end above the grain is called the _frit_,
while that below, where the spike joins the straw culm, is called the

XLIX. When Stolo drew breath, no one asked any questions, and so,
believing that enough had been said on the subject of the care of the
growing crops, he resumed.


"I will now speak about the gathering of the crops."

_Of the hay harvest_

And first of the meadows: when the grass ceases to grow and begins to
dry out with the heat, then it should be cut with scythes and, as it
begins to cure, turned with forks. When it is cured it should be tied
in bales and hauled into the steading; then what hay was left lying
should be raked together and stacked, and, finally, when this has all
been done, the meadow should be gleaned, that is, gone over with the
sickle to save what ever grass escaped the mowing, such as that left
standing on tussocks. From this act of cutting (_sectare_) I think
that the word _sicilire_ (to glean with a sickle) is derived.

_Of the wheat harvest_

L. The word harvest (_messis_) is properly used with respect to the
ingathering of those crops which are reaped, and from this action
(_metere_) its name is derived, but it is mostly used in respect of
corn. There are three methods of harvesting corn, one as in Umbria,
where they cradle the straw close to the earth and shock up the
sheaves as they are cut: when a sufficient number of shocks has been
made, they go over them again and cut each sheaf between the spikes
and the straw, the spikes being thrown into baskets and sent off to
the threshing floor, while the straw is left in the field and stacked.
A second method of harvesting is practised in Picenum, where they have
a curved wooden header[96] on the edge of which is fixed an iron saw:
when this instrument engages the spikes of grain it cuts them off,
leaving the straw standing in the field, where it is afterwards cut. A
third method of harvesting, which is used in the vicinity of Rome and
in most places, is to cut the straw in the middle and take away the
upper part with the left hand (whence the word to reap [_metere_] is,
I think, derived from the word _medium_--connoting a cutting in the
middle). The lower part of the straw which remains standing is cut
later,[97] while the rest, which goes with the grain, is hauled off in
baskets to the threshing floor and there in an airy place is winnowed
with a shovel (_pala_) from which perhaps the chaff (_palea_) takes
its name. Some derive the name of straw (_stramentum_) from the fact
that it stands (_stare_), as they think the word _stamen_ is also
derived, while others derive it from the fact that it is spread
(_strare_), because straw is used as litter for cattle.

The grain should be harvested when it is ripe: it is considered that
under normal conditions and in an easy field one man should reap
almost a jugerum a day and still have time to carry the grain in
baskets to the threshing floor.

_The threshing floor_

LI. The threshing floor should be on high ground so that the wind can
blow upon it from all directions. It should be constructed of a size
proportioned to your crops, preferably round and with the centre
slightly raised so that if it rains the water may not stand on it but
drain off as quickly as possible, and there is no shorter distance
from the centre to the circumference of a circle than a radius:[98] it
should be paved with well packed earth, best of all of clay, so that
it may not crack in the sun and open honeycombs in which the grain can
hide itself, and water collect and give vent to the burrows of mice
and ants. It is the practice to anoint the threshing floor with
amurca,[99] for that is an enemy of grass and a poison to ants and to
moles. Some build up and even pave their threshing floor with rock to
make it permanent, and some, like the people of Bagiennae, even roof
it over because in that country storms are prevalent at the threshing
season. In a hot country where the threshing floor is uncovered it is
desirable to build a shelter near by where the hands can resort in the
heat of the day.

_Threshing and winnowing_

LII. The heaviest and best of the sheaves should be selected on the
threshing floor and the spikes laid aside for seed. The grain is
threshed from the spikes on the threshing floor, an operation which
some perform by means of a sledge drawn by a yoke of oxen: this sledge
consisting of a wooden platform, studded underneath with flints or
iron spikes, on which either the driver rides or some heavy weight is
imposed in order, as it is drawn around, to separate the grain from
the chaff: others use for this purpose what is called the punic cart,
consisting of a series of axle trees, equipped with toothed rollers,
on which some one sits and drives the cattle which draw it, as they do
in hither Spain and other places. Others cause the grain to be trodden
out under the hoofs of a herd of driven cattle, which are kept moving
by goading them with long poles.

