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Title: Roman Farm Management - The Treatises of Cato and Varro
Author: Harrison, Fairfax, 1869-1938 [Translator]
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Roman Farm Management - The Treatises of Cato and Varro" ***

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[Transcriber's note: The extensive and lengthy footnotes have been
renumbered and placed at the end of the book.]







The present editor made the acquaintance of Cato and Varro standing at
a book stall on the Quai Voltaire in Paris, and they carried him away
in imagination, during a pleasant half hour, not to the vineyards and
olive yards of Roman Italy, but to the blue hills of a far distant
Virginia where the corn was beginning to tassel and the fat cattle
were loafing in the pastures. Subsequently, when it appeared that
there was then no readily available English version of the Roman
agronomists, this translation was made, in the spirit of old Piero
Vettori, the kindly Florentine scholar, whose portrait was painted by
Titian and whose monument may still be seen in the Church of Santo
Spirito: in the preface of his edition of Varro he says that he
undertook the work, not for the purpose of displaying his learning,
but to aid others in the study of an excellent author. Victorius was
justified by his scholarship and the present editor has no such
claim to attention: he, therefore, makes the confession frankly (to
anticipate perhaps such criticism as Bentley's "a very pretty poem,
Mr. Pope, but don't call it Homer") and offers the little book to
those who love the country, and to read about the country amidst the
crowded life of towns, with the hope that they may find in it some
measure of the pleasure it has afforded the editor.

The texts and commentaries used have been those of Schneider and Keil,
the latter more accurate but the former more sympathetic.

Fauquier County,

December, 1912.


The call for a reprint of this book has afforded the opportunity to
correct some errors and to make several additions to the notes.

In withholding his name from the title page the editor sought not so
much to conceal his identity as to avoid the appearance of a parade in
what was to him the unwonted field of polite literature. As, however,
he is neither ashamed of the book nor essays the _rôle_ of

  A violet by a mossy stone
  Half hidden from the eye,

he now and here signs his name.


Christmas, 1917.



       *       *       *       *       *



Introduction: Of the Dignity of the Farmer
Of Buying a Farm
Of the Duties of the Owner
Of Laying out the Farm
Of Stocking the Farm
Of the Duties of the Overseer
Of the Duties of the Housekeeper
Of the Hands
Of Draining
Of Preparing the Seed Bed
Of Manure
Of Soil Improvement
Of Forage Crops
Of Planting
Of Pastures
Of Feeding Live Stock
Of the Care of Live Stock
Of Cakes and Salad
Of Curing Hams






I. Introduction: the literary tradition of country life

Of the definition of Agriculture:
II. a. What it is not
III. b. What it is
IV. The purposes of Agriculture are profit and pleasure
V. The four-fold division of the study of Agriculture

_I° Concerning the farm itself_:
VI. How conformation of the land affects Agriculture
VII. How character of soil affects Agriculture
VIII. (A digression on the maintenance of vineyards)
IX. Of the different kinds of soils
X. Of the units of area used in measuring land

Of the considerations on building a steading:
XI.   a. Size
      b. Water supply
XII.  c. Location, with regard to health
XIII. d. Arrangement

Of the protection of farm boundaries:
XIV. a. Fences
XV. b. Monuments
XVI. Of the considerations of neighbourhood

_2° Concerning the equipment of a farm_:
&     }Of agricultural labourers
XIX.  }
&     }Of draught animals
XX.   }
XXI.  Of watch dogs
XXII. Of farming implements

_3° Concerning the operation of a farm_:
XXIII. Of planting field crops
XXIV. Of planting olives
XXV. }
&    } Of planting vines

_4° Concerning the agricultural seasons_:
&      }Of the solar measure of the year, illustrated by

throughout the year, in eight seasons, viz:

XXIX. 1° February 7-March 24
XXX.  2° March 24-May 7
XXXI. 3° May 7-June 24
XXXII. 4° June 24-July 21
XXXIII. 5° July 21-September 26
XXXIV. 6° September 26-October 28
XXXV. 7° October 28-December 24
XXXVI. 8° December 24-February 7
XXXVII. Of the influence of the moon on Agriculture to which is added

with a commentary on their several occupations, viz:

_1° Preparing time_:
  Of tillage,
XXXVIII. Of manuring,

XXXIX. _2° Planting time_:
Of the four methods of propagating plants, viz:

XL. a. Seeding and here of seed selection
  b. Transplanting
  c. Cuttage
  d. Graftage, and
  e. A "new" method, inarching
XLI. Of when to use these different methods
XLII. Of seeding alfalfa
XLIII. Of seeding clover and cabbage
XLIV. Of seeding grain

_3° Cultivating time_:
XLV. Of the conditions of plant growth
XLVI. Of the mechanical action of plants
XLVII. Of the protection of nurseries and meadows
XLVIII. Of the structure of a wheat plant

XLIX. _4° Harvest time_:
  Of the hay harvest

L. Of the wheat harvest
LI.   The threshing floor
LII.  Threshing and winnowing
LIII. Gleaning
LIV. Of the vintage
LV. Of the olive harvest

_5° Housing time_:
LVI. Of storing hay
LVII. Of storing grain
LVIII. Of storing legumes
LIX. Of storing pome fruits
LX. Of storing olives
LXI. Of storing amurca

LXII. _6° Consuming time_:
LXIII. Of cleaning grain
LXIV. Of condensing amurca
LXV. Of racking wine
LXVL. Of preserved olives
LXVIL. Of nuts, dates and figs
LXVIII. Of stored fruits
LXIX. Of marketing grain

Epilogue: the dangers of the streets of Rome



Introduction:--the decay of country life

I. Of the origin, the importance and the economy of live stock husbandry
II. Of sheep
III. Of goats
IV. Of swine
V. Of neat cattle
VI. Of asses
VII. Of horses
VIII. Of mules
IX. Of herd dogs
N. Of shepherds
XI. Of milk and cheese and wool



I. Introduction: the antiquity of country life
II. Of the definition of a Roman villa
III. Of the Roman development of the industries of the steading
IV. Of aviaries
V.  a. for profit
    b. for pleasure (including here the description of Varro's own aviary)
VI. Of pea-cocks
VII. Of pigeons
VIII. Of turtle doves
IX. Of poultry
X. Of geese
XI. Of ducks
XII. Of rabbits
XIII. Of game preserves
XIV. Of snails
XV. Of dormice
XVI. Of bees
XVII. Of fish ponds




    Quaecunque autem propter disciplinam ruris nostrorum temporum cum
    priscis discrepant, non deterrere debent a lectione discentem. Nam
    multo plura reperiuntur, apud veteres, quae nobis probanda sint,
    quam quae repudianda.


The study of the Roman treatises on farm management is profitable to
the modern farmer however practical and scientific he may be. He will
not find in them any thing about bacteria and the "nodular hypothesis"
in respect of legumes, nor any thing about plant metabolism, nor even
any thing about the effects of creatinine on growth and absorption;
but, important and fascinating as are the illuminations of modern
science upon practical agriculture, the intelligent farmer with
imagination (every successful farmer has imagination, whether or not
he is intelligent) will find some thing quite as important to his
welfare in the body of Roman husbandry which has come down to us,
namely: a background for his daily routine, an appreciation that two
thousand years ago men were studying the same problems and solving
them by intelligent reasoning. Columella well says that in reading
the ancient writers we may find in them more to approve than to
disapprove, however much our new science may lead us to differ from
them in practice. The characteristics of the Roman methods of farm
management, viewed in the light of the present state of the art in
America, were thoroughness and patience. The Romans had learned many
things which we are now learning again, such as green manuring with
legumes, soiling, seed selection, the testing of soil for sourness,
intensive cultivation of a fallow as well as of a crop, conservative
rotation, the importance of live stock in a system of general farming,
the preservation of the chemical content of manure and the composting
of the rubbish of a farm, but they brought to their farming operations
some thing more which we have not altogether learned--the character
which made them a people of enduring achievement. Varro quotes one of
their proverbs "Romanus sedendo vincit," which illustrates my present
point. The Romans achieved their results by thoroughness and patience.
It was thus that they defeated Hannibal and it was thus that they
built their farm houses and fences, cultivated their fields, their
vineyards and their oliveyards, and bred and fed their live stock.
They seem to have realized that there are no short cuts in the
processes of nature, and that the law of compensations is invariable.
The foundation of their agriculture was the fallow[1] and one finds
them constantly using it as a simile--in the advice not to breed a
mare every year, as in that not to exact too much tribute from a bee
hive. Ovid even warns a lover to allow fallow seasons to intervene in
his courtship.

While one can find instruction in their practice even today, one
can benefit even more from their agricultural philosophy, for the
characteristic of the American farmer is that he is in too much of a

The ancient literature of farm management was voluminous. Varro cites
fifty Greek authors on the subject whose works he knew, beginning with
Hesiod and Xenophon. Mago of Carthage wrote a treatise in the Punic
tongue which was so highly esteemed that the Roman Senate ordered it
translated into Latin, but, like most of the Greeks,[2] it is now lost
to us except in the literary tradition.

Columella says that it was Cato who taught Agriculture to speak Latin.
Cato's book, written in the middle of the second century B. C, was the
first on the subject in Latin; indeed, it was one of the very first
books written in that vernacular at all. Of the other Latin writers
whose bucolic works have survived, Varro and Virgil wrote at the
beginning of the Augustan Age and were followed by the Spanish
Columella under Tiberius, and by Pliny (with his Natural History)
under Titus. After them (and "a long way after," as Mr. Punch says)
came in the fourth century the worthy but dull Palladius, who supplied
the hornbook used by the agricultural monks throughout the Dark Ages.

MARCUS PORCIUS CATO (B.C. 234-149), known in history as the elder
Cato, was the type of Roman produced by the most vigorous days of
the Republic. Born at Tusculum on the narrow acres which his peasant
forefathers had tilled in the intervals of military service, he
commenced advocate at the country assizes, followed his fortunes to
Rome and there became a leader of the metropolitan bar. He saw gallant
military service in Spain and in Greece, commanded an army, held all
the curule offices of state and ended a contentious life in the Senate
denouncing Carthage and the degeneracy of the times.

He was an upstanding man, but as coarse as he was vigorous in mind and
in body. Roman literature is full of anecdotes about him and his wise
and witty sayings.

Unlike many men who have devoted a toilsome youth to agricultural
labour, when he attained fame and fortune he maintained his interest
in his farm, and wrote his _De re rustica_ in green old age. It tells
what sort of farm manager he himself was, or wanted to be thought to
be, and, though a mere collection of random notes, sets forth more
shrewd common sense and agricultural experience than it is possible to
pack into the same number of English words. It remains today of much
more than antiquarian interest.

MARCUS TERENTIUS VARRO (B.C. 116-28) whom Quintilian called "the most
learned of the Romans," and Petrarch "il terzo gran lume Romano,"
ranking him with Cicero and Virgil, probably studied agriculture
before he studied any thing else, for he was born on a Sabine farm,
and although of a well to do family, was bred in the habits of
simplicity and rural industry with which the poets have made that
name synonymous. All his life he amused the leisure snatched from his
studies with intelligent supervision of the farming of his several
estates: and he wrote his treatise _Rerum Rusticarum_ in his eightieth

He had his share of active life, but it was as a scholar that he
distinguished himself.[4] Belonging to the aristocratic party, he
became a friend and supporter of Pompey, and, after holding a naval
command under him in the war against the Pirates in B.C. 67, was
his legatus in Spain at the beginning of the civil wars and there
surrendered to Caesar. He was again on the losing side at the battle
of Pharsalia, but was pardoned by Caesar, who selected him to be
librarian of the public library he proposed to establish at Rome.[5]
From this time Varro eschewed politics and devoted himself to letters,
although his troubles were not yet at an end: after the death of
Caesar, the ruthless Antony despoiled his villa at Casinum (where
Varro had built the aviary described in book Three), and like Cicero
he was included in the proscriptions which followed the compact of the
triumvirs, but in the end unlike Cicero he escaped and spent his last
years peacefully at his villas at Cumae and Tusculum.

His literary activity was astonishing: he wrote at least six hundred
books covering a wide range of antiquarian research. St. Augustine,
who dearly loved to turn a balanced phrase, says that Varro had read
so much that it is difficult to understand when he found time to
write, while on the other hand he wrote so much that one can scarcely
read all his books. Cicero, who claimed him as an intimate friend,
describes (_Acad_. Ill) what Varro had written before B.C. 46, but he
went on producing to the end of his long life, eighteen years later:
"For," says Cicero, "while we are sojourners, so to speak, in our own
city and wandering about like strangers, your books have conducted us,
as it were, home again, so as to enable us at last to recognize who
and whence we are. You have discussed the antiquities of our country
and the variety of dates and chronology relating to it. You have
explained the laws which regulate sacrifices and priests: you have
unfolded the customs of the city both in war and peace: you have
described the various quarters and districts: you have omitted
mentioning none of the names, or kinds, or functions, or causes of
divine or human things: you have thrown a flood of light on our poets
and altogether on Latin literature and the Latin language: you have
yourself composed a poem of varied beauties and elegant in almost
every part: and you have in many places touched upon philosophy in
a manner sufficient to excite our curiosity, though inadequate to
instruct us."

Of Varro's works, beside the _Rerum Rusticarum_, there have survived
only fragments, including a considerable portion of the treatise
on the Latin language: the story is that most of his books were
deliberately destroyed at the procurement of the Church (something
not impossible, as witness the Emperor Theodosius in _Corpus Juris
Civilis_. Cod. Lib. I, tit. I, cap. 3, § I) to conceal St. Augustine's
plagiarism from them; yet the _De Civitate Dei_, which is largely
devoted to refuting Varro's pagan theology, is a perennial monument to
his fame. St. Augustine says (VI, 2): "Although his elocution has less
charm, he is so full of learning and philosophy that ... he instructs
the student of facts as much as Cicero delights the student of style."

Varro's treatise on farm management is the best practical book on
the subject which has come down to us from antiquity. It has not the
spontaneous originality of Cato, nor the detail and suave elegance of
Columella. Walter Harte in his _Essays on Husbandry_ (1764) says
that Cato writes like an English squire and Varro like a French
academician. This is just comment on Cato but it is at once too much
and too little to say of Varro: a French academician might be proud
of his antiquarian learning, but would balk at his awkward and homely
Latin, as indeed one French academician, M. Boissier, has since done.
The real merit of Varro's book is that it is the well digested system
of an experienced and successful farmer who has seen and practised all
that he records.

The authority from which Virgil drew the practical farming lore, for
which he has been extolled in all ages, was Varro: indeed, as a farm
manual the _Georgics_ go astray only when they depart from Varro. It
is worth while to elaborate this point, which Professor Sellar, in his
argument for the originality of Virgil, only suggests.[6]

After Philippi the times were ripe for books on agriculture. The Roman
world had been divided between Octavian and Antony and there was peace
in Italy: men were turning "back to the land."

An agricultural regeneration of Italy was impending, chiefly in
viticulture, as Ferrero has pointed out. With far sighted appreciation
of the economic advantages of this, Octavian determined to promote the
movement, which became one of the completed glories of the Augustan
Age, when Horace sang

    Tua, Caesar, aetas
  Fruges et agris rettulit uberes.

Varro's book appeared in B.C. 37 and during that year Maecenas
commissioned Virgil to put into verse the spirit of the times; just
as, under similar circumstances, Cromwell pensioned Samuel Hartlib.
Such is the co-incidence of the dates that it is not impossible that
the _Rerum Rusticarum_ suggested the subject of the _Georgics_, either
to Virgil or to Maecenas.

There is no evidence in the _Bucolics_ that Virgil ever had any
practical knowledge of agriculture before he undertook to write the
_Georgics_. His father was, it is true, a farmer, but apparently in a
small way and unsuccessful, for he had to eke out a frugal livelihood
by keeping bees and serving as the hireling deputy of a _viator_ or
constable. This type of farmer persists and may be recognized in any
rural community: but the agricultural colleges do not enlist such
men into their faculties. So it is possible that Virgil owed little
agricultural knowledge to his father's precepts or example. Virgil
perhaps had tended his father's flock, as he pictures himself doing
under the guise of Tityrus; certainly he spent many hours of youth
"patulae recubans sub tegmine fagi" steeping his Celtic soul with the
beauty and the melancholy poetry of the Lombard landscape: and so he
came to know and to love bird and flower and the external aspects of

    wheat and woodland
  tilth and vineyard, hive and horse and herd,

but it does not appear that he ever followed the plough, or, what is
more important, ever laid off a ploughgate. As a poet of nature no one
was ever better equipped (the highest testimony is that of Tennyson),
but when it came to writing poetry around the art of farm management
it was necessary for him to turn to books for his facts. He
acknowledges (_Geo_. I, 176) his obligation only to _veterum
praecepta_ without naming them, but as M. Gaston Boissier says he was
evidently referring to Varro "le plus moderne de tous les anciens."[7]
Virgil evidently regarded Varro's treatise as a solid foundation for
his poem and he used it freely, just as he drew on Hesiod for literary
inspiration, on Lucretius for imaginative philosophy, and on Mago and
Cato and the two Sasernas for local colour.

Virgil probably had also the advantage of personal contact with Varro
during the seven years he was composing and polishing the _Georgics_.
He spent them largely at Naples (_Geo_. IV, 563) and Varro was then
established in retirement at Cumae: thus they were neighbours, and,
although they belonged to different political parties, the young poet
must have known and visited the old polymath; there was every
reason for him to have taken advantage of the opportunity. Whatever
justification there may be for this conjecture, the fact remains that
Varro is in the background every where throughout the _Georgics_, as
the "deadly parallel" in the appended note will indicate. This is
perhaps the most interesting thing about Varro's treatise: instructive
and entertaining as it is to the farmer, in the large sense of the
effect of literature on mankind, Virgil gave it wings--the useful cart
horse became Pegasus.

As a consequence of the chorus of praise of the _Georgics_, there have
been those, in all ages, who have sneered at Virgil's farming. The
first such _advocatus diaboli_ was Seneca, who, writing to Lucilius
(_Ep_. 86) from the farm house of Scipio Africanus, fell foul of the
advice (_Geo_, I, 216) to plant both beans and millet in the spring,
saying that he had just seen at the end of June beans gathered and
millet sowed on the same day: from which he generalized that Virgil
disregarded the truth to turn a graceful verse, and sought rather to
delight his reader than to instruct the husbandman. This kind of
cheap criticism does not increase our respect for Nero's philosophic
minister.[8] Whatever may have been Virgil's mistakes, every farmer
of sentiment should thank God that one of the greatest poems in any
language contains as much as it does of a sound tradition of the
practical side of his art, and here is where Varro is entitled to the
appreciation which is always due the schoolmaster of a genius.


At the beginning of the first _Georgic_ (1-5) Virgil lays out the
scope of the poem as dealing with three subjects, agriculture, the
care of live stock and the husbandry of bees. This was Varro's plan
(R.R. I, I, 2, and I, 2 passim) except that under the third head Varro
included, with bees, all the other kinds of stock which were usually
kept at a Roman steading. Varro asserts that his was the first
scientific classification of the subject ever made. Virgil (G. I,
5-13) begins too with the invocation of the Sun and the Moon and
certain rural deities, as did Varro (R.R. I, I, 4). The passages
should be compared for, as M. Gaston Boissier has pointed out, the
difference in the point of view of the two men is here illustrated
by the fact that Varro appeals to purely Roman deities, while Virgil
invokes the literary gods of Greece. Following the _Georgics_ through,
one who has studied Varro will note other passages for which a
suggestion may be found in Varro, usually in facts, but some times
in thought and even in words, viz: Before beginning his agricultural
operations a farmer should study the character of the country (G. I,
50: R.R. I, 6), the prevailing winds and the climate (G. I, 51: R.R.
I, 2, 3), the farming practice of the neighbourhood (G. I, 52: R.R. I,
18, 7), "this land is fit for corn, that for vines, and the other
for trees," (G. I, 54: R.R. I, 6, 5). He should practise fallow
and rotation (G. I, 71: R.R. I, 44, 2), and compensate the land by
planting legumes (G. I, 74: R.R. I, 23); he should irrigate his
meadows in summer (G. I, 104: R.R. I, 31, 5), and drain off surface
water in winter (G. I, 113: R.R. I, 36). Man has progressed from
a primitive state, when he subsisted on nuts and berries, to the
domestication of animals and to agriculture (G. I, 121-159: R.R. II,
1, 3). The threshing floor must be protected from pests (G. I, 178:
R.R. I, 51). Seed should be carefully selected (G. I, 197: R.R. 40,
2); the time for sowing grain is the autumn (G. I, 219: R.R. I, 34).
"Everlasting night" prevails in the Arctic regions (G. I, 247: R.R.
I, 2, 5); the importance to the farmer of the four seasons (G.I. 258;
R.R. I, 27) and the influence of the Moon (G.I. 276: R.R. I, 37).

The several methods of propagating plants described (G. II, 9-34: R.R.
I, 39), but here Varro follows Theophrastus (H.P. II, 1); trees grow
slowly from seed (G. II, 57; R.R. I, 41, 4); olives are propagated
from truncheons (G. II, 63; R.R. I, 41, 6). "The praise of Italy" (G.
II, 136-176: R.R. I, 2, 6), where trees bear twice a year (G. II, 150:
R.R. I, 7, 6). Certain plants affect certain soils (G. II, 177: R.R.
I, 9). A physical experiment (G. II, 230; R.R. I, 7); the advantage of
the quincunx in planting (G. II, 286: R.R. I, 7). Fence the vineyard
to keep out live stock (G. II, 371: R.R. I, 14); the goat a proper
sacrifice to Bacchus (G. II, 380: R.R. I, 2, 19). Be the first to put
your vine props under cover (G. II, 409: R.R. I, 8, 6).

The points of cattle (G. III, 50: R.R. II, 5, 7); their breeding age
(G. III, 61: R.R. II, 5, 13); segregate the bulls before the breeding
season (G. III, 212: R.R. II, 5, 12). Recruit your herd with fresh
blood (G. III, 69: R.R. II, 5, 17). How to break young oxen (G. III,
163: R.R. I, 20).

Of breeding live stock, the males should be fat, the females lean (G.
III, 123-129: R.R. II, 5, 12).

The points of a horse (G. III, 79: R.R. II, 7, 5). Mares fecundated by
the wind (G. III, 273: R.R. II, 1, 19). The care of the brood mare (G.
III, 138: R.R. II, 7, 10). The bearing of a spirited colt in the
field (G. III, 75: R.R. II, 7, 6); the training of a colt, "rattling
bridles" in the stable (G. III, 184: R.R. II, 7, 12).

Supply bedding for the sheep (G. III, 298: R.R. II, 2, 8), the goat
stable should face southeast (G. III, 302: R.R. II, 3, 6). Goats'
hair used for military purposes (G. III, 313: R.R. II, 11, 11.) Goats
affect rough pasture (G. III, 314: R.R. II, 3, 6). A shepherd's daily
routine (G. III, 322; R.R. II, 2, 10-11). The life of shepherds in the
saltus (G. III, 340: R.R. II, 10, 6). Beware of a ram with a spotted
tongue (G. III, 387: R.R. II, 2, 4). Anoint sheep as a precaution
against scab (G. III, 448: R.R. II, 11, 7).

The location of the bee-stand: a drinking pool with stones in it (G.
IV, 26: R.R. III, 16, 27); planted round with bee plants (G. IV, 25:
R.R. III, 16, 13), and free from an echo (G. IV, 50: R.R. III, 16,
12). When saving a swarm sprinkle bees balm and beat cymbals (G. IV,
62: R.R. III, 16, 7 and 30). Bees at war obey their leaders 'as at
the sound of a trumpet,' but may be quelled by the bee-keeper (G. IV,
70-87: R.R. III, 16, 9 and 35). Keep the mottled king and destroy the
black one (G. IV, 90: R.R. III, 16, 18); the "old Corycian" and the
brothers Veiani (G. IV, 125: R.R. III, 16, 10): the bees' care of
their king (G. IV, 212: R.R. III, 16, 8). Take off the honey twice in
the season (G. IV, 221: R.R. III, 16, 34); the generation of bees from
the carcase of an ox (G. IV, 281: R.R. II, 5, 5) and cf. the wisdom on
this subject attributed to Varro by the _Geoponica_ (XV, 2).


_Introduction: of the dignity of the farmer_

The pursuits of commerce would be as admirable as they are profitable
if they were not subject to so great risks: and so, likewise, of
banking, if it was always honestly conducted. For our ancestors
considered, and so ordained in their laws, that, while the thief
should be cast in double damages, the usurer should make four-fold
restitution. From this we may judge how much less desirable a citizen
they esteemed the banker than the thief. When they sought to commend
an honest man, they termed him good husbandman, good farmer. This they
rated the superlative of praise.[9] Personally, I think highly of a
man actively and diligently engaged in commerce, who seeks thereby to
make his fortune, yet, as I have said, his career is full of risks and
pitfalls. But it is from the tillers of the soil that spring the best
citizens, the stanchest soldiers; and theirs are the enduring rewards
which are most grateful and least envied. Such as devote themselves to
that pursuit are least of all men given to evil counsels.

And now, to get to my subject, these observations will serve as
preface to what I have promised to discuss.

_Of buying a farm_

(I)[10] When you have decided to purchase a farm, be careful not to buy
rashly; do not spare your visits and be not content with a single tour
of inspection. The more you go, the more will the place please you,
if it be worth your attention. Give heed to the appearance of the
neighbourhood,--a flourishing country should show its prosperity.
"When you go in, look about, so that, when needs be, you can find your
way out."

Take care that you choose a good climate, not subject to destructive
storms, and a soil that is naturally strong. If possible, your farm
should be at the foot of a mountain, looking to the South, in a
healthy situation, where labour and cattle can be had, well watered,
near a good sized town, and either on the sea or a navigable river, or
else on a good and much frequented road. Choose a place which has
not often changed ownership, one which is sold unwillingly, that has
buildings in good repair.

Beware that you do not rashly contemn the experience of others. It
is better to buy from a man who has farmed successfully and built

When you inspect the farm, look to see how many wine presses and
storage vats there are; where there are none of these you can judge
what the harvest is. On the other hand, it is not the number of
farming implements, but what is done with them, that counts. Where you
find few tools, it is not an expensive farm to operate. Know that with
a farm, as with a man, however productive it may be, if it has the
spending habit, not much will be left over.[12]

_Of the duties of the owner._

(II) When you have arrived at your country house and have saluted your
household, you should make the rounds of the farm the same day, if
possible; if not, then certainly the next day. When you have observed
how the field work has progressed,[13] what things have been done, and
what remains undone, you should summon your overseer the next day, and
should call for a report of what work has been done in good season and
why it has not been possible to complete the rest, and what wine and
corn and other crops have been gathered. When you are advised on these
points you should make your own calculation of the time necessary
for the work, if there does not appear to you to have been enough
accomplished. The overseer will report that he himself has worked
diligently, but that some slaves have been sick and others truant,
the weather has been bad, and that it has been necessary to work the
public roads. When he has given these and many other excuses, you
should recall to his attention the program of work which you had
laid out for him on your last visit and compare it with the results
attained. If the weather has been bad, count how many stormy days
there have been, and rehearse what work could have been done despite
the rain, such as washing and pitching the wine vats, cleaning out
the barns, sorting the grain, hauling out and composting the manure,
cleaning seed, mending the old gear, and making new, mending the
smocks and hoods furnished for the hands. On feast days the old
ditches should be mended, the public roads worked, briers cut down,
the garden dug, the meadow cleaned, the hedges trimmed and the
clippings collected and burned, the fish pond cleaned out. On such
days, furthermore, the slaves' rations should be cut down as compared
with what is allowed when they are working in the fields in fine

When this routine has been discussed quietly and with good humour and
is thoroughly understood by the overseer, you should give orders for
the completion of the work which has been neglected.

The accounts of money, supplies and provisions should then be
considered. The overseer should report what wine and oil has been
sold, what price he got, what is on hand, and what remains for sale.
Security should be taken for such accounts as ought to be secured. All
other unsettled matters should be agreed upon. If any thing is needed
for the coming year, it should be bought; every thing which is not
needed should be sold. Whatever there is for lease should be leased.
Orders should be given (and take care that they are in writing) for
all work which next it is desired to have done on the farm or let to
contract. You should go over the cattle and determine what is to be
sold. You should sell the oil, if you can get your price, the surplus
wine and corn, the old cattle, the worn out oxen, and the cull sheep,
the wool and the hides, the old and sick slaves, and if any thing else
is superfluous you should sell that. The appetite of the good farmer
is to sell, not to buy.[14]

(IV) Be a good neighbour. Do not roughly give offence to your own
people. If the neighbourhood regards you kindly, you will find a
readier market for what you have to sell, you will more easily get
your work done, either on the place or by contract. If you build, your
neighbours will aid you with their services, their cattle and their
materials. If any misfortune should overtake you (which God forbid!)
they will protect you with kindly interest.[15]

_Of laying out the farm_

(I) If you ask me what is the best disposition to make of your estate,
I would say that should you have bought a farm of one hundred _jugera_
(about 66 acres) all told,[16] in the best situation, it should be
planted as follows: 1° a vineyard, if it promises a good yield, 2° an
irrigated garden, 3° an osier bed, 4° an olive yard, 5° a meadow, 6°
a corn field, 7° a wood lot, 8° a cultivated orchard, and 9° a mast

(III) In his youth, the farmer ought, diligently to plant his land,
but he should ponder before he builds. Planting does not require
reflection, but demands action. It is time enough to build when you
have reached your thirty-sixth year, if you have farmed your land well
meanwhile. When you do build, let your buildings be proportioned to
your estate, and your estate to your buildings[18]. It is fitting that
the farm buildings should be well constructed, that you should have
ample oil cellars and wine vats, and a good supply of casks, so that
you can wait for high prices, something which will redound to your
honour, your profit and your self-respect.

(IV) Build your dwelling house in accordance with your means. If you
build well in a good situation and on a good property, and furnish the
house suitably for country life, you will come there more often and
more willingly[19]. The farm will then be better, fewer mistakes will
be made, and you will get larger crops. The face of the master is good
for the land.[20]

(VI) Plant elm trees along the roads and fence rows, so that you may
have the leaves to feed the sheep and cattle, and the timber will be
available if you need it. If any where there are banks of streams or
wet places, there plant reeds; and surround them with willows that the
osiers may serve to tie the vines.

(VII) It is most convenient to set out the land nearest the house as
an orchard, whence fire wood and faggots may be sold and the supply of
the master obtained. In this enclosure should be planted every thing
fitting to the land and vines should be married to the trees.[21]

(VIII) Near the house lay out also a garden with garland flowers and
vegetables[22] of all kinds, and set it about with myrtle hedges, both
white and black, as well as Delphic and Cyprian laurel.

_Of stocking the farm_

(X) An olive farm of two hundred and forty _jugera_ (160 acres) ought
to be stocked as follows: an overseer, a house keeper, five labourers,
three ox drivers, one swineherd, one ass driver, one shepherd; in all
thirteen hands: three pair of oxen,[23] three asses with pack saddles,
to haul out the manure, one other ass to turn the mill, and one
hundred sheep.[24]

_Of the duties of the overseer._[25]

(V) These are the duties of the overseer: He should maintain
discipline. He should observe the feast days. He should respect the
rights of others and steadfastly uphold his own. He should settle all
quarrels among the hands; if any one is at fault he should administer
the punishment. He should take care that no one on the place is in
want, or lacks food or drink; in this respect he can afford to
be generous, for he will thus more easily prevent picking and

Unless the overseer is of evil mind, he will himself do no wrong, but
if he permits wrong-doing by others, the master should not suffer
such indulgence to pass with impunity. He should show appreciation of
courtesy, to encourage others to practise it. He should not be given
to gadding or conviviality, but should be always sober. He should
keep the hands busy, and should see that they do what the master has
ordered. He should not think that he knows more than his master. The
friends of the master should be his friends, and he should give heed
to those whom the master has recommended to him. He should confine his
religious practices to church on Sunday, or to his own house.[27]

He should lend money to no man unbidden by the master, but what the
master has lent he should collect. He should never lend any seed
reserved for sowing, feed, corn, wine, or oil, but he should have
relations with two or three other farms with which he can exchange
things needed in emergency. He should state his accounts with his
master frequently. He should not keep any hired men or day hands
longer than is necessary. He should not sell any thing without the
knowledge of the master, nor should he conceal any thing from the
master. He should not have any hangers-on, nor should he consult any
soothsayer, fortune teller, necromancer, or astrologer. He should not
spare seed in sowing, for that is bad economy. He should strive to be
expert in all kinds of farm work, and, without exhausting himself,
often lend a hand. By so doing, he will better understand the point of
view of his hands, and they will work more contentedly; moreover, he
will have less inclination to gad, his health will be better, and he
will sleep more refreshingly.

First up in the morning, he should be the last to go to bed at night;
and before he does, he should see that the farm gates are closed, and
that each of the hands is in his own bed, that the stock have been
fed. He should see that the best of care is taken of the oxen, and
should pay the highest compliments to the teamsters who keep their
cattle in the best condition. He should see to it that the ploughs
and plough shares are kept in good repair. Plan all the work in ample
time, for so it is with farm work, if one thing is done late, every
thing will be late.

(XXXIX) When it rains try to find some thing to do indoors. Clean up,
rather than remain idle. Remember that while work may stop, expenses
still go on.

_Of the duties of the housekeeper_

(CXLIII) The overseer should be responsible for the duties of the
housekeeper. If the master has given her to you for a wife, you should
be satisfied with her, and she should respect you. Require that she
be not given to wasteful habits; that she does not gossip with the
neighbours and other women. She should not receive visitors either in
the kitchen or in her own quarters. She should not go out to parties,
nor should she gad about.[28] She should not practise religious
observances, nor should she ask others to do so for her without the
permission of the master or the mistress. Remember that the master
practises religion for the entire household. She should be neat in
appearance and should keep the house swept and garnished. Every night
before she goes to bed she should see that the hearth is swept and
clean. On the Kalends, the Ides, the Nones, and on all feast days, she
should hang a garland over the hearth. On those days also she should
pray fervently to the household gods. She should take care that she
has food cooked for you and for the hands. She should have plenty of
chickens and an abundance of eggs.[29] She should diligently put up all
kinds of preserves every year.

_Of the hands_

(LVI) The following are the customary allowances for food: For the
hands, four pecks of meal for the winter, and four and one-half for
the summer. For the overseer, the housekeeper, the wagoner, the
shepherd, three pecks each. For the slaves, four pounds of bread
for the winter, but when they begin to cultivate the vines this is
increased to five pounds until the figs are ripe, then return to four

(LVII) The sum of the wine allowed for each hand per annum is eight
quadrantals, or Amphora, but add in the proportion as they do work.
Ten quadrantals per annum is not too much to allow them to drink.

(LVIII) Save the wind fall olives as much as possible as relishes for
the hands. Later set aside such of the ripe olives as will make the
least oil. Be careful to make them go as far as possible. When the
olives are all eaten, give them fish pickles and vinegar. One peck of
salt per annum is enough for each hand.

(LIX) Allow each hand a smock and a cloak every other year. As often
as you give out a smock or cloak to any one take up the old one, so
that caps can be made out of it. A pair of heavy wooden shoes should
be allowed every other year.

_Of draining_

(XLIII) If the land is wet, it should be drained with trough shaped
ditches dug three feet wide at the surface and one foot at the bottom
and four feet deep. Blind these ditches with rock. If you have no rock
then fill them with green willow poles braced crosswise. If you have
no poles, fill then with faggots. Then dig lateral trenches three feet
deep and four feet wide in such way that the water will flow from the
trenches into the ditches.

(CLV) In the winter surface water should be drained off the fields.
On hillsides courses should be kept clear for the water to flow off.
During the rainy season at the beginning of Autumn is the greatest
risk from water. When it begins to rain all the hands should go out
with picks and shovels and clear out the drains so that the water may
flow off into the roads, and the crops be protected.