When the grain has been threshed it should be tossed from the ground
by means of a winnowing basket or a winnowing shovel when the wind is
blowing gently, and this is done in such way that the lightest part,
which is called the chaff, is blown away beyond the threshing floor,
while the heavy part, which is the corn, comes clean into the


LIII. After the harvest is over the grain fields should be gleaned of
shattered grain, and the straw left in the field should be gathered
and housed, but if there is little to be gained by such work, and the
expense is disproportionate, the stubble should be grazed: for in
farming it is of the greatest importance that the expense of an
operation shall not exceed the return from it.

_Of the vintage_

LIV. In vineyards the vintage should begin when the grape is ripe, but
care must be taken with what kind of grapes and in what part of the
vineyard you begin: for the early grapes and the mixed variety, which
is called black, ripen some time before the others and should be
gathered first, like the fruit grown on the side of the arbustum, or
of the vineyard, which is exposed to the sun. During the gathering
those grapes from which you expect to make wine should be separated
from those reserved for the table: the choicer being carried to the
wine press and collected in empty jars, while those reserved to eat
are collected in separate baskets, transferred to little pots and
stored in jars packed with marc, though some are immersed in the pond
in jars daubed with pitch and some raised to a shelf in the store

The stems and the skins of the grapes which have been trodden out
should be put under the press so that any must left in them may be
added to the supply in the vat. When this marc ceases to yield a flow,
it is chopped with a knife and pressed again, and the must expressed
by this final operation is hence called _circumcisitum_[101] and is kept
by itself because it smacks of the knife. The marc finally remaining
is thrown into jars, to which water is added, thus preparing a drink
which is called after-wine or grape juice, and is given to the hands
in the winter instead of wine.

_Of the olive harvest_

LV. And now of the harvest of the olive yard.[102] You should pick by
hand, rather than beat from the tree, all the olives which can be
reached from the ground or from a ladder, because this fruit becomes
arid when it has been struck and does not yield so much oil: and in
picking by hand it is better to do so with the bare fingers rather
than with a tool because the texture of a tool not only injures the
berry but barks the branches and leaves them exposed to the frost. So
it is better to use a reed than a pole to strike down the fruit which
cannot be reached by hand, for (as the proverb is) the heavier the
blow, the more need there is for a surgeon. He who beats his trees
should beware of doing injury, for often an olive when it is struck
away brings down with it from the branch a twig, and when this happens
the fruit of the following year is lost: and this is not the least
reason why it is said that the olive bears fruit, or much fruit, only
every other year.

Like the grape, the olive serves a two-fold function after it is
gathered. Some are set aside to be eaten and the rest are made into
oil, which comforts the body of man not only within but without, for
it follows us into the bath and the gymnasium. Those berries from
which it is proposed to make oil are usually stored in heaps on tables
for several days where they may mellow a little. Each heap in turn is
carried in crates to the oil jars and to the _trapetus_, or pressing
mill, which is equipped with both hard and rough stones. If the olives
are left too long in the heap they heat and spoil and the oil is
rancid, so if you are unable to grind promptly the heaps of olives
should be ventilated by moving them. The yield of the olive is of two
kinds, oil which is well known and _amurca_, of the use of which many
are so ignorant that one can often see it streaming from the mill and
wasting upon the ground where it not only discolours the soil, but
in places where it collects even makes it sterile: while if applied
intelligently it has many uses of the greatest importance to
agriculture, as, for instance, by pouring it around the roots of
trees, chiefly the olive itself, or wherever it is desired to destroy


LVI. "Up to this moment," cried Agrius, "I have been sitting in the
barn with the keys in my hands waiting for you, Stolo, to bring in the

"Lo, I am here at the threshold," replied Stolo. "Open the gates for

_Of storing hay_

In the first place, it is better to house your hay than to leave it
stacked in the field, for thus it makes more palatable provender, as
may be proven by putting both kinds before the cattle.

_Of storing grain_

LVII. But corn should be stored in an elevated granary, exposed to the
winds from the east and the north, and where no damp air may reach it
from places near at hand. The walls and the floors should be plastered
with a stucco of marble dust or at least with a mixture of clay and
chaff and amurca, for amurca will serve to keep out mice and weevil
and will make the grain solid and heavy. Some men even sprinkle their
grain with amurca in the proportion of a quadrantal to every thousand
modii of grain: others crumble or scatter over it, for the same
purpose, other vermifuges like Chalcidian or Carian chalk or wormwood,
and other things of that kind. Some farmers have their granaries under
ground, like caverns, which they call silos, as in Cappadocia and
Thrace, while in hither Spain, in the vicinity of Carthage, and at
Osca pits are used for this purpose, the bottoms of which are covered
with straw: and they take care that neither moisture nor air has
access to them, except when they are opened for use, a wise precaution
because where the air does not move the weevil will not hatch. Corn
stored in this way is preserved for fifty years, and millet, indeed,
for more than a century.

On the ether hand again, in hither Spain and in certain parts of
Apulia they build elevated granaries above ground, which the winds
keep cool, not only by windows at the sides but also from underneath
the floor.

_Of storing legumes_

LVIII. Beans and other legumes keep safe a long time in oil jars
covered with ashes. Cato says the little Aminnean grape, as well as
the large variety and that called Apician, keep very well when buried
in earthen pots: or they may be preserved quite as well in boiled new
wine, or in fresh after-wine. The varieties which keep best when hung
up are the hard grapes and those known as the Aminnean Scantian.

_Of storing pome fruits_

LIX. The pome fruits, like the preserving sparrow apples, quinces
and the varieties of apples known as Scantian, and 'little rounds'
(_orbiculata_) and those which formerly were called winesap
(_mustea_), and now are called honey apples (_melimela_), can all be
kept safely in a cold and dry place when laid on straw, and so those
who build fruit houses take care to have the windows give upon the
north wind and that it may blow through them: but they should not
be left without shutters for fear that the fruits should lose their
moisture and become shrivelled by the effect of the continuous wind.

The vaults, the walls and the pavements of these fruiteries are
usually laid in stucco to keep them cool: thus rendering them such
pleasant resorts that some men even spread there their dining couches:
as well they may, for if the pursuit of luxury impels some of us to
turn our dining rooms into picture galleries in order to regale even
our eyes with works of art [while we eat], should we not find still
greater gratification in contemplating the works of nature displayed
in a savory array of beautiful fruits, especially if this was not
procured, as has been done, by setting up in your fruitery on the
occasion of a party a supply of fruit purchased for the purpose in

Some think best to dispose their apples in the fruitery on concrete
tables, others on beds of straw, and some even on flocks of wool.

Pomegranates are preserved by sticking their twigs in jars of sand,
quinces and sparrow apples are strung together and hung up, but the
late maturing Anician pears are best preserved in boiled must. Sorbs
and pears also are some times cut up and dried in the sun, though the
sorb may be easily preserved intact by keeping them in a dry place:
turnips are cut up and preserved in mustard, while walnuts keep well
in sand, as I have explained with respect to ripe pomegranates. There
is a similar way of ripening pomegranates: put the fruit, while it is
still green and attached to its branch, in a pot without a bottom,
bury this in the earth and scrape the soil around the protruding
branch so as to keep out the air, and when the pomegranates are dug up
they will be found to be not only intact but larger than if they had
hung all the time on the tree.

_Of storing olives_

LX. With respect to preserving olives, Cato advises that table olives,
both the round and the bitter berried kinds, keep best in brine both
when they are dry and when they are green, but if they are bruised it
is well to put them in mastich oil. Round olives will retain their
black colour if they are packed in salt for five days, and then, the
salt having been brushed away, are exposed for two days in the sun: or
they may be preserved in must boiled down to one-third, without the
use of salt.