_Of preparing the seed bed_

(LXI) What is the first principle of good agriculture? To plough well.
What is the second? To plough again; and the third is to manure. When
you plough corn land, plough well and in good weather, lest you turn
a cloddy furrow. The other things of good agriculture are to sow seed
plentifully, to thin the young sprouts, and to hill up the roots with

(V) Never plough rotten land[30] nor drive flocks or carts across it.

If care is not taken about this, the land so abused will be barren for
three years.

_Of manure_

(V) Plan to have a big compost heap and take the best of care of the
manure. When it is hauled out see that it is well rotted and spread.
The Autumn is the time to do this.

(XXXVII) You can make manure of litter, lupine straw, chaff, bean
stalks, husks and the leaves of ilex and of oak.[31]

(XXX) Fold your sheep on the land which you are about to seed, and
there feed them leaves.[32]

_Of soil improvement_

(XXXVII) The things which are harmful to corn land are to plough the
ground when it is rotten, and to plant chick peas which are harvested
with the straw and are salt. Barley, fenugreek and pulse all exhaust
corn land, as well as all other things which are harvested with the
straw. Do not plant nut trees in the corn land. On the other hand,
lupines, field beans and vetch manure corn land.[33]

(VI) Where the soil is rich and fertile, without shade, there the corn
land ought to be. Where the land lies low, plant rape, millet, and
panic grass.

_Of forage crops_

(VIII) If you have a water meadow you will not want forage, but if not
then sow an upland meadow, so that hay may not be lacking.

(LIII) Save your hay when the times comes, and beware lest you mow too
late. Mow before the seed is ripe. House the best hay by itself, so
that you may feed it to the draft cattle during the spring ploughing,
before the clover is mature.

(XXVII) Sow, for feed for the cattle, clover, vetch, fenugreek, field
beans and pulse. Sow these crops a second and a third time.

_Of planting_

(XXXIV) Wherever the land is cold and wet, sow there first, and last
of all in the warmest places.

_Of pastures_

(L) Manure the pastures in early spring in the dark of the moon, when
the west wind begins to blow. When you close your pastures (to the
stock) clean them and root out all weeds.

_Of feeding live stock_

(XXX) As long as they are available, feed green leaves of elm, poplar,
oak and fig to your cattle and sheep.

(V) Store leaves, also, to be fed to the sheep before they have

(XXX) Take the best of care of your dry fodder, which you house for
the winter, and remember always how long the winter may last.

(IV) Be sure you have well constructed stables furnished with
substantial stalls and equipped with latticed feed racks. The
intervals between the bars of the racks should be one foot. If you
build them in this way, the cattle will not waste their food.

(LIV) This is the way that provender should be prepared and fed: When
the seeding is finished, gather mast and soak it in water. Feed a
measure of it every day to each steer; or if they have not been worked
it will be sufficient to let them pasture the mast beds. Another good
feed is a measure of grape husks which you shall have preserved in
jars. By day turn the cattle out and at night feed twenty-five pounds
of hay to each steer. If hay is short, feed the leaves of the ilex and
ivy.[35] Stack the straw of wheat, barley, beans, vetch and lupine,
indeed all the grain straws, but pick out and house the best of it.
Scatter your straw with salt and you can then feed it in place of hay.
When in the spring you begin to feed (more heavily to prepare for
work), feed a measure of mast or of grape husks, or a measure of
ground lupines, and fifteen pounds of hay. When the clover is ripe,
feed that first. Gather it by hand so that it will bloom a second
time, for what you harvest with the sickle blooms no more. Feed clover
until it is dry, then feed vetch and then panic grass, and after the
panic grass feed elm leaves. If you have poplar, mix that with the elm
so that the elm may last the longer. If you have no elm feed oak and
fig leaves.

Nothing is more profitable than to take good care of your cattle.

Cattle should not be put out to graze except in winter when they are
not worked; for when they eat green stuff they expect it all the time,
and it is then necessary to muzzle them while they plough.

_Of the care of live stock_

(V) The flocks and herds should be well supplied with litter and their
feet kept clean. If litter is short, haul in oak leaves, they will
serve as bedding for sheep and cattle. Beware of scab among the sheep
and cattle. This comes from hunger and exposure to rain.

(LXXII) To prevent the oxen from wearing down their hoofs, anoint
the bottom of the hoof with liquid pepper before driving them on the

(LXXIII) Take care that during the summer the cattle drink only sweet
and fresh water. Their health depends on it.

(XCVI) To prevent scab among sheep, make a mixture of equal parts of
well strained amurca,[36] of water in which lupine has been steeped,
and of lees of good wine. After shearing, anoint all the flock with
this mixture, and let them sweat profusely for two or three days. Then
dip them in the sea. If you have no sea water, make salt water and dip
then in that. If you will do this they will suffer no scab, they will
have more and better wool and they will not be molested by ticks.

(LXXI) If an ox begins to sicken, give him without delay a raw hen's
egg and make him swallow it whole. The next day make him drink from a
wooden bowl a measure of wine in which has been scraped the head of an
onion. Both the ox and his attendant should do these things fasting
and standing upright.

(CII) If a serpent shall bite an ox, or any other quadruped, take a
cup of that extract of fennel, which the physicians call smyrnean, and
mix it with a measure of old wine. Inject this through his nostrils
and at the same time poultice the wound with hogs' dung.[37] You can
treat a man the same way.

(CLX) If a bone is dislocated it can be made sound by this
incantation. Take a green reed four or five feet long, split it down
the middle and let two men hold the pieces against your hips. Begin
then to chant as follows:

  "In Alio. S.F. Motas Vaeta,
  Daries Dardaries Astataries Dissunapiter"

and continue until the free ends of the reed are brought slowly
together in front of you. Meanwhile, wave a knife above the reeds, and
when they come together and one touches the other, seize them in your
hand and cut them right and left. These pieces of reed bound upon a
dislocated or fractured bone will cure it.[38]

But every day repeat the incantation, or in place of it this one:

  "Huat Hanat Huat
  Ista Pista Sista
  Domiabo Damnaustra"[39]

_Of cakes and salad_[40]

(LXXV) This is the recipe for cheese cake (_libum_): Bray well two
pounds of cheese in a mortar, and, when this is done, pour in a pound
of corn meal (or, if you want to be more dainty, a half pound of
flour) and mix it thoroughly with the cheese. Add one egg and beat it
well. Pat into a cake, place it on leaves and bake slowly on a hot
hearth stone under a dish.

(CXIX) This is the recipe for olive salad (_epityrum_): Select some
white, black and mottled olives and stone them. Mix and cut them up.
Add a dressing of oil, vinegar, coriander, cumin, fennel, rue and
mint. Mix well in an earthen ware dish, and serve with oil.

(CXXI) This is the recipe for must cake (_mustaceus_): Sprinkle a peck
of wheat flour with must. Add anise, cumin, two pounds of lard, a
pound of cheese and shredded laurel twigs. When you have kneaded the
dough, put laurel leaves under it and so bake.

_Of curing hams_

(CLXII) This is the way to cure hams in jars or tubs: When you have
bought your hams trim off the hocks. Take a half peck (_semodius_) of
ground Roman salt for each ham. Cover the bottom of the jar or tub
with salt and put in a ham, skin down. Cover the whole with salt and
put another ham on top, and cover this in the same manner. Be careful
that meat does not touch meat. So proceed, and when you have packed
all the hams, cover the top with salt so that no meat can be seen, and
smooth it out even. When the hams have been in salt five days, take
them all out with the salt and repack them, putting those which were
on top at the bottom. Cover them in the same way with salt and press
them down.

After the twelfth day remove the hams finally, brush off the salt and
hang them for two days in the wind. On the third day wipe them off
clean with a sponge and rub them with (olive) oil. Then hang them in
smoke for two days, and on the third day rub them with a mixture of
(olive) oil and vinegar.

Then hang them in the meat house, and neither bats nor worms will
touch them.[41]





_Introduction: the literary tradition of country life_


Had I leisure, Fundania, this book would be more worthy of you, but I
write as best I may, conscious always of the necessity of haste: for,
if, as the saying is, all life is but a bubble, the more fragile is
that of an old man, and my eightieth year admonishes me to pack my
fardel and prepare for the long journey.

You have bought a farm and wish to increase its fertility by good
cultivation, and you ask me what I would do with it were it mine. Not
only while I am still alive will I try to advise you in this, but I
will make my counsel available to you after I am dead. For as it befel
the Sibyl to have been of service to mankind not alone while she
lived, but even to the uttermost generations of men after her demise
(for we are wont after so many years still to have solemn recourse to
her books for guidance in interpretation of strange portents), so
may not I, while I still live, bequeath my counsel to my nearest and
dearest.[42] I will then write three books for you, to which you may
have recourse for guidance in all things which must be done in the
management of a farm.

And since, as men say, the gods aid those who propitiate them, I will
begin my book by invoking divine approval, not like Homer and Ennius,
from the Muses, nor indeed from the twelve great gods of the city
whose golden images stand in the forum, six male and as many female,
but from a solemn council of those twelve divinities who are the
tutelaries of husbandmen.

       *       *       *       *       *

First: I call upon Father Jupiter and Mother Earth, who fecundate all
the processes of agriculture in the air and in the soil, and hence are
called the great parents.

_Second_: I invoke the Sun and the Moon by whom the seasons for sowing
and reaping are measured.

_Third_: I invoke Ceres and Bacchus because the fruits they mature
are most necessary to life, and by their aid the land yields food and

_Fourth_: I invoke Robigus and Flora by whose influence the blight is
kept from crop and tree, and in due season they bear fruit (for which
reason is the annual festival of the _robigalia_ celebrated in honour
of Robigus, and that of the _floralia_ in honour of Flora).[43]

_Next_: I supplicate Minerva, who protects the olive; and Venus,
goddess of the garden, wherefore is she worshipped at the rural wine

_And last_: I adjure Lympha, goddess of the fountains, and Bonus
Eventus, god of good fortune, since without water all vegetation is
starved and stunted and without due order and good luck all tillage is
in vain.

       *       *       *       *       *

And so having paid my duty to the gods, I proceed to rehearse some
conversations[44] concerning agriculture in which I have recently taken
part. From them you will derive all the practical instruction you
require, but in case any thing is lacking and you wish further
authority, I refer you to the treatises of the Greeks and of our own

The Greek writers who have treated incidentally of agriculture are
more than fifty in number. Those whom you may consult with profit
are Hieron of Sicily and Attalus Philometor, among the philosophers;
Democritus the physicist; Xenophon the disciple of Socrates; Aristotle
and Theophrastus, the peripatetics; Archytas the pythagorean; likewise
the Athenian Amphilochus, Anaxipolis of Thasos, Apollodorus of Lemnos,
Aristophanes of Mallos, Antigonus of Cyme, Agathocles of Chios,
Apollonius of Pergamum, Aristandrus of Athens, Bacchius of Miletus,
Bion of Soli, Chaeresteus and Chaereas of Athens, Diodorus of Priene,
Dion of Colophon, Diophanes of Nicaea, Epigenes of Rhodes, Evagon
of Thasos, Euphronius of Athens, and his name sake of Amphipolis,
Hegesias of Maronea, the two Menanders, one of Priene, the other of
Heraclaea, Nicesius of Maronea, Pythion of Rhodes. Among the rest
whose countries I do not know, are Andiotion, Aeschrion, Aristomenes,
Athenagoras, Crates, Dadis, Dionysius, Euphiton, Euphorion, Eubulus,
Lysimachus, Mnaseas, Menestratus, Plentiphanes, Persis, and

All those whom I have named wrote in prose, but there are those also
who have written in verse, as Hesiod of Ascra and Menecrates of

The agricultural writer of the greatest reputation is, however, Mago
the Carthaginian[45] who wrote in the Punic tongue and collected in
twenty-eight books all the wisdom which before him had been scattered
in many works. Cassius Dionysius of Utica translated Mago into Greek
in twenty books (and dedicated his work to the praetor Sextilius), and
notwithstanding that he reduced Mago by eight books he cited freely
from the Greek authors whom I have named. Diophanes made a useful
digest of Cassius in six books, which he dedicated to Deiotarus, King
of Bithynia. I have ventured to compress the subject into the still
smaller compass of three books, the first on the husbandry of
agriculture, the second on the husbandry of live stock and the third
on the husbandry of the steading.

From the first book I have excluded all those things which I do not
deem to relate immediately to agriculture: thus having first limited
my subject I proceed to discuss it, following its natural divisions.
My information has been derived from three sources, my own experience,
my reading, and what I have heard from others.

_Of the definition of agriculture_

_a. What it is not_

II. On the holiday which we call Sementivae I came to the temple
of Tellus at the invitation of the Sacristan (I was taught by my
ancestors to call him _Aeditumus_ but the modern purist tells me
I must say _Aedituus_). There I found assembled C. Fundanius, my
father-in-law, C. Agrius, a Roman Knight and a disciple of the
Socratic school, and P. Agrasius, of the Revenue service: they were
gazing on a map of Italy painted on the wall. "What are you doing
here?" said I. "Has the festival of the seed-sowing drawn you hither
to spend your holiday after the manner of our ancestors, by praying
for good crops?" "We are here," said Agrius, "for the same reason that
you are, I imagine--because the Sacristan has invited us to dinner. If
this be true, as your nod admits, wait with us until he returns, for
he was summoned by his chief, the aedile, and has not yet returned
though he left word for us to wait for him."

"Until he comes then," said I, "let us make a practical application of
the ancient proverb that 'The Roman conquers by sitting down.'"

"You're right," cried Agrius, and, remembering that the first step of
a journey is the most difficult,[46] he lead the way to the benches
forthwith and we followed. When we were seated Agrasius spoke up.
"You who have travelled over many lands," said he, "have you seen any
country better cultivated than Italy?"

"I, for one, don't believe," replied Agrius, "that there is any
country which is so intensely cultivated. By a very natural division
Eratosthenes has divided the earth into two parts, that facing South
and that facing North: and as without doubt the North is healthier
than the South, so it is more fertile, for a healthy country is always
the most fertile. It must be admitted then that the North is fitter
for cultivation than Asia, and particularly is this true of Italy;
first, because Italy is in Europe, and, second, because this part of
Europe has a more temperate climate than the interior. For almost
everlasting winter grips the lands to the North of us. Nor is this to
be wondered at since there are regions within the Arctic Circle and at
the pole where the sun is not seen for six months at a time. Yea, it
is even said that it is not possible to sail a ship in those parts
because the very sea is frozen over."

"Would you think it possible," said Fundanius, "for any thing to grow
in such a region, and, if it did grow, how could it be cultivated? The
tragedian Pacuvius has spoken sooth where he says:

  'Should sun or night maintain e'er lasting reign,
  Then all the grateful fruits of earth must die,
  Nipped by the cold, or blasted by the heat.'

Even here in this pleasant region, where night and day revolve
punctually, I am not able to live in summer unless I divide the day
with my appointed midday nap. How is it possible to plant or to
cultivate or to harvest any thing there where the days and nights are
six months long. On the other hand, what useful thing is there which
does not only grow but flourish in Italy? What spelt shall I compare
with that of Campania? What wheat with that of Apulia? What wine with
that of Falernum? What oil with that of Venafrum? Is not Italy so
covered with fruit trees that it seems one vast orchard? Is Phrygia,
which Homer calls [Greek: ampeloessa], more teeming with vines, or
is Argos, which the same poet calls [Greek: polupuros] more rich in
corn?[47] In what land does one jugerum produce ten, nay even fifteen,
cullei of wine, as in some regions of Italy? Has not M. Cato written
in his book of _Origines_ 'That region lying this side of Ariminium
and beyond Picenum, which was allotted to colonists, is called Roman
Gaul. There in several places a single jugerum of land produces ten
cullei of wine.' Is it not the same in the region of Faventia where
the vines are called _tre centaria_ because a jugerum yields three
hundred amphorae of wine," and, looking at me, he added, "indeed L.
Martius, your chief engineer, said that the vines on his Faventine
farm yielded that much.[48] The Italian farmer looks chiefly for
two things in considering a farm, whether it will yield a harvest
proportioned to the capital and labour he must invest, and whether the
location is healthy. Whoever neglects either of these considerations
and despite them proposes to carry on a farm, is a fool and should be
taken in charge by a committee of his relatives.[49] For no sane man is
willing to spend on an agricultural operation time and money which he
knows he cannot recoup, nor even if he sees a likely profit, if it
must be at the risk of losing all by an evil climate.

"But there are here present those who can discourse on this subject
with more authority than I, for I see C. Licinius Stolo and Cn.
Tremelius Scrofa approaching. It was the ancestor of the first of
these who brought in the law for the regulation of land-holding; for
the law which forbade a Roman citizen to own more than 500 jugera of
land was proposed by that Licinius who acquired the cognomen of Stolo
on account of his diligence in cultivating his land: he is said to
have dug around his trees so thoroughly that there could not be found
on his farm a single one of those suckers which spring up from the
ground at the roots of trees and are called _stolones_. Of the same
family was that other C. Licinius who, when he was tribune of the
people, 365 years after the expulsion of the Kings, first transferred
the Sovereign function of law making from the Comitium to the Forum,
thus as it were constituting that area the 'farm' of the entire
people.[50] The other whom I see come hither is Cn. Tremelius Scrofa,
your colleague on the Committee of Twenty for the division of the
Campanian lands, a man distinguished by all the virtues and considered
to be the Roman most expert in agriculture.[51]

"And justly so," I exclaimed, "for his farms are a more pleasing
spectacle to many on account of their clean cultivation than the
stately palaces of others;[52] when one goes to visit his country
place, one sees granaries and not picture galleries, as at the 'farm'
of Lucullus.[53] Indeed," I added, "the apple market at the head of the
Sacred Way is the very image of Scrofa's fruit house."

As the new comers joined us, Stolo inquired: "Have we arrived after
dinner is over, for we do not see L. Fundilius who invited us."

"Be of good cheer," replied Agrius, "for not only has that egg which
indicates the last lap of the chariot race in the games at the circus
not yet been removed, but we have not even seen that other egg which
is the first course of dinner.[54] And so until the Sacristan returns
and joins us do you discourse to us of the uses or the pleasures of
agriculture, or of both. For now the sceptre of agriculture is in your
hands, which formerly, they say, belonged to Stolo."

"First of all," began Scrofa, "we must have a definition. Are we to be
limited in discussing agriculture to the planting of the land or are
we to touch also on those other occupations which are carried on in
the country, such as feeding sheep and cattle. For I have observed
that those who write on agriculture, whether in Greek or Punic or
Latin, wander widely from their subject."

"I do not think that those authors should be imitated in that," said
Stolo, "for I deem them to have done better who have confined the
subject to the straitest limits, excluding all considerations which
are not strictly pertinent to the subject. Wherefore the subject of
grazing, which many writers treat as a part of agriculture, seems to
me to belong rather to a treatise on live stock. That the occupations
are different is apparent from the difference in the names of those we
put in charge of them, for we call one the farmer (_villicus_) and the
other the herdsman (_magister pecoris_). The farmer is charged with
the cultivation of the land and is so called from the _villa_ or farm
house to which he hauls in the crops from the fields and from which he
hauls them away when they are sold. Wherefore also the peasants say
_vea_ for _via_, deriving their word for the road over which they haul
from the name of the vehicle in which they do the hauling, _vectura_,
and by the same derivation _vella_ for _villa_, the farm house to and
from which they haul. In like manner the trade of a carrier is called
_vellatura_ from the practice of driving a _vectura_, or cart."

"Surely," said Fundanius, "feeding cattle is one thing and agriculture
is another, but they are related. Just as the right pipe of the
_tibia_ is different from the left pipe, yet are they complements
because while the one leads, it is to carry the air, and the other
follows, it is for the accompaniment."

"And, to push your analogy further, it may be added," said I, "that
the pastoral life, like the _tibia dextra_, has led and given the cue
to the agricultural life, as we have on the authority of that learned
man Dicaearchus who, in his _Life of Greece_ from the earliest times,
shows us how in the beginning men pursued a purely pastoral life and
knew not how to plough nor to plant trees nor to prune them; only
later taking up the pursuits of agriculture; whence it may be
said that agriculture is in harmony with the pastoral life but is
subordinate to it, as the left pipe is to the right pipe."

"Beware," exclaimed Agrius, "of pushing your musical analogy too far,
for you would not only rob the farmer of his cattle and the shepherd
of his livelihood but you would even break the law of the land in
which it is written that a farmer may not graze a young orchard with
that pestiferous animal which astrology has placed in the heavens near
the Bull."

"See here, Agrius," said Fundanius, "let there be no mistake about
this. The law you cite applies only to certain designated kinds of
cattle, as indeed there are kinds of cattle which are the foes and the
bane of agriculture such as those you have mentioned--the goats--for
by their nibbling they ruin young plantations, and not the least vines
and olives. But, because the goat is the greatest offender in this
respect, we have a rule for him which works both ways, namely: that
victims of his family are grateful offerings on the altar of one god
but should never come near the fane of another; since by reason of the
same hate one god is not willing even to see a goat and the other is
pleased to see him killed. So it is that goats found among the vines
are sacrificed to Father Bacchus as it were that they should pay the
penalty of their evil doing with their lives; while on the contrary
nothing of the goat kind is ever sacrificed to Minerva, because they
are said to make the olive sterile even by licking it, for their very
spittle is poison to the fruit. For this reason goats are never
driven into the Acropolis of Athens, except once a year for a certain
necessary sacrifice, lest the olive tree, which is said to have its
origin there,[55] might be touched by a goat."

"No kind of cattle," said I, "are of any use to agriculture except
those which aid in the cultivation of the land, as they do when they
are yoked to the plough."

"If this was so," said Agrasius, "how could we afford to take cattle
off the land, since it is from our flocks and herds that we derive the
manure which is of the greatest benefit to our purely agricultural

"On your argument of convenience," said Agrius, "we might claim that
slave dealing was a branch of agriculture, if they were agricultural
slaves which we dealt in. The error lies in the assumption that
because cattle are good for the land, they make crops grow on the
land. It does not follow, for by that reasoning other things would
become part of agriculture which have nothing to do with it: as for
example spinsters and weavers and other craftsmen which you might keep
on your farm."

"Let us then agree," said Scrofa, "to exclude live stock from our
consideration of the art of agriculture. Does any one want to exclude
any thing else?"

"Are we to follow the book of the two Sasernas," I inquired, "and
discuss whether the manufacture of pottery is more related to
agriculture than mining for silver or other metals? Doubtless the
material comes out of the ground in both cases, but no one claims
that quarrying for stone or washing sand has any thing to do with
agriculture, so why bring in the potter? It is not a question of what
comes out of the land, nor of what can be done profitably on a farm,
for if it were it might as well be argued that had one a farm lying
along a frequented road and a site on it convenient to travellers,
it would be the farmer's business to build a cross-roads tavern. But
surely, however profitable this might prove, it would not make the
speculation any part of agriculture. It is not, I repeat, whether the
business is carried on on account of the land, nor out of the land,
that it may be classed as a part of agriculture, but only if from
planting the land one gains a profit."

"You are jealous of this great writer," interrupted Stolo. "Because of
his unfortunate potteries you rebuke him captiously and give him no
credit for all the admirable things which he says about matters which
certainly relate to agriculture."

At this sally, Scrofa, who knew the book and justly contemned it,
smiled, whereupon Agrasius, who thought that he and Stolo alone knew
the book demanded of Scrofa a quotation from it.

"Here is his recipe for getting rid of bugs," said Scrofa. "'Steep a
wild cucumber in water and where-ever you sprinkle it the bugs will
disappear,' and again, 'Grease your bed with ox gall mixed with

Fundanius looked at Scrofa. "And yet Saserna gives good advice even if
it is in a book on agriculture," he said.

"Yes, by Hercules," said Scrofa, "and especially in his recipe for
removing superfluous hair, in which he bids you take a yellow frog and
stew it down to a third of its size and then rub the body with what is

"I would rather cite," said I, "Sasernas' prescription for the malady
from which Fundanius suffers, for his corns make wrinkles on his

"Tell me, pray, quickly," exclaimed Fundanius, "for I had rather learn
how to root out my corns than how to plant beet roots."

"I will tell you," said Stolo, "in the very words he wrote it, or at
least as I heard Tarquenna read it: 'When a man's feet begin to hurt
he should think of you to enable you to cure him.'"

"I am thinking of you," said Fundanius, "now cure my feet."

"Listen to the incantation," said Stolo.

  'May the earth keep the malady,
  May good health remain here.'

Saserna bids you chant this formula thrice nine times, to touch the
earth, to spit and be sure that you do it all before breakfast."

"You will find," said I, "many other wonderful secrets in Saserna, all
equally foreign to agriculture, and so all to be left where they are.
But it must be admitted that such digressions are found in many other
authors. Does not the agricultural treatise of the great Cato himself
fairly bristle with them, as for instance his instructions how to make
must cake and cheese cake, and how to cure hams?"

"You forget," said Agrius, "his most important precept: 'If you wish
to drink freely and dine well in company, you should eat five leaves
of raw cabbage steeped in vinegar, before sitting down to the table.'"

_b. What agriculture is_

III. "And so," said Agrasius, "as we have agreed upon and eliminated
from the discussion all those things which agriculture is not, it
remains to discuss what it is. Is it an art, and, if so, what are its
principles and its purposes?"

Stolo turned to Scrofa and said: "You are our senior in age, in
reputation and in experience, you should speak." And Scrofa, nothing
loath, began as follows:

"In the first place, agriculture is not only an art but an art which
is as useful as it is important. It is furthermore a science, which
teaches how every kind of land should be planted and cultivated, and
how to know what kind of land will produce the largest crops for the
longest time.[57]"

_The purposes of agriculture are profit and pleasure_

IV. The elements with which this science deals are the same as those
which Ennius says are the elements of the universe--water, earth,
air and fire. Before sowing your seed it behooves you to study these
elements because they are the origin of all growing things. So
prepared, the farmer should direct his efforts to two ends: profit and
pleasure,[58] one solid the other agreeable: but he should give the
preference to the pursuit of profit.[59] And yet those who have regard
for appearances in their farming, as for instance by planting their
orchards and olive yards in orderly array, often add not only to the
productiveness of the farm but as well to its saleability, and so
doubly increase the value of their estate. For of two things of equal
usefulness, who would not prefer to buy the better looking?

The farm which is healthiest is the most valuable, for there the
profit is certain. On the other hand, on an unhealthy farm, however
fertile it may be, misfortune dogs the steps of the farmer. For where
the struggle is against Death, there not only is the profit uncertain,
but one's very existence is constantly at risk: and so agriculture
becomes a gamble in which the farmer hazards both his life and his
fortune. And yet this risk can be diminished by forethought, for, when
health depends upon climate, we can do much to control nature and by
diligence improve evil conditions. If the farm is unhealthy by reason
of the plight of the land itself, or of the water supply, or is
exposed to the miasma which breeds in some localities, or if the farm
is too hot on account of the climate, or is exposed to mischievous
winds, these discomforts can be mitigated by one who knows what to do
and is willing to spend some money. What is of the greatest importance
in this respect is the situation of the farm buildings, their plan
and convenience, and what is the aspect of their doors and gates and
windows. During the great plague, Hippocrates the physician saved not
merely one farm but many cities because he knew this. But why should
I summon him as a witness: for when the army and the fleet lay at
Corcyra[60] and all the houses were crowded with the sick and dying,
did not our Varro here contrive to open new windows to the healthy
North wind and close those which gave entrance to the infected breezes
of the South, to change doors and to do other such things, and so
succeed in restoring his comrades safe and sound to their native land?

_The fourfold division of the study of agriculture_

V. I have rehearsed the elements and the purposes of agriculture, it
now remains to consider in how many divisions this science is to be

"I have supposed these to be without number," said Agrius, "when I
have read the many books which Theophrastus wrote on _The History of
Plants_ and _The Causes of Vegetation_.

"These books," said Stolo, "have always seemed to me to be fitter
for use in the schools of the philosophers than in the hands of a
practical farmer. I do not mean to say that they do not contain many
things which are both useful and practical. However that may be, do
you rather explain to us the divisions in which agriculture should be

"There are four chapters for the study of agriculture, of the highest
practical importance," resumed Scrofa, "namely:"

1° What are the physical characteristics of the land to be cultivated,
including the constitution of the soil;

2° What labour and equipment are necessary for such cultivation;

3° What system of farming is to be practised;

4° What are the season? at which the several farming operations are to
be carried out.

Each of these four chapters may be divided in at least two

The first into (_a_) a study of the soil, and (_b_) a survey of the
buildings and stabling.

The second into an enquiry as to (_c_), the men who will carry on the
farming operations, and (_d_) the implements they will require.

The third into (_e_) the kind of work to be planned, and (_f_) where
that work is to be done.

The fourth into what relates (_g_) to the annual revolution of the
sun, and (_h_) the monthly revolution of the moon.

I will speak of the four principal parts first, and then in detail of
the eight subdivisions.


_How conformation of the land affects agriculture_

VI. Four things must be considered in respect of the physical
characteristics of the farm: its conformation, the quality of
the soil, its extent, and whether it is naturally protected. The
conformation is either natural, or artificial as the result of
cultivation, and may be good or bad in either case. I will speak first
of natural conformation, of which there are three kinds: plain, hill
and mountain--although there is a fourth kind made up of a combination
of any two or all three of those mentioned, as may be seen in many
places. A different system of cultivation is required for each of
these three kinds of farms, for without doubt that which is suited for
the hot plain would not suit the windy mountain, while a hill farm
enjoys a more temperate climate than either of the other two kinds and
so demands its own system of cultivation. These distinctions are most
apparent when the several characteristic conformations are of large
extent, as for example the heat and the humidity are greater in a
broad plain, like that of Apulia, while on a mountain like Vesuvius
the climate is usually fresher and so more healthy. Those who
cultivate the lowlands feel the effects of their climate most in
summer, but they are able to do their planting earlier in the spring,
while those who dwell in the mountains suffer most from their climate
in winter, and both sow and reap at later seasons. Frequently the
winter is more propitious to those who dwell in the plains because
then the pastures are fresh there and the trees may be pruned more
readily. On the other hand the summer is more kindly in the mountains
for then the upland grass is rich when the pastures of the plains are
burnt, and it is more comfortable to cultivate the trees in a keen

A lowland farm is best when it is gently sloping rather than
absolutely flat, because on a flat farm water cannot run off and so
forms swampy places. But it is a disadvantage to have the surface too
rolling because that causes the water to collect and form ponds.

Certain trees, like the fir and the pine, flourish most in the
mountains on account of the eager air, while in this region where it
is more temperate the poplars and the willows thrive best. Again the
arbute and the oak prefer the more fertile lands, while the almond and
the fig trees love the lowlands.[61] The growth on the low hills takes
on more of the character of the plains, on the high hills that of the
mountains. For these reasons the kind of crops to be planted must be
suited to the physical characteristics of the farm, as grain for the
plains, vines for the hills and forests for the mountains.

All these considerations should be weighed separately with reference
to each of the three kinds of conformation.

VII. "It seems to me," said Stolo, "that, so far as concerns the
natural situation of a farm, Cato's opinion is just. He wrote, you
will recall, that the best farm was one which lay at the foot of a
mountain looking to the South."

Scrofa resumed: "So far as concerns the laying out of the farm, I
maintain that the more appearances are considered the greater will be
the profit, as, for instance, orchards should be planted in straight
lines arranged in quincunxes and at a reasonable distance apart. It
is a fact that, because of their unintelligent plan of planting, our
ancestors made less wine and corn to the acre than we do. The point is
that if each plant is set with due reference to the others they occupy
less land and are less likely to screen from one another the influence
of the sun and the moon and the air. This may be illustrated by an
experiment: you can press a parcel of nuts with their shells on into a
measure having only two thirds of the capacity of what is required to
contain them after they have been cracked, because the shells keep
them naturally compacted. When trees are planted in rows the sun and
the moon have access to them equally from all sides, with the result
that more raisins and olives are developed and then mature more
quickly, a double result with the double consequence of a larger crop
of must and oil and a greater profit."

_How character of soil affects agriculture_

"We will now take up the second consideration in respect of the
physical characteristics of a farm, namely: the quality of the soil,
which partly, if not entirely, determines whether it is considered a
good or a bad farm: for on this depends what crops can be planted and
harvested and how they should be cultivated, as it is not possible
to plant everything successfully on the same soil. For one soil is
suitable for vines, another for corn, and others for other things. In
the island of Crete, near Cortynia, there is said to be a plane tree
which does not lose its leaves even in winter--a phenomenon due
doubtless to the quality of the soil. There is another of the same
kind in Cyprus, according to Theophrastus. Likewise within sight of
the city of Sybaris (which is now called Thurii) stands an oak having
the same characteristic. Again at Elephantine neither the vines nor
the fig trees lose their leaves, something that never happens with
us. For the same reason many trees bear fruit twice a year, as do
the vines near the sea at Smyrna, and the apples in the fields of
Consentinium. The effect of soil appears also from the fact that those
plants which bear most profusely in wild places produce better fruit
under cultivation. The same explanation applies to those plants which
cannot live except in a marshy place, or indeed in the very water:
they are even nice about the kind of water, some grow in ponds like
the reeds at Reate, others in streams like the alders in Epirus, some
even in the sea like the palms and the squills of which Theophrastus
writes. When I was in the army, I saw in Transalpine Gaul, near the
Rhine, lands where neither the vine, nor the olive, nor the pear tree
grew, where they manured their fields with a white chalk which they
dug out of the ground:[62] where they had no salt, either mineral or
marine, but used in place of it the salty ashes obtained from burning
a certain kind of wood."

Stolo here interrupted. "You will recall," he said, "that Cato in
comparing the different kinds of soil, ranked them by their merit in
nine classes according to what they would produce, of which the first
was that on which the vine would grow a plentiful supply of good wine;
the second that fit for an irrigated garden; the third for an osier
bed; the fourth for an olive yard; the fifth for a meadow; the sixth
for a corn field; the seventh for a wood lot; the eighth for a
cultivated orchard, and the ninth for a mast grove."

"I know he wrote that," replied Scrofa, "but every one does not agree
with him. There are some who put a good pasture first, and I am among

Our ancestors were wont to call them not _prala_, as we do, but
_parata_ (because they are always ready for use). The sedile Caesar
Vopicus, in pleading a cause before the Censors, once said that the
prairie of Rosea was the nurse of Italy, because if one left his
surveying instruments there on the ground over night they were lost
next day in the growth of the grass.[63]

(_A digression on the maintenance of vineyards_)

VIII. There be those who assert that the cost of maintaining a
vineyard eats up the profit. What kind of vineyard? I ask. For there
are several: in one the vines grow on the ground without props, as in
Spain; in another, which is the kind common in Italy, the vines climb
and are trained either separately on props or one with another on a
trellis, which last is what is called marrying the vine. There are
four kinds of trellis in use--made out of poles, of reeds, of ropes
and of vines themselves, which are in use respectively in Falerum, in
Arpinum, in Brundisium and in Mediolanum. There are two methods of
training the vine on trellises, one upright, as is done in the country
of Canusium; the other crossed and interwoven, as is the practice
generally throughout Italy. If one obtains the material for his
trellises from his own land, the expense of maintaining that kind
of vineyard is negligible, nor is it burdensome if the material is
procured from the neighbourhood. Such trellis material, as has been
described, can be grown at home by planting willows, reeds and rushes,
or some thing of that kind; but if you propose to rely on the vines to
form their own trellis, then you must plant an _arbustum_ where the
vines can be trained on trees, such as maples, which the inhabitants
of Mediolanum use for that purpose; or fig trees, on which the people
of Canusium train their vines. Likewise there are four kinds of props
used for the cultivation of unwedded vines; first, the planted post,
which is called _ridicum_ and is best when fashioned out of oak or
juniper; second, poles cut in the swamp, and the more seasoned they
are the longer they will last, but it is the practice to reset them
upside down when they rot out in the ground; third, for lack of some
thing better, a bundle of reeds tied together and thrust into a
pointed tube of baked clay, which is then planted in the ground and
serves to preserve the reeds from water rot; the fourth is what may be
called the natural prop, when vines are swung from tree to tree. Vines
should be trained to the height of a man and the interval between the
props should be sufficient to give room for a yoke of oxen to plough.
The least expensive kind of a vineyard is that which brings wine to
the jug without the aid of any sort of prop. There are two of this
kind, one in which the earth serves as a bed for the grapes, as in
many places in Asia, and where usually the foxes share the crop with
man;[64] or, if mice appear, it is they who make the vintage, unless
you put a mouse trap in every vine, as they do on the island of
Pandataria. The other kind of vineyard, is that where each shoot which
promises to bear grapes is lifted from the earth and supported about
two feet off the ground by a forked stick: by this means the grapes,
as they form, learn to hang as it were from a branch and do not have
to be taught after the vintage; they are held in place with a bit of
cord or by that kind of tie which the ancients called a _cestus_. As
soon as the farmer sees the vintagers turn their backs he carries
these props under cover for the winter so that he may use them another
year without expense for that account. In Italy the people of Reate
practise this custom.