_Of storing amurca_

LXI. Experienced farmers do well to save their amurca as they do their
oil and their wine. The method of preserving it is this: immediately
after the oil has been pressed out, draw off the amurca and boil it
down to one-third and, when it has cooled, store it in vats. There are
other methods also, as that in which must is mingled with the amurca.


LXII. Since no one stores his crops except to bring them out again, it
remains to make a few observations upon the sixth and last operation
in our round of agriculture.

Crops which have been stored are brought out either to care for them,
to consume them or to sell them, and as all crops are not alike there
are different times for caring for them and for consuming them.

_Of cleaning grain_

LXIII. Grain is taken out of store to be cleaned, when the weevil
begins to damage it. When this is apparent the grain should be laid
out in the sun and bowls of water placed nearby and the weevil will
swarm on this water and drown themselves. Those who store their grain
in the pits which are called silos should not attempt to bring out the
grain for some time after the silo has been opened because there is
danger of suffocation in entering a recently opened silo. The corn
which, during the harvest time, you stored in the ear and which you
contemplate using for food, should be brought out during the winter to
be crushed and ground in the grist mill.

_Of condensing amurca_

LXIV. When it flows from the oil mill, amurca is a watery fluid full
of dregs. It is the custom to store it in this state in earthen jars
and fifteen days later to skim off the scum from the top and transfer
this to other jars, an operation which is repeated at regular
intervals twelve times during the following six months, taking care
that the last skimming is done on the wane of the moon. Then it
is boiled in a copper kettle over a slow fire until it is reduced
two-thirds, when it may be drawn off for use.

_Of racking wine_

LXV. When the must is stored in the vat to make wine, it should not be
racked off while it is fermenting nor until this process has advanced
so far that the wine may be considered to be made. If you wish to
drink old wine, it is not made until a year is completed; when it is a
year old, then draw it out. But if your vineyard contains that kind
of grape which turns sour early, you should eat the fruit, or sell it
before the succeeding vintage. There are kinds of wine, like that of
Falernum, which improve the longer you keep them.

_Of preserved olives_

LXVI. If you attempt to eat white olives immediately after you have
put them up and before they are cured your palate will reject them on
account of their bitterness (and the same is true of the black olive)
unless you dip them in salt to make them palatable.

_Of nuts, dates and figs_

LXVII. The sooner you use nuts, dates and figs after they have been
stored, the more palatable they will be, for by keeping figs lose
their flavour, dates rot and nuts dry up.

_Of stored fruits_

LXVIII. Fruits which are strung, such as grapes, apples and sorbs show
by their appearance when they may be taken down for use, for by their
change of colour and shrinking they reveal themselves as destined to
the garbage pile unless they are eaten in time. Sorbs which have been
laid by when they are already dead-ripe should be used promptly, but
those which were picked green are slower to decay: for green fruit in
the store house must there go through the process of ripening which
was denied it on the tree.

_Of marketing grain_

LXIX. The spelt which you wish to have prepared for food should be
taken out in the winter to be ground in the mill: but your seed corn
should not be taken out until the fields are ready to receive it, a
rule which obtains in respect of all kinds of seed. What you have for
sale should be taken out at the appropriate time also, for some things
which cannot be kept long without spoiling should be taken out and
sold promptly, while others which keep should be retained so that you
may sell when the price is high, for often commodities which are kept
on hand a long time, will, if put on the market at the proper time,
not only yield interest for the time you held them but even a double

As Stolo was speaking, the freedman of the Sacristan ran up to us with
his eyes full of tears and, begging our pardon for having kept us
waiting so long, invited us to come to the funeral on the following
day. We all sprang up and cried out together "What? To the funeral?
Whose funeral? What has happened?"

The freedman, weeping, told us that his master had been struck down by
a blow with a knife, but who did it he had been unable to discover by
reason of the crowd, all that he heard being an exclamation that a
mistake had been made. He added that when he had carried his master
home and had sent the servants to call a doctor, whom they brought
back with them quickly, he trusted that it might seem reasonable to
us that he had waited to attend upon the doctor rather than come to
notify us at once, and while he had not been able to be of any service
to his master, who had given up the ghost in a few minutes, yet he
hoped we might approve his conduct.

Accepting these excuses as amply justified, we descended from the
temple bewildered more by the hazard of human life than surprised that
such a fate should be possible at Rome:[104] and so we went our several



_Introduction: the decay of country life_

Those great men our ancestors did well to esteem the Romans who lived
in the country above those who dwelt in town. For as our peasants
today contemn the tenant of a villa as an idler in comparison with the
busy life of an agricultural labourer, so our ancestors regarded the
sedentary occupations of the town as waste of time from their habitual
rural pursuits: and in consequence they so divided their time that
they might have to devote only one day of the week to their affairs in
town, reserving the remaining seven for country life.[105]

So long as they persisted in this practice they accomplished two
things both that their farms were fertile through good cultivation and
that they themselves enjoyed the best of health: they felt no need of
those Greek gymnasia which now every one of us must have in his town
house, nor did they deem that in order to enjoy a house in the country
one must give sounding Greek names to all its apartments, such as
[Greek: prokoiton] (antechamber) [Greek: palaistra] (exercising room)
[Greek: apodutaerion] (dressing room) [Greek: peristulon] (arcade)
[Greek: ornithon] or (poultry house) [Greek: peristereon] (dove cote)
[Greek: oporothaekae] (fruitery) and the like.

Since now forsooth most of our gentry crowd into town, abandoning
the sickle and the plough and prefer to exercise their hands in the
theatre and the circus rather than in the corn field and the vineyard,
it has resulted that we must fain buy the very corn that fills our
bellies and have it hauled in for us, yea, out of Africa and Sardinia,
while we bring home the vintage in ships from the islands of Cos and

And so it has happened that those lands which the shepherds who
founded the city taught their children to cultivate are now, by their
later descendants, converted again from corn fields back to pastures,
thus in their greed of gain violating even the law, since they fail to
distinguish the difference between agriculture and grazing.[106] For a
shepherd is one thing and a ploughman another, nor for all that he may
feed his stock on farm land is a drover the same as a teamster: herded
cattle, indeed, do nothing to create what grows in the land, but
destroy it with their teeth, while the yoked ox on the contrary
conduces to the maturity of grain in the corn fields and forage in the
fallow land. The practice and the art of the farmer is one thing, I
say; that of the shepherd another; the farmer's object being that what
ever may be produced by cultivating the land should yield a profit;
that of the shepherd to make his profit from the increase of his
flock; and yet the relation between them is intimate because it is
much more desirable for a farmer to feed his forage on the land than
to sell it, and a herd of cattle is the best source of supply of that
which is the most available food of growing plants, namely, manure:[107]
so it follows that whoever has a farm ought to practise both arts,
that of agriculture and that of grazing cattle, indeed, also that of
feeding game, as is done at our country houses, since no little profit
may be derived from aviaries and rabbit warrens and fish ponds.
And since I have written a book concerning the first of these
occupations--that of the husbandry of agriculture--for my wife
Fundania because of her interest in that subject, now, my dear
Turranius Niger, I write this one on the husbandry of live stock for
you, who are so keen a stock fancier that you are a frequent attendant
at the cattle market at Macri Campi, where, by your fortunate
speculations, you have found means to make provision for many crying

I could do this on my own authority because I am myself a considerable
owner of live stock with my flocks of sheep in Apulia and my stud
of horses at Reate, but I will run through the subject, briefly and
summarily rehearsing what I gathered from conversation with certain
large stock feeders in Epirus at the time when, being in command of
the fleet in Greece during the war with the pirates, I lay between
Delos and Sicily.[108]

_Of the origin, the importance and the economy of live stock

I.[109] When Menates had gone, Cossinius said to me: "We shall not let
you go until you have explained those three points which you began to
discuss the other day when we were interrupted."