Thus there are as many methods of cultivating the vine as there are
kinds of soil. For where the land is wet the vine must be trained high
because when wine is being made and matured on the vine, it needs sun,
not water--as when it is in the cup! For this reason it was, I think,
that first the vine was made to grow on trees.

_Of the different kinds of soil_

IX. It is expedient then, as I was saying, to study each kind of soil
to determine for what it is, and for what it is not, suitable. The
word _terra_ is used in three senses: general, particular and mixed.
It is a general designation when we speak of the orb of the earth, the
land of Italy or any other country. In this designation is included
rock and sand and other such things. In the second place, _terra_ is
referred to particularly when it is spoken of without qualification or
epithet. In the third place, which is the mixed sense, when one speaks
of _terra_ as soil--that in which seeds are sown and developed; as for
example, clay soil or rocky soil or others. In this sense there are as
many kinds of earth as there are when one speaks of it in the general
sense, on account of the mixtures of substances in it in varying
quantities which make it of different heart and strength, such as
rock, marble, sand, loam, clay, red ochre, dust, chalk, gravel,
carbuncle (which is a condition of soil formed by the burning of roots
in the intense heat of the sun); from which each kind of soil is
called by a particular name, in accordance with the substances of
which it is composed, as a chalky soil, a gravelly soil, or what ever
else may be its distinguishing quality. And as there are different
varieties of soil so each variety may be subdivided according to
its quality, as, for example, a rocky soil is either very rocky,
moderately rocky or hardly rocky at all. So three grades may be made
of other mixed soils. In turn each of these three grades has three
qualities: some are very wet, some very dry, some moderate, These
distinctions are of the greatest importance in respect of the crops,
for the skilled husbandman plants spelt rather than wheat in wet
land, and on dry land barley rather than spelt, in medium land both.
Furthermore there are still more subtle distinctions to be made
in respect of all these kinds of soil, as for example it must be
considered in respect of loam, whether it is white loam or red loam,
because white loam is unfit for nursery beds, while red loam is what
they require. But the three great distinctions of quality of soil are
whether it is lean or fat, or medium. Fat soils are apparent from the
heavy growth of their vegetation, and the lean lie bare; as witness
the territory of Pupinia (in Latium), where all the foliage is meagre
and the vines look starved, where the scant straw never stools, nor
the fig tree blooms, while for the most part the trees are as covered
with moss as are the arid pastures. On the other hand, a rich soil
like that of Etruria reveals itself heavy with grain and forage crops
and its umbrageous trees are clean of moss. Soil of medium strength,
like that near Tibur, which one might say is rather hungry than
starved, repays cultivation in proportion as it takes on the quality
of rich land."

"Diophanes of Bithynia," said Stolo, "was very much to the point when he
wrote that the best indication of the suitability of soil for
cultivation can be had either from the soil itself or from what grows in
it: so one should ascertain whether it is white or black, if it is light
and friable when it is dug, whether its consistency is ashy, or too
heavy: or it can be tested by evidence that the wild growth upon it is
heavy and fruitful after its kind.[65] But proceed and tell us of your
third division, which relates to the measurement and laying out of the

_Of the units of area used in measuring land_

X. Scrofa resumed: "Every country has its own system for measuring
land. In Further Spain the unit of area is the _jugum_, in Campania
the _versus_, here in the Roman country and among the Latins it is
the _jugerum_. They call a _jugum_ the area which a pair of oxen
can plough in a day. The _versus_ is one hundred feet square: the
_jugerum_ is the area containing two square _actus_: the _actus
quadratus_ or _acnua_, as it is called by the Latins, measuring 120
feet in width and as much in length.[66] The smallest fraction of a
jugerum is called a _scripulum_ and is ten feet square. From this base
the surveyors some times call the butts of land which exceed a jugerum
_unciae_ (twelfths) or _sextantes_ (seventy seconds) or some other
such duodecimal division, for the jugerum contains 288 scripula, like
the ancient pound weight which was in use before the Punic wars. Two
jugera, which Romulus first made the headright and which thus became
the unit of inheritance, are called an _haeredium_:[67] later one
hundred haeredia were called a _centuria_, which is 2,400 _unciae_
square. Four centuriae adjoining, so that there are two on each side,
are called a _saltus_ in the distribution of the public lands."

_Of the considerations on building a steading_

_a. Size_

XI. As the result of faulty surveys of the farm it often happens that
the steading is constructed either too small or too large for the
farm, a mistake which in either case is of prejudice both to the
property and its revenue. If one builds too large or too many
buildings he is eaten up by the expense of maintenance, while if one
builds less than the farm requires the harvest is lost, for there is
no doubt that the largest wine cellar must be provided for that farm
on which the vintages are largest, or granary, if it is a grain farm.

_b. Water supply_

If possible, the steading should be so built that it shall have water
within the walls, or certainly near at hand: it is preferable that
this should be derived from a spring, or, if not, then from an
unfailing stream. If no running water is available a cistern should be
constructed within doors, and a pond in the open, the one for the use
of the men, the other for the use of the cattle.

_c. Location, with regard to health_

XII. When you plan to build, try your best to locate the steading at
the foot of a wooded hill where the pastures are rich, and turn it so
as to catch the healthiest prevailing breeze. The best situation is
facing the east so to secure shade in summer and sun in winter. But if
you must build on the bank of a river, take care that you do not let
the steading face the river, for it will be very cold in winter and
unhealthy in summer. Like precautions must be taken against swampy
places for the same reasons and particularly because as they dry,
swamps breed certain animalculae which cannot be seen with the eyes
and which we breathe through the nose and mouth into the body where
they cause grave maladies."[68]

"But," said Fundanius, "suppose I inherited a farm like that, what
should I do to avoid the malady you describe?"

"The answer to that question is easy," said Agrius. "You should sell
the farm for what you can get for it: and if you can't sell it, give
it away."

Scrofa resumed: "Take care to avoid having the steading face the
direction from which disagreeable winds blow, yet you should not build
in a hollow. High ground is the best location for a steading: for by
ventilation all noxious gases are dissipated, and the steading is
healthier if exposed to the sun all day: with the further advantage
that any insects which may be bred in or brought upon the premises are
either blown away or quickly perish where there is no damp. Sudden
rains and overflowed streams are dangerous to those who have their
steadings in low or hollow places, and they are more at the hazard of
the ruthless hand of the robber because he is able to take advantage
of those who are unprepared. Against either of these risks the higher
places are safer."

_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° 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° _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° _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° _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° _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° _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° _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° _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,
pigs in two. Weanling pigs, from the fact that they are considered fit
to be offered for sacrifice at that age, were formerly called _sacres_
as Plautus calls them when he says, "What's the price of sacred
pigs?"[115] In like manner stall fed cattle, which are being fattened
for the public sacrifices, are called _opimi_.

"The fourth consideration relates to the health of the cattle, a
subject as important as it is complex, for a single beast which may be
sick or infected and ailing often brings a great calamity on an entire
herd. There are two degrees of the healing art, one which requires
consultation with a surgeon, as for men: the other which the skilful
shepherd can himself practise, and this consists of three parts,
namely: the consideration of what are the causes, the symptoms and the
treatment which should be followed in relation to each malady. The
common causes of disease in cattle are excess of heat or of cold,
overwork, or its opposite lack of exercise, or, if when they have been
worked, you give them food and drink at once without an interval of
rest. The symptoms of fever due to heat or overwork are a gaping
mouth, heavy humid breath and a burning body. The cure when such is
the malady is this: bathe the animal with water, rub it with a warm
mixture of oil and wine, put it on a nourishing diet, blanket it
as protection against chills and give it tepid water when it is
thirsty.[116] If this treatment does not suffice, let the blood, chiefly
from the head.

"So there are different causes and different symptoms of the maladies
peculiar to each kind of cattle, and the flock master should have them
all written down.

"It remains to speak of the ninth head (c), which I mentioned, and this
relates to the number of cattle to be kept and so concerns both of the
other heads.

"For whoever buys cattle must consider the number of herds and how many
in each herd he can feed on his land, lest his pastures prove short or
more than he need, as so in either case the profit be lost. Further
more, one should know how many breeding ewes there are in the flock,
how many rams, how many lambs of each sex, how many culls to be weeded
out. Thus, if a ewe has more lambs at a birth than she can nourish,
you should do what some shepherds practise--take part of them away
from her, which is done to the end that those remaining may prosper."

"Beware!" put in Atticus, "that your generalisations do not lead
you astray, and that your insistence on the rule of nine does not
contradict your own definition of small and large cattle: for how can
all your principles be applied to mules and to shepherds, since those
with respect to breeding certainly cannot be followed so far as they
are concerned. As to dogs I can see their application. I admit even
that men may be included in them, because they have their wives on
the farm in winter, and indeed even in their summer pasture camps,
a concession which is deemed beneficial because it attaches the
shepherds to their flocks, and by begetting children they increase the
establishment and with it the profit on your investment."

"If Scrofa's number cannot be measured with a carpenter's rule," said
I, "neither can many other generalisations, as, for instance, when we
say that a thousand ships sailed against Troy, or that a certain court
of Rome consists of a hundred judges (_centumviri_). Leave out, if you
wish, the two chapters relating to breeding in so far as mules are

"But why should we," exclaimed Vaccius, "for it is related that on
several occasions at Rome a mule has had a foal."

To back up what Vaccius had said, I cited Mago and Dionysius as
writing that when mules and mares conceive they bear in the twelfth
month. "If," I added, "it is considered a prodigy in Italy when a mule
has a foal, it is not necessarily so in all countries. For is it not
true that swallows and swans breed in Italy, which do not lay in other
lands, and don't you know that the Syrian date palm, which bears fruit
in Judea, does not yield in Italy?"

"If you prefer," said Scrofa, "to make out the entire eighty-one
chapters without any on the care of mules during the breeding season,
there are subjects with which you can fill this double vacancy by
adding those two kinds of extraordinary profit which is derived from
live stock. One of these is the fleece which men shear or pull from
sheep and goats, the other, which is more widely practised, that
from milk and cheese: the Greek writers indeed actually treat this
separately under the title [Greek: turopoiia], and have written
extensively about it."

_Of sheep_

II. "And now, since I have completed my task and the economy of live
stock husbandry has been defined, do you, men of Epirus, requite us
by expounding the subject in detail, so that we may see of what the
shepherds of Pergamis and Maledos are capable."

At this challenge, Atticus (who then was known as T. Pomponius but now
as Q. Caecilius retaining the same cognomen)[117] began as follows:

"I gather that I must make the beginning since you seem to turn your
eyes upon me: so I will speak of those cattle which you, Varro, have
called primitive, for you say that sheep were the first of the wild
beasts of the field which were captured and domesticated by man.

"In the first place you should buy good sheep, and they are so judged
primarily in respect of their age, that they are not what is known
as aged nor yet undeveloped lambs, because neither can yield you any
profit, the one no longer, the other not yet: but you may deem that
age which holds out a promise preferable to that whose only future is
death. So far as concerns conformation, a sheep should have a round
barrel, wool thick and soft and with long fibre, and, while heavy all
over the body, it should be thickest on the back and neck, and yet the
belly also should be covered, for unless the belly was covered our
ancestors were wont to call a sheep _apica_ and throw it out. They
should have short legs,[118] and, if they are of the Italian breed, long
tails, or short tails if they come from Syria. The most important
point to guard is that your flock is headed by a good sire. The
quality of a ram can usually be determined from his conformation and
from his get. So far as concerns conformation, a ram should have a
face well covered with wool, horns twisted and converging on the
muzzle, tawny eyes, woolly ears, a deep chest, wide shoulders and
loin, a long and large tail. You should see also whether he has a
black or a spotted tongue,[119] for such rams usually get black or
spotted lambs. You may judge them by their get, if their lambs are of
good quality. In buying sheep we practise the formalities which the
law requires, following them more or less strictly in particular
cases. Some men in fixing a price per head stipulate that two late
lambs or two toothless ewes shall be counted as one. In other respects
the traditional formula is employed thus: the buyer says to the
seller, "Do you sell me these sheep for so much?" And the seller
answers, "They are your sheep," and states the price. Whereupon the
buyer stipulates according to the ancient formula: "Do you guarantee
that these sheep, for which we have bargained, are in such good health
as sheep should be; that there is none among them one-eyed, deaf or
bare-bellied; that they do not come out of an infected flock and that
I will take them by good right and title?"

"Even when this is done the title to the flock does not pass until
they have been counted, but, nevertheless, the purchaser can hold the
seller to the bargain if he does not make delivery, even though the
purchase money has not passed, and by a like right the seller can hold
the buyer if he does not pay up.

"I will next speak about those other four subjects which Scrofa
outlined, namely: the feeding, breeding, raising and physicking of
sheep. In the first place, one should see that provision is made for
feeding the flock throughout the entire year, as well indoors as out.
The stable should be in a suitable location, protected against the
wind, looking rather to the East than the South, on cleared and
sloping ground so that it can be easily swept out and kept clean, for
moisture not only rots the wool of the sheep but their hoofs as well
and causes scab. When sheep have stood for several days you should
strew the stable with new bedding, so that they may be more
comfortable and be kept cleaner, and thus eat with more appetite. You
should also contrive stalls separated from the others in which you may
segregate the ewes about to yean, as well as any which may be ailing.
This precaution is practicable, however, only with sheep fed at the
steading, but those who graze their sheep in the mountain pastures and
far from cover, carry with them wicker hurdles or nets, and other such
conveniences with which they contrive folds for such separation. Sheep
indeed are grazed far and wide so that often it happens that their
winter quarters are many miles from their summer pastures."

"I know that to be true," said I, "for my flocks winter in Apulia and
spend the summer in the mountains above Reate: thus the public cattle
drifts between these two localities balance the separated pastures, as
a yoke balances two baskets."[120]

Atticus resumed: "When sheep are fed continually in the same locality
distinction must be made in the times of feeding them according to the
seasons: thus in summer they are driven out[121] to pasture at day break
because then the dewy grass is more appetizing than at midday, when
it is dry. At sunrise they are driven to water, to make them more
lickerish on their return. About noon and during the heat of the
day they are permitted to lie in the shade of rocks or under broad
spreading trees until the fresher evening air invites them to feed
again until sunset.[122] A sheep should always graze with the sun behind
it, because its head is very sensitive to heat. At sunset the flock
should be given a short rest and then driven again to water, and so
brought back to feed again until it is dark, for at that time of day
the grass has renewed its pleasant savour. This routine is usually
followed from the rising of the Pleiades until the autumn equinox.

"After the harvest it is of two-fold advantage to turn the flock in on
the stubble, as they will fatten on the shattered grain and improve
the land for next year's planting by spreading their manure in the
trampled straw.

"The rules for pasturing sheep in winter and spring differ from the
summer rules in this, that at those seasons the flock is not driven
to pasture until the hoar frost has evaporated and they feed all day
long, one watering about noon being enough.

"This is about all there to say on the subject of feeding sheep, so I
pass to the consideration of breeding. The rams which you are about
to use for breeding should be separated from the flock for two months
before the season, and fed heavily by giving them a ration of barley
when they come into the stable from the pasture: it will make them
stronger for their duty.

"The best breeding season is from the setting of Arcturus to the
setting of Aquila, (May-July) because lambs begotten later are apt
to be born runts, and weak. As a ewe is pregnant for one hundred and
fifty days, this arrangement causes her to drop her lambs at the end
of autumn when the temperature is mild and the grass is renewed by the
first rains. During the breeding season the flock should drink only
the same kind of water, since a change not only makes spotted wool but
injures the offspring. When all the ewes have been stinted, the rams
should be separated from them again, because it injures ewes to be
teased while they are pregnant. Ewe lambs should never be bred before
they are two years old, as they cannot earlier produce strong lambs,
but will themselves degenerate: indeed, it is better to keep them
until the third year. To this end some shepherds protect their ewe
lambs from the ram by tying baskets made of rushes or something of
that kind over their rumps, but it is better to feed them apart from
the flock.

"I come now to the consideration of how lambs should be raised.

"When the ewes begin to yean they are driven into a stable which has
stalls set apart for the purpose, where the new born lambs can be
placed near a fire to strengthen them, and there the ewes are kept two
or there days until the lambs know their dams and are able to feed
themselves. Thereafter the lambs are still kept up but the ewes are
driven out to pasture with the flock, being brought back to them in
the evening to be suckled and then once more separated, lest the lambs
be trampled by the ewes at night. In the morning before the ewes go
out to pasture they are given access to their young again until the
lambs are satisfied with milk. After about ten days have elapsed the
lambs are picketed out of doors, being tethered with fibre or such
other light material, to stakes planted some distance apart so that
the little fellows may not injure themselves as they frisk together
all day.

"If a lamb will not suck, it should be held up to the teat and its lips
greased with butter or suet, and so made to smell at the milk. A few
days later some soft vetch or tender grass may be given them before
they go out to pasture and after they come in. And so they are nursed
until they are four months old.

"There are some shepherds who do not milk the ewes during the nursing
period, but those who do not milk them at all do better, as thus they
bear more wool and more lambs.

"When the lambs are weaned great attention is necessary to prevent them
from wasting away in their longing for the dam: they should be tempted
to eat by giving them appetizing food, and care should be taken that
they do not suffer from cold or heat. When at last they have forgotten
the taste of milk and no longer yearn for the dam, they may be driven
out with the flock.

"A ram lamb should not be altered until he is five months old, nor yet
in very hot or very cold weather. Those which you wish to keep for
rams should be chosen as far as possible from dams who are in the
habit of having twin lambs.

"Most of these recommendations apply equally to those fine wool sheep
which are called _pellitae_, because they are jacketed with skins, as
is done at Tarentum and in Attica, to protect their wool from fouling,
for by this precaution the fleece is kept in better plight for dyeing,
washing or cleaning. Greater diligence is required to keep clean the
folds and stables of such sheep than is necessary for the ordinary
breeds: so they are paved with stone to the end that no urine may
stand anywhere in the stable.

"Sheep eat whatever is put before them--fig leaves, marc, even straw.
Bran should be fed to them in moderation, lest they eat either too
much or too little of it, in either of which cases it is bad for the
digestion, but clover and alfalfa agree with them best and make both
fat and milk with the utmost facility.

"So far as concerns the health of the flock, there are many things
I might add, but, as Scrofa has said, the flock master keeps his
prescriptions written down in a book and carries with him what he
needs in the way of physic.

"It remains to speak of the number of sheep in a flock. Some make this
more, some less, for there is no natural limit. In Epirus almost all
of us have a rule not to allow more than one hundred short wool sheep
or fifty fine wool jacketed sheep to a shepherd."

_Of goats_

III. As Atticus stopped, Cossinius took him up. "Come, my dear
Faustulus," he cried, "you have bleated long enough. Take now from me,
as from a late born Homeric Melanthius,[123] a small offering from my
flock of goats, and at the same time learn a lesson in brevity. He
who wishes to form a flock of goats should consider in choosing them:
first of all that they are of an age capable of breeding, and that for
some time to come, for a tiro is more useful for that purpose than a
veteran. As to conformation, see to it that they are strong and large,
with a smooth body and thick coat: but beware of the short haired
goat, for there are both kinds. The she goat should have two
excrescences, like little teats, hanging under the muzzle: those which
have them are fecund:[124] the larger the udder the more milk and butter
fat she will yield. The qualities of a buck are that his coat should
be largely white: his crest and neck short and his gullet long. You
will have a better flock if you buy at one time goats which have been
accustomed to run together, rather than by putting together a lot of
goats picked up here and there.

"Concerning breeding, I refer to what Atticus has said about sheep,
with this difference: that while you select a breed of sheep which are
slow of foot, because they are of quieter disposition, all goats are
as excitable as they are agile. Of, this last characteristic Cato
records in his book _Origines_: 'In the mountains of Socrate and
Fiscellus there are wild goats which leap from rock to rock a distance
of more than sixty feet.' For as the sheep which we feed are sprung
from wild sheep, so the goats which we herd are sprung from wild
goats: and it is from them that the island of Caprasia, near the coast
of Italy, gets its name.

"As it is recognized that the best breed of goats is one which bears
two kids at a birth, breeding bucks are chosen from such a race
whenever possible. Some fanciers even take the trouble to import bucks
from the island of Melia, where are bred what are considered the
largest and most beautiful specimens of the race.

"I hold that the formula for buying sheep cannot altogether apply to
goats because no sane man ever guaranteed that goats are without
malady, for the fact is that they are forever in a fever. For this
reason the usual stipulation has had a few words cut out of it for use
in respect of goats, and, as Manilius gives it in his treatise on the
law of Sales, runs as follows: 'Do you guarantee that these goats are
well today; that they are able to drink, and that I will get good
title to them?'

"There is a wonderful fact concerning goats which has been stated
by certain ingenious shepherds and is even recorded in the book of
Archelaus, namely, that they do not breathe through their nostrils,
like other animals, but through their ears.[125]

"Upon Scrofa's four considerations which relate to the care of goats
I have this to say. The flock is better stabled in the winter if its
quarters look toward the Southeast, because goats are very sensitive
to cold. So also, as for most cattle, the goat stable should be paved
with stone or brick that the flock may be less exposed to damp and
mud. When the flock passes the night out of doors, a place should be
selected having the same exposure and the fold strewn with leaves to
protect the flock from fouling themselves.

"There is not much difference in the method of handling goats in the
pasture from sheep, but goats have this characteristic, that they
prefer the mountain woodland pastures to meadows, for they feed
eagerly on the brushwood and in cultivated places crop the shrubbery;
indeed, their name _caprae_ is derived from _carpere_, to crop. For
this reason it is customary to stipulate in farm leases that the
tenant shall not graze any goat on the leased land, for their teeth
are the enemies of all planted crops: wherefore the astrologers were
careful to station them in the heavens outside of the pale of the
twelve signs of the zodiac, but there are two kids and a goat not far
from Taurus.

"So far as concerns breeding, it is the custom to separate the bucks
from the pastured flock at the end of autumn and confine them apart,
as has been said with respect to rams. The nannies which conceive at
this time drop their kids in four months, and so in the spring. In
what regards rearing the kids, it is enough to say that when they are
three months old they are raised and may join the flock. What shall I
say of the health of these animals who never have any? yet the flock
master should have written down what remedies are used for certain of
their maladies and especially for the wounds which often befall them
by reason of their constant fighting among themselves and their
feeding in thorny places. It remains to speak of number: this is
less to the herd in the case of goats than with sheep because of the
wantonness and wandering habit of the goat: sheep, on the other hand,
are wont to flock together and keep in one place.

"For another reason it is the custom in Gaul to divide the goats into
many flocks rather than concentrate them in large ones, because a
pestilence quickly takes possession of a large herd and sweeps it to
destruction. About fifty goats is considered to be a large enough

"The experience of Gaberius, a Roman of the equestrian order, will
illustrate the reason for this: for he, who had a thousand jugera of
land near Rome, met one day a certain goatherd leading ten goats to
town, and heard him say that he made a denier[126] a day out of each
goat, whereupon Gaberius bought a thousand goats, hoping that he might
thereby derive from his property an income of a thousand deniers a
day: but so it fell out that he lost all his goats after a brief
illness. On the other hand, among the Sallentini and near Casinum they
graze their goats in flocks of one hundred.

"Almost the same difference of opinion exists as to the relative number
of bucks to nannies, for some, and I am among them, allow a buck to
every ten nannies, but others, like Menas, make it fifteen, and some
even twenty, like Murrius."

_Of swine_

IV. "And now," concluded Cossinius, "which of you Italian swine
breeders will stand forth and tell us of his herd? Surely he should be
able to speak with the most authority whose cognomen is Scrofa."

At this pleasantry, Tremelius turned upon Cossinius and said: "You seem
to be ignorant why I am called Scrofa, but, in order that our friends
sitting beside you may understand, you should know my family did not
always bear this swinish cognomen, nor am I of the race of Eumaeus. The
first of us to be called Scrofa was my grandfather who, when he was
quaestor under the praetor Licinius Nerva, and was left in command of
the army in the province of Macedonia during the absence of the praetor,
it so happened that the enemy thought they had an opportunity to gain a
victory and began to attack the camp. My grandfather, in exhorting the
soldiers to take up their arms and go out against the enemy, exclaimed
that he would soon scatter them as a sow (scrofa) does her pigs, and he
was as good as his word. For in that battle he so overwhelmed and
discomfited the enemy, that on account of it the praetor Nerva was
hailed Imperator and my grandfather obtained his cognomen and so was
called Scrofa.[127] So, while neither my great grandfather nor any of my
ancestors of the Tremelian family was ever called Scrofa, yet as I am
not less than the sixth of our family in succession who has attained
praetorian rank, it ill becomes me to run away in the face of your
challenge, so I will tell you what I know about swine. Indeed from my
youth I have been devoted to agriculture, so that I am perhaps as well
acquainted with that animal as is any of you great stockmen: for who of
us cultivates a farm but keeps hogs, and who has not heard his father
say that that man is either lazy or a spendthrift who hangs in the meat
house a flitch of bacon obtained from the butcher rather than from his
own farm.

"He who wishes to have a proper herd of swine ought to choose them, in
the first place, of the right age, and in the second place, of good
conformation: which means large everywhere except in the head and feet
and of a solid colour rather than spotted: but the boar should have
without fail a thick neck in addition to these other qualities. Swine
of good breed may be known from their appearance, if both boar and sow
are of good conformation; from their get, if they have many pigs at
a birth; and from their origin, if you buy them in a place with a
reputation for producing fat rather than lean hogs. The usual formula
for buying runs thus: 'Do you warrant that these hogs are in good
health; that I shall take good title to them; that they have committed
no tort, and that they do not come out of a diseased herd?'

"Some add a particular stipulation that they are not affected with

"In the matter of pasture, a marshy place is well fitted for hogs,
because they delight not only in water, but in mud, the reason for
which appears in the tradition that when a wolf has fallen upon a hog
he always drags the carcass into the water because his teeth cannot
endure the natural heat of hog flesh.

"Swine are fed mostly on mast, though also on beans, barley and other
kinds of corn, which not only make them fat but give the meat an
agreeable relish. In summer they go out to pasture early in the
morning and before the heat of the day: at midday they are brought
into some shady place, preferably where there is water: in the
afternoon, when the heat has abated, they are fed again. In the winter
time they do not go out to pasture until the hoar frost has evaporated
and the ice has melted.

"In the matter of breeding, the boar should be separated from the herd
for two months before the season, which should be arranged between
the rising of the west wind and the vernal equinox, for thus it will
befall that the sows (which are big for four months) will have their
litters in summer when forage is plenty. Sows should not be bred under
a year old, but it is better to wait until the twentieth month so that
they may have pigs at two years. They are said to breed regularly for
seven years after the first litter. During the breeding season they
should be given access to muddy ditches and sloughs, so that they may
wallow in the mud, which is the same relaxation to them that a bath
is to a man. When all the sows are stinted, the boars should be
segregated again. A boar is fit for service at eight months and so
continues until his prime, after which his vigor decreases until he is
fit only for the butcher to make of his flesh a dainty offering for
the people. Our name for the hog, _sus_, is called [Greek: hus]
in Greek, but formerly it was [Greek: thus], derived from [Greek:
thuein], meaning to offer as a sacrifice, for it seems that victims
were chosen from the race of swine for the earliest sacrifices;
evidence of which remains in the tradition that pigs are sacrificed
at the initiation to the mysteries of Ceres, that when a treaty
is ratified peace begins with the slaughter of a pig, and that in
solemnizing a marriage the ancient kings and mighty men of Etruria
caused the bride and the bridegroom to sacrifice a pig at the
beginning of the ceremony, a practice which the earliest Latins and
the Greek colonists in Italy seem also to have followed: nam et
nostrae mulieres, maxime nutrices, naturam qua feminae sunt
in virginibus appellant porcum, et graecae [Greek: choiron],
significantes esse dignum insigni nuptiarum.[128]

"The hog is said to be created by nature for the food of man[129] and
so life and salt perform the same functions for him, as they both
preserve his flesh.

"The Gauls[130] are reputed to put up not only the largest quantity but
the best quality of pork: evidence of its quality being that even now
hams, sausage,[131] bacon and shoulders are imported every year from
Gaul to Rome: while Cato writes concerning the amount of pork cured by
the Gauls: 'In (northern) Italy the Insubres are wont to put up three
or four thousand cuts of pork [the bulk of which can be appreciated
from the fact that among that people][132] the hog some times grows so
fat that it is not able to stand on its feet or to walk, so that it
is necessary to put it on a cart to move it any where.' Atilius the
Spaniard, who is a truthful man and learned in many things, tells of
a hog which was killed in further Spain or Lusitania from which two
chops, sent to the Senator L. Volumnius, were found to weigh three and
twenty pounds, the fat on them being so thick that it measured a foot
and three fingers from the skin to the bone."

"I can testify to some thing not less extraordinary than what you have
related," said I, "for in Arcadia I saw with my own eyes a hog which
was so fat that not only was it unable to get up but a shrew mouse
having eaten a hole in its back had there made its nest and was
rearing a family. I have heard that this same thing happened in the
country of the Veneti."

"Usually," resumed Scrofa, "the fecundity of a sow may be learned from
her first litter, for in later litters she does not vary much from the
number of pigs in the first.

"In the matter of rearing young swine, which we call _porculatio_ it
is customary to leave pigs with the sow for two months, and then when
they are able to feed themselves to separate them. Pigs born in the
winter are apt to be runts on account of the cold and because the sow
refuses to suckle them, partly by reason of her lack of milk at that
season and partly to protect her teats from the teeth of the hungry

"Each sow should suckle her pigs in her own stye, because a sow will
not drive strange pigs away from her, and it results that if the
litters are mingled the breed deteriorates. The year is naturally
divided for the sow into two parts, because they breed twice a year,
being heavy in pig for four months and suckling for two. The stye
should be built about three feet deep and a little more in width and
such a height from the ground as will permit a pregnant sow to get out
without straining herself, as that might cause her to abort. A good
measure of the proper height from the ground is what is necessary to
enable the swineherd to keep watch that no little pigs are crushed by
the sow, and to clean out the bedding easily. There should be a door
to the stye with the lower sill elevated a foot and a palm high so as
to prevent the pigs from following the sow when she goes out. As often
as the swineherd cleans out the stye he should strew the floor with
sand, or some thing else to absorb moisture.

"When a sow has had her pigs she should be fed liberally to enable her
to make milk: for this the ration is usually two pounds of boiled
barley, indeed some feed this both at morning and at night if other
feed is lacking. When pigs are taken from their dam they are sometimes
called _delici_ or weanlings being then no longer _lactantes_ or

"Pigs are considered to be clean ten days after birth, and for that
reason were then called by the ancients sacred, as being then first
fit for sacrifice: and so in the _Menaechmi_ of Plautus, when a
character thinking some one in Epidamnus to be out of his wits and
seeking to purify him, asks: 'How much are sacred pigs here.'

"If the farm affords them, pigs should be fed grape husks and stalks.

"After they have lost the name of _lactantes_ the shoats are called
_nefrendes_ because they are not yet able to break down (_frendere_
that is _frangere_) the bean stalks. _Porcus_ is the ancient Greek
name for them but is fallen into disuse, for the Greeks now call them
[Greek: choiros].

"While she is giving suck the sow should be watered twice a day to
promote the flow of milk. A sow should bear as many pigs as she has
teats: if she has less it is considered that she is unprofitable, but
if more, a prodigy. In this respect there is the ancient tradition
that the sow of Aeneas bore thirty white (_albos_) pigs at
Lavinium,[133] which portended that after thirty years the inhabitants
of Lavinium would found the town of Alba: indeed, vestiges of this sow
and of her pigs may still be seen at Lavinium where there is a brazen
image of them now in the public square, and the true body of the sow
is shown by the priests, preserved in pickle.

"Sows are able at first to suckle eight little pigs, but as they grow
larger half of them are usually taken away by experienced swineherds,
because the sow cannot supply milk enough for all, and too many pigs
fed together do not prosper in any event. A sow should not be driven
out of the stye for ten days after having her litter except for
water, but after that time she is permitted to graze in a paddock so
conveniently near at hand that she may return to the stye frequently
to suckle the pigs. When the pigs are large enough they are permitted
to follow the sow to pasture, but at home they should be penned apart
from the sow and fed by themselves until they overcome their yearning
for the dam, which usually happens in ten days. The swineherd should
train his shoats to do every thing at the sound of the trumpet. This
training is begun by letting the shoats hear the trumpet outside
their pens and then at once come out to a place where barley has been
scattered broad cast (for thus less is wasted than if the feed is
put in heaps and more of the shoats can get to it easily). By such
education it is possible to collect pasturing hogs at the sound of a
trumpet and prevent their being lost when scattered in the woods.[134]

"Boars are altered most successfully when they are a year old, but in
no case should this be done when they are less than six months old.
After the operation they are no longer called boars, but barrows.

"Concerning the health of swine, I will say one thing only by way of
example: if the sow is not able to supply milk the sucking pigs should
be fed, until they are three months old, on roasted wheat (for when it
is raw it loosens the bowels) or on barley boiled in water.

"As to number: it is considered that ten boars to an hundred sows is
enough; some even reduce this proportion.

"The practice varies as to the number to a herd, but my judgment is
that a hundred is a moderate number: some make it more, say 150: some
feed two herds together, and some do even more than that. A small herd
is less expensive than a large one because the swineherd requires less
assistance. A swinefeeder should fix the number to be fed as a herd on
a principle of utility, not by the number of boars he may happen to
have, for that is determined by nature."

So far Scrofa.

_Of neat cattle_

V. At this point we were joined by the Senator Q. Lucienus, a man as
learned as he is agreeable and intimate with us all. "Hail, my fellow
citizens of Epirus," he exclaimed in Greek,[135] "and you, my dear
Varro, 'shepherd of men,' for I have already greeted Scrofa this

While one saluted him, another reproached him for having come so late
to our club.

"I will see to that, my merry men, for I am about to offer you my back
and a scourge: or else, Murrius, you who are my friend: come with me
while I pay a forfeit to the goddess Pales, so that you may bear me
witness if our friends here seek to make me do it again."

"Tell him," said Atticus, turning to Murrius, "what we have been
talking about and what is still on the programme, so that when his
turn comes he may be prepared. In the meantime we will take up the
second order of domestic live stock and proceed to a discussion of the
larger cattle."

"In this," said Vaccius, "my name would seem to assign me a part,
since cows (_vaccae_) are included in that category. Wherefore I will
tell what I know about neat cattle, so that he who knows less may
learn, while he who knows more may correct me when I fall down."