"What three points," said Murrius. "Are they those concerning feeding
cattle, of which you spoke to me yesterday?"

"Yes," replied Cossinius, "they are the considerations of what was the
origin, what the importance, and what the economy of the husbandry of
live stock. Varro here had begun to discourse upon them while we were
calling on Petus during his illness, when the arrival of the physician
interrupted us."

"Of the three divisions of the [Greek: historikon] or interpretation
of this subject, which you have mentioned, I will venture," said I,
"to speak only of the first two, of the origin and of the importance
of this industry. The third division, of how it should be practised,
Scrofa shall undertake for us, as one, if I may speak Greek to a
company of half Greek shepherds [Greek: hos per mou pollon ameinon]
(who is better qualified than I am),[110] for Scrofa was the teacher of
C. Lucilius Hirrus, your son-in-law, whose flocks and herds in Bruttii
have such reputation."

"But," interrupted Scrofa, "you shall hear what we have to say only on
condition that you, who come from Epirus and are masters of the art of
feeding cattle, shall recompense us and shall give public testimony of
what you know on the subject: for none of us knows it all."

Having thus assumed that my share of the discussion should be the
first or theoretical part of the subject (which I did, although I have
a stock farm in Italy, because, as the proverb is, not every one who
owns a lyre is a musician), I began:

"Doubtless in the very order of nature both man and cattle have
existed since the beginning of time, for whether we believe that there
was a First Cause of the generation of animals, as Thales of Miletus
and Zeno of Citium maintained, or that there was none as was the
opinion of Pythagoras of Samos and Aristotle of Stagira, it is, as
Dicaearchus points out, a necessity of human life to have descended
gradually from the earliest time to the present day: thus in the
beginning was the primitive age when man lived on whatever the virgin
soil produced spontaneously; thence he descended to the second or
pastoral age, when, as he had formerly gathered for his use acorns,[111]
strawberries, mulberries and apples by picking them from trees and
bushes, so now, to satisfy a like need, he captured in the woods such
as he could of the wild beasts of the field, and, having enclosed,
began to domesticate them. Among these it is considered not without
reason that sheep were foremost, both because of their utility and
because of their docile nature, for this animal is the gentlest of all
and most readily accommodated to the life of man, and supplies him
with milk and cheese for food, and skins and wool to clothe his body.

"Finally, by the third step, man descended from the pastoral age to
that of agriculture. In this there have persisted many relics of the
two preceding ages, which, long remaining in their original state, are
found even in our day: for in many places may yet be seen some kinds
of our domestic cattle still in their wild state, such as the large
flocks of wild sheep in Phrygia, and in Samothrace a species of wild
goats like those which are called "big horns" (platycerotes) and
abound in Italy on the mountains of Fiscellum and Tetrica. Every body
knows that there are wild swine, unless you maintain that the wild
boar is not a true member of the swine family.

"There are still many cattle running at large in Dardania, Medica and
Thrace, while there are wild asses in Phrygia and Lycaonia, and wild
horses in certain regions of hither Spain.

"I have now told you of the origin of the industry of feeding cattle.
As to its importance, I have this to say:

"The most important persons of antiquity were all keepers of live
stock, as both the Greek and Latin languages reveal, as well as the
earliest poets, who describe their heroes some as [Greek: polyarnos]
(rich in lambs), some as [Greek: polymaelos] (rich in sheep), and
others as [Greek: polyboutaes] (rich in herds), and tell of flocks
which on account of their value were said to have golden fleeces, like
that of Atreus in Argos which he complained that Thyestes stole away
from him: or that ram which Aeetes sacrificed at Colchis, whose fleece
was the quest of those princes known as the Argonauts: or again like
those so called golden apples (_mala_) of the Hesperides that Hercules
brought back from Africa into Greece, which were, according to the
ancient tradition, in fact goats and sheep which the Greeks, from the
sound of their voice, called [Greek: maela]: indeed, much in the same
way our country people, using a different letter (since the bleat of a
sheep seems to make more of the sound of _bee_ than of _me_) say that
sheep "be-alare," whence by the elision of a letter as often happens,
is derived the word _belare_ (or _balare_), to bleat.

"If cattle had not been held in the highest esteem among the ancients
the astrologers would not have called the signs of the zodiac by their
names in describing the heavens: and they not only did not hesitate to
place them there but many even begin their enumeration of the twelve
signs with these animal names, thus giving Aries and Taurus precedence
over Apollo and Hercules, whose signs, very gods as they are, are
subordinated under the name of Gemini: nor did they deem that a sixth
of these twelve signs was a sufficient proportion for the names of
cattle, but they must even add Capricornus and make it a quarter.
Furthermore, in naming the constellations they selected other names of
cattle, as the goat, the kid, and the dog. And in like manner have not
certain parts both of the sea and of the land taken their names from
cattle, as witness the Aegean Sea, which is called after the Greek
name for goat [Greek: aigeos], and Mount Taurus in Syria after the
bull, and Mount Cantherius in the Sabine country after the horse, and
the Thracian, as well as the Cimmerian, Bosphorus, after the ox:
and again many place names on land like the town in Greece known as
[Greek: hippion Argos], or horse breeding Argos. Yea, Italy itself
derives its name, according to Piso, from _vitula_, our word for

"Who can deny that the Roman people themselves are sprung from a race
of shepherds, for every one knows that Faustulus, the foster father
of Romulus and Remus, who brought them up, was a shepherd. Is it not
proof that they were shepherds that they chose the Parilia, or feast
of the goddess of the shepherds, in preference to all other days, for
the founding of the city; that a penalty even to this day is assessed
in terms of cattle or sheep, according to the ancient custom; that our
most ancient money, the _as_ of cast copper, always bore the effigy of
some domestic animal; that whenever a town was founded the limits of
the walls and the gates were laid off with a plough drawn by a bull
and a cow yoked together; that when the Roman people are purified it
is done by driving around them a boar, a ram and a bull, whence the
sacrifice is known as the Suovetaurilia; that we have many family
names among us derived from both the great and small cattle: thus
from small cattle Porcius, Ovinius, Caprilius, and from great cattle
Equitius, Taurius, and some of our families have received from cattle
cognomens which signify for what they are esteemed, as, for instance,
the Annius family are called Capra, the Statilius family are called
Taurus and the Pomponius family are called Vitulus, and so many others
are derived from cattle.

"It remains now to discuss the art of animal husbandry, and on this
subject our friend Scrofa, to whom this age has awarded the palm for
excellence in all branches of farm management, will say what ever is
to be said, as he is better qualified than am I."

When all eyes had been turned upon him, Scrofa began:

"Doubtless the art of breeding and of feeding cattle consists in
getting the maximum profit out of those things from which the very
name of money is derived, for our word for money (_pecunia_) comes
from _pecus_, cattle, which is the foundation of all wealth.

"Our enquiry may be divided into nine subjects, or three parts each
with three subdivisions, namely: (i) concerning small cattle, of which
the three kinds are sheep, goats and swine: (2) concerning large
cattle, which are likewise divided by nature into three species, neat
cattle, asses and horses: and (3) concerning those instruments of
animal husbandry which are not kept for profit but for convenience,
namely: mules, dogs and shepherds. Each of these nine subjects must be
considered under nine heads: (a) four relating to the acquisition of
cattle, (b) four to the care of them, and (c) one which has to do
with all the others. So there are at least eighty-one chapters
for discussion of the subject, all indispensable and all of great