"Be careful what you do, Vaccius," said I, "for the genus _Bos_ is
of the first importance among cattle, certainly in Italy, which is
thought to have taken its very name from that family, for, as Timaeus
records, in ancient Greece a bull was called [Greek: italos], whence
is derived our word _vitula_, and from this Italy is supposed to have
taken its name because of the number and beauty of its breed, of
cattle (_vituli_). Others claim that the name comes from that of
the famous bull Italus which Hercules drove out of Sicily into this

"The ox is indeed the companion and fellow labourer of man and the
minister of Ceres: wherefore the ancients, holding him inviolable,
made it a capital offence to kill an ox.[136] Both Attica and
Peloponnesus bear witness of the regard in which the ox was held: for
he who first yoked oxen to the plough is celebrated at Athens under
the name Buzyges and at Argos under that of Homogyros."

"I know," replied Vaccius, "the importance of the ox and that his
very name is used to signify that quality, as in words like [Greek:
bousukon](big fig), [Greek: boupais](a big boy), [Greek: boulimos] (a
ravenous hunger),[Greek: boopis] (large eyed), and again that a certain
large grape is called _bumamma_ (cow teat). Furthermore, I know it was
the form of a bull that Jupiter assumed when he wooed Europa and bore
her across the sea from Phoenicia: that it was a bull which protected
the children of Neptune and Melanippe from being crushed in a stable
by a herd of cattle: I know too that the bees which give the sweetest
honey are generated from the carcase of an ox, whence the Greeks call
them [Greek: bougeneis] (born of an ox), an expression which Plautius
latinized on the occasion where the praetor Hirrius, was accused at
Rome of having libeled the Senate. 'But be of good cheer, I will
give you at least as great satisfaction as did he who wrote the

"In the first place there are said to be four ages of cattle,
during which they are known by the successive designation of calf
(_vitulus_), yearling (_juvencus_), prime (_novellus_) and aged
(_vetulus_). These designations are further divided according to sex,
as bull-calf and heifer-calf, or bull and cow.

"A cow which is sterile is called _taura_: when pregnant, _horda_,
from which last name a certain festival is called the _hordicalia
(Fordicidia_) because cows in calf are sacrificed upon it.

"He who wishes to buy a herd of neat cattle should take care first that
they are of an age to produce, rather than past breeding; that they
are well set up, clean limbed, square bodied, large, with black horns
and broad brows, large black eyes, hairy ears, flat cheek bones,
snub-nosed, not hump-backed but rather with the back bone slightly
roached, wide nostrils, blackish lips, a neck muscular and long with
dew laps hanging from it, the barrel large and well ribbed, the
shoulders broad and the quarters good, a tail sweeping the heels,
the end being frizzled in a heavy brush, the legs rather short and
straight with knees projecting a little and well separated, the feet
narrow and not inclined to spread in walking, the hoofs not being
splayed but consisting of light and even bones, and a hide which is
not rough and hard to the touch. The best colour is black, next red,
third chestnut and last white: for a white coat indicates weakness, as
black indicates endurance: of the other two colours red is more common
than chestnut, and both than black and white. In addition you should
be particular that the bull is of good breed, which is determined
from his conformation and his get, as calves usually reproduce the
qualities of their sire. And, finally, it is of importance whence they
come. Gallic cattle are considered in Italy to be the best for work,
while on the other hand Ligurian cattle are worthless. The foreign
cattle of Epirus are not only better than all the Greek cattle but
even than the Italian: nevertheless, there are those who choose
Italian cattle for victims and to serve as offerings to the gods on
account of their size: and without doubt they may be preferred for
such holy offices, so great is the distinction of their majestic bulk
and their candid coats: and they are the more suitable for such use
because white cattle are not so common in Italy as in Thrace at the
gulf of Melas, where there are few of any other colour.

"When cattle are bought already broken for work we stipulate thus: 'Do
you guarantee these cattle to be in good health and warrant me against
liability for any tort committed by them?'

"When we buy them unbroken, we say: 'Do you guarantee these yearlings
to be in good health and to come out of a healthy herd, and warrant me
against liability for tort?'

"When butchers buy for the shambles they use a fuller formula
recommended by Manilius: but those who buy for the altar do not
usually stipulate for health in their victims.

"Neat cattle pasture best in groves where there is brushwood and much
leafage: and so when they are wintered by the sea they are driven up
to pasture in summer in the hills where shrubbery abounds.

"These are my breeding rules:

"For a month before breeding I cut down the food and drink of the cows
because it is deemed that they breed more certainly when they are
thin. On the other hand, I fatten the bulls up on grass and straw and
hay for two months before the breeding season, and during that time I
keep them apart from the cows. Like Atticus, I have two for seventy
cows, one a yearling, the other two years old. When that constellation
has risen which the Greeks call Lyra, and we Romans, Fides, I turn
the bull into the herd again. The bull indicates whether a male or a
female calf has been conceived by the side on which he leaves the cow:
if male, on the right; if female, on the left. "Why this is so," said
Vaccius, turning to me, "I leave to you who read Aristotle."

"A cow should not be served under two years, so that she may have her
first calf in the third year: it would be better in the fourth. Most
cows bear for ten years, some even more. The most suitable time for
stinting cows is during the forty days following the rising of the
Dolphin, or even a little later, for thus they will drop their calves
at the most temperate season of the year, for a cow goes ten months
pregnant. On this subject I have come upon an extraordinary statement
in a book that a bull which has just been altered can get a cow with

"Breeding cows should be pastured where there is abundant grass and
plenty of water, and care should be taken to protect them from
crowding too close together, and from being struck, or from fighting
with one another: moreover, to protect them against being worried in
summer by cattle flies and those minute insects which get under their
tails, some farmers shut them up during the heat of the day in pens,
which should be strewn with leaves or some other bedding on which they
can rest comfortably. In summer they are driven to water twice a day,
in winter once. Against the time when they are due to drop their
calves you should arrange to give them access to fresh forage near the
stable which they can eat with appetite as they go out, for at that
time they are very dainty about their food. A watch out must be kept
to prevent their frequenting chilly places, for cold depresses the
vitality as much as hunger.

"These are the rules for raising neat cattle: the suckling calves
should not be suffered to sleep with their dams, for they might crush
them, but should be given access to them in the morning and when they
return from pasture. When the calves are weaned the dams should be
comforted by having green stuff thrown into their stalls for them to
eat. The floor of a calf stable, like most others, should be paved
with stone to keep their hoofs from rotting. The calves may be
pastured with their dams after the autumn equinox. Bull calves should
not be altered before they are two years old, as they recover with
difficulty if the operation is performed sooner, while if it is done
later they are apt to be stubborn and useless.

"As in the case of other cattle, the herd should be gone over every
year and the culls thrown out because they occupy the room of those
which might be profitable. If a cow loses her calf she should be given
another to nurse, taken from a cow which has not a sufficient supply
of milk. Calves six months old are fed wheat bran and barley meal and
young grass, and care should be taken that they are watered morning
and evening.

"The rules for taking care of the health of neat cattle are many. I
have those which Mago has recorded written out and I take care that my
herdsman reads them frequently.

"I have already said that a yearling and a two-year old bull should be
provided for every sixty cows, though some have more or less cows in
the herd: thus Atticus has two bulls for every seventy cows. Some
observe one rule as to the number of cattle to the herd, some another.
I am among those who think that one hundred is enough, but Atticus
here, like Lucienus, has one hundred and twenty."

So far Vaccius.

_Of asses_

VI. While Vaccius was speaking, Murrius had returned with Lucienus and
now began:

"I propose to tell about asses as well I may, because I am from Reate
where the best and the largest are found; indeed, I have sold to the
Arcadians themselves asses of this race and of my own breeding. He who
wishes to establish a good herd of asses should see in the first place
that he procures jacks and jennies of prime age so that they may breed
as long as possible, strong, well made in all parts, of full body and
of a good breed, that is to say derived from those localities whence
the best specimens come; thus the Peloponnesians, so far as possible,
buy asses bred in Arcadia and we in Italy those from the valley of
Reate. For if the best of those delicious fish we call _muraenae
flutae_ are taken on the coast of Sicily and the best sturgeons at
Rhodes, it does not follow that they are of equal delicacy in all

"There are two kinds of asses, one wild, which is called the onager,
of which there, are many herds in Phrygia and Lycaonia; the other
domestic, as they are all over Italy. The onager is fit for use for
breeding because he is easily tamed and once domesticated never
reverts to a wild life.[138]

"Because their young take after their parents, it is important to
choose both jack and jenny of good conformation. The conditions of
buying and selling asses are much the same as for other kinds of
cattle and include stipulations as to their health and against tort.
They are best fed on corn and barley bran. The jennies are bred before
the solstice so that they may have their foals at the same season in
the following year, for their period of gestation is twelve months.
The jennies should be relieved from work while in foal for fatigue at
that time injures the offspring: but the jacks, on the contrary, are
worked all the time, because it is lack of exercise which is bad for

"In the matter of rearing, practically the same rules apply to asses as
to horses. The foals are not separated from their dams for the first
year after they are born: during the second year they are permitted
to stay with their dams at night, but they should then be tied with a
loose halter or some other such restraint. In the third year you begin
to break them for whatever service they are intended.

"As to the number: they are not usually kept in herds unless it may be
for transport service; generally they are used to turn the mill, or
for carrying about the farm, or even for the plough where the soil
is light, as in Campania. Herds of asses are some times employed by
merchants, like those who transport wine, or oil, or corn, or any
other commodity, from Brundisium or Apulia to the sea, by pack

_Of horses_

VII. Here Lucienus took up the discourse. "It is my turn," he said,
"to open the barrier and drive in my horses: and they are not only
stallions, of which, like Atticus, I keep one for every ten breeding
mares, but mares as well, such as Q. Modius Equiculus, that gallant
soldier, was wont to esteem for use even in war nearly as much as

"He who wishes to have such studs of stallions and mares as may be seen
in Peloponnesus and in Apulia should first consider age and see that
he obtains them not less than three nor more than ten years old. The
age of a horse, as also of nearly all animals whose hoofs are not
cloven, even horned animals, may be known from the condition of the
teeth: thus at thirty months of age a colt is said to lose the milk
incisors from the middle of his mouth, two above and two below. At the
beginning of the fourth year, in like manner he sheds the same number,
being the incisors adjoining those previously lost, and at that age
also the teeth called canine begin to appear. At the beginning of the
fifth year he loses two more incisors, and at that time the new teeth
show hollow. In the sixth year the new teeth begin to fill out their
cavities, and by the seventh usually all have been renewed and the
permanent mouth is made. What is the age of a horse beyond this point
it is not possible to determine accurately, except that when the teeth
project and the eye brows are white and have hollows under them, it is
considered that a horse is sixteen years old.

"A breeding mare should be of medium size, for it is not fitting that
they should be either very large or very small, but the quarters and
belly should be broad.

"A breeding stallion on the other hand should be chosen with a large
body, well made and all his parts in harmony. What sort of horse it
will turn out to be can be determined from the points of the foal, for
it should exhibit a small head: limbs well knit together: a black eye,
wide nostrils: ears well pricked: a mane which is thick, dark and
curly, of fine hairs and falling on the right side of the neck: a
breast broad and well developed: strong shoulders: a moderate belly:
the loins flat and rising to the quarters: long shoulder blades: a
back bone well doubled [with ridges of meat] but if these are not
prominent in no event should the bone itself stand out: a tail large
and curly: legs straight and even and rather long: knees round and
small and not turned in as you look at them: hard hoofs: veins visible
all over the body (for a horse of this kind is fit for treatment when
he is sick).

"The breed is of the greatest importance, for there are many. In this
respect the celebrated breeds take the names of the countries from
which they come: thus in Greece we have the Thessalian breed: in Italy
the Apulian from Apulia, and the Rosean from Rosea.[140]

"It is a sign that they will make good horses if, when at pasture
with the herd, the colts contend with one another for superiority in
running or in any thing else, or if when a stream is to be crossed
they leap it at the head of the herd and do not look back for the

"Horses are bought in almost the same manner as cattle or asses,
because they change ownership by similar formalities, all of which are
set forth in the book of Manilius.

"Horses should be pastured whenever possible in meadows of grass, and
in the stable and stall they are fed on hay.

"When a mare has foaled she should be fed on barley and watered twice a

"In the matter of breeding, the period of service is from the vernal
equinox to the solstice so that the foal may come at a suitable
season, for they are supposed to be born on the tenth day of the
twelfth month after the mare was stinted. Those which are born after
the time are usually defective and unfit for use. When the season has
come the stallion should be admitted to the mare twice a day, in the
morning and in the evening, under the direction of the _origa_ (so the
studgroom is called), for a mare held in hand is stinted more quickly,
nor does the stallion waste his seed by excess of ardor. When a mare
is stinted she makes it known by defending herself. If the stallion
shows an aversion for a mare, her parts should be smeared when she
is in heat with the marrow of a shrimp macerated in water to the
consistency of honey, and the stallion allowed to smell of it.

"Although it may seem incredible, what I am about to relate is true and
should be remembered. Once upon a time a studgroom tried to make a
stallion cover his mother, but could never get him to come near her:
so one day the groom muffled the stallion's head and put him to his
mother successfully: but when the bandage was removed and the stallion
saw what he had done, he fell upon the groom and killed him with his

"When the mares have been stinted it must be seen to that they are
worked only in moderation and are kept out of cold places, because
cold is of the greatest prejudice to a mare in that condition. For
this reason the floor of their stable should be kept dry and the
windows and doors should be kept shut: and furthermore the mares
should be separated one from another by long poles fastened back from
the manger so that they may not fight.

"Mares in foal should neither be over-fed nor starved.

"There are some who breed their mares only every other year and claim
they get better colts, on the same principle that as corn land is
exhausted by continuous cropping, so is a mare which is bred every

"The foal should be led out to pasture with its dam on the tenth day
after it is born, so to avoid burning its tender hoofs by standing
on manure in the stable. When five months old a colt should be fed,
whenever he is brought into the stable, a ration of barley meal whole
with its bran, or any other product of the earth which he will eat
with appetite. When they are a year old they may be fed barley in the
grain mixed with bran, and this should be kept up as long as they
suckle, for they should not be weaned until they have completed the
second year. From time to time while they are still with their dams
they should be handled so that they may not be wild after they are
separated. To the same end it is well to hang bridles in their stalls
so that while they are still colts they may become accustomed to the
sight of them and the sound of their clanking as well. When a colt has
learned to come to an outstretched hand you should put a boy on his
back, for the first two or three times stretched out flat on his
belly, but afterwards sitting upright. The time to do this is when
the colt is three years old, for then he has his full growth and is
beginning to develop muscles.

"There are those who say that a colt may be broken at eighteen months,
but it is better to wait until the third year. Then is the time too
to begin to feed him that mixture of grain in the milk which we call
_farrago_, for this is very good for a horse as a purgative. It
should be fed for ten days to the exclusion of all other food. On the
eleventh day and until the fourteenth you should feed barley, adding a
little to the ration every day for four days and then maintaining that
quantity for the ten days succeeding: during this period the horse
should be exercised moderately, and when in a sweat rubbed down with
oil. If it is cold a fire should be lit in the stable.

"As some horses are suitable for military service, some for the cart,
some for breeding, some for racing, and others for the carriage, it
follows that the methods of handling and looking after them all are
not the same. Thus the soldier chooses some and rears and trains them
for his particular use, and so in turn does the charioteer and the
circus rider. Nor does he who wishes a cart horse choose the same
conformation or give the same training as to a horse intended for the
saddle or the carriage: for as the one desires mettle for military
service, the other prefers a gentle disposition for use on the road.
It was to provide for this difference of use that the practice of
castrating horses was inaugurated, for horses that are altered are of
a quieter disposition: they are called geldings, as hogs in the same
state are called barrows and chickens are called capons.

"As to medicine for the horse, there are so many symptoms of their
maladies and so many cures that the studgroom must have them written
down: indeed, on this account in Greece the veterinarians are mostly
called [Greek: hippiatroi] (horse leeches)."

_Of mules_

VIII. While we were talking a freedman came from Menas and said that
the sacrificial cakes were cooked and every thing ready for the
sacrifice--that whoever wishes to take part had only to come.

"But I will not suffer you to go," I protested, "until you have
fulfilled your promise and given me the third chapter of our subject,
that concerning mules and dogs and shepherds."

"What is to be said about mules,"[142] replied Murrius, "may be said
briefly. Mules and hinnies are mongrels and grafts as it were on a
stock of a different species, for a mule is got by an ass out of a
mare, and a hinny by a horse out of a she ass. Both have their uses,
but neither is fit to reproduce its kind. For this purpose it is the
custom to put a newborn ass colt to nurse to a mare because mares'
milk will make it more vigorous: it is considered better than asses'
milk, or indeed than any other kind of milk. Later they are fed on
straw, hay and barley. The foster mother must be given good attention
also, as she must bring up her own colt in addition to her service as
a wet nurse. An ass raised in this way is fit to get mules when he is
three years old, nor will he contemn the mares because he has become
used to their kind. If you use him for breeding earlier he will
quickly exhaust himself and his get will be poor.

"If you have no ass foal to have brought up by a mare and you wish a
breeding jackass, you should buy the largest and handsomest you can
find; the best breed, as the ancients said, was that of Arcadia, but
nowadays we who know maintain that the breed of Reate is best: where
breeding jacks have brought thirty and even forty thousand sesterces

"Jacks are bought like horses, with the same stipulations and
guarantees. We feed them principally on hay and barley, increasing the
ration at the breeding season so as to infuse strength into their get
by means of their food. The breeding season is the same as for horses,
and, like them again, we have the jack handled by a studgroom.

"When a mare has dropped a mule colt or filly we bring it up with care.
Those which are born in marshy and swampy country have soft hoofs, but
if they are driven up into the mountain in summer, as we do at Reate,
their hoofs become hardened.

"In buying mules you must consider age and conformation, the one that
they may be able to work under a load, the other that the eye may have
pleasure in looking at them: for a team of two good mules is capable
of drawing any kind of a wagon on the road.

"You, my friend from Reate," Murrius added, turning to me, "can vouch
for what I have said, as you yourself have herds of breeding mares at
home and have bred and sold many mules.

"The get of a horse out of a she ass is called a hinny: he is smaller
in the body and usually redder in colour than a mule, and has ears
like a horse, but mane and tail like an ass. Hinnies are carried by
the dam twelve months, like a horse, and, like the horse too, they are
raised and fed, and their age can be told by their teeth."

_Of herd dogs_

IX. "It remains," said Atticus, "to speak of the last of the
quadrupeds on our programme, that is to say, of dogs, which are of the
greatest importance to us who feed the woolly flock, for the dog is
the guardian of such cattle as lack the means to defend themselves,
chiefly sheep and goats. For the wolf is wont to lie in wait for
them and we oppose our dogs to him as defenders. Hogs can defend
themselves, as well pigs, boars, barrows and sows, for they are near
akin to the wild boar, which we know often kills dogs in the woods,
with their tusks. What shall I say of large cattle? I know of an
instance of a herd of mules pastured together, which, when they were
attacked by a wolf, joined in forming a circle about him and killed
him with blows of their hoofs: and again, bulls often stand together,
rump to rump, and drive off wolves with their horns. But of dogs there
are two kinds, hunting dogs, which are used against wild beasts and
game, and herd dogs, which are used by the shepherd. I will discuss
the latter methodically, following Scrofa's nine heads.

"Of the first importance is the choice of dogs of suitable age, for
puppies and old dogs cannot protect themselves, much less the sheep,
and so often become themselves the prey of wild beasts.

"In appearance they should be handsome, of good size, with black or
tawny eyes: a symmetrical nose: lips blackish or ruddy, neither drawn
back above nor hanging underneath: a short muzzle, showing two teeth
on either side, those of the lower jaw projecting a little, those
above rather straight and not so apparent, and the other teeth, which
are covered by the lips, very sharp: a large head, ears large and
turned over: a thick crest and neck: long joints: straight legs,
rather bowed than knock-kneed: feet large and well developed, so that
in walking they may spread out: toes slightly splayed: claws hard and
curved: the pad of the foot neither horny nor hard but as it were
puffed and soft: short-coupled: a back bone neither projecting nor
roached: a heavy tail: a deep bark, and wide gaping chops. The colour
to be preferred is white because it gives the dog a lion-like aspect
in the dark.[143] Finally, the females should have large teats equally
distributed. Care should be taken that they are of good breed, such
as those called for their place of origin, Laconian, Epirot and
Sallentian. Be careful not to buy a sheep dog from a professional
hunter or a butcher, because the one is apt to be lazy about following
the flock, while the other is more likely to make after a hare or a
deer which it might see, than to tend the sheep.

"It is better either to buy, from a shepherd, dogs which are accustomed
to follow sheep or dogs which are without any training at all. While a
dog does readily whatever he has been trained to do, his affection is
apt to be stronger for the shepherds than for the flock.[144]

"Once P. Aufidius Pontianus of Amiternum bought certain flocks of sheep
in further Umbria, the dogs which herded them being included in
the bargain, but not the shepherds, who were, however, to make the
delivery at the Saltus of Metapontum and the market of Heraclea: when
these shepherds had returned home, their dogs, longing for their
masters, a few days later of their own will came back to the shepherds
in Umbria, having made several days journey without other food than
what the fields afforded. Nor had any one of those shepherds done what
Saserna advises in his books on agriculture,

    'Whoever wishes to be followed by a dog should throw him a cooked

"It is of importance that all your dogs should be of the same breed,
for when they are related they are of the greatest aid to one another.

"Now as to Scrofa's fourth consideration, that concerning the manner of
buying: this is accomplished by delivery by the former owner to the

"The same stipulations as to health and against liability for tort are
made as in the case of cattle, leaving out whatever is inapplicable to
dogs. Some make a price on dogs at so much per head, others stipulate
that the puppies shall go with the mother, others that two puppies
shall count as one dog--as two lambs usually count as a sheep. Usually
it is provided that all the dogs which have been accustomed to be
together should be included in the bargain.

"The food appropriate for dogs is more like that of man than of sheep,
for they are fed on scraps and bones rather than on grass and leaves.
Care must be taken that they are fed regularly, for, if food is not
provided, hunger will lead them in search of it away from the
flock, unless, indeed, they shall find it in one another, thereby
contradicting the old proverb,[146] or perchance they may realize the
fable of Actaeon and turn their teeth against their master himself.
You would do well to feed them on barley bread soaked in milk, because
when they have become accustomed to that diet they will not readily
desert the flock. They should never be suffered to taste the flesh of
a carrion sheep lest the relish should tempt them to indulge in such
food again. They may be fed also broth made out of bones, or bones
themselves when broken up, for that makes their teeth stronger and the
mouth wider: and thereby the jaws are stretched, while the zest of the
marrow makes the dog fiercer. They should be accustomed to take their
food in the day time where the flock is feeding and at night where the
flock is folded.

"In the matter of breeding it is the practice to line the bitch at the
beginning of spring, for then she is said to be in heat, that is to
say, to show a readiness for breeding. When they are lined at this
season they pup about the solstice, for they go three months. While
they are in pup they should be fed barley bread rather than wheat
bread, for it is more nourishing and makes more milk.

"In the matter of bringing up the puppies after birth: if there are
many in the litter you should choose those you wish to keep and
destroy the others: the fewer you keep the better they will be
nourished, for then their portion of the mother's milk will be larger.

"Chaff or some thing else of that sort should be spread under them,
because the better they are bedded the more easily they are brought
up. Puppies open their eyes twenty days after birth.[147] During the
first two months they are not separated from their mother, but wean
themselves gradually. A number of puppies should be kenneled together,
where they may be encouraged to fight, which will make them fiercer,
but they should never be suffered to tire themselves since weariness
develops cowardice. They should also be accustomed to be tied, at
first with a light leash, and if they attempt to gnaw it they should
be punished by whipping, so that they may not get the habit. On rainy
days their kennels should be bedded with leaves or grass, for two
reasons: that they may not soil themselves or suffer from cold. Some
castrate their puppies thinking them less likely to leave the flock,
but others do not, thinking that the operation makes them less fierce.
Some rub their ears and between their toes with a suffusion of bitter
almonds steeped in water because flies, ticks and fleas usually
develop sores in those parts, unless it is your practice to so anoint
them. To protect them from wounds from wild beasts we place collars on
them, of the kind which we call _melium_, which is a girth around the
neck made from strong leather studded with nails and lined with soft
leather to protect the neck from being chafed by the hard iron heads
of the nails: for if a wolf or other wild beast is once wounded by
these nails all the other dogs are safe from his attack, even if they
have no collars.

"The number of dogs to be kept is determined by the size of the flock,
usually one dog for every shepherd is considered enough, but the
practice varies. Thus there should be more in localities where wild
beasts are plentiful, and those increase the number also who are wont
to drive their flocks over the long forest drift ways to their summer
or their winter feeding grounds.

"But two dogs are enough for a flock kept on a farm: in which case
they should be male and female, for they are more attached and, by
emulation, fiercer, and if one is sick for a protracted time the flock
will not be without a dog."

Here Atticus looked around as if to enquire whether he had omitted any

"This is the silence," said I, "which summons another player on the

_Of shepherds_

X. "The rest of this act," I added, "relates to how many and what kind
of shepherds are necessary."

Cossinius took the cue. "For large cattle," he said, "men of full age
are required; for small cattle boys will do: but in either case those
who drive their flocks and herds on the drift ways must be stouter
than those who remain on the farm and return to the steading every

"So in the wood pastures _(saltus)_ it behooves one to have young men
and usually armed men, while on the farm boys or even girls may tend
the flock. Those who use the distant feeding grounds should require
their shepherds to feed their flocks together all day, but at night
to remain each one with his own flock. They should all be under
the supervision of one flock master, who should be older and more
experienced than the others, because they will obey more cheerfully
one who surpasses them in age and knowledge; and yet the flock master
should be of such years that he may not be prevented by age from hard
work: for neither old men nor boys can endure the steeps of the drift
ways, nor the ardours and roughness of the mountains, which must be
suffered by those who follow flocks, especially cattle and goats, to
whom the rocks and the forests are pleasant grazing places.

"So far as concerns the conformation of the men chosen for these
occupations, they should be strong and swift and active, with ready
limbs not only able to follow the cattle but to defend them from the
incursions of wild beasts and of brigands: men who can load the packs
on the sumpter beasts: can run and throw a javelin.[148]

"Every nation is not fit for tending cattle, especially the Basculi and
the Turduli [of Spain]. The Gauls are the best of all, particularly
for draught cattle.

"In the matter of the purchase of shepherds, there are six usual
methods of obtaining lawful title to a slave: (i) by inheritance, (2)
by due form of mancipation, which is delivery of possession by one
who has the legal right, (3) by the legal process called surrender in
court (_cessio in jure_) from one who has that right, the transfer
taking place where it should, (4) by prescriptive use (_usucapion_),
(5) by purchase of a prisoner of war "under the crown" (6) by auction
at the distribution of some one's property by order of court under the
process known as _bonorum emptio_.[149]

"The _peculium_ or personal property of the slave usually passes with
him to a new master unless it is specially excepted in the terms of
sale: there is also the usual guaranty as to the health of the slave
and that he has committed no theft or tort for which his master is
legally responsible, and, unless the purchase is by mancipation, the
bargain is bound by an obligation of double indemnity, or in the
amount of the purchase price alone, if that is the agreement.

"The shepherds should take their meals separately during the day, each
one with his flock, but in the evening they should meet at a common
supper under the supervision of the flock master.[150] It should be the
duty of the flock master to see that every thing is provided which may
be required by the flock or by the shepherds, chiefly the victuals
for the men and medicine for the flock: for which the master should
provide beasts of burden, either horses or some thing else which can
carry a load on its back.

"As to what relates to the breeding of shepherds, it is easy, so far as
concerns those who remain on the farm all the time because they can
have a fellow servant to wife at the farmstead, for Venus Pastoralis
demands no more. Some hold that it is expedient also to furnish
women[151] for those who pasture the flocks in the Saltus and the
forests and have no residence but find their shelter from the rain
under improvised sheds: that such women following the flocks and
preparing the food for the shepherds keep the men better satisfied and
more devoted to their duty. But they must needs be strong though not
deformed, and not less capable of work then the men themselves, as
they are in many localities and as may be seen throughout Illyricum,
where the women feed the flocks or carry in wood for the fire and cook
the food, or keep watch over the household utensils in their cottages.

"As to the method of raising their children, it suffices to say that
the shepherd women are usually both mothers and nurses at the same

At this Cossinius looked at me and said: "I have heard you relate
that, when you were in Liburnia, you saw women big with child bringing
in fire wood and at the same time carrying a nursing child, or even
two of them, thus putting to shame those slender reeds, the women of
our class, who are wont to lie abed under mosquito bars for days at a
time when they are pregnant."

"That is true," I replied, "and the contrast is even more marked in
Illyricum, where it often happens that a pregnant woman whose time has
come will leave her work for a little while and return with a new born
child which you would think she had found rather than borne.[152]

"Not only this, the custom of that country permits the girls as much as
twenty years of age, whom they call virgins, to go about unprotected
and to give themselves to whomever they wish and to have children
before marriage."

"As to what pertains to the health of man and beast," resumed
Cossinius, "and the leech craft which may be practised without the aid
of a physician, the flock master should have the rules written down:
indeed, the flock master must have some education, otherwise he can
never keep his flock accounts properly.[153]

"As to the number of shepherds, some make a narrow, some a broad,
allowance. I have one shepherd for every eighty long wool sheep:
Atticus here has one for every hundred. One can reduce the number
of men required in respect of large flocks (like those containing
a thousand head or more) much more readily than in respect of
comparatively small flocks, like Atticus' and mine, for I have only
seven hundred head of sheep, and you, Atticus, have, I believe, eight
hundred, though we are alike in providing a ram for every ten ewes.
Two men are required to care for a herd of fifty mares: and each of
them should have a mare broken for riding to serve as a mount in those
localities where it is the custom to drive the mares to pasture, as
often happens in Apulia and Lucania."

_Of milk and cheese and wool_

XI. "And now that we have fulfilled our promise, let us go," said

"Not until you have added some thing," I cried, "concerning that
supplemental profit from cattle which was promised; namely, of milk
and cheese and the shearing of wool."

So Cossinius resumed:

"Ewes' milk, and, after it, goats' milk, is the most nourishing of all
liquids which we drink. As a purgative, mares' milk ranks first, and,
after it, in order, asses' milk, cows' milk and goats' milk, but
the quality depends upon what has been fed to the cattle, upon the
condition of the cattle, and upon when it is milked.

"So far as concerns the food of the cattle, milk is nourishing which
is made from barley and stover and other such kinds of dry and hard
cattle food.

"So far as concerns its purgative qualities, milk is good when made
from green stuff, especially if it is grass containing plants which,
taken by themselves, have a purgative effect upon the human body.

"So far as concerns the condition of the cattle, that milk is best
which comes from cattle in vigorous health and from those still young.

"So far as concerns the time of milking, that milk is best which comes
neither from a 'stripper' nor from a recently fresh dam.

"The cheese made of cows' milk is the most agreeable to the taste but
the most difficult to digest: next, that of ewes' milk, while the
least agreeable in taste, but the most easily digested, is that of
goats' milk.

"There is also a distinction between cheese when it is soft and new
made and when it is dry and old, for when it is soft it is more
nourishing and digestible, but the opposite is true of old and dry

"The custom is to make cheese from the rising of the Pleiades in spring
to their rising in summer, and yet the rule is not invariable, because
of difference in locality and the supply of forage.

"The practice is to add a quantity of rennet, equal to the size of an
olive, to two _congii_ of milk to make it curdle. The rennet taken
from the stomachs of the hare and the kid is better than that from
lambs, but some use as a ferment the milk of the fig tree mixed with
vinegar, and some times sprinkled with other vegetable products.
In parts of Greece this is called [Greek: opos], elsewhere [Greek:

"I am prepared to believe," I said, "that the fig tree standing beside
the chapel of the goddess Rumina[154] was planted by shepherds for the
purpose you mention, for there is it the practice to make libations of
milk rather than of wine or to sacrifice suckling pigs. For men used
to use the word _rumis_ or _ruma_ where we now say _mamma_, signifying
a teat: hence even now suckling lambs are called _subrumi_ from the
teat they suck, just as we call suckling pigs _lactantes_ from _lac_,
the milk that comes from the teat."

Cossinius resumed:

"If you sprinkle your cheese with salt it is better to use the mineral
than the marine kind.

"Concerning the shearing of sheep, the first thing to be looked into
before you begin is that the sheep are not suffering from scab or
sores, as it is better to wait, if necessary, until they are cured
before shearing.

"The time to shear is between the vernal equinox and the summer
solstice, when the sheep begin to sweat (it is the sweat which gives
new clipped wool its name _sucida_). As soon as the sheep are sheared
they are smeared with a mixture[155] of wine and oil, some add white
wax and hogs' grease. If they are sheep which are kept blanketed, the
inside of the blanket should be anointed with this mixture before it
is put on again.

"If the sheep has suffered any wound during the shearing, it should be
treated with liquid tar.

"Long wool sheep are usually sheared about the time of the barley
harvest: in some places before the hay harvest.

"Some men shear their sheep twice a year, as in hither Spain, investing
double work because they think they get more wool, just as some men
mow their meadows twice a year. Careful shepherds are wont to shear on
a mat so as not to lose any of the wool. A clear day should be chosen
for the shearing and it is usually done between the fourth and the
tenth hours (10 a.m.-4 p.m.) since wool sheared in the hot sun is
softer, heavier and of better colour by reason of the sweat of the
sheep. Wool which has been collected and packed in bags is called
_vellera_ or _velamina_, words derived from _vellere_, to pull, whence
it may be concluded that the practice of pulling wool is older than
shearing. Those who pull the wool today make a practice of starving
their sheep for three days before, because when they are weak the wool
yields more readily."

"Speaking of shearing," I said, "it is reported that the first
barbers were brought into Italy from Sicily in the year 453 after the
foundation of Rome (B.C. 300) by P. Ticinius Menas, as appears from
the inscription in the public square of Ardea. The statues of the
ancients show that formerly there were no barbers because most of them
have long hair and a heavy beard."[156]

Cossinius resumed:

"As the wool of the sheep serves to make clothes, so the hair of
goats is employed: on ships, in making military engines and certain
implements of industry. Certain nations, indeed, are clad in goat
skins, as in Gaetulia and Sardinia. Their use for this purpose by
the ancient Greeks is apparent, because old men in the tragedies are
called [Greek: diphtheriai], from the fact that they were clad in
goat skins: and it is the custom also in our comedies to dress rustic
characters in goat skins, like the youth in the _Hypobolimaeus_ (the
Counterfeit) of Caecilius, and the old man in the _Heautontimorumenos_
(the Self Tormentor) of Terence.

"It is the practice to shear goats in the greater part of Phrygia
because there the goats have heavy coats, of which cilicia (so called
because the practice of shearing goats began in the city of that name)
and other hair cloth materials of that kind are made."

With this Cossinius stopped, and, while he was waiting for criticism
of what he had said, Vitulus' freedman, coming into town from the
gardens [of his master] turned to us and said, "I was on my way to
your house to invite you to come early so as not to shorten the

And so, my dear Turranius Niger, we separated: Scrofa and I going to
the gardens of Vitulus; the others, some home and some to see Menas.



_Introduction: the antiquity of country life_


There are two modes of human life, my dear Pinnius, which are
manifestly as different in the time of their origin as they are in
their habitat, that of the country and that of the town. Country life
is much the more ancient, for time was when men lived altogether in
the country and had no towns: indeed, the oldest town in Greece,
according to the tradition, is the Boeotian Thebes, which was founded
by King Ogyges, and in our own land that of Rome, founded by King
Romulus of which now it may be affirmed with confidence, as was not
possible when Ennius wrote:

  "'Tis seven hundred years, or more or less,
  Since first illustrious Rome began her sway,
  With hallowed augury."

Now, if it is admitted that Thebes was founded before the deluge,
which is known by Ogyges' name, its age is not more than about
twenty-one hundred years: and if that period is compared with the
lapse of time since men began to cultivate the land and to live in
huts and hovels, knowing naught of city walls and gates, it is evident
that life in the country preceded life in town by a tale of immemorial
years. Nor is this to be wondered at since 'God made the country and
man made the town.'[157] While the tradition is that all the arts were
invented in Greece within a thousand years, there never was a time
when the earth could not be cultivated. And, as life in the country
is the more ancient, so it is the better life: for it was not without
good reason that our ancestors were wont to plant colonies of citizens
in the country, because by them they were both fed in times of peace
and protected in times of war: nor was it without significance that
they called both the Earth and Ceres by the common name of Mother and
esteemed that those who worshipped her lead a life at once pious and
useful and were the sole representatives left on earth of the race of
Saturn. A proof of this is that the mysteries peculiar to the cult of
Ceres were called _Initia_, the very name indicating that they related
to the beginning of things.

A further proof that country life was earlier than that of town is
found in the name of the town of Thebes, which was bestowed from the
character of its situation rather than from the name of its founder:
for in the ancient language, and among the Aeolians who had their
origin in Boeotia, a small hill is called _tebas_ without the
aspirate; and in the Sabine country, where Pelasgians from Greece
settled, they still have the same locution: witness that hill called
Tebae which stands in the Sabine country on the via Salaria not far
from the mile stone of Reate. At first agriculture was conducted on so
small a scale that it had little distinction, since those who followed
it, being sprung from shepherds, at once sowed their corn and
pastured their flocks on the same land, but as later this art grew in
importance the husbandry of live stock was separated, and it befel
that some men were called farmers and others shepherds.

The art of feeding live stock should really be divided into two
branches, as is not yet fully appreciated, one relating to the stock
kept at the steading, the other to the stock pastured in the fields.
The latter, which is designated by the name _pecuaria_, is well known
and highly esteemed so that rich men, either lease or buy much
pasture land in order to carry it on: the other, which is known as
_villatice_, has, because it seemed to be of less importance, been
treated by some as an incident of the husbandry of agriculture, when
in fact it should be made a part of the husbandry of live stock: nor
has it been described separately and at length by any one, so far as I

And so, as I think that there are three branches of farm management
which are undertaken for profit, namely: agriculture, live stock and
the industries peculiar to the steading, I have planned three books,
of which I have already written two, the first concerning the
husbandry of agriculture, which I dedicated to my wife Fundania, and
the second concerning the husbandry of live stock to Turranius Niger:
the third, relating to the profits of those industries which are
carried on at the steading, I now send herewith to you; for the fact
that we are neighbours and entertain a mutual affection seems to
demand that it should be dedicated to you above all others.

Although you have a villa, which is remarkable for the beauty of its
workmanship within and without, and for the splendour of its mosaic
pavements, still you deem it to be bare unless you have the walls
decorated also with books: so in like manner that your villa may be
more distinguished by the profits you derive from it than by the
character of its construction, and that I may be of assistance to that
end, so far as may be, I have sent you this book, which is a summary
of some conversations which we have had on the subject of what makes
the perfectly equipped villa: and so I begin as follows:

_Of the definition of a Roman villa_

II. The Senator Q. Axius, my fellow tribesman, and I had cast our
votes at the comitia for the election of aediles, and, although it was
the heat of the day, we wished to be on hand when the candidate whom
we were supporting should go home. So Axius said to me: "What would
you think of taking shelter in the _villa publica_[158] while the votes
are being sorted rather than in the booth of our candidate." "I hold,"
said I, "not only with the proverb that bad advice is worst for him
who gives it, but that good advice is good for both the giver and the

And so we made our way to the _villa publica_, where we found Appius
Claudius,[159] the Augur, seated on a bench waiting for any call for his
services by the Consul: on his left was Cornelius Merula (blackbird)
of the Consular family of that name, and Fircellius Pavo (pea-cock)
of Reate, and on his right Minutius Pica (mag-pie) and M. Petronius
Passer (sparrow). When we had approached them Axius, smiling, said to
Appius: "May we come into your aviary where you are sitting among the

"By all means," replied Appius, "and especially you who set before me
such birds as still make my mouth water, when I was your guest a few
days ago at your Reatine villa on my way to lake Velinus to settle the
controversy between the people of Interamna and Reate.[160]

"But" he added, "is not this villa, which our ancestors constructed,
simpler and so better than that elaborate one of yours at Reate: do
you see any where here any furniture of citrus wood or ormolu, any
decorations of vermillion or blue, any tessellations or mosaic work,
all of which on the other hand were displayed in your house? And while
this is open to the entire people, yours is available to you alone:
this is the resort for the citizens after the comitia in the Campus
Martius, and for all alike, while yours is reserved for mares and
asses. And furthermore it should be considered that this building is
useful in carrying on the public business, for here the consuls review
the army on parade, here the arms are inspected, here the censors
enumerate the people."

"Tell me," retorted Axius, "which is useful, this villa of yours
giving on the Campus Martius, more extravagantly arrayed with objects
of art than all Reate put together, so bedizened is it with pictures
and garnished with statues, or mine where there is no trace of the
artists Lysippus or Antiphilus, but there are many of the farm hand
and the shepherd?

"And since there can be no villa where there is no farm and that well
cultivated, how can you call this house of yours a villa which has no
land appurtenant to it and no cattle or horses? Again, tell me, pray,
how does your villa compare with that of your grandfather and great
grandfather, for one cannot see at yours, as one could always see at
theirs, cured hay in the mows, the vintage in the cellar, and the
harvest in the granary? Because, forsooth, a house is situated out of
town, it is no more a villa for that reason than the houses of those
who dwell beyond the Porta Flumentaria or in the Aemiliana suburb."

"Since it appears that I do not know what a villa is," replied Appius,
smiling, "I wish you would be good enough to instruct me, so that I
may not make a fool of myself, as I am planning to buy from M. Seius
his villa at Ostia: for if a mere house is not a villa unless it is
equipped with a jackass costing forty thousand sesterces ($2,000),
like that you showed me at your place, I fear that I would be making
a mistake in buying Seius' house on the shore at Ostia in the belief
that it is a villa. But it was our friend Merula here who put me in
mind of buying this house, for he told me that he had spent several
days there and that he had never seen a more delightful villa, and yet
he saw there no paintings, nor any bronze or marble statues, neither
did he see any wine press, or oil mill, or oil jars."

"And what kind of a villa is this," said Axius, turning to Merula,
"where there are neither the ornaments of a town house nor the
utensils of a farm?"

"Do you consider," said Merula, "that your house on the bank of
Velinus, which neither painter nor architect has ever seen, is any
less a villa than the one you have in Rosea so elegantly decorated
with the work of an architect and which you share with your famous

Axius admitted, with a nod, that a simple farm house was as much
entitled to be called a villa as any house which united the
characteristics of both town and country, and asked what he deduced
from this.

"What?" said Merula. "Why, if your estate in Rosea is to be approved
by reason of the husbandry which you carry on, and is properly called
a villa because there cattle are fed and stabled, then, by the same
reasoning, all those houses should be called villas in which large
profits are derived from husbandry: for what difference does it make
whether you derive your profit from sheep or from birds? Is the income
any sweeter which comes from cattle in which bees are generated, than
from the bees themselves, such as work in their hives at the villa of
Seius? Do you sell to the butcher the hogs which you raise at your
farm for more than Seius sells his wild boars to the meat market?"

"Am I any less able," replied Axius, "to have these things at my farm
at Reate: is Sicilian honey made at Seius' place and only Corsican
honey at Reate,[161] and does the mast which he buys for his wild boars
make them fat while that which I get for nothing from my woods makes
mine lean?"

"But," said Appius, "Merula does not deny that you _can_ carry on at
your villa the kind of husbandry which Seius does at his, yet I myself
have seen that you don't.

"For there are two kinds of husbandry of live stock: one in the fields,
as of cattle; and the other at the steading, as of chickens and
pigeons and bees and other such things which are usually kept at a

"About the latter, Mago the Carthaginian, and Cassius Dionysius and
others have treated specially in different parts of their books, and
it would seem that Seius has read their precepts and so has learned
how to make more profit from his villa alone by such husbandry than
others make out of an entire farm."

"Certainly," agreed Merula, "for I have seen there great flocks of
geese, chickens, pigeons, cranes and pea-cocks: also dormice, fish,
wild boars and other such game.[162] The freedman who keeps his books
which Varro has seen, assured me when he was doing the honours in the
absence of his master, that Seius derives an income of more than fifty
thousand sesterces ($2,500) per annum from his villa."

As Axius seemed astonished, I asked him: "Surely you know the estate
of my aunt in the Sabine country which is at the twenty-fourth mile
stone from Rome on the via Salaria."

"Of course, I do," Axius replied, "for it is there that I am wont to
divide the day in summer on my way from Reate to town and to spend the
night when I come thence in winter."

"Well," I continued, "in that villa there is an aviary from which
I know that there were taken in one season five thousand thrushes,
which, at three deniers apiece, means that that department of the
establishment brought in a revenue of sixty thousand sesterces that
year, or twice the yield of the entire two hundred jugera of your farm
at Reate."[163]

"What, sixty thousand," exclaimed Axius, "sixty thousand: you are
making game of me!"

"Sixty thousand," I affirmed, "but in order that you might realize
such a lucky throw you will require either a public banquet or a
triumph on the scale of that of Scipio Metellus, or club dinners,
which indeed have now become so frequent as to raise the price of
provisions of the market."

"You will perchance expect this return every year," said Merula, "so I
trust that your aviary may not lead you into a loss. But surely in such
good times as these it could not happen that you would fail, except
rarely, for what year is there that does not see such a feast or a
triumph, or club dinners, such as now-a-days consume victuals without
number. Nay," he added, "it seems that in our habit of luxury such a
public banquet is a daily occurrence within the gates of Rome."[164]

To supplement the examples of such profits: L. Albutius, a learned
man and, as you know, the author of certain satires in the manner of
Lucilius, has said that the returns from feeding live stock on his
Alban farm are always less than his income from his villa, for the
farm yields less than ten thousand sesterces and the villa more than
twenty. He even maintains that if he should establish a villa near
the sea in such a place as he might choose he could derive from it
an income of more than a hundred thousand sesterces. Did not M. Cato
recently sell forty thousand sesterces worth of fishes from the fish
ponds of Lucullus after he had accepted the administration of his

"My dear Merula," exclaimed Axius, "take me, I beg of you, as your
pupil in the art of the husbandry of the steading."

"I will begin," replied Merula, "as soon as you promise me a minerval
in the form of a dinner."[165]

"You shall have it," said Axius, "both today, and hereafter as well,
off those delicacies you will teach me to rear."

"I fear," replied Merula, "that what you may offer me at the beginning
of your experience with villa feeding will be dead geese or deceased

"And what difference will it make to you," retorted Axius, "if I do
serve you fish or fowl which has come to an untimely end: for in no
event could you eat them unless they were dead: but I beg you," he
added, "matriculate me in the school of villa husbandry and expound to
me the theory and the practice of it."

Merula accepted the invitation cheerfully.

_Of the Roman development of the industries of the steading_

III. "In the first place," he said, "you should know what kind of
creatures you may raise or feed in or about a villa, either for your
profit or for your pleasure. There are three divisions for this study:
poultry houses, warrens and fish ponds.

"I include under the head of poultry houses the feeding of all kinds of
fowls which are usually kept within the walls of a steading: under the
head of warrens not merely what our great grandfathers meant--places
where rabbits were usually kept--but any enclosure adjoining a villa
in which game animals are enclosed to be fed. In like manner I include
under the head of fish ponds all those places in which fish are kept
at a villa either in fresh or salt water.

"Each of these divisions may be separated into at least two parts: thus
the first, that with respect to poultry houses, should be treated with
reference to a classification of fowls as between those which are
content on land alone, such as pea-cocks, turtle doves, thrushes; and
those which require access to water as well as land, such as geese,
widgeons and ducks. So the second division, that relating to game, has
two different classifications: one which includes the wild boar, the
roe buck and hares; the other bees, snails and dormice.

"The third, or aquatic division, likewise has two classifications, one
including fresh water fish, the other salt water fish.

"In order to secure and maintain a supply of these six classes of stock
it is necessary to provide a force of three kinds of artificers,
namely: fowlers, hunters and fishermen, or else you may buy breeding
stock from such men, and trust to the diligence of your servants to
rear and fatten their offspring until they are ready for market.
Certain of them, such as dormice, snails and chickens, may, however,
be obtained without the aid of a hunter's net, and doubtless the
business of keeping them began with the stock native to every farm:
for the breeding even of chickens has not been a monopoly of the Roman
augurs, to make provision for their auspices, but has been practised
by all farmers from the beginning of time.[166] From such a start in the
kind of husbandry we are now discussing, the next step was to provide
masonry enclosures near the steading to confine game, and these served
as well for shelter for the bee-stand, for originally the bees were
wont to make their hives under the eaves of the farm house itself.

"The third division, that of keeping fish, had its origin in simple
fresh water ponds in which fish taken in the streams were kept.

"There have been two steps in the development of each of these three
conveniences; the earlier distinguished by the ancient simplicity,
the later by our modern luxury. The earlier stage was that of our
ancestors, who had but two places for keeping poultry: one the court
yard of the steading in which chickens were fed and their profit
derived from eggs and pullets, the other above ground, for their
pigeons were kept in the dormers or on the roof of the farm house.

"Now-a-days, on the contrary, what our ancestors called hen-houses are
known as _ornithones_, and serve to house thrushes and pea-cocks
to cater to the delicate appetite of the master: and indeed such
structures now have larger roofs than formerly sufficed to cover an
entire farm house.

"Such has been the progress in respect of warrens also: your father,
Axius, never saw any game but rabbits, nor did there exist in his time
any such extensive enclosures as now are made, many jugera in extent,
to hold wild boars and roe bucks. You can witness," he said, turning
to me, "that you found many wild boars in the warren of your farm at
Tusculum, when you bought it from M. Piso."

In respect of the third class, who was there who used to have any kind
of a fish pond, except of fresh water, stocked merely with cat fish
and mullets, while today our elegants declare that they would as soon
have a pond stocked with frogs as with those fish I have named. You
will recall the story of Philippus when he was entertained at Casinum
by Ummidius: a pickerel caught in your river, Varro, was put before
him, he tasted it and forthwith spat it out, exclaiming "May I perish,
but I thought it was fish!"[167]

As the luxury of this age has enlarged our warrens, so has it carried
our fish ponds even to the sea itself and has herded shoals of sea
fish into them. Have not Sergius Orata (goldfish) and Licinius Murena
(lamprey) taken their cognomens from fishes for this reason? And who
does not know the fame of the fish ponds of Philippus, of Hortensius,
and of the brothers Lucullus?

"Where, then, Axius, do you wish me to begin?"

_Of aviaries_

IV. "I prefer," replied Axius, "that you should begin with the
sequel--_postprincipia_, as they say in the camps--that is, with
the present day rather than with the past, because the profits from
pea-cocks are greater than those from hens, I will not dissemble that
I wish to hear first of _ornithones_ because the thrushes which are
kept in them make the very name sound like money: indeed, the 60,000
sesterces of Fircelina have consumed me with avarice."

"There are two kinds of _ornithones_," replied Merula; "one for
pleasure, like that so much admired which our friend Varro here has at
his villa near Casinum: the other for profit, such as are maintained
commercially, some even indoors in town, but chiefly in the Sabine
country which abounds in thrushes. There is a third kind, consisting
of a combination of the two I have mentioned, such as Lucullus
maintained at his Tusculan villa, where he contrived a dining room
under the same roof as his aviary to the end that he might feast
delicately, satisfying two senses, now by eating the birds cooked and
spread on a platter, now by seeing them flying about the windows: but
the truth is that he was disappointed, for the eyes did not take as
much pleasure from the sight of the flying birds as the nostrils were
offended by their odour."

_a. For profit_

V. "But, as I gather you would prefer, Axius, I will speak of that kind
of _ornithon_ which is established for profit, whence, but not where,
fat thrushes are served.

"For this purpose is built a dome, in the form of a peristyle, with
a roof over it and enclosed with netting, sufficiently large to
accommodate several thousand thrushes[168] and blackbirds; indeed, some
also include other kinds of birds, such as ortolans and quail, which
sell for a good price when fat. Into this enclosure water should be
conducted through a conduit and so disposed as to wind through the
aviary in channels narrow enough to be cleaned easily (for if the
water spreads out it is quickly polluted and rendered unfit to drink)
and draining like a running stream to find its vent through another
conduit, so that the birds may not be exposed to the risk of mud. The
door should be low and narrow and well balanced on its hinges like
the doors they have in the amphitheatres where bulls are fought: few
windows and so placed that the birds cannot see trees and wild birds
without, for that makes the prisoners pine and grow thin. The place
should have only so much light as may be necessary to enable the birds
to see where they are to perch and to eat and drink. The doors and the
windows should be lightly stuccoed round about to keep out rats and
other such vermin.

"Around the wall of the building on the inside are fastened many
perches where the birds can sit, and another such convenience should
be contrived from poles set on the ground and leaning against the
walls and tied together with other poles fastened transversely at
regular intervals, thus giving the appearance of the rising degrees of
a theatre. Down on the ground near the drinking water you should place
the birds' food, which usually consists of little balls of a paste
made out of figs and corn meal: but for twenty days before you intend
to market your thrushes it is customary to feed them more heavily,
both by giving them more food and that chiefly of finer meal.

"In this enclosure there should also be cages with wooden floors which
may serve the birds as resting places supplementing the perches.

"Next to the aviary should be contrived a smaller structure, called the
_seclusorium_, in which the keeper may array the birds found dead, to
render an account of them to his master, and where he may drive the
birds which are ready for market from the larger aviary: and to this
end this smaller room is connected with the main cage by a large door
and has more light: and there, when he has collected the number he
wishes to market, the keeper kills them, which is done secretly, lest
the others might despond at the sight and themselves die before they
are ready for market.

"Thrushes are not like other birds of passage which lay their eggs in
particular places, as the swan does in the fields and the swallows
under the roof, but they lay anywhere: for, despite their masculine
name (_turdus_) there are female thrushes, just as there are male
blackbirds, although they have a purely feminine name (_merula_).

"All birds are divided as between those which are of passage, like
swallows and cranes, and those which are domestic, like chickens and
pigeons: thrushes are birds of passage and every year fly from across
the sea into Italy about the time of the autumn equinox, returning
about the spring equinox. At another season doves and quail do the
same in immense numbers, as may be seen in the neighbouring islands of
Pontia, Palmaria and Pandataria, for there they are wont to rest a few
days on their arrival and again before they set out across the sea
from Italy."

_b. For pleasure_

"So," said Appius to Axius, "if you enclose five thousand thrushes
in such an aviary as Merula has described and there happens to be a
banquet or a triumph, you will gain forthwith that sixty thousand
sesterces which you so keenly covet and be able to lend the money out
at good interest." And then, turning to me, he added, "Do you tell us
of that other kind of ornithon, namely: for pleasure merely, for it is
said that you have constructed one near Casinum which surpasses not
only the original built by the inventor of such flying cages, our
friend M. Laenius Strabo of Brundisium (who was the first to keep
birds confined in the chamber of a peristyle and to feed them through
the net), but also the vast structures of Lucullus at Tusculum."

"You know," I said, "that there flows through my estate near
Casinum[169] a stream which is both deep and clear and fifty-seven feet
wide between the masonry embankments, so that it is necessary to use
bridges to get from one part of the property to the other. On the
upper reach of this stream is situated my Museum[170] and at a distance
of 950 feet below is an island formed by the confluence of another
stream. Along the bank for this distance is an uncovered walk ten feet
broad and between this walk and the field is the location of my aviary
enclosed on both sides, right and left, with high masonry walls. The
_ornithon_ itself is built in the shape of a writing tablet with a
capital on it, the main quadrangle being forty-eight feet wide and
seventy-two feet long, the capital semi-circular with a radius of
twenty-seven feet. To this a covered walk or portico is joined, as
it were across the bottom of the page of the tablet, with passages
leading on either side of the _ornithon_ proper which contains the
cages, to the upper end of the interior quadrangle [_adjoining the
capital_]. This portico is constructed of a series of stone columns
between which and the main outside walls are planted dwarf shrubs,
a net of hemp being stretched from the top of the walls to the
architrave of the portico, and thence down to the stylobate or floor.
The exterior spaces thus enclosed are filled with all kinds of birds
which are fed through the net, water being provided by a small running
stream. On the interior sides of the porticos, and adjoining them at
the upper end of the interior quadrangle, are constructed on both
sides two narrow oblong basins. Between these basins a path leads
to the _tholus_, or rotunda, which is surrounded with two rows of
columns, like that in the house of Catulus, except that I have
substituted columns for walls. Beyond these columns at the end is
a grove of large transplanted trees forming a roof of leaves, but
admitting light underneath, as that is entirely cut off by the high
walls on the sides. Between the exterior row of columns of the
_tholus_, which are of stone, and the interior row, which are of pine,
there is a narrow space, five feet in width. The exterior columns are
filled in with a transparent net instead of walls, thus permitting the
birds to look out upon the grove and the wild birds there but without
escaping: the interior columns being filled in with the net of the
main aviary. The space between the two rows of columns thus enclosed
is equipped with perches for the birds in the form of many rods let
into all the columns in ascending array like the degrees of a theatre;
and here are enclosed all kinds of birds, but chiefly singing birds,
like nightingales and blackbirds, for whom water is conducted by means
of a small canal and food is supplied under the net. [_Under the
lantern of the tholus is a basin of water: and around this_] a foot
and nine inches below the stylobate or pedestal of the interior row
of columns, runs a stone platform. This is five feet in width and two
feet above the level of the basin, thus affording a space on which
my bird guests may hop about from the cushions to the little columns
[_which are there provided for them_].[171]

"The basin is immediately surrounded with a quay a foot in width
adjoining [but below the level of] the platform and has a little
island in the middle. Around the platform and the quay are contrived
docks for ducks. On the island is a little column arranged to turn
on its axis and carrying a wheel-shaped table with hollow drum-like
dishes fashioned at the ends of the spokes two and a half feet wide
and a palm in depth. This is turned by a boy whose business that is,
so that meat and drink is put before all my bird guests in turn. From
the elevation of the platform, where mats are usually placed, the
ducks go out to swim in the basin, and from this streams flow into
the two basins I have already described, and little fish may be seen
darting from one to the other, while warm or cold water may be turned
on the guests from the circumference of the revolving table, which I
have described as equipped with spokes.

"Within the dome is an arrangement to tell the hours by marking the
position in the heavens of the sun by day and Hesperus by night: and
furthermore, as in the clock which [Andronicus] Cyrrestes constructed
at Athens, the eight winds are depicted on the dome, and, by means of
an arrow connecting with a vane, the prevailing wind is indicated to
those within."[172]

As we were talking an uproar was heard on the Campus Martius. While
this did not astonish old parliamentary hands[173] like ourselves, who
knew the enthusiasm of an election, yet we were anxious to know what
it meant, and at this moment Pantuleius Parra came up and told us that
while the votes were being sorted some one was caught stuffing the
ballot box[174] and had been haled before the consul by the supporters
of the rival candidate. Pavo rose to go, for it was understood that
he who had been arrested was the campaign manager of Pavo's own

_Of pea-cocks_

VI. "Now that Fircellius is gone you can speak freely of pea-cocks,"
said Axius, "for if you should say any thing to their disadvantage in
his presence, you might perchance have a crow to pluck with him on
account of his relationship."[175]

"Within my memory," said Merula, "the practice of keeping commercial
flocks of pea-cocks has largely developed and it has so developed
that M. Aufidius Lurco is said to derive an income of sixty thousand
sesterces per annum from them. If you keep them for profit it is well
to have somewhat fewer males than females; while the contrary is true
if you keep them for pleasure, for the pea-cock far surpasses his hen
in beauty. With us they are fed in the country, but abroad it is said
that they are kept on islands, as at Samos in the grove of Juno and at
Planasia, the island of M. Piso. In setting up a flock age and beauty
must be considered, for nature has given the palm of beauty to the
pea-cock among all the birds. The hens are not fit for breeding under
two years of age, nor when they are aged. They are fed all kinds of
grain but chiefly barley. Scius makes a practice of feeding them a
modius of barley apiece for the month before they begin to breed, his
purpose being to make them more productive. He expects his overseer to
raise three pea fowl for every hen, and he sells them when matured for
fifty deniers ($10) a piece, a price such as one never obtains for a

"Furthermore, he buys eggs and sets them under dunghill hens,
transferring the young pea fowls so hatched to the shelter set apart
for their kind. This house should be built large enough for the number
of pea fowl to be kept and should be equipped with separate roosting
places smoothly stuccoed, so that snakes and such vermin may not be
able to get into it: and, furthermore, it should have attached to it
a run in which the pea fowl may feed on sunny days, and both these
places should be kept clean, as this kind of fowl demands. The keeper
should make the rounds often with a shovel to collect and preserve
their manure, which is not only fit for use in agriculture but serves
also as bedding for your pea chicks.

"It is said that Q. Hortensius was the first to serve pea-cocks at
dinner, on the occasion of his inauguration as an augur, an evidence
of prodigality which was more approved by the luxurious than by good
men of simple manners: but many others quickly followed his example,
so that the price of pea fowl was raised until an egg sold for five
deniers ($1) and a pea fowl itself readily for fifty ($10), thus a
flock of an hundred of them easily yields an income of forty thousand
sesterces, ($2,000), or even sixty ($3,000), if, as Abuccius advises,
one obtains three chickens from every pea hen."

_Of pigeons_

VII. In the meanwhile an apparitor came to Appius from the Consul and
said that the augurs were summoned. As Appius went out from the _villa
publica_, a flock of pigeons flew in, whereupon Merula said to Axius:
"If you had established a [Greek: peristerogropheion] you would think
that these were your pigeons, although they are wild, for it is the
custom to keep both kinds in a [Greek: peristerotropheion]. One is the
wild dove (or, as some call them the rock dove, or _saxatilis_), such
as live in the towers and dormers (_columines_) of a farm house,
whence they get the name _columbae_, because, on account of their
natural timidity, they seek the highest places on the roof. On this
account wild doves usually frequent towers, to which they may fly
from the fields of their own accord, and return.[177] The other kind of
pigeons is tamer and are wont to seek their food at the very threshold
of a house. This kind is usually white in colour, the wild variety
being mottled but without any white. From these two stocks a third or
mixed variety has been developed for commercial profit and these are
collected in the place which some call a _peristereon_ (pigeon house),
and others a _peristerotropheion_ (place for raising pigeons), where
there are often confined as many as five thousand at a time.

"A pigeon house is made like a great dome, with arched roof, a narrow
entrance, and grilled windows or with wider lattices on all sides so
that the interior may be well lighted and yet no snake or other such
pest may have access. The walls and the dome within and the edges of
the windows without should be smeared with light stucco to keep out
rats and lizards, for nothing is so timid as a pigeon. A round nest
should be provided for each pair of pigeons and these should be
arranged in close order so that there may be established as many as
possible of them ranked from the ground to the very dome. Each nest
should have a door no bigger than necessary to enable the pigeons to
go in and out but within should be of three palms in diameter. Under
each rank of nests should be fastened planks two palms broad for the
use of the pigeons as a vestibule on coming out. Water should be led
into the pigeon house, both for them to drink and to bathe in, for
pigeons are very clean birds. For this reason the keeper of the
pigeons should sweep out the house several times a month, for that
which soils it has so great a. value in agriculture that some writers
even claim that it is the best of all manures. Furthermore, the keeper
in these rounds may tend any pigeon which is ailing, remove any which
are dead, and take out such squabs as are fit for market. Likewise,
those which are setting should be transferred to a particular place,
separated from the others by a net but from which the mothers may
be free to get out of doors: which is done for two reasons: first,
because if they become weary or decrepit from being cooped too long,
they will be refreshed by the free air when they go abroad: secondly,
because they serve as decoys for other pigeons, for their squabs will
always bring them home themselves unless they are struck down by a
crow or cut off by a hawk. Pigeon breeders rid themselves of the
last mentioned pests by planting in the ground two rods smeared with
birdlime and bent in one upon the other, and then tie on some bait
so disposed that when the hawk falls upon his prey he finds himself
entangled in the birdlime and is taken.

"It may be noted that the pigeon has a homing instinct, as is proved by
the practice of many in letting pigeons loose from their bosoms in the
theatre expecting them to return home, for if they did not return the
practice would not persist.

"The food for pigeons is placed in mangers fastened around the walls
and filled from the outside by means of conduits. They thrive on
millet, wheat, barley, peas, beans and vetch. This regimen should be
followed also, as far as possible, in the care of the wild pigeons,
which live on the towers and the roofs of the barn.

"In equipping a [Greek: peristereon] pigeons of good age should be
secured, neither squabs nor veterans, and as many males as females.
Nothing is more prolific than the pigeon, for in forty days they
conceive, lay, hatch and raise a brood, and they keep this up nearly
all the year, stopping only from the winter solstice until spring.
Squabs are hatched in pairs, and as soon as they have grown up and
have strength breed with their own mothers. Those who fatten squabs in
order to sell them dearer, make a practice of isolating them as soon
as they are covered with feathers, then they cram them with white
bread which has been chewed:[178] in winter this is fed twice a day, in
summer three times a day, morning, noon and night, the midday meal
being omitted in winter. Those which are just beginning to have
feathers are left in the nests, but their legs are broken, and, in
order that they may be crammed, the food is put before the mothers,
for they will feed themselves and their squabs on it all day long.
Squabs which are reared in this way become fat more quickly than
others and have whiter flesh.

"A pair of pigeons will commonly sell at Rome for two hundred _nummi_,
if they are well made, of good colour, without blemish, and of good
breed: some times they even bring a thousand _nummi_, and there is
a report that recently L. Axius, a Roman of the equestrian order,
declined that sum, refusing to sell for less than four hundred

"If I could procure a fully equipped [Greek: peristereon]," cried
Axius, "as readily as I have bought a supply of earthen ware nests, I
would have had it already on the way to my farm."

"As if," remarked Pica, "there were not many of them here in town. But
perhaps those who have pigeon houses on their roofs do not seem to you
to be justified in calling them [Greek: peristereonas] even though
some of them represent an investment of more than one hundred thousand
sesterces. I advise you to buy out one of them and learn how to pocket
a profit here in town, before you build on a large scale in the

_Of turtle doves_

VIII. "So much for that then," said Axius. "Proceed, please, to the
next subject, Merula."

"For turtle doves," said Merula, "in like manner a house should be
constructed proportioned to the number you intend to feed, and this,
like the pigeon house, I have described, should have a door and
windows and fresh water and walls and a vaulted roof, but in place of
breeding nests the mutules should be extended through the walls or
poles set in them in regular order with hempen mats on them, the
lowest rank being not more than three feet from the floor, the rest at
intervals of nine inches, the top rank six inches from the vault, and
of equal breadth as the mutule stands out from the wall. On these
the doves are fed day and night. For food they are given dry wheat,
usually a half modius for every one hundred and twenty doves. Every
day the house should be cleaned out, that they may not be injured by
the accumulation of manure, and because also it has its place in the
economy of the farm. The best time for fattening doves is about the
harvest, for then the mothers are in their best condition and produce
young ones not only in the largest number but the best for cramming:
so that is the time when they are most profitable."

_Of poultry_

IX. "Tell me now, if you please, Merula," said Axius, "what I should
know of raising and fattening poultry and wood pigeons, then we can
proceed to the discussion of the remainder of our programme."

"There are three kinds of fowls usually classed as poultry," replied
Merula, "dunghill fowl, jungle fowl and guinea fowl. The dunghill fowl
are those which are constantly kept in the country at farms.

"He who wishes to establish an [Greek: ornithoboskeion] from which, by
the exercise of intelligence and care, he can take large profits, as
the people of Delos do with such great success,[180] should observe five
principal rules: 1° in regard to buying, what kind and how many he
will keep: 2° in regard to breeding: 3° in regard to eggs, how they
are set and hatched: 4° in regard to chicks, how and by whom they are
reared, and 5°, which is a supplement of all the foregoing, how they
are fattened.

"The females of the dunghill fowl are called hens, the breeding males
cocks, and the males which have been altered capons. Cocks are
caponized by burning the spurs[181] with a hot iron until the skin is
broken, the wound being poulticed with potters' clay.

"He who wishes to have a model [Greek: ornithoboskeion] should equip it
with all three kinds of fowls, though chiefly the dunghill variety. In
purchasing these last it is important to choose fertile hens, which
are indicated by red feathers, black wings, unequal toes, large heads,
combs upstanding and heavy, for such hens are more likely to lay.

"A lusty cock may be known by his muscular carriage, his red comb, a
beak short, strong and sharp, eyes tawny or black, wattles a whitish
red, neck spotted or tinged with gold, the second joint of his legs
well covered with feathers, short legs long spurs, a heavy tail, and
profuse feathers, also by his spirit and his frequent crowing, his
readiness to fight, and that he is not only not afraid of such animals
as do the hens harm, but even goes out to fight them. You must be
careful, however, not to buy for breeding any fowls of the breeds
known as Tanagran, Medean and Chalcidean, for, while they are
beautiful to look at and are fit for fighting with one another, they
are practically sterile.

"If you wish to keep a flock of two hundred, choose an enclosed place
and there construct two large poultry houses side by side and looking
to the East, each about ten by five feet and a little less than five
feet in height, and furnished with windows three by four feet in which
are fitted shutters of wickerwork, which will serve to let in plenty
of fresh air and light and yet keep out such vermin as prey upon

"Between the two houses should be a door by which the _gallinarius_ who
takes care of them, may have access. Within the houses enough poles
are arranged to serve as roosts for all the chickens: opposite each
roost a nest should be set in the wall. In front of the house should
be an enclosed yard to which the fowls may have access in the day time
and where they can dust themselves,[182] and there should be constructed
the keeper's house, which should be equipped all about with nests,
either set into the walls or firmly fastened to them, for the least
disturbance injures eggs when they are setting.

"When the hens begin to lay, straw should be spread in their nests and
this should be renewed when they begin to set, for in such bedding
are bred mites and other insects which will not suffer the hen to be
quiet, with the result that the eggs are hatched unequally or rot.

"A hen should not be allowed to set on more than twenty-five eggs,
although such is her fecundity that she lays more than that in a
season. The best time for hatching is from the spring to the autumn
equinox. Eggs laid before or after this season, or the first eggs laid
by a pullet, should never be set. Hens used for setting should be
old rather than young, without sharp beaks and claws, for those so
equipped are better employed in laying than in setting. Hens a year or
two years old are better fitted for laying.

"If you set pea-cock eggs under a hen, you should wait ten days before
adding hen eggs to the nest, to insure them all hatching together, for
the period of incubation of chicken eggs is thrice seven days and that
of the eggs of pea-fowl is thrice nine. Sitting hens should be shut up
day and night, except for a time in the morning and evening, when they
are let out to eat and drink.

"The keeper should make the rounds every few days and turn the eggs,
so that they may be kept warm all over. It is said that you can tell
whether an egg is fertile or sterile by putting it in water: for if it
is sterile it will float, while if it is fertile it will sink. Those
who shake their eggs to ascertain this fact make a mistake for thereby
they destroy the germ in them. It is also said that you can tell a
sterile egg by the fact that it is transparent when held against the

"To preserve eggs they should be rubbed with fine salt or soaked for
three or four hours in brine, and then cleaned off or packed in chaff
or straw. Care should be taken to set eggs only in uneven numbers. The
keeper can tell whether an egg is fertile or not four days after it is
set, by holding it to the light, when he should throw it out if it is
found to be empty and substitute another for it.

"The new hatched chickens should be taken from every nest and given to
a hen who has only a few to care for. When in this way a setting hen
has less than half her eggs left unhatched, they should be taken from
her and put under another hen which has eggs still unhatched. It is
not well to give more than thirty chicks to a hen. Chicks should
be fed for the first fifteen days in the dust to protect them from
injuring their tender beaks on the hard ground: their diet being
crushed barley mixed with cress seed and soaked in wine, for prepared
in this way the grain is digestible. They should be kept away from
water in the beginning. When they begin to have feathers on their legs
the mites should be carefully picked off their heads and necks, for
these banes often destroy them. Deer's horn should be burnt around
their coops to keep snakes away, for the very smell of those vermin is
fatal to young chickens. They should be allowed to run in the sun and
to scratch in a dung heap, which serves to develop them. This rule
applies not only to young chickens but also to the entire [Greek:
ornithoboskeion], and should be practised all summer and even in
winter on mild and sunny days. A net should be stretched over the
chicken yard to keep the fowls themselves from flying out and to
protect them from hawks and other birds of prey. Fowls should be
protected from heat as well as cold, for both are harmful to them.
When the chicks have got their feathers it is best to accustom them to
follow one or two hens, leaving the other hens free to go to laying,
in which occupation they are more useful than in rearing chicks.

"A hen should be set after the new moon, for those which begin earlier
seldom hatch many chicks.

"They hatch usually in twenty days.

"And now since I have discussed the dunghill fowl at some length, I
will make up to you by brevity with respect to the other kinds of

"Jungle fowl are rarely seen at Rome, and then usually in cages. They
resemble guinea chickens more than dunghill fowls. When perfect in
form and appearance they are often carried in the public processions
with parrots and white blackbirds and other such rarities. They do not
usually lay or raise their chickens on a farm, but in the forests. The
island of Gallinaria, which lies in the Tuscan sea off the coast of
Italy, opposite the Ligurian mountains (and the towns of Intermelii
and Alba Ingannua) derives its name from them, though some maintain
that the name comes from dunghill fowl which were carried to that
island by sailors and have there run wild. Guinea fowl (_gallinae
africanae_) are large, mottled and have their humps in their backs.
The Greeks call them [Greek: meleagrís].[183] They are the last fowls
which the culinary art has introduced to our dining tables, on account
of their gamy flavour.[184] By reason of their rarity they sell for a
high price.

"Of the three kinds of fowls, the ordinary dunghill fowl is used
chiefly for cramming. For this purpose they are shut up in a small
confined and darkened coop, because both exercise and light are
enemies of fat. Any large chickens may be selected for this operation,
not necessarily of that breed which the peasants call Melica
incorrectly, for as the ancients said Thelis when they meant Thetis,
so the country people still say Melica for Medica. This name was given
at first to the fowls which were imported from Medea on account of
their great size and then to all of that breed, but now the name is
given indiscriminately to all large fowls by reason of their general
resemblance. After the feathers have been pulled from their tails and
wings they are crammed with balls of barley paste, with which may be
mixed darnel meal, or flax seed soaked in soft water. They are fed
twice a day but care must be taken to see that the last meal is
digested before another is put before them. After they have been fed
and their heads have been cleaned of mites, they are shut up again.
This process is kept up for twenty-five days, when they will be fat.

"Some cram them on wheat bread soaked in water, or even in wine of
good flavour and bouquet, claiming that they are thereby made fat and
tender in twenty days.[185]

"If in the process of cramming the fowls lose their appetite from too
much food, the ration should be reduced daily during the last ten days
in the same proportion as it was increased during the first ten days,
so that the ration will be the same on the twentieth as on the first

"Wood pigeons are crammed and fattened in the same way."

_Of geese_

X. "Let us now pass," said Axius, "to that tribe which cannot live in
the barn yard all the time, or even on land, but requires access to
ponds. I mean those whom you philhellenes call amphibia. I understand
that you call the places in which geese are kept by the Greek name
[Greek: chaenoboskeion], and that Scipio Metellus and M. Seius have
several large flocks of geese."

"It is Seius' practice," said Merula, "to maintain his flocks of
geese[186] in accordance with the five rules I have laid down for
poultry, namely: with respect to choice of individuals, breeding,
eggs, goslings and the process of cramming.

"On the first point he requires the slave who buys his geese to select
them of good size and of white plumage, because they reproduce their
own qualities in their goslings. This is necessary for there is
another kind of geese of variegated plumage, which are called wild,
and do not flock freely with the other kind and are domesticated with

"The best time for breeding geese is at the end of winter and for
laying and hatching from the beginning of February or March until the
summer solstice. They breed usually in the water, diving to the bottom
of the stream or pond.[187] A goose lays only three times a year: and
each one should be furnished with a coop about two and a half feet
square and bedded with straw: each of their eggs should be marked for
identification, for they will not hatch any eggs but their own. They
are usually set on nine or eleven eggs, never more than fifteen, nor
less than five. In cold weather they set for thirty days, in warm
weather twenty-five. When they are hatched the goslings are suffered
to remain with their mother for five days, and then daily, when the
weather is fine, they are driven out to the meadows or to the ponds
or some swampy place. The gosling houses may be built either above or
below ground, but never more than twenty should be housed together and
care must be taken lest the floor be damp and that they are bedded on
chaff or some thing of that kind, and that the house is so constructed
as to keep out weasels and other beasts which prey on goslings. Geese
are fed in wet places and it is the practice to sow especially for
their food supply, using for this purpose any kind of grain, but
particularly that salad plant called endive[188] which keeps green
wherever there is water, freshening at the mere contact of water
however dry it may be. This is gathered to be fed to them, for if they
have access to the place where it is growing they will destroy the
plant by trampling on it, or else kill themselves by eating too much
of it, for they are greedy by nature. For this reason they must be
watched, as often in feeding their greediness leads them to seize a
root and to break their own necks in attempting to pull it from the
ground: for the neck is weak, as the head is soft.

"If there is none of this plant they should be fed barley or some other
grain. When the farrago season is on, feed that to them, but in the
same manner as I have described in respect of endive. While they are
setting they may be fed ground barley soaked in water. The goslings
may be fed for the first two days on barley cake (_pollenta_) or raw
barley, and for the next three days fresh water cress chopped fine in
a dish. When they are of an age to be kept by themselves in flocks of
twenty, in the kind of house I have described, they are fed on barley
meal or farrago or some kind of young herbage cut up.

"For cramming, goslings are picked out when they are about six months
old, and are shut up in the fattening pen and there are fed three
times a day as much as they will eat, of crushed barley and flour
dust mixed with water, and after meals they should be made to drink
copiously. Kept on this diet they will be fat in about two months.[189]
After every meal the feeding place must be cleaned, for, while geese
like a clean place, they never leave any place clean in which they
have been."

_Of ducks_

XI. "Whoever wishes to keep a flock of ducks and to establish a [Greek:
naessotropheion], should choose for it, above all others if it is
possible, a swampy location because that is most agreeable to the
ducks, but, if not, then a situation sloping to a natural lake or
pool, or to an artificial pond, with steps leading down to it,
practicable for the ducks. The enclosure where they are kept should
have a wall fifteen feet high, such as you saw at Seius' villa, with
only one door opening into it. All around the wall on the inside
should run a broad platform on which are built against the wall the
duck houses, fronting on a level concrete vestibule in which is
constructed a permanent channel in which their food can be placed in
water, for ducks are fed in that way. The entire wall should be given
a smooth coating of stucco to keep out polecats[190] and other animals
of prey, and the enclosure should be covered with a net of large mesh
to prevent eagles from pouncing in and the ducks themselves from
flying out.[191]

"For food they are given wheat, barley, grape marc, and some times even
lobsters and other such aquatic animals. The pond in the enclosure
should be fed with a large head of water so that it may be kept always

"There are other kinds of similar birds, like teals and coots which may
be fed in the same way.

"Some even keep partridges, which, as Archelaus writes, conceive
when they hear the voice of the male bird. By reason of the natural
abundance and the delicacy of their flesh, these last are not crammed
like those domestic fowls I have described, but they are fattened by
feeding in the ordinary way.

"And now, as I think that I have completed the first act of the drama
of the barn yard, I am done."

_Of rabbits_

XII. At this point Appius returned and, after an exchange of questions
and answers as to what had been said and done during his absence, he
said: "Here beginneth the second act of those industries which are
wont to be practised at a villa, namely of those enclosures which are
still known as _leporaria_ from their ancient special designation.
Today a warren no longer means an acre or two in which hares are kept,
but some times forests of vast extent in which troops of red deer
and roe deer are enclosed. Q. Fulvius Lippinus is said to have forty
jugera enclosed in the neighbourhood of Tarquinii[192] where he keeps
not only those animals I have named but wild sheep as well. Parks
of still larger extent are found in the territory of Statonia (in
Etruria) and in certain other places: indeed, in transalpine Gaul T.
Pompeius has so great a game preserve that the enclosure is about four
miles in extent.[193]

"It is the practice to keep in such enclosures not only the animals
I have named, but also snail houses and bee hives and jars in which
dormice are fed, but the care and the increase and the feeding of all
these things are easy, except in the case of bees. Who does not know
that a _leporarium_ should be enclosed with masonry walls which are
at once smooth and high the one to keep out wild cats and badgers and
other such beasts: the other to prevent wolves from getting over.
Within should be coverts where the hares may lurk in the day time
under bushes and grass, and trees with broad spreading branches to
ward off the attacks of the eagle.

"Who does not know also that if he introduces only a few hares of both
sexes in a short time the place will be full of them, for such is
the fecundity of this quadruped that two pair are enough to stock an
entire warren in a short time. Often a mother who has just had her
litter is found to be big with another: indeed, Archelaus says that if
you want to know how old a hare is you have only to count the number
of openings in her belly, for without doubt there is one for every
year of her life.

"It has recently become the practice to cram hares as well as poultry,
and for this purpose they are taken out of the warren and shut up in
small hutches where they are fattened. There are three kinds of hares:
the first, our common Italian kind, which has short front legs and
long hind legs, the upper part of the body dark coloured, the belly
white, and long ears. Some say that our hare conceives a second time
while it is still big. In transalpine Gaul and Macedonia they grow to
a great size, but in Spain and in Italy they are not so large. The
second kind is native in Gaul near the Alps, and is white all over the
body: these are brought to Rome, but rarely. The third kind is native
in Spain and is like our hare in every way except that it is smaller
and is called rabbit (_cuniculus_).[194] L. Aelius thinks that the hare
(_lepus_) gets his name from his swiftness, as it were that he is
light of foot (_levipes_), but I think the name is derived from the
ancient Greek, because the Aeolians of Boeotia call him [Greek:
leporis]. The rabbits derive their latin name of _cuniculi_ from the
habit of making underground burrows to hide in [for _cuniculus_ is a
Spanish word for mine]. If possible you should have all these three
kinds in your warren. I am sure you already have the first two kinds,"
Apius added, turning to me, "and, as you were so many years in Spain
doubtless some rabbits followed you home.""

_Of game preserves_

XIII. Then addressing himself again to Axius, Appius continued:

"You know, of course, that wild boars are kept in game parks, and that
those which are brought in wild are fattened with as little trouble as
the tame ones which are born in the park, for you have doubtless seen
at the farm near Tusculum, which Varro here bought from M. Pupius
Piso, wild boars and roe bucks assemble at the sound of the trumpet
to be fed at regular hours, when from a platform, the keeper scatters
mast to the wild boars and vetch or some such forage to the roe

"I saw this done," put in Axius, "more dramatically when I was a
visitor at the villa of Q. Hortensius in the country near Laurentum.
He has there a wood of more than fifty jugera in extent, all enclosed,
but it might better be called a [Greek: theriotropheion] than a
warren; there on high ground he caused his dinner table to be spread,
and while we supped Hortensius gave orders that Orpheus be summoned:
when he came, arrayed in his long robe, with a cithara in his hands,
he was desired to sing. At that moment a trumpet was sounded and at
once Orpheus was surrounded by a large audience of deer and wild boars
and other quadrupeds: it seemed to be not less agreeable a spectacle
than the shows of game, without African beasts, which the Aediles
provide in the Circus Maximus."

_Of snails_

XIV. And turning to Merula, Axius continued: "Appius has lightened
your task, my dear Merula, so far as concerns the matter of game, and
briefly the second act of our drama may be brought to an end, for I
do not seek to learn any thing about snails and dormice, which is all
that is left on the programme, for there can be no great trouble in
keeping them."

"It is not so simple as you seem to think, my dear Axius," replied
Merula, "for a place suitable for keeping snails[195] I must be not only
in the open air but entirely surrounded by water, otherwise you will
be kept running not only after the children but also the parents which
you have supplied for breeding."

"In other words," said I, "they must be enclosed by water to save the
maintenance of a slave catcher."

"A place which is not baked by the sun and on which the dew remains is
preferable," continued Merula. "If the place you use for your snails
is not supplied with dew naturally, as often is the case in sunny
situations, and there is no available shady recess, such as is found
under rocks or hills whose feet are laved by a lake or a stream, then
you must supply dew artificially. This may be done by leading into the
snailery a pipe on the end of which is fixed a rose nozzle, through
which water is forced against a rock so that it scatters in spray. The
problem of feeding snails is small, for they supply themselves without
help, finding what they require as they creep over the level ground
and also while clinging to the sides of a wall, if no running water
prevents their access to it. On the hucksters' stands they keep alive
a long time, as it were chewing their own cud, all that is done for
them being to supply a few laurel leaves and scatter a little bran
over them: so a cook never knows whether he is cooking them alive or

"There are many kinds of snails, such as the small white ones, which
come from Reate: the large variety which are imported from Illyricum,
and the medium size which come from Africa: but they vary in size in
certain localities of each of those countries. Thus, there is found in
Africa a variety which are called _solitannae_ of so great size that
their shells will hold ten quarts:[196] and so in the other countries
I have named they are found together of all sizes. They produce an
innumerable progeny, which at first are very small and soft but
develop their hard shell with time. If you have large islands in the
enclosure you may expect a rich haul from your snails.

"Snails are fattened by placing them in a jar smeared with boiled must
and corn meal, on which they feed, and pierced with holes to admit the
air, but they are naturally hardy."

_Of dormice_

XV. "Dormice[197] are preserved on a different systern than snails, for
while the one is confined by barriers of water, the other is kept in
by a wall which must be coated on the inside with smooth stone or
stucco to prevent their escape. Young nut trees should be planted in
the enclosure, and when these are not bearing, mast and chestnuts
should be thrown in to the dormice, for that is what makes them
fat. Roomy cages should be provided for them in which to rear their
young.[198] Little water is necessary, for dormice do not require much
water, but on the contrary affect dry places. They are fattened in
jars which are usually kept indoors. The potters make these jars in
different shapes, but with paths for the dormice to use contrived on
the sides and a hollow to hold their food, which consists of mast,
walnuts and chestnuts.[199] Covers are placed on the jars and there in
the dark the dormice are fattened."

_Of bees_

XVI. "It remains now," said Appius, "to rehearse the third and last
act of our drama of the husbandry of the steading and to discuss the
keeping of fishes."

"The third, indeed," exclaimed Axius, "shall we deprive ourselves of
honey because in your youth you never drank mead in your own house,
such was your practice of frugality?"

"He speaks the truth," said Appius, to us, "for I was indeed left a
poor orphan with two brothers and two sisters to provide for, and it
was not until I had married one of them to Lucullus without portion
and he had named me his heir that I began to drink mead in my own
house and to supply it to my household: but there never was a day when
I did not offer it to all my guests. But apart from that, it has been
my fortune, not yours,[200] Axius, to have known these winged creatures
whom nature has endowed so richly with industry and art, and that you
may appreciate that I know more than you do of their almost incredible
natural art, listen to what I am to say. It will then be for Merula
to develop the practice of the bee keeper, or, as the Greeks call it,
[Greek: melittourgia], as methodically as he has his other subjects.

"To begin then,[201] bees are generated partly by other bees and partly
from the decaying carcase of an ox: so Archelaus in one of his
epigrams calls them

  'flitting offspring of decaying beef,'

and else where he says,

  'wasps spring from horses, bees from calves.'

"Bees are not of a solitary habit like eagles, but are of a social
nature, like men, a characteristic they share with daws, but not for
the same reason, for bees live in colonies, the better to work and
build, while daws congregate for gossip. Thus the life of a bee is one
of intelligence and art, for man has learned from them to manufacture,
to build, and to store his food: three occupations which are not the
same but are diverse in their nature, for it is one thing to provide
food, another to manufacture wax and honey, and still another to build
a house. Has not each cell in a honey comb six sides, or as many as a
bee has feet, the art of which arrangement appears in the teaching of
the geometricians that of all polygons the hexagon covers the largest
area within a circle.[202] Bees feed out of doors, but it is at home
that they manufacture that which is the sweetest of all things,
acceptable to gods and men alike: for honey comb is offered on the
altars and honey is served at the beginning of a dinner and again at

"Bees have institutions like our own, consisting of royalty, government
and organized society. Cleanliness in all things is their aim: and so
they never alight in any place where there is filth or an evil odour,
or even where there is a strong savour of such an unguent as we may
consider agreeable. For the same reason if one who approaches them is
covered with perfume,[203] they do not lick him as flies do, but they
sting him, and by the same token no one ever sees bees crawling on
meat and blood and grease, as flies do. And so they only settle in
places of sweet savour. They do a minimum of damage because in their
harvesting they leave what they touch none the worse.[204] They are not
so cowardly as not to resist who ever attempts to disturb them, and
yet they are fully conscious of their own weakness. They are called
the Winged Servants of the Muses, because when they swarm they are
quickly brought together by the music of cymbals and the clapping of
hands: and as men assign Helicon and Olympus to be the haunts of the
Muses, so nature has attributed the flowery and uncultivated mountains
to the bees. They follow their king[205] wheresoever he goes, supporting
him when he is tired and even taking him upon their backs if he is
unable to fly, so do they wish to serve him.[206] As they are not idlers
themselves, so do they hate those who are, and thus driving out the
drones, they exclude them from the hive, because they are of no
service but merely consume honey: and it happens that a few bees,
buzzing with wrath, will drive out a number of drones.

"They smear every thing about the entrance to the hive with a gum which
is found between the cells which the Greeks call [Greek: erithakae].
They live under the discipline of an army, taking turns in resting and
all doing their equal share of work, and they send out colonies and
carry out the orders of their leaders, given with the voice, but as it
were with a trumpet: and in like manner they have signs of peace and
of war.

"But, Merula, now in my course I pass on the torch to you, as our
Axius here is doubtless languishing while he has listened to all this
natural history, for I have said nothing of profit."

"I do not know," said Merula, "whether what I can say on the subject
of the profit to be derived from bees will satisfy you, Axius, but I
have as my authorities not only Seius, who takes five thousand pounds
of honey every year from the hives he leases,[207] but also our friend
Varro here, for I have heard him tell of two brothers Veiani, from the
Falerian territory, whom he had under his command in Spain and who,
although their father left them only a small house with a curtilage of
not exceeding a jugerum in extent, nevertheless made themselves rich.
They set bee hives all about the house and planted part of the land
in a garden and filled up the rest with thyme and clover and that
bee plant known to us as _apiastrum_, though some call it [Greek:
meliphullon], others [Greek: mellissophullon] and still others
_melittaena_: and by this means they were wont to derive, as they
estimated, an average income of not less than ten thousand sesterces
per annum from honey; but they did this by being willing to wait until
they could sell at their own time and price rather than by forcing the

"Tell me," exclaimed Axius, "where and how I should establish a
bee-stand to make such a handsome profit."

"The apiary," replied Merula, "which some call by the Greek names
[Greek: melitton] and [Greek: melittotropheion], and others
_mellarium_, should preferably be placed near the house[208] in a
location where there is no echo (for such sounds are deemed to put
them to flight, as timid men are by the din of a battle) and where the
temperature is mild, exposed neither to the heat of summer nor the
cold of winter, giving preferably to the Southeast and near of access
to places where their food is abundant and there is a supply of fresh
water. If there is no natural supply of food available you should
plant such things as best serve bees for pasture, namely: roses,
thyme, bee balm,[209] poppies, beans, lentils, peas, basil, gladiolus,
alfalfa, and especially clover which is of great service to the bees
which are sick, for it begins to bloom at the vernal equinox and lasts
until that of autumn. As clover is the best food for sick bees, so
thyme is the best for making honey, and it is because Sicily abounds
in good thyme that it takes the palm for producing honey. On this
account some men bruise thyme in a mortar and mix warm water with it
and then spray all their nursery plants with it for the sake of the

"The hives should be set as near the house as convenient: some men even
put them under the very portico for greater safety. Hives are made in
various shapes and sizes and of different material;[210] thus some make
them round out of wicker work: others of frame covered with bark:
others use hollow tree trunks: others vessels of pottery: some even
build them square out of rods, allowing about three feet in length and
a foot in height, but these dimensions should be reduced where you
have not enough bees to fill a hive of that size, for fear that the
bees might become discouraged by too large an empty space.

"The bee hive derives its name _alvus_, which is the same as our word
for belly, from the fact that it holds food, that is to say, honey;
and it is on this analogy that hives are usually shaped to imitate the
form of the belly, small in the waist and bulging out below. When the
hives are made of wicker work they should be coated evenly within and
without with ox dung[211] so that the bees may not be driven away by
the roughness of their roof. The hives should be so ordered under the
shelter of a wall that they may not be disturbed nor touch one another
when arranged in ranks, for it is the practice to place hives in two
and some times three separated ranks, but the opinion is that it is
better to reduce the ranks to two than to increase them to four. In
the middle of the hive small openings are made on the right and the
left to serve as entrances for the bees, and on top is placed a
practicable cover, which may be removed to give access to the honey
comb. This is best when made of bark, and worst of pottery, because
that is strongly affected both by the cold of winter and the heat of
summer. In spring and summer the bee keeper should inspect each hive
at least three times a month, fumigating them lightly, cleaning
and throwing out dirt and worms. At the same time he should take
precautions to keep down the number of princes, for they keep the bees
from work by stirring up sedition. There are said to be three kinds of
royalties among the bees: the black, the red and the mottled, or, as
Menecrates writes, two: the black and the mottled: and as the latter
is the better it behooves the bee keeper, when he finds both kinds in
a hive, to kill the black one, as he is forever playing politics[212]
against the other king, whereby the hive must suffer, for inevitably
one of the kings will flee or be driven out, in either case taking his
party with him.

"Of working bees the small round mottled variety is considered the
best. The drone, or, as some call him, the thief,[213] is black with a
large belly. The wasp, which has some resemblance to a bee, is not,
however, a fellow labourer, but attacks the bees with his sting,
wherefore the bees keep him at a distance.

"Bees are themselves distinguished as wild and tame. I call those wild
which feed in the forests, and those tame which feed in cultivated
places. The forest bees are smaller in size and hairy but better

"In buying bees it behooves the purchaser to see whether they are
well or ailing. The signs of health are a thick swarm, well groomed
appearance and a hive being filled in a workmanlike manner. The signs
of lack of condition on the other hand are a hairy and bristling
appearance and a dusty coat, unless this last is caused by a pressure
of work, for under such circumstances they often wear themselves down
and become thin.

"If the hives are to be transferred from one place to another it is
necessary to choose a fit time to make the move and a suitable place
to receive them. As to time, spring is preferable to winter because in
winter they have difficulty in adjusting themselves to a new location
and so often run away, as they do also if you move them from a good
location to a place where proper pasture is not available. Nor is a
transfer from one hive to another in the same place to be undertaken
carelessly, but that to which the bees are to be transferred should be
rubbed with bee balm, which will serve as a bait for them, and
some pieces of honey comb should be placed in it, not far from the
entrances, for fear that the bees might run away if they found the
larder of their new home empty.

"Menecrates says that bees contract a malady of the bowels from their
first spring pasture on the blossoms of the almond and the cornel
cherry and are cured by giving them urine to drink.[214]

"That gummy substance which the bees use, chiefly in summer to
construct a sort of curtain between the entrance and the hive, is
called _propolis_, and by the same name is used by physicians in
making plasters: by reason of which use it sells in the Via Sacra for
more than honey itself. That substance which is called _erithacen_,
and is used to glue the cells together, is different from both honey
and _propolis_: it is supposed to have a quality of attraction for
bees and is accordingly mixed with bee balm and smeared on the branch
or other place on which it is desired to have a swarm light. The comb
is made of wax and is multicellular, each cell in it having six sides
or as many as nature has given the bee feet. It is said that bees do
not gather from the same plants all the materials which enter in these
four substances which they manufacture, namely: propolis, erithacen,
wax and honey. Thus from the pomegranate and the asparagus they gather
food alone, wax from the olive tree, honey from the fig, but not of
good quality: other plants like the bean, the bee balm, the gourd and
the cabbage serve a double purpose and yield both wax and food: while
the apple and the wild pear serve a similar double purpose but for
food and honey and the poppy again for wax and honey.

"Others again provide material for three purposes, food, honey and
wax, such as the almond and the charlock.[215] In like manner there
are flowers from each of which they derive a different one of these
substances, and others from which they derive several of them: while
they make distinctions in respect of plants according to the quality
of the product they yield,--or rather the plants make the distinction
for them--as with respect to honey, some yield liquid honey, like the
skirwort,[216] and others thick honey like the rosemary. So again honey
of insipid flavour is made from the fig, good honey from clover, and
the best of all from thyme.

"And since drink is part of a bee's diet and water is the liquid they
use, there should be provided near the stand a place for them to
drink, which may be either a running stream or a reservoir not more
than two or three fingers deep in which bricks or stones are placed
in such a way as to project a little from the water, and so furnish
a place for the bees to sit and drink; but the greatest care must be
taken to keep this water fresh, as it is of high importance to the
making of good honey.

"As the bees cannot go out to distant pasture in all weathers, food
must be prepared for them, as otherwise they will live on their supply
of honey and so deplete the store in the hive. For this purpose ten
pounds of ripe figs may be boiled in six congii of water and bits
of the paste thus prepared should be set out near the hives. Others
provide honey water in little dishes and float flocks of clean wool on
them through which the bees may suck without risk of either getting
more than is good for them or of being drowned. One such dish should
be provided for each hive and they should be kept filled. Others again
bray dried grapes and figs together and, mixing in some boiled must,
make a paste of which bits are exposed near the hives during such part
of the winter as the bees are still able to go forth in search of

"When a swarm is about to come out of the hive (which happens when a
number of young bees have matured, and the hive determines to send
their youth out to found a colony, as formerly the Sabines often were
compelled to do on account of the number of their children)[217] there
are two signs by which the intention may be known: one that for
several days before hand, and especially in the evening, many bees
weave themselves together and hang upon the entrance of the hive like
grapes: the other that when they are about to go forth or have already
begun to go they buzz together lustily, as soldiers do when they break
camp. Those who have come forth first fly about the hive waiting for
the others, who have not yet collected, to join them. When the bee
keeper notices this he has only to throw dust on them and at the
same time beat upon some copper vessel to collect them, thoroughly
frightened, where he desires in some nearby place on which he has
smeared erithacen and bees' balm and other things in which they
delight. When they have settled down he should place near them a hive
smeared within with the same baits, and then, by blowing a light smoke
around them, compel them to enter the hive. When thus introduced into
their new abode the swarm makes itself at home cheerfully, so that
even if placed next to the parent hive they will prefer their new
colonial settlement.

"And now, having told you all I know about the care of bees, I will
speak of that for which the industry is carried on, that is to say, of
the profit.

"The honey is taken off when the hive is full, as may be determined by
removing the cover of the hive, for if the openings of the combs are
seen to be sealed, as it were with a skin, then the hive is full
of honey: but the bees themselves give notice of this condition by
keeping up a loud buzzing within, by their agitation when they go in
and out and by driving out the drones.

"In taking off honey some say that you should be content with nine
parts, leaving the tenth, because if you take it all the bees will
desert the hive: others leave a still larger proportion than I have

"As those who crop their corn land every year obtain good yields only
at intervals, so it is with bee hives: you will have more industrious
and more profitable bees if you do not exact of them the same tribute
every year.

"It is considered that honey should be taken off for the first time at
the rising of the Pleiades, for the second time at the end of summer
before Arcturus has reached the zenith, and for the third time after
the setting of the Pleiades, but this last time beware not to take
more than one-third of the store even if the hive is full, leaving
the other two-thirds for the winter supply, but if the hive is only
partially filled nothing should be taken off. In any event, when a
large amount of honey is to be taken off a hive it should not be done
all at once or ostentatiously less the bees be discouraged. Those
combs which, on being taken off, are found to be partly unfilled with
honey or to be soiled, should be pared with a knife.

"Care must be taken that the weaker bees in a hive are not oppressed by
the stronger, for this diminishes the profit: to this end the minority
party[218] may be colonized under another king. When bees are given to
fighting with one another, you should sprinkle them with honey water,
upon which they will not only cease fighting but will crowd together
and kiss one another: and this will prove the case even more if they
are sprinkled with mead, for the savour of the wine in it will cause
them to apply themselves so greedily that they will fuddle themselves
in sucking it. If the bees seem lazy about coming out to work and any
part of them get the habit of remaining in the hive, they should be
fumigated and odoriferous herbs, like bees' balm and thyme, should be
placed near the hive. Watchful care is necessary to protect them from
ruin by heat or cold. If the bees are overtaken by a sudden rain or
cold while at pasture (which rarely happens for they usually foresee
such things) and are stricken down by the heavy rain drops and laid
low and stunned, you should gather them in a dish and place them under
cover in a warm place until the weather has cleared, when they should
be sprinkled with ashes of fig wood (making sure that the ashes are
rather hot than warm) the dish should then be shaken gently without
touching the bees with your hand, and placed in the sun. When the bees
feel this warmth they revive and get on their feet again, just as
flies do after they have been apparently drowned. This should be done
near the hive so that when the bees have come to themselves they may
return home and to work."

_Of fish ponds_

XVII. Here Pavo returned and said: "You may weigh anchor now if you
wish. The drawing of the lots of the tribes to determine a tie vote is
over and the herald is announcing the result of the election."

Appius arose without delay and went to congratulate his candidate, and
escort him home.

Merula said: "I will leave the third act of our drama of the husbandry
of the steading to you, Axius," and went out with the others, leaving
Axius with me to wait for our candidate whom we knew would come to
join us. Axius said to me: "I do not regret Merula's departure at this
point, for I am quite well up on the subject of fish ponds, which
still remains to complete our programme.

"There are two kinds of fish ponds, of fresh water and salt water. The
former are commonly maintained by farmers and without much expense,
for the Lymphae, the homely goddesses of the Fountains, supply the
water for them, while the latter, the sea ponds, are the play things
of our nobles and are furnished with both water and fishes, as it were
by Neptune himself: serving more the purposes of pleasure than of
utility, their accomplishment being rather to empty than to fill the
exchequers of their lords. For in the first place they are built at
great expense, then they are stocked at great expense, and finally
they are maintained at great expense.

"Hirrus was wont to derive an income of twelve thousand sesterces from
the buildings surrounding his fish ponds, all of which he spent
for food for his fishes: and no wonder, for I remember that on one
occasion he lent two thousand _murenae_ to Caesar[219] by weight
(stipulating for their return in kind), so that his villa (which
was not otherwise extraordinary) sold for four million sesterces on
account of the stock of fish.

"In sooth, the inland ponds of our farmer folk may well be called
_dulcis_, and those other _amara_.[220]

"A single fish pond suffices us simple folk, but those amateurs must
have a series of them linked together: for as Pausias and other
painters of his school have boxes with as many compartments as they
have different coloured wax, so must they fain have as many ponds as
they have different varieties of fish.

"These fish are furthermore sacred, more sacred, indeed, than those
fish which you, Varro, say you saw in Lydia, (at the same time that
you saw the dancing isles)[221] which came to the shore, where the altar
was erected for a sacrifice, in shoals at the sound of the Greek pipe,
because no one ever ventured to molest them; so no cook has ever been
known to have 'sauced' one of these fishes.[222]

"When our friend Hortensius had those fish ponds at Baulii, which
represented so large an investment, he was wont to send to Puteoli to
buy the fish he served on his table, as I have often seen when I was
visiting him. And it was not enough that his fishes did not supply
his table, but he was at pains to supply theirs, taking greater
precautions lest his mullets (_mulli_) should go hungry than I do for
my mules in Rosea, and it was not at less cost that he supplied meat
and drink to his stock than I do to mine. For I raise my asses, which
bring such fancy prices, at the cost of one servant, a little barley
and the water which springs from my land, while Hortensius must needs
maintain a fleet of fishermen to keep him supplied with small fry to
feed to his fish, or, when the sea runs high and such deep sea forage
is cut off by a storm, and it is not possible even to draw live bait
ashore in a net, he is fain to buy in the market for the delectation
of the denizens of his ponds the very salt fish which is the food of
the people."

"Doubtless," said I, "Hortensius would prefer to have you take the
carriage mules out of his stable than one of his barbel mules from the
fish pond."

"Yes, indeed," agreed Axius, "and he would rather have a sick slave
drink cold water than that his beloved fish should be risked in that
which is fresh. On the other hand, M. Lucullus was reputed to be so
careless and neglectful of his fish ponds that he did not provide any
suitable quarters for his fishes in hot weather, but permitted them to
remain in ponds which were unhealthy with stagnant water: a practice
very different from that of his brother L. Lucullus, who yielded
nothing to Neptune himself in his care of his fishes, for he pierced
a mountain at Naples, and so contrived that the sea water in his fish
ponds should be renewed by the action of the tides. Furthermore, he
has arranged that his beloved fishes may be driven into a cool place
during the heat of the day, just as the Apulian shepherds do when they
drive their flocks along the drift ways to the Sabine mountains: for
so great was his ardour for the welfare of his fishes that he gave a
commission to his architect to drive at his sole cost a tunnel from
his fish ponds at Raise to the sea, and by throwing out a mole
contrived that the tide should flow in and out of his fish ponds twice
a day, from moon to moon, and so cool them off."

At this moment, while we were talking, there was a sound of foot steps
on the right and our candidate came into the _villa publica_ arrayed
in the broad purple of his new rank as an aedile. We went to meet him
and, after congratulations, escorted him to the Capitol, whence he
departed for his home and we to ours.

So there, my dear Pinnius, is the brief record of our discourse on the
husbandry of the steading.


[Footnote 1: "The manner in which the ancients managed their fallow
is certainly most worthy of our attention: their care in ploughing,
according to the situation of the land, and nature of the climate, and
their manner of adapting the kind of ploughing to answer the purposes
intended by the operation, are also most worthy of our imitation.
Their exactness in these things exceeds any thing of the kind found
amongst the moderns, and is even beyond what any practical writer on
agriculture has proposed. This is an evidence that tillage is not even
in this age brought to that perfection of which it is capable: and
that, notwithstanding all the improvements lately introduced, we may
yet receive some instruction from a proper attention to the precepts
and practices of the ancients. I am desirous to add that this
attention may be useful by preventing improvers from running into
every specious scheme of agriculture produced by a lively imagination
and engaging them to study the great variety of soils and even
climates in this island, and to be careful in adapting to these their
several operations." Dickson _Husbandry of the Ancients_, XXIII.

The Rev. Andrew Dickson, who died in 1776, was minister of Aberlady in
the county of East Lothian, the son of a progressive and successful
Scots farmer, and had experience in practical agriculture, as well as
in scholarship, as his book shows.]

[Footnote 2: The compilation of rural lore, known as the _Geoponica_,
which exists in Greek, was made at Byzantium for the Emperor
Constantine VII about the middle of the tenth century A.D. It is very
largely a paraphrase of the Roman authors, and is useful principally
in elucidating their textual difficulties.]

[Footnote 3: Donald G. Mitchell made an interesting collation, in his
_Wet Days at Edgewood_, of the large number of books on agriculture
which have been written in old age and by men of affairs, in many
lands and many languages.]

[Footnote 4: It is interesting to record, however, that Varro received
the _Navalis Corona_ for personal gallantry in the war against the
pirates. This distinction was even more rare than our modern Medal of
Honor or Victoria Cross, and was awarded only to a commander who leapt
under arms on the deck of an enemies' ship and then succeeded in
capturing her.]

[Footnote 5: Caesar did not live to accomplish this, but some years
after his death a public library was established at Rome by Asinius
Pollio, which Pliny says (H.N. VII, 31) was the first ever built,
those at Alexandria and Pergamus having been private institutions of
the kings.

In a land where public libraries have been every where founded out
of the accumulations of Big Business, it is interesting to note that
Pollio derived the funds with which this the first of their kind was
endowed, from the plunder of the Illyrians!]

[Footnote 6: Cf. Sellar, _Roman Poets of the Augustan Age_. Virgil Ch.
V. Boissier, _Etudes sur M.T. Varron_, Ch. IX. Servius _Comm. in Verg.
Georg_. I, 43.

It does not appear that many of the commentators on Virgil have
taken the trouble to study Varro thoroughly. They are usually better
scholars than farmers.]

[Footnote 7: It is not remarkable that Virgil failed to make
acknowledgment to Varro in the _Georgics_ when he failed to make
acknowledgment to Homer in the _Aeneid_. See Petrarch's _Epistle to
Homer_ for a loyal but vain attempt to justify this neglect.]

[Footnote 8: _Cf_. W.H. Myers' _Classical Essays_, p. 110: "For in the
face of some German criticism it is necessary to repeat that in order
to judge poetry it is, before all things, necessary to enjoy it. We
may all desire that historical and philological science should push
her dominion into every recess of human action and human speech, but
we must utter some protest when the very heights of Parnassus are
invaded by a spirit which surely is not science, but her unmeaning
shadow; a spirit which would degrade every masterpiece of human genius
into the mere pabulum of hungry professors, and which values a poet's
text only as a field for the rivalries of sterile pedantry and
arbitrary conjecture."]

[Footnote 9: It was perhaps this encomium upon the farmer at the
expense of the banker which inspired Horace's friend Alfius to
withdraw his capital from his banking business and dream a delicious
idyl of a simple carefree country life: but, it will be recalled
(Epode II, the famous "Beatus ille qui procul negotiis") that Alfius,
like many a modern amateur farmer, recruited from town, soon repented
that he had ever listened to the alluring call of "back to the land"
and after a few weeks of disillusion in the country, returned to town
and sought to get his money out again at usury.

Columella (I, praef.) is not content with Cato's contrast of the
virtue of the farmer with the iniquity of the banker, but he brings
in the lawyer's profession for animadversion also. This, he says, the
ancient Romans used to term a canine profession, because it consisted
in barking at the rich.]

[Footnote 10: The Roman numerals at the beginning of the paragraphs
indicate the chapters of Cato from which they are translated. If
Cato had not pretended to despise every thing which smacked of Greek
literary art he might have edited and arranged his material, in which
event his book would have been easier to read than it is, and no less
valuable. Modern scholarship would not now venture to perform such an
office for such a result, because it involves tampering with a text
(as who should say, shooting a fox!) and yet modern scholarship
wonders at the decay of classical studies in an impatient age. At the
risk of anathema the present version has attempted to group Cato's
material, and in so doing has omitted most of those portions which are
now of merely curious interest.]

[Footnote 11: This, of course, means buying at a high price, except
in extraordinary cases. There is another system of agriculture which
admits of the pride of making two blades of grass grow where none was
before, and the profit which comes of buying cheap and selling dear.
This is farming for improvement, an art which was well described two
hundred years before Cato. Xenophon (_Economicus_ XX, 22) says:

"For those who are able to attend to their affairs, however, and
who will apply themselves to agriculture earnestly, my lather both
practised himself and taught me a most successful method of making
profit; for he would never allow me to buy ground already cultivated,
but exhorted me to purchase such as from want of care or want of means
in those who had possessed it, was left untilled and unplanted. He
used to say that well cultivated land cost a great sum of money and
admitted of no improvement, and he considered that land which is
unsusceptible of improvement did not give the same pleasure to the
owner as other land, but he thought that whatever a person had or
bought up that was continually growing better afforded him the highest

[Footnote 12: Every rural community in the Eastern part of the United
States has grown familiar with the contrast between the intelligent
amateur, who, while endeavoring earnestly to set an example of good
agriculture, fails to make expenses out of his land, and the born
farmer who is self-supporting in the practice of methods contemned
by the agricultural colleges. Too often the conclusion is drawn that
scientific agriculture will not pay; but Cato puts his finger on the
true reason. The man who does not depend on his land for his living
too often permits his farm to get what Cato calls the "spending
habit." Pliny (_H.N._ XVIII, 7) makes some pertinent observations on
the subject:

"I may possibly appear guilty of some degree of rashness in making
mention of a maxim of the ancients which will very probably be looked
upon as quite incredible, 'that nothing is so disadvantageous as to
cultivate land in the highest style of perfection.'"

And he illustrates by the example of a Roman gentleman, who, like
Arthur Young in eighteenth century England, wasted a large fortune in
an attempt to bring his lands to perfect cultivation. "To cultivate
land well is absolutely necessary," Pliny continues, "but to cultivate
it in the very highest style is mere extravagance, unless, indeed, the
work is done by the hands of a man's own family, his tenants, or those
whom he is obliged to keep at any rate."]

[Footnote 13: In this practice has been the delight of men of affairs
of all ages who turn to agriculture for relaxation. Horace cites it
with telling effect in the ode (III, 5) in which he describes the
noble serenity of mind with which Regulus returned to the torture
and certain death which awaited him at Carthage: and Homer makes an
enduring picture of it in the person of the King supervising his
fall ploughing, which Hephsestus wrought upon the shield of Achilles
(_Iliad_, XVIII, 540). "Furthermore, he set in the shield a soft fresh
ploughed field, rich tilth and wide, the third time ploughed, and many
ploughers therein drove their yokes to and fro as they wheeled about.
Whensoever they came to the boundary of the field and turned, then
would a man come to each and give into his hands a goblet of sweet
wine: while others would be turning back along the furrows, fain to
reach the boundary of the deep tilth, ... and among them the King was
standing in silence, with his staff, rejoicing in his heart."]

[Footnote 14: This advice to sell the worn out oxen and the sick slaves
justly excited Plutarch's generous scorn, and has been made the text
of a sweeping denunciation by Mommsen of the practice of husbandry by
men of affairs in Cato's time. "The whole system," says Mommsen, "was
pervaded by the utterly unscrupulous spirit characteristic of
the power of capital." And he adds, "If we have risen to that
little-to-be-envied elevation of thought which values no feature of
an economy save the capital invested in it, we cannot deny to the
management of the Roman estates the praise of consistency, energy,
punctuality, frugality and solidity." Without any desire to defend
Cato, one may suggest, out of an experience in a kind of farm
management not very different from that Cato pictures, that it is
doubtful whether even Cato himself was quite as economical and
efficient, and so as capitalistic in his farming, as he advises others
to be: certainly a whole race of contemporary country gentlemen was
not equal to it. It is much easier to write about business-like
farming than to practise it.]

[Footnote 15: Hesiod (W. & D. 338) had already given this same advice
to the Greek farmer:

"Invite the man that loves thee to a feast, but let alone thine enemy,
and especially invite him that dwelleth near thee, for if, mark you,
any thing untoward shall have happened at home neighbours are wont to
come ungirt, but kinsfolk gird themselves first." This agreement of
the Socialist Hesiod with the Capitalist Cato is remarkable only as
it illustrates that both systems when wisely expounded rest on human
nature. That upon which they here agree is the foundation of the
modern European societies for rural co-operative credit which
President Taft recommended to the American people. These societies,
says the bulletin of the International Institute of Agriculture
published at Rome in 1912, rest on three chief safeguards:

(a) That membership is confined to persons residing within a small
district, and, therefore, the members are personally known to one

(b) That the members, being mutually responsible, it will be to the
interest of all members to keep an eye upon a borrower and to see that
he makes proper use of the money lent to him;

(c) That in like manner, it is to the interest of all members to help
a member when he is in difficulties.]

[Footnote 16: This was an estate of average size, probably within
Virgil's precept, (_Georgic_ II, 412). "Laudato ingentia rura, exiguum
colito." Some scholars have deemed this phrase a quotation from Cato,
but it is more likely derived from Mago the Carthaginian who is
reported to have said: "Imbecilliorem agrum quam agricolam, esse
debere,"--the farmer should be bigger than his farm.]

[Footnote 17: The philosophy of Cato's plan, of laying out a farm is
found in the agricultural history of the Romans down to the time of
the Punic wars. Mommsen (II, 370) gives the facts, and Ferrero in his
first volume makes brilliant use of them. There is sketched the old
peasant aristocrat living on his few acres, his decay and the
creation of comparatively large estates worked by slaves in charge of
overseers, which followed the conquest of the Italian states about
B.C. 300. This was the civilization in which Cato had been reared,
but in his time another important change was taking place. The Roman
frontier was again widened by the conquest of the Mediterranean basin:
the acquisition of Sicily and Sardinia ended breadstuff farming as the
staple on the Italian peninsular. The competition of the broad and
fertile acres of those great Islands had the effect in Italy which the
cultivation of the Dakota wheat lands had upon the grain farming of
New York and Virginia. About 150 B.C. the vine and the olive became
the staples of Italy and corn was superseded. Although this was not
accomplished until after Cato's death, he foresaw it, and recommended
that a farm be laid out accordingly, and his scheme of putting one's
reliance upon the vine and the olive was doubtless very advanced
doctrine, when it first found expression.]

[Footnote 18: Pliny quotes Cato as advising to buy what others have
built rather than build oneself, and thus, as he says, enjoy the
fruits of another's folly. The _cacoethes aedificandi_ is a familiar
disease among country gentlemen.]

[Footnote 19: Columella (I,4) makes the acute observation that the
country house should also be agreeable to the owner's wife if he
wishes to get the full measure of enjoyment out of it. Mago, the
Carthaginian, advised to, "if you buy a farm, sell your house in town,
lest you be tempted to prefer the cultivation of the urban gods to
those of the country."]

[Footnote 20: According to German scholarship the accepted text of
Cato's version of this immemorial epigram is a model of the brevity
which is the test of wit, "Frons occipitio prior est." Pliny probably
quoting from memory, expands it to "Frons domini plus prodest quam
occípitíum." Palladius (I, 6) gives another version: "Praesentia
domini provectus est agri." It is found in some form in almost every
book on agriculture since Cato, until we reach the literature in which
science has taken the place of wisdom--in the Byzantine _Geoponica_,
the Italian _Crescenzi_, the Dutch _Heresbach_, the French _Maison
Rustique_, and the English _Gervase Markkam. Poor Richard's Almanack_
gives it twice, as "the foot of a master is the best manure" and
"the eye of a master will do more work than both his hands." It is
perennial in its appeal. The present editor saw it recently in the
German comic paper _Fliegende Blätter_. But the jest is much older
than Cato. It appears in Aeschylus, _Persae_, 171 and Xenophon employs
it in _Oeconomicus_ (XII, 20):

"The reply attributed to the barbarian," added Ischomachus, "appears
to me to be exceedingly to the purpose, for when the King of Persia
having met with a fine horse and wishing to have it fattened as soon
as possible, asked one of those who were considered knowing about
horses what would fatten a horse soonest, it is said that he answered
'the master's eye.'"]

[Footnote 21: The English word "orchard" scarcely translates
_arbustum_, but every one who has been in Italy will recall the
endless procession of small fields of maize and rye and alfalfa
through which serried ranks of mulberry or feathery elm trees, linked
with the charming drop and garland of the vines, seem to dance toward
one in the brilliant sunlight, like so many Greek maidens on a frieze.
These are _arbusta_.]

[Footnote 22: Cato was a strong advocate of the cabbage; he called
it the best of the vegetables and urged that it be planted in every
garden for health and happiness. Horace records (Odes. III, 21, 11)
that old Cato's virtue was frequently warmed with wine, and Cato
himself explains (CLVI) how this could be accomplished without loss
of dignity, for, he says, if, after you have dined well, you will eat
five cabbage leaves they will make you feel as if you had had nothing
to drink, so that you can drink as much more as you wish--"bibesque
quantum voles!"

This was an ancient Egyptian precaution which the Greeks had learned.
Cf. Athenaeus, I, 62.]

[Footnote 23: Henry Home, Lord Kames, a Scots judge of the eighteenth
century, whom Dr. Johnson considered a better farmer than judge and a
better judge than scholar, but who had many of the characteristics of
our _priscus_ Cato, argues (following an English tradition which
had previously been voiced by Walter of Henley and Sir Anthony
Fitzherbert) in his ingenious _Gentleman Farmer_ against the expense
of ploughing with horses and urges a return to oxen. He points out
that horses involve a large original investment, are worn out in farm
work, and after their prime steadily depreciate in value; while, on
the other hand, the ox can be fattened for market when his usefulness
as a draught animal is over, and then sell for more than his original
cost; that he is less subject to infirmities than the horse; can
be fed per tractive unit more economically and gives more valuable
manure. These are strong arguments where the cost of human labour is
small and economical farm management does not require that the time of
the ploughman shall be limited if the unit cost of ploughing is to be
reasonable. The ox is slow, but in slave times he might reasonably
have been preferred to the horse. Today Lord Kames, (or even old
Hesiod, who urged that a ploughman of forty year and a yoke of eight
year steers be employed because they turned a more deliberate and so a
better furrow) would be considering the economical practicability of
the gasolene motor as tractive power for a gang of "crooked" ploughs.]

[Footnote 24: Cato adds a long list of implements and other necessary

[Footnote 25: The Roman overseer was usually a superior, and often a
much indulged, slave. Cf. Horace's letter (_Epist._ I, 14) to his

[Footnote 26: This was the traditional wisdom which was preached also
in Virginia in slave times. In his Arator (1817) Col. John Taylor of
Caroline says of agricultural slaves:

"The best source for securing their happiness, their honesty and
their usefulness is their food.... One great value of establishing a
comfortable diet for slaves is its convenience as an instrument of
reward and punishment, so powerful as almost to abolish the thefts
which often diminish considerably the owner's ability to provide for

[Footnote 27: Reading "compitalibus in compito," literally "the cross
roads altar on festival days."]

[Footnote 28: It is evident that Cato's housekeeper would have welcomed
a visit from Mr. Roosevelt's Rural Uplift Commission. We may add to
this Sir Anthony Fitzherbert's description of the duties of a farmer's
wife in sixteenth century England:

"It is a wyues occupation to wynowe all maner of cornes, to make
malte, to wasshe and wrynge, to make heye, shere corne, and in tyme of
nede to helpe her husbande to fyll the mucke-wayne or dounge-carte,
dryue the ploughe, to loode hey, corne and suche other. And to go
or ride to the market, to sel butter, chese, mylke, egges, chekyns,
capons, hennes, pygges, gese, and all maner of cornes. And also to bye
all maner of necessarye thynges belongynge to houssholde, and to make
a trewe rekenynge and acompte to her husbande what she hath payed."

Sir Anthony Fitzherbert (1470-1538) was the English judge whose
law books are, or should be, known to all lawyers. His _Boke of
Husbandry_, published in 1534, is one of the classics of English
agriculture, and justly, for it is full of shrewd observation and
deliberate wisdom expressed in a virile style, with agreeable leaven
of piety and humour. Fitzherbert anticipated a modern poet, Henley, in
one of his most happy phrases: "Ryght so euery man is capitayne of his
owne soule". The Husbandry is best available to the modern reader in
the edition by Skeat published for the English Dialect Society in

[Footnote 29: Cato is careful not to undertake to say how this may be
assured; another evidence of his wisdom.]

[Footnote 30: In his instructive discourse on ploughing, Columella (II,
4) gives the key to Cato's warning against ploughing land when it is
in the condition he calls rotten (_cariosa_):

"Rich land, which holds moisture a long time, should be broken up
(_proscindere_) at the season when the weather is beginning to be warm
and the weeds are developing, so that none of their seed may mature:
but it should be ploughed with such close furrows that one can with
difficulty distinguish where the plough share has been, for in that
way all the weeds are uprooted and destroyed.

"The spring ploughing should be followed up with frequent stirring
of the soil until it is reduced to dust, so that there may be no
necessity, or very little, of harrowing after the land is seeded: for
the ancient Romans said that a field was badly ploughed which had to
be harrowed after the seed had been sown.

"A farmer should himself make sure that his ploughing has been well
done, not alone by inspection, for the eye is often amused by a smooth
surface which in fact conceals clods, but also by experiment, which is
less likely to be deceived, as by driving a stout stick through the
furrows: if it penetrates the soil readily and without obstruction, it
will be evident that all the land there about is in good order: but if
some part harder than the rest resists the pressure, it will be clear
that the ploughing has been badly done. When the ploughmen see this
done from time to time they are not guilty of clod hopping.

"Hence wet land should be broken up after the Ides of April, and, when
it has been ploughed at that season, it should be worked again, after
an interval of twenty days, about the time of the solstice, which is
the eighth or ninth day before the Kalends of July, and again the
third time about the Kalends of September, for it is not the practice
of experienced farmers to till the land in the interval after the
summer solstice, unless the ground shall have been soaked with a heavy
down-pour of sudden rain, like those of winter, as does some times
happen at this season. In that event there is no reason why the fallow
should not be cultivated during the month of July. But when you do
till at this season beware lest the land be worked while it is muddy:
or when, having been sprinkled by a shower, it is in the condition
which the country people call _varia_ and _cariosa_, that is to say,
when, after a long drought, a light rain has moistened the surface of
the upturned sod but has not soaked to the bottom of the furrow.

"Those plough lands which are cultivated when they are miry are
rendered useless for an entire year--they can be neither seeded nor
harrowed nor hoed--but those which are worked when they are in the
state which has been described as varia, remain sterile for three
years on end. We should, therefore, follow a medium course and plough
when the land neither lacks moisture nor yet is deep in marsh."]

[Footnote 31: Columella (II, 13) justly says about manure, "Wherefore
if it is, as it would seem to be, the thing of the greatest value to
the farmer, I consider that it should be studied with the greatest
care, especially since the ancient authors, while they have not
altogether neglected it, have nevertheless discussed it with too
little elaboration." He goes on (II, 14) to lay down rules about the
compost heap which should be written in letters of gold in every farm

"I appreciate that there are certain kinds of farms on which it is
impossible to keep either live stock or birds, yet even in such places
it is a lazy farmer who lacks manure: for he can collect leaves,
rubbish from the hedge rows, and droppings from the high ways: without
giving offence, and indeed earning gratitude, he can cut ferns from
his neighbour's land: and all these things he can mingle with the
sweepings of the courtyard: he can dig a pit, like that we have
counselled for the protection of stable manure, and there mix together
ashes, sewage, and straw, and indeed every waste thing which is swept
up on the place. But it is wise to bury a piece of oak wood in the
midst of this compost, for that will prevent venomous snakes from
lurking in it. This will suffice for a farm without live stock."

One can see in Flanders today the happy land smiling its appreciation
of farm management such as this, but what American farmer has yet
learned this kind of conservation of his natural resources.]

[Footnote 32: The occupants of the motor cars which now roll so swiftly
and so comfortably along the French national highway from Paris to
Tours, through the pleasant _pays de Beauce_, can see this admirable
and economical method of manuring still in practice. The sheep are
folded and fed at night, under the watchful eye of the shepherd
stretched at ease in his wheeled cabin, on the land which was ploughed
the day before.]

[Footnote 33: These of course are all legumes. The intelligent farmer
today sits under his shade tree and meditates comfortably upon the
least expensive and most profitable labour on his farm, the countless
millions of beneficent bacteria who, his willing slaves, are
ceaselessly at work during hot weather forming root tubercles on his
legumes, be it clover or cow peas, and so fixing for their lord the
free atmospheric nitrogen contained in the soil. As Macaulay would
say, "every school boy knows" now that leguminous root nodules are
endotrophic mycorrhiza,--but the Romans did not! Nevertheless their
empirical practice of soil improvement with legumes was quite as good
as ours. Varro (I, 23) explains the Roman method of green manuring
more fully than Cato. Columella (II, 13) insists further that if the
hay is saved the stubble of legumes should be promptly ploughed for he
says the roots will evaporate their own moisture and continue to pump
the land of its fertility unless they are at once turned over.

If the Romans followed this wise advice they were better farmers than
most of us today, for we are usually content to let the stubble dry
out before ploughing.]

[Footnote 34: Was this ensilage? The ancients had their silo pits, but
they used them chiefly as granaries, and as such they are described,
by Varro (I, 57, 63), by Columella (I, 6), and by Pliny (XVIII, 30,

[Footnote 35: The extravagant American farmer has not yet learned
to feed the leaves of trees, but in older and more economical
civilizations the practice is still observed.]

[Footnote 36: Amurca was the dregs of olive oil. Cato recommends its
use for many purposes in the economy of the farm, for a moth proof
(XCVIII), as a relish for cattle (CIII), as a fertilizer (CXXX), and
as an anointment for the threshing floor to kill weevil (XCI).]

[Footnote 37: There is a similar remedy for scratches in horses, which
is traditional in the cavalry service today, and is extraordinarily

[Footnote 38: Cf. Pliny _H.N._ XVII, 267 and Fraser, _The Golden
Bough_, XI, 177. The principle is one of magical homeopathy: as the
split reed, when bound together, may cohere and heal by the medicine
of the incantation, so may the broken bone.]

[Footnote 39: These examples will serve to illustrate how far Cato's
veterinary science was behind his agriculture, and what a curious
confusion of native good sense and traditional superstition there was
in his method of caring for his live stock. On questions of preventing
malady he had the wisdom of experience, but malady once arrived he was
a simple pagan. There was a notable advance in the Roman knowledge of
how to treat sick cattle in the century after Cato. Cf. Varro, II, 5.

The words of the incantations themselves are mere sound and fury
signifying nothing, like the "counting out" rhythms used by children
at their games.]

[Footnote 40: Cato gives many recipes of household as well as
agricultural economy. Out of respect for the pure food law most of
them have been here suppressed, but these samples are ventured because
Varro mentions them and the editor is advised that some enterprising
young ladies in Wisconsin have recently had the courage to put them to
the test, and vow that they ate their handiwork! As they live to tell
the tale, it is assumed that the recipes are harmless.]

[Footnote 41: Cf. the following traditional formula as practised in


"Rub each ham separately with ½ teaspoonful of saltpetre (use a small
spoon); then rub each ham with a large tablespoonfulof best black
pepper; then rub each ham with a gill of molasses (black strap is

  Then for 1,000 lbs. of ham take
    3-1/4 pecks of coarse salt,
    2-1/2 lbs. of saltpetre,
    2 qts. hickory ashes,
    2 qts. molasses,
    2 teacupfuls of red pepper.

"Mix all together on the salting table. Then rub each ham with this
mixture, and, in packing, spread some of it on each layer of ham. Use
no more salt than has been mixed. Pack skin down and let stand for
five weeks, then hang in the smoke house for five or six weeks, and
smoke in damp weather, using hickory wood.

"As a ham, however well cured, is of no use to civilized man until it
is cooked, and as this crowning mystery is seldom revealed out of
Virginia, it may not be out of place to record here the process."


Soak over night in cold water, having first scrubbed the ham with a
small brush to remove all the pepper, saltpetre, etc., left from the
curing process.

Put on to boil next morning in tepid water, skin downwards, letting
it simmer on back of stove, never to boil hard. This takes about four
hours (or until it is done, when the ham is supposed to turn over,
skin upwards, of its own accord, as it will if the boiler is large
enough). Set aside over another night in the water it has boiled in.

The _following_ day, skin and bake in the oven, having covered the ham
well with brown sugar, basting at intervals with cider. When it is
well baked, take it out of the oven and baste another ten to twenty
minutes in the pan on top of the stove. The sugar crust should be
quite brown and crisp when done.

To be thoroughly appreciated a ham should be carved on the table, by a
pretty woman. A thick slice of ham is a crime against good breeding.]

[Footnote 42: It is interesting that Varro has realized the hope,
here expressed, that his wisdom might survive for the benefit of the
"uttermost generations of men" chiefly in the case of this treatise
on Husbandry among the many monuments of his industry and learning.
Petrarch in his _Epistle to Varro_ in that first delightful book of
Letters to Dead Authors (_de rebus familiaribus_ XXIV, 6) rehearses
the loss of Varro's books and, adapting the thought here expressed in
the text, regrets for that reason that Varro cannot be included in
that company of men "whom we love even after their death owing to
the good and righteous deeds that live after them, men who mold our
character by their teaching and comfort us by their example, when
the rest of mankind offends both our eyes and our nostrils; men who,
though they have gone hence to the common abode of all (as Plautus
says in Casina), nevertheless continue to be of service to the
living." If Petrarch had been a farmer he might have saved some of his
regret, for Varro is surely, by virtue of the _Rerum Rusticarum_, a
member of the fellowship Petrarch describes.]

[Footnote 43: Varro was essentially an antiquary and it is amusing
to observe that he is unable to suppress his learning even in his
prayers. One is reminded of the anecdote of the New England minister,
who, in the course of an unctuous prayer, proclaimed, with magisterial
authority, "Paradoxical as it may appear, O Lord, it is nevertheless
true, etc."]

[Footnote 44: Following Plato and Xenophon and Cicero, Varro cast his
books into the form of dialogues to make them entertaining ("and what
is the use of a book," thought Alice in Wonderland, "without pictures
or conversations."): for the same reason he was careful about his
local colour. Thus the scene of this first book, which relates to
agriculture proper, is laid at Rome in the temple of Earth on the
festival of the Seed Sowing, and the characters bear names of punning
reference to the tilling of the soil. Varro was strong on puns,
avowing (Cicero _Acad_. I, 2) that that form of humour made it easier
for people of small intelligence to swallow his learning.]

[Footnote 45: The story is that when Scipio captured Carthage he
distributed the Punic libraries among the native allies, reserving
only the agricultural works of Mago, which the Roman Senate
subsequently ordered to be translated into Latin, so highly were they
esteemed. Probably more real wealth was brought to Rome in the pages
of these precious volumes than was represented by all the other
plunder of Carthage. "The improving a kingdom in matter of husbandry
is better than conquering a new kingdom," says old Samuel Hartlib,
Milton's friend, in his _Legacie_. It is a curious fact that as the
Romans derived agricultural wisdom from their ancient enemies, so did
the English. Cf. Thorold Rogers' _Six Centuries of Work and Wages_.
"We owe the improvements in English agriculture to Holland. From this
country we borrowed, at the beginning of the seventeenth century,
the cultivation of winter roots, and, at that of the eighteenth, the
artificial grasses. The Dutch had practised agriculture with the
patient and minute industry of market gardeners. They had tried
successfully to cultivate every thing to the uttermost, which could be
used for human food, or could give innocent gratification to a refined
taste. They taught agriculture and they taught gardening. They were
the first people to surround their homesteads with flower beds, with
groves, with trim parterres, with the finest turf, to improve fruit
trees, to seek out and perfect edible roots and herbs at once for man
and cattle. We owe to the Dutch that scurvy and leprosy have been
banished from England, that continuous crops have taken the place of
barren fallows, that the true rotation of crops has been discovered
and perfected, that the population of these islands has been increased
and that the cattle and sheep in England are ten times what they were
in numbers and three times what they were in size and quality."]

[Footnote 46: The Roman proverb which Agrius had in mind reminds one of
the witty French woman's comment upon the achievement of St. Denis in
walking several miles to Montmartre, after his head had been cut off,
(as all the world can still see him doing in the verrières of Notre
Dame de Chartres): "en pareil cas, ce n'est que le premier pas qui

[Footnote 47: To this glowing description of agricultural Italy in
the Augustan age may be annexed that of Machiavelli on the state of
Tuscany in his youth: "Ridotta tutta in somma pace e tranquillità,
coltivata non meno ne' luoghi più montuosi e più sterili che nelle
pianure e regioni più fertili...." It is our privilege to see the
image of this fruitful cultivation of the mountain tops not only in
Machiavelli's prose, but on the walls of the Palazzo Riccardi in
Gozzoli's _Journey of the Magi_, where, like King Robert of Sicily,
the Magi crossed

  "Into the lovely land of Italy
  Whose loveliness was more resplendent made
  By the mere passing of that cavalcade."

It seems almost a pity to contrast with these the comment of a careful
and sympathetic student of the agricultural Italy of the age of
King Umberto: "To return to the question of the natural richness of
agricultural Italy," says Dr. W.N. Beauclerk in his _Rural Italy_
(1888), "we may compare the words of the German ballad: 'In Italy
macaroni ready cooked rains from the sky, and the vines are festooned
with sausages,' with the words today rife throughout the Kingdom,
'Rural Italy is poor and miserable, and has no future in store for
her.' The fact is that Italy is rich in capabilities of production,
but exhausted in spontaneous fertility. Her vast forests have been cut
down, giving place to sterile and malarious ground: the plains and
shores formerly covered with wealthy and populous cities are now
deserted marshes: Sardinia and other ancient granaries of the Roman
Empire are empty and unproductive: two-thirds of the Kingdom are
occupied by mountains impossible of cultivation, and the remainder is
to a large extent ill-farmed and unremunerative. To call Italy the
'Garden of Europe' under these circumstances seems cruel irony."]

[Footnote 48: As we may assume that the yields of wine of which
Fundanius boasts were the largest of which Varro had information in
the Italy of his time, it is interesting to compare them with the
largest yields of the most productive wine country of France today.
Fifteen cullei, or three hundred amphorae per jugerum, is the
equivalent of 2700 gallons per acre: while according to P. Joigneaux,
in the _Livre de la Ferme_, the largest yields in modern France are
in the Midi (specifically Herault), where in exceptional cases they
amount to as much as 250 hectolitres to the hectare, or say 2672
gallons per acre. It may be noted that the yields of the best modern
wines, like Burgundy, are less than half of this, and it is probable
that the same was true of the _vinum Setinum_ of Augustus, if not of
the Horatian Massic.]

[Footnote 49: The modern Italian opinion of farming in a fertile but
unhealthy situation is expressed with a grim humour in the Tuscan
proverb: "in Maremma s'arricchisce in un anno, si muore in sei mesi."]

[Footnote 50: This is Keil's ingenious interpretation of an obscure
passage. We may compare the English designation of a church yard as
"God's acre." What Licinius Crassus actually did was, while haranguing
from the rostra, to turn his back upon the Comitium, where the
Senators gathered, and address himself directly to the people
assembled in the Forum. The act was significant as indicating that the
sovereignty had changed place.]

[Footnote 51: Tremelius Scrofa was the author of a treatise on
agriculture, which Columella cites, but which has not otherwise

[Footnote 52: "It was a received opinion amongst the antients that a
large, busy, well peopled village, situated in a country thoroughly
cultivated, was a more magnificent sight than the palaces of noblemen
and princes in the midst of neglected lands." Harte's _Essays on
Husbandry_, p. 11. This is a delightful book, the ripe product of a
gentleman and a scholar. In the middle of the eighteenth century it
advocated what we are still advocating--that agriculture, as the basis
of national wealth, deserves the study and attention of the highest
intelligence; specifically it proposed the introduction of new grasses
and forage crops (alfalfa above all others) to enable the land to
support more live stock. It was published in 1764, just after France
had ceded to England by the Treaty of Paris all of her possessions in
America east of the Mississippi River; and not the least interesting
passages of Harte's book are those proposing an agricultural
development of the newly acquired territory between Lake Illinois
(Michigan) and the Mississippi, which he suggests may be readily
brought under cultivation with the aid of the buffaloes of the
country. He shrewdly says: "Maize may be raised in this part of Canada
to what quantity we please, for it grows there naturally in great
abundance." It happened, however, that a few years later, in 1778,
Col. George Rogers Clark of Virginia made a certain expedition through
the wilderness to the British outpost at Vincennes, which saved
England the trouble of taking Harte's advice, but that it has not been
neglected may be evident from the fact that less than a century and
a half later, or in 1910, the State of Illinois produced 415 million
bushels of maize, besides twice as much oats and half as much wheat as
did old England herself in the same year of grace.

Harte was the travelling governor of that young Mr. Stanhope, to whom
my lord Chesterfield wrote his famous worldly wise letters. He was the
author also of a _Life of Gustavus Adolphus_, which was a failure. Dr.
Johnson, who liked Harte, said: "It was unlucky in coming out on the
same day with Robertson's _History of Scotland_. His _Husbandry_,
however, is good." (_Boswell_, IV, 91). With this judgment of Dr.
Johnson there has been, and must be, general concurrence.]

[Footnote 53: Pliny records (H.N. XVIII, 7) that at Lucullus' farm
there was less ground for ploughing than of floor for sweeping.]

[Footnote 54: Eggs were the first course, as apples were the last, at a
Roman dinner, hence the saying "ab ovo usque ad mala."]

[Footnote 55: Cf. Gilbert Murray's version of Euripides' _Troades_,

  In Salamis, filled with the foaming
    Of billows and murmur of bees,
  Old Telamon stayed from his roaming,
    Long ago, on a throne of the seas;
  Looking out on the hills olive laden,
    Enchanted, where first from the earth.
  The gray-gleaming fruit of the Maiden
    Athena had birth.

The physical reason why the olive flourished in Attica, as
Theophrastus points out (C.P.V. II, 2), was because it craves a thin
soil, and that of Attica, with its out-croppings of calcareous rock,
suits the olive perfectly, while fit for little else agricultural.]

[Footnote 56: In the _Geoponica_ (XIII, 15) there has been preserved a
remedy for a similar evil, which, in all fairness, should be credited
to Saserna. In any event, it is what the newspapers used to call
"important, if true," viz: "If ever you come into a place where fleas
abound, cry Och! Och! ([Greek: och, och]) and they will not touch

[Footnote 57: The editor of an Iowa farm journal, who has been making
a study of agricultural Europe, has recently reported an interesting
comparison between the results of extensive farming as practised in
Iowa and intensive farming as practised in Bavaria. He begins with
the thesis that the object of agriculture is to put the energy of the
sun's rays into forms which animals and human beings can use, and,
reducing the crop production of each country to thermal units, he
finds "that for every man, woman and child connected with farming in
Iowa 14,200 therms of sun's energy were imprisoned, while for every
man, woman and child connected with farming in Bavaria only 2,600
therms were stored up. In other words, the average Iowa farmer is six
times as successful in his efforts to capture the power of the sun's
rays as the average Bavarian farmer. On the other hand, the average
acre of Iowa land is only about one-seventh as successful as the
average acre of Bavarian land in supporting those who live on it. If
we look on land as the unit, then the Bavarians get better results
than we in Iowa, but if we look on human labor as the unit, then the
Iowa farmers are far ahead of those of Bavaria."

It may be remarked that if the Iowa farmer, who gets his results by
the use of machinery, was to adopt also the intensive practice of the
Bavarian farmer, he would secure at once the greatest efficiency per
acre and per man, and that is the true purpose of agriculture.]

[Footnote 58: It is one of the charms of Varro's treatise that he
always insists cheerfully on the pleasure to be derived from the land.
It is the same spirit which Conington has remarked cropping out in
many places in Virgil's _Georgics_--the joy of the husbandman in his
work, as in the "iuvat" of

                 "iuvat Ismara Baccho
  Conserere, atque olea magnum vestire Taburnum."

This is the blessed "surcease of sorrow" of which the crowded life of
the modern city knows nothing: but, as the practical Roman indicates,
it will not support life of its own mere motion. Cf. Dr. Johnson's
picture of Shenstone: "He began from this time to entangle his walks
and to wind his waters: which he did with such judgment and such fancy
as made his little domain the envy of the great and the admiration of
the skillful. His house was mean, and he did not improve it: his care
was of his grounds.... In time his expences brought clamours about
him, that overpowered the lambs' bleat and the linnets' song; and his
groves were haunted by beings very different from fawns and fairies."]

[Footnote 59: Walter of Henley, in thirteenth century England, drove
home a shrewd comment on the country gentleman who farms without
keeping accounts and thinks he is engaged in a profitable industry.
"You know surely," he says, "that an acre sown with wheat takes three
ploughings, except lands which are sown yearly, and that one with
another each ploughing is worth six pence, and harrowing a penny,
and on the acre it is necessary to sow at least two bushels. Now two
bushels at Michaelmas are worth at least twelve pence, and weeding a
half penny and reaping five pence, and carrying in August a penny: the
straw will pay for the threshing. At three times your sowing you ought
to have six bushels, worth three shillings; and the cost amounts to
three shillings and three half pence, and the ground is yours and not

Of Walter of Henley little is known, but it is conjectured that he was
the bailiff of the manors near Henley which belonged to the Abbey of
Canterbury. His curious and valuable _Dite de Hosebondrie_, which is
as original in its way as Cato's treatise, being entirely free from
mere literary tradition, is now available to the modern reader in
a translation, from the original barbarous English law French, by
Elizabeth Lamond, made for the Royal Historical Society in 1890.]

[Footnote 60: This was just before Pharsalia, and the army was that of
Pompey which Varro had joined after surrendering to Caesar in Spain.]

[Footnote 61: In this enumeration of trees Varro does not include the
chestnut which is now one of the features of the Italian mountain
landscape and furnishes support for a considerable part of the Italian
population, who subsist on _necci_, those indigestible chestnut flour
cakes, just as the Irish peasants do on potatoes. The chestnut was
late in getting a foothold in Italy but it was there in Varro's day.
He mentions the nuts as part of the diet of dormice (III, 15).

By the thirteenth century chestnuts had become an established article
of human food in Italy. Pietro Crescenzi (1230-1307) describes two
varieties, the cultivated and the wild, and quotes the Arabian
physician Avicenna to the effect that chestnuts are "di tarda
digestione ma di buono nuttimento." It is perhaps for this very reason
that chestnut bread is acceptable to those engaged in heavy labor.
Fynes Moryson says in his _Itinerary_ (1617) that maslin bread made
of a mixture of rye and wheat flour was used by labourers in England
because it "abode longer in the stomach and was not so soon digested
with their labour."

Crescenzi, who was a lawyer and a judge, says in his preface that he
had left his native Bologna because of the civil strifes, had taken
foreign service in several parts of Italy, and so had opportunity to
see the world. He wrote his book on agriculture because, as he says,
of all the things he learned on his travels there was nothing "piu a
bondevole, niuna piu dolce, et niuna piu degna de l'huomo libero," a
sentiment which Socrates had expressed sixteen hundred years earlier
and which was echoed six hundred years later by another far-sighted
Italian, the statesman Cavour.]

[Footnote 62: The white chalk which Scrofa saw used as manure in
Transalpine Gaul, when he was serving in the army under Julius Caesar,
was undoubtedly marl, the use of which in that region as in Britain
was subsequently noted by Pliny (H.N. XVII, 4).

There were no deposits of marl in Italy, and so the Romans knew
nothing of its use, from experience, but Pliny's treatment of the
subject shows a sound source of information. In England, where several
kinds of marl are found in quantities, its use was probably never
discontinued after the Roman times. Walter of Henley discusses its use
in the thirteenth century, and Sir Anthony Fitzherbert continues the
discussion in the sixteenth century. In connection with the history of
the use of marl in agriculture may be cited the tender tribute which
Arthur Young recorded on the tombstone of his wife in Bradfield
Church. The lady's chief virtue appears to have been, in the memory
of her husband, that she was "the great-grand-daughter of John
Allen, esq. of Lyng House in the County of Norfolk, the first person
according to the Comte de Boulainvilliers, who there used marl."

The Romans did not have the fight against sour land which is the
heritage of the modern farmer after years of continuous application
to his land of phosphoric and sulphuric acid in the form of mineral
fertilizers. What sour land the Romans had they corrected with humus
making barnyard manure, or the rich compost which Cato and Columella
recommend. They had, however, a test for sourness of land which is
still practised even where the convenient litmus paper is available.
Virgil (_Georgic_ II, 241) gives the formula: "Fill a basket with
soil, and strain fresh water through it. The taste of water strained
through sour soil will twist awry the taster's face."]

[Footnote 63: This sounds like the boast of the modern proprietor of an
old blue grass sod in Northern Virginia or Kentucky. On the general
question of pasture vs. arable land, cf. Hartlib's _Legacie_: "It is a
misfortune that pasture lands are not more improved. England abounds
in pasturage more than any other country, and is, therefore, richer.
In France, acre for acre, the land is not comparable to ours: and,
therefore, Fortescue, chancellor to Henry VI, observes that we get
more in England by standing still (alluding to our meadows) than the
French do by working (that is, cultivating their vineyards and corn

We may permit Montesquieu (_Esprit des Lois_ II, 23, 14) to voice the
French side of this question. "Les pais de pâturage sont pen peuplês.
Les terres à bled occupent plus d'hommes et les vignobles infiniment
d'avantage. En Angleterre on s'est souvent plaint que l'augmentation
des pâturage diminuoit les habitans."

In the introduction to his Book Two (_post_, p. 179) Varro states the
sound conclusion, that the two kinds of husbandry should be combined
on the same land. Sir Anthony Fitzherbert knew this: "An housbande can
not well thryue by his corne without he haue other cattell, nor by his
cattell without corne. For els he shall be a byer, a borrower or a

[Footnote 64: This is the explanation of why Aesop's fox found the
grapes to be sour which grew on a trellis, for he had expected to find
them of easy access on the ground. Aesop was a Phrygian, and, while
Bentley has proved that Aesop never wrote the existing fables which go
by that name, yet it is recognized that they are of Oriental origin
and it is evident that that of the Fox and the Grapes came out of
Asia, where, as Varro says, the grapes were usually allowed to grow on
the ground.]

[Footnote 65: One is tempted to include here Pliny's observations upon
the tests of good soil if only for the sake of his description of one
of the sweetest sensations of the farmer every where, the aroma of new
ploughed fertile land:--

"Those unguents which have a taste of earth are better," says Cicero,
"than those which smack of saffron," it seeming to him more to the
purpose to express himself by the word taste than smell. And such is
the fact no doubt, that soil is the best which has the savour of a
perfume. If the question should be put to us, what is this odour of
the earth that is held in such estimation; our answer is that it
is the same that is often to be recognized at the moment of sunset
without the necessity even of turning up the ground, at the spots
where the extremities of the rainbow have been observed to meet the
earth: as also, when after long continued drought, the rain has soaked
the ground. Then it is that the earth exhales the divine odour that is
so peculiarly its own, and to which, imparted to it by the sun, there
is no perfume however sweet that can possibly be compared. It is this
odour which the earth, when turned up, ought to emit, and which, when
once found, can never deceive any person: and this will be found the
best criterion for judging of the quality of the soil. Such, too, is
the odour that is usually perceived in land newly cleared when an
ancient forest has been just cut down; its excellence is a thing that
is universally admitted.]

[Footnote 66: The _actus_ was the head land or as much land as a yoke
of oxen could plough at a single spell without stopping, and measured
120 feet in length and four feet in width. Cf. Pliny, H.N. XVIII, 3.
Hence the square of the head land became the basis of the Roman land
measure. With the derivation of the _actus_ may be compared that of
the English furlong (furrow-long) and the French _arpent_ (literally,
head land).]

[Footnote 67: On the socialistic principle of Strepsiades in
Aristophanes' _Clouds_ that the use of geometry is to divide the land
into _equal_ parts.]

[Footnote 68: As it is difficult to appreciate that the Roman Campagna
was formerly populous with villas, when one contemplates its green
solitudes today, so when one faces the dread malaria which there
breeds, one wonders how the Romans of the Republic maintained so long
their hardy constitutions. It is now agreed that there was no malaria
in the Land of Saturn so long as the volcanos in the Alban hills
were active, because their gases purified the air and kept down the
mosquitoes, and geology tells us that Monte Pila was in eruption for
two or three centuries after the foundation of Rome. By the beginning
of the second century B.C. the fever seems to have become endemic.
Plautus and Terence both mention it and Cato (CLVII) describes its
symptoms unmistakably. In his book on the effect of malaria in
history, W.H. Jones expresses the opinion that the malady was brought
into Italy from Africa by Hannibal's soldiers, but it is more probable
that it was always there. See the discussion in Lanciani's _Wanderings
in the Roman Campagna_. In Varro's time the Roman fever had begun to
sap the vitality of the Roman people, and the "animalia minuta" in
this passage suggests that Varro had a curious appreciation of what
we call the modern science of the subject. Columella (I, 5, 6) indeed
specifically mentions mosquitoes (infestis aculeis armata animalia) as
one of the risks incident to living near a swamp.]

[Footnote 69: In the thirteenth century Ibn-al-Awam, a learned Moor,
wrote at Seville his _Kitab al-felahah_, or Book of Agriculture, which
has preserved for us not only the wisdom of the Moorish practice in
agriculture and gardening which made Spain an enchanted paradise, but
also the tradition of the Arabs in such matters, purporting to go
back, through the Nabataeans to the Chaldaean books, which recorded
the agricultural methods that obtained "by the waters of Babylon."
Ibn-al-Awam's book has, therefore, a double interest for us, and
we are fortunate in having it available in an admirable French
translation from the Arabic by J.J. Clement-Mullet (Paris, Librairie
A. Franck, 1864). Not the least profitable chapters in this book are
those devoted to the preparation of manure in composts, to be ripened
in pits as Varro advises in the text. They show a thoroughness, a care
and an art in the mixing of the various animal dungs, with straw,
woodsearth and cinders, which few modern gardeners could equal. German
scholarship has questioned the Chaldaean origin of the authorities
quoted, but there is internal evidence which smacks of an oriental
despotism that might well be Babylonian. In a recipe for a rich
compost suitable for small garden plants, we are advised (I, 2, I, p.
95), without a quiver, to mix in blood--that of the camel or the sheep
if necessary--_but human blood is to be preferred!_]

[Footnote 70: What Varro describes as the military fence of ditch and
bank was doubtless the typical Herefordshire fence of modern England
which Arthur Young, in _The Farmers' Letters_, recommends so highly as
at once most effective and most economical. The bank is topped with a
plashed hedge of white thorn in which sallow, ash, hazel and beech are
planted for "firing." The fencing practice of the American farmer has
followed the line of least resistance and is founded on the lowest
first cost: the original "snake" fences of split rails, upon the
making of which a former generation of pioneer American boys qualified
themselves for Presidential campaigns, being followed by woven wire
"made by a trust" and not the most enduring achievement of Big
Business. The practical farmer, as well as the lover of rural scenery,
has cause for regret that American agricultural practice has not yet
had the patience to enclose the land within live hedges and ditches.]

[Footnote 71: The kind of fence which Varro here describes as "ex terra
et lapillis compositis in formis" is also described by Pliny (H.N.
XXXV, 169), as formaceos or moulded, and he adds, "aevis durant." It
would thus clearly appear to have been of gravel concrete, the use of
which the manufacturers of cement are now telling us, is the badge of
the modern progressive farmer. Cato (XXXVIII) told how to burn lime on
the farm, and these concrete fences were, of course, formed with lime
as the matrix. When only a few years ago, Portland cement was first
produced in America at a cost and in a quantity to stimulate the
development of concrete construction, engineers began with rough
broken stone and sand as the constituents of what they call the
aggregate, but some one soon "discovered" that the use of smooth
natural gravel made more compact concrete and "gravel concrete" became
the last word in engineering practice. But it was older even than
Varro. A Chicago business man visiting Mycenae picked up and brought
home a bit of rubbish from Schliemann's excavations of the ancient
masonry: lying on his office desk it attracted the attention of an
engineering friend who exclaimed, "That is one of the best samples of
the new gravel concrete I have seen. Did it come out of the Illinois
tunnel?" "No," replied the returned traveller, "it came out of the
tomb of Agamemnon!"]

[Footnote 72: Varro here seems to forget the unities. He speaks in his
own person, when Scrofa has the floor.]

[Footnote 73: It will be recalled that Aristotle described slaves as
living tools. In Roman law a slave was not a _persona_ but a _res_.
Cf. Gaius II, 15.]

[Footnote 74: One of the most interesting of these freemen labourers of
whom we know is that Ofellus whom Horace (Satire II, 2) tells us
was working with cheerful philosophy as a hired hand upon his
own ancestral property from which he had been turned out in the
confiscations following the battle of Philippi. This might have been
the fate of Virgil also had he not chanced to have powerful friends.]

[Footnote 75: "Mais lorsque, malgré le dégoût de la chaîne domestique,
nous voyons naître entre les males et les femelles ces sentiments
que la nature a partout fondés sur un libre choix: lorsque l'amour a
commencé a unir ces couples captifs, alors leur esclavage, devenu pour
eux aussi doux que la douce liberté, leur fait oublier peu à peu
leur droits de franchise naturelle et les prérogatives de leur état
sauvage; et ces lieux des premiers plaisirs, des premières amours,
ces lieux si chers à tout être sensible, deviennent leur demeure de
prédilection et leur habitation de choix: l'éducation de la famille
rend encore cette affection plus profonde et la communique en même
temps aux petits, qui s'étant trouvés citoyens par naissance d'un
séjour adopté par leur parents, ne cherchent point à en changer: car
ne pouvant avoir que pen ou point d'idée d'un état different ni d'un
autre séjour ils s'attachent au lieu ou ils sont nés comme à leur
patrie; et l'on sait que la terre natale est chère a ceux même qui
l'habitent en esclaves."

One might assume that this eloquent and comfortable essay on
contentment in slavery had been written to illustrate Varro's text
at this point, but, as a matter of fact, it is Buffon's observation
(VIII, 460) on the domestication of wild ducks!]

[Footnote 76: Saserna's rule would be the equivalent of one hand to
every five acres cultivated. With slave labour, certainly with negro
slave labour, the experience of American cotton planters in the
nineteenth century very nearly confirmed this requirement, but one of
the economic advantages of the abolition of slavery is illustrated by
this very point. In Latimer's _First Sermon before King Edward VI_,
animadverting on the advance in farm rents in his day, he says that
his father, a typical substantial English yeoman of the time of the
discovery of America, was able to employ profitably six labourers in
cultivating 120 acres, or, say, one hand for each twenty acres, which
was precisely what Arthur Young recommended as necessary for high
farming at the end of the eighteenth century. At the beginning of the
twentieth century the American farmer seldom employs more than one
hand for every eighty acres cultivated, but this is partly due to the
use of improved machinery and partly to the fact that his land is not
thoroughly cultivated.]

[Footnote 77: This example of Roman cost accounting is matched by
Walter of Henley in thirteenth century England.

"Some men will tell you that a plough cannot work eight score or nine
score acres yearly, but I will show you that it can. You know well
that a furlong ought to be forty perches long and four wide, and the
King's perch is sixteen feet and a half: then an acre is sixty-six
feet in width. Now in ploughing go thirty-six times round to make
the ridge narrower, and when the acre is ploughed then you have made
seventy-two furlongs, which are six leagues, for be it known that
twelve furlongs are a league. And the horse or ox must be very poor
that cannot from the morning go easily in pace three leagues in length
from his starting place and return by three o'clock. And I will show
you by another reason that it can do as much. You know that there are
in the year fifty-two weeks. Now take away eight weeks for holy days
and other hindrances, then are there forty-four working weeks left.
And in all that time the plough shall only have to plough for fallow
or for spring or winter sowing three roods and a half daily, and for
second fallowing an acre. Now see if a plough were properly kept and
followed, if it could not do as much daily."]

[Footnote 78: Stolo is quibbling. Cato's unit of 240 jugera was based
on the duodecimal system of weights and measures which the Romans had
originally derived from Babylon but afterwards modified by the use
of a decimal system. The enlightened and progressive nations of the
modern world who have followed the Romans in adopting a decimal system
may perhaps approve Stolo's remarks, but it behooves those of us who
still cling to the duodecimal system to defend Cato, if only to keep
up our own courage.]

[Footnote 79: Here, in a few words, is the whole doctrine of
intelligent agriculture. Cf. Donaldson's _Agricultural Biography,
tit_. Jethro Tull. "The name of Tull will ever descend to posterity as
one of the greatest luminaries, if not the very greatest benefactor,
that British agriculture has the pride to acknowledge. His example
furnishes the vast advantages of educated men directing their
attention to the cultivation of the soil, as they bring enlightened
minds to bear upon its practice and look at the object in a naked
point of view, being divested of the dogmas and trammels of the craft
with which the practitioners of routine are inexpugnably provided and

[Footnote 80: Pliny quotes Cato: "What ever can be done by the help
of the ass costs the least money," which is the philosophy of modern
power machinery on the farm, as elsewhere. It is largely a question of
the cost of fuel, as Varro says.]

[Footnote 81: Green manuring is one of the oldest, as it is one of
the best, of agricultural practices. Long before Varro, Theophrastus
(II.P. 9, I) had recorded what the agricultural colleges teach
today--that beans are valuable for this purpose because they rot
readily, and, he adds, in Macedonia and Thessaly it has always been
the custom to turn them under when they bloom.]

[Footnote 82: Although Varro advises the first ploughing in the spring,
the ancients were not unmindful of the advantages of winter ploughing
of stiff and heavy clay. Theophrastus, who died in B.C. 287, advises
it "that the earth may feel the cold." Indeed, he was fully alive to
the reasons urged by the modern professors of agronomy for intensive
cultivation. "For the soil," he says (C.P. III, 25), "often inverted
becomes free, light and clear of weeds, so that it can most easily
afford nourishment."

King Solomon gives the same advice, "The sluggard will not plough
by reason of the winter, therefore shall he begin harvest and have
nothing." _Proverbs_, XX, 4.]

[Footnote 83: The Romans understood the advantages of thorough
cultivation of the soil. As appears from the text, they habitually
broke up a sod in the spring, ploughed it again at midsummer, and once
more in September before seeding. Pliny prescribes that the first
ploughing should be nine inches deep, and says that the Etruscans some
times ploughed their stiff clay as many as nine times. The accepted
Roman reason for this was the eradication of weeds, but it also
accomplished in some measure the purpose of "dry farming"--the
conservation of the moisture content of the soil, as that had
been practised for countless generations in the sandy Valley of
Mesopotamia. Varro makes no exception to this rule, but Virgil was
here, as in other instances, induced to depart from Varro's wisdom,
with the result that he imposed upon Roman agriculture several
thoroughly bad practices. Thus, while he applies Varro ploughing rules
to rich land and bids the farmer "exercetque frequens tellurem atque
imperat arvis," he says (Geo. I, 62) that it will suffice to give
sandy land a single shallow ploughing in September immediately before
seeding, for fear, forsooth, that the summer suns will evaporate
whatever moisture there is in it! Again, Virgil recommends, what Varro
does not, cross-ploughing and burning the stubble and Virgil's advice
was generally followed.

In William Benson's edition (1725) of the _Georgics_ "with notes
critical and rustick," it is stated that "the husbandry of England
in general is Virgilian, which is shown by paring and burning the
surface: by raftering and cross-ploughing, and that in those parts of
England where the Romans principally inhabited all along the Southern
coast Latin words remain to this hour among shepherds and ploughmen in
their rustick affairs: and what will seem more strange at first sight
to affirm though in fact really true, there is more of Virgil's
husbandry put in practice in England at this instant than in Italy
itself." That this was the fact in the thirteenth century is clear
from the quotations we have made from Walter of Henley's _Dite de
Hosebondrie_. Cf. also Sir Anthony Fitzherbert and the account of the
manorial system of farming in England in Prothero's _English Farming
Past and Present_.

It remained for Jethro Tull of the _Horseshoeing Husbandry_ to unloose
in England the long spell of the magic of Virgil's poetry upon
practical agriculture.]

[Footnote 84: The Julian calendar, which took effect on January 1, B.C.
45, had been in use only eight years when Varro was writing.]

[Footnote 85: Schneider and others have attempted to emend the
enumeration of the days in this succession of seasons, but Keil
justly observes: "As we do not know what principle Varro followed in
establishing these divisions of the year, it is safer to set them
down as they are written in the codex than to be tempted by uncertain
emendation." I have accordingly followed Keil here.]

[Footnote 86: The practice of ridging land seeded to grain was
necessary before the invention of the modern drill. Dickson, in his
_Husbandry of the Ancients_, XXIV, argues that, while wasteful of
land, it had the advantage of preventing the grain from lodging.
Walter of Henley, who followed the Roman methods by tradition without
knowing it, advises with them that to be successful in this kind of
seeding the furrow at the last ploughing of the fallow should be so
narrow as to be indistinguishable. "At sowing do not plough large
furrows," he says, "but little and well laid together that the seed
may fall evenly: if you plough a large furrow to be quick you will do
harm. How? I will tell you. When, the ground is sown then the harrow
will come and pull the corn into the hollow which is between the two
ridges and the large ridge shall be uncovered, then no corn shall grow
there. And will you see this? When the corn is above ground go to the
end of the ridge and you will see that I tell you truly. And if the
land must be sown below the ridge see that it is ploughed with small
furrows and the earth raised as much as you are able. And see that the
ridge which is between the two furrows is narrow. And let the earth,
which lies like a crest in the furrow under the left foot after the
plough, be over-turned, and then shall the furrow be narrow enough."]

[Footnote 87: Farrago was a mixture of refuse _far_, or spelt, with
vetch, sown thick and cut green to be fed to cattle in the process
now called soiling. The English word "forage" comes from this Latin

[Footnote 88: Spanish American engineers today insert in their
specifications for lumber the stipulation that it be cut on the wane
of the moon. The rural confidence in the influence of the moon upon
the life of a farm still persists vigorously: thus as Pliny (H.N.
XVIII, 75) counselled that one wean a colt only when the moon is on
the wane, so it will be found that the moon is consulted before a colt
is weaned on most American farms today: for that may be safely done,
says the rural oracle, only when the moon's sign, as given in the
almanack, corresponds with a part of the almanack's "moon's man" or
"anatomic" at or below the knees, i.e., when the moon is in one or the
other of the signs Pisces, Capricornus or Aquarius: but never at a
time of day when the moon is in its "Southing."]

[Footnote 89: Modern agricultural chemistry has contradicted this
judgment of Cassius, for the manure of sea birds, especially that
brought from the South American islands in the Pacific, known
commercially as Peruvian guano, is found on analysis to be high in the
elements which are most beneficial to plant life.]

[Footnote 90: Seed selection, which is now preached so earnestly by
the Agricultural Department of the United States as one of the things
necessary to increase the yield of wheat and corn, has ever been good
practice. Following Varro Virgil (_Georgic_ I, 197) insists upon it:
"I have seen those seeds on whose selection much time and labour
had been spent, nevertheless degenerate if men did not every year
rigorously separate by hand all the largest specimens."]

[Footnote 91: Cicero (de Div. II, 24) records a _mot_ of Cato's that
he wondered that an haruspex did not laugh when he saw another--"qui
mirari se aiebat, quod non rideret aruspex, aruspicem quum vidisset."]

[Footnote 92: This process of propagation which Varro describes as
"new" is still practised by curious orchardists under the name
"inarching." The free end of a growing twig is introduced into a
limb of its own tree, back of a specimen fruit, thus pushing its
development by means of the supplemental feeding so provided. Cf. Cyc.
Am. Hort. II, 664.]

[Footnote 93: _Alfalfa_ is the Moorish name which the Spaniards brought
to America with the forage plant _Medicago Sativa_, Linn., which all
over Southern Europe is known by the French name _lucerne_. It is
proper to honour the Moors by continuing in use their name for this
interesting plant, because undoubtedly they preserved it for the use
of the modern world, just as undoubtedly they bequeathed to us that
fine sentiment known as personal honour.

Alfalfa was one of the standbys of ancient agriculture. According to
Pliny, it was introduced into Italy from Greece, whence it had been
brought from Asia during the Persian wars, and so derived its Greek
and Roman name _Medica_. As Cato does not mention it with the other
legumes he used, it is probable that the Romans had not yet adopted
it in Cato's day, but by the time of Varro and Virgil it was well
established in Italy. In Columella's day it was already a feature of
the agriculture of Andalousia, and there the Moors, who loved plants,
kept it alive, as it were a Vestal fire, while it died out of Italy
during the Dark Ages: from Spain it spread again all over Southern
Europe, and with America it was a fair exchange for tobacco. Alfalfa
has always been the subject of high praise wherever it has been known.
The Greek Amphilochus devoted a whole book to it, as have the English
Walter Harte in the middle of the eighteenth century and the American
Coburn at the beginning of the twentieth century, but none of them is
more instructive on the subject of its culture than is Columella in a
few paragraphs. Because of the difficulty of getting a stand of it in
many soils, it is important to realize the pains which the Romans took
with the seed bed, for it is on this point that most American farmers
fail. Says Columella (II, 10):

"But of all the legumes, alfalfa is the best, because, when once it is
sown, it lasts ten years: because it can be mowed four times, and even
six times, a year: because it improves the soil: because all lean
cattle grow fat by feeding upon it: because it is a remedy for sick
beasts: because a jugerum (two-thirds of an acre) of it will feed
three horses plentifully for a year. We will teach you the manner of
cultivating it, as follows: The land which you wish to set in alfalfa
the following spring should be broken up about the Kalends of October,
so that it may mellow through the entire winter. About the Kalends of
February harrow it thoroughly, remove all the stones and break up the
clods. Later, about the month of March, harrow it for the third time.
When you have so got the land in good order, lay it off after the
manner of a garden, in beds ten feet wide and fifty feet long, so that
it may be possible to let in water by the paths, and access on every
side may be had by the weeders. Then cover the beds with well rotted
manure. At last, about the end of April, sow plentifully so that a
single measure (cyanthus) of seed will cover a space ten feet long
and five wide. When you have done this brush in the seed with wooden
rakes: this is most important for otherwise the sprouts will be
withered by the sun. After the sowing no iron tool should touch the
beds; but, as I have said, they should be cultivated with wooden
rakes, and in the same manner they should be weeded so that no foreign
grass can choke out the young alfalfa. The first cutting should be
late, when the seed begins to fall: afterwards, when it is well
rooted, you can cut it as young as you wish to feed to the stock. Feed
it at first sparingly, until the stock becomes accustomed to it, for
it causes bloat and excess of blood. After cutting, irrigate the beds
frequently, and after a few days, when the roots begin to sprout, weed
out all other kinds of grass. Cultivated in this way alfalfa can be
mowed six times a year, and it will last for ten years."]

[Footnote 94: See the explanation of what the Romans meant by _terra
varia_ in the note on Cato V. _ante_, p. 40.]

[Footnote 95: It is interesting to note from the statements in the text
that in Varro's time the Roman farmer in Italy both sowed and reaped
substantially the same amount of wheat as does the American farmer
today. Varro says that the Romans sowed five modii of wheat to the
jugerum and reaped on the maximum fifteen for one. As the modius was
nearly the equivalent of our peck, the Roman allowance for sowing
corresponds to the present American practice of sowing seven pecks
of wheat to the acre: and on this basis a yield of 26 bushels to the
acre, which is not uncommon in the United States, is the equivalent of
the Roman harvest of fifteen for one.

It is fair to the average Italian farmer of the present day who is
held up by the economists to scorn because he does not produce
more than eleven bushels of wheat to the acre, to record that in
Columella's time, when agriculture had declined as compared with
Varro's experience, the average yield of grain in many parts of Italy
did not exceed four for one (_Columella_, III, 3), or say seven and a
half bushels to the acre.

Varro's statement that at Byzacium in Africa wheat yielded 100 for
one, which Pliny (_II.N._ XVIII, 23) increases to 150 for one, means
from 175 to 260 bushels per acre, seems incredible to us, but is
confirmed by the testimony of agricultural practice in Palestine.
Isaac claimed to reap an hundred fold, and the parable of the Sower
alludes to yields of 30, 60 and 100 fold.

Harte _Essays on Husbandry_, 91, says that the average yield in
England in the middle of the eighteenth century was seven for one,
though he records the case of an award by the Dublin Society in 1763
to an Irish gentleman who raised 50 bushels of wheat from a single
peck of seed! Harte was a parson, but apparently he did not bring the
same unction into his agriculture as did the Rev. Robert Herrick to
the husbandry of his Devonshire glebe, a century earlier. In Herrick's
_Thanksgiving to God for his House_ he sings:

  "Lord, 'tis thy plenty dropping hand
    That soils my land
  And giv'st me for my bushel sown
    Twice ten for one.
  Thou makst my teeming hen to lay
    Her egg each day:
  Besides my healthful ewes to bear
    Me twins each year."]

[Footnote 96: As the Gallic header here described by Varro is the
direct ancestor of our modern marvellous self-binding harvester, it is
of interest to rehearse the other ancient references to it.

Pliny (_H. N_. XVIII, 72) says:

"In the vast domains of the provinces of Gaul a large hollow frame
armed with teeth and supported on two wheels is driven through the
standing corn, the beasts being yoked behind it, the result being that
the ears are torn off and fall within the frame." Palladius (VII, 2)
goes more into detail:

"The people of the more level regions of Gaul have devised a method of
harvesting quickly and with a minimum of human labour, for thereby a
single ox is made to bear the burden of the entire harvest. A cart is
constructed on two low wheels and is furnished with a square body, of
which the side boards are adjusted to slope upward and outward to make
greater capacity. The front of the body is left open and there across
the width of the cart are set a series of lance shaped teeth spaced to
the distance between the grain stalks and curved upward. Behind the
cart two short shafts are fashioned, like those of a litter, where the
ox is yoked and harnessed with his head towards the cart: for this
purpose it is well to use a well broken and sensible ox, which will
not push ahead of his driver. When this machine is driven through the
standing grain all the heads are stripped by the teeth and are thrown
back and collected in the body of the cart, the straw being left
standing. The machine is so contrived that the driver can adjust its
height to that of the grain. Thus with little going and coming and in
a few short hours the entire harvest is made. This method is available
in level or prairie countries and to those who do not need to save the

That ingenious Dutchman Conrad Heresbach refers, in his _Husbandry_,
to Palladius' description of the Gallic header with small respect,
which indicates that in the sixteenth century it was no longer in use.
I quote from Barnaby Googe's translation of Heresbach (the book which
served Izaak Walton as the model for his _Compleat Angler_): "This
tricke might be used in levell and champion countries, but with us it
would make but ill-favoured worke."

Dondlinger, in his excellent _Book of Wheat_ (1908), which should be
in the hands of every grain farmer, gives a picture reproducing the
Gallic header and says:

"After being used during hundreds of years the Gallic header
disappeared, and it seems to have been completely forgotten for
several centuries. Only through literature did it escape the fate of
permanent oblivion and become a heritage for the modern world. The
published description of the machine by Pliny and Palladius furnished
the impulse in which modern harvesting inventions originated. Its
distinctive features are retained in several modern inventions of this
class, machines which have a practical use and value under conditions
similar to those which existed on the plains of Gaul. Toward the close
of the eighteenth century, the social, economic and agricultural
conditions in England, on account of increasing competition and the
higher value of labour, were ripe for the movement of invention that
was heralded by the printed account of the Gallic header. The first
header was constructed by William Pitt in 1786. It was an attempted
improvement on the ancient machine in that the stripping teeth were
placed in a cylinder which was revolved by power transmitted from the
wheels. This 'rippling cylinder' carried the heads of the wheat into
the box of the machine, and gradually evolved into the present day

It may be added that the William Pitt mentioned was not the statesman,
but a contemporary agricultural writer of the same name.]

[Footnote 97: According to Sir Anthony Fitzherbert it was the custom in
England to shear wheat and rye and to leave the straw standing after
the third method described by Varro, the purpose being to preserve the
straw to be cut later for thatching, as threshing it would necessarily
destroy its value for thatching. It was the custom in England,
however, to mow barley and oats.]

[Footnote 98: Pliny advises that the grain which collects on the
circumference of a threshing floor of this description be saved for
seed because it is evidently the heaviest.]

[Footnote 99: In the Apennines today the threshing floor, or _aja_, is
anointed with cow dung smeared smooth with water, doubtless for the
same reason that the Romans so used amurca.]

[Footnote 100: Between harvests the winnowing basket is quite generally
used in Italy today for a cradle, as it was from the beginning of
time, for there is an ancient gem representing the infant Bacchus
asleep in a winnowing basket.]

[Footnote 101: What the French call, from the same practice, _vin de

[Footnote 102: Varro does not mention the season of the olive harvest,
but Virgil tells us (G. II, 519) that in their day as now it was
winter. Cato (XX-XXII) described the construction and operation of the
_trapetus_ in detail. 'It can still be seen in operation in Italy,
turned by a patient donkey and flowing with the new oil of an intense
blue-green colour. It is always flanked by an array of vast storage
jars (Cato's _dolii_ now called _orci_), which make one realize the
story of _Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves_.]

[Footnote 103: The Roman waste of amurca, through ignorance of its
value, was like the American waste of the cotton seed, which for many
years was thrown out from the gin to rot upon the ground, even its
fertilizing use being neglected. Now cotton seed has a market value
equivalent to nearly 20 per cent of that of the staple. It is used for
cattle feed and also is made into lard and "pure olive oil," being
exported in bulk and imported again in bottles with Italian labels.]

[Footnote 104: Cf. Fowler, _Social Life at Rome in the Age of Cicero_.
"Let us consider that in a large city today the person and property
of all, rich or poor, are adequately protected by a sound system of
police and by courts of first instance which are sitting every day.
Assault and murder, theft and burglary are exceptional. It might be
going too far to say that at Rome they were the rule: but it is the
fact that in what we may call the slums of Rome there was no machinery
for checking them.... It is the great merit of Augustus that he made
Rome not only a city of marble but one in which the persons and
property of all citizens were fairly secure."

There are several contemporary references to the crowded and dangerous
condition of the streets of Rome at the end of the Republic. Cicero
(_Plancius_, 7) tells how he was pushed against the arch of Fabius
while struggling through the press of the Via Sacra, and exonerates
from blame the man who was the immediate cause of his inconvenience,
holding that the one next beyond was more responsible: in which
judgment Cicero was of the opinion of Mr. Justice Blackstone in the
famous leading case of Scott _v_. Shepherd (1 _Smith's L.C._, 480),
where the question was who was liable for the damage eventually done
by the burning squib which was passed about the market house by
successive hands. The majority of the court held, however, against
Blackstone and Cicero, and established the doctrine of proximate

[Footnote 105: The Roman week (_nundinum_, or more properly _inter
nundinum_) was of eight days, the last being the market day on which
the citizens rested from agricultural labour and came into town to
sell and buy and talk politics. Cf. Pliny, XVIII, 3. This custom which
Varro regrets had fallen into desuetude so far as Rome was concerned
was in his day still practised in the provinces. Thus the five tenants
on Horace's Sabine farm were wont to go every _nundinum_ to the market
town of Varia (the modern Vicovaro) to transact public business
(_Epist_. I, 14, 2).]

[Footnote 106: Varro here refers to the great economic change which was
coming over Italian husbandry in the last days of the Republic, the
disappearance of the small farms, the "septem jugera" which nurtured
the early Roman heroes like Cincinnatus and Dentatus, and even the
larger, but still comparatively small, farms which Cato describes, and
the development of the _latifundia_ given over to grazing.]

[Footnote 107: The tradition is, says Pliny, that King Augeas was the
first in Greece to use manure, and that Hercules introduced the
practice into Italy. To the wise farmer the myth of the Augean stables
is the genesis of good agriculture.]

[Footnote 108: This was the "crowded hour" in Varro's life, and, as M.
Boissier has pointed out, he loved to dwell upon its episodes. It
will be recalled that Pompey divided the Mediterranean into thirteen
districts for the war with the Pirates and put a responsible
lieutenant in command of each, thus enabling him by concurrent action
in all the districts to clear the seas in three months. Appian gives
the list of officers and the limits of their commands, saying: "The
coasts of Sicily and the Ionian sea as far as Acarnania were entrusted
to Plotius and Varro." It is difficult to understand Varro's own
reference to Delos, but Appian makes clear how it happened that Varro
was stationed on the coast of Epirus and so fell in with the company
of "half Greek shepherds" who are the _dramatis personae_ of the
second book. As the scene of the first book was laid in a temple of
Tellus, so this relating to live stock is cast in a temple of Pales,
the goddess of shepherds, on the occasion of the festival of the
Parilia, and the names of the characters have a punning reference to
live stock.]

[Footnote 109: The codices here contain an interpolation of the words
"HIC INTERMISIMUS," to indicate that a part of the text is missing,
with which judgment of some early student of the archetype Victorius,
Scaliger and Ursinus, as well as their successors among the
commentators on Varro, have all agreed. It is a pleasure to