"Under the head (a) of acquisition, it is first of all necessary, to
enable you to buy good live stock, that you should know at what age it
is best to buy and to keep each different kind. For instance, you may
buy neat cattle for less money before they are a year old and after
they are ten, because they begin to breed at two or three years and
leave off soon after the tenth year, the beginning and the end of the
life of all live stock being sterile. The second consideration under
this head is a knowledge of the conformation of each kind of cattle
and what it should be, for this is of great importance in determining
the value of all animals. Thus experienced stockmen buy cattle with
black horns rather than white, large goats rather than small, and
swine with long bodies and short heads. The third consideration under
this head is to make sure of the breeding. On this account the asses
of Arcadia are celebrated in Greece, as are those of Reate in Italy,
so that I remember an ass that brought sixty thousand sesterces, and a
four-in-hand team at Rome that was held at four hundred thousand. The
fourth consideration is of the legal precautions to be observed in
buying live stock, for in order that title may pass from one to
another certain formalities must intervene, since neither a contract
nor even the payment of the purchase money suffices in all cases to
transfer a title: thus in buying you some times stipulate that the
animal is in good health, some times that it comes out of a healthy
flock or herd, and some times no stipulation at all is made.

"Under the head (b) of the care of live stock, the four considerations
are what should be done, after you have bought your cattle, in respect
of feeding, of breeding, of raising them, and of maintaining their
health. In the matter of feeding, which is the first of these
considerations, the three things to be observed are where and how
much, when, and on what your cattle will graze: thus it suits goats
better to graze on rough and mountain land than in fat pastures,
while the contrary is true of horses. Nor are the same places fit for
grazing for all kinds of cattle both in summer and winter: thus flocks
of sheep are driven from Apulia a long distance into Samnium to spend
the summer, and are reported to the tax farmer to be registered lest
they violate the regulations of the censor.[112]

"In the same way mules are driven in the summer from the prairie of
Rosea to the high mountains of Gurgures.

"The rules for feeding each kind of live stock in the barn yard must
also be studied, as, for instance, that hay is fed to the horse and
the ox, while it will not do for swine which require mast, and that
barley and beans should at intervals be fed to some kinds of stock,
lupines to draft cattle and alfalfa and clover to milch cows.
Furthermore, it is desirable to feed the ram and the bull more heavily
for thirty days before admitting them to the flock and the herd, the
purpose being to increase their strength, while on the other hand the
feed of the cows is cut down at that time because it is deemed that
they breed most successfully when they are thin.

"The next consideration is concerning breeding, which I call the period
between conception and birth, for these are the beginning and the end
of pregnancy. First of all then we should consider the stinting and
the season at which this should be accomplished, for as the
season from the rising of the west wind to the vernal equinox
(February-March) is considered best for swine, so that from the
setting of Arcturus to the setting of Aquila (May-July) is best for
sheep. Furthermore, a rule should be made that the male animals are
kept apart from the females for some time before they are bred, a
period which neatherds and shepherds usually fix at two months. The
next consideration is of the rules to be observed while the animal
is pregnant, because the periods of gestation differ in the several
domestic animals: thus the mare goes twelve months, the cow ten, the
ewe and the goat five and the sow four.

"In Spain is reported a phenomenon of breeding which seems incredible,
but is nevertheless true, namely: that on Mount Tagnus on that part of
the coast of Lusitania near the town of Olisippo, mares are some
times impregnated by the wind,[113] some thing which often happens with
respect to chickens, whence their eggs are called [Greek: hypaenemios]
(conceived by the wind),[114] but the foals born of such mares never
live more than three years.

"When lambs are born in due season, or what we call _chordi_ (that is
to say those lambs which are born late and have remained beyond their
season in the belly of the dam, the name _chordi_, being derived from
[Greek: chorion] the Greek name for the membrane which is called the
after birth), care must be taken to clean them and set them gently on
their feet and to prevent the dam from crushing them.

"On the third consideration with respect to raising young animals, you
must consider for how long they should be permitted to suck the dam
and when and where, and if the mother has an insufficient supply of
milk, how you may put the young one to nurse at the udder of another:
in which case they are called _subrumi_, that is to say, under the
udder, for I think that rumis is an old word for udder.

"Lambs are weaned usually at the end of four months, kids in three,

Book of the day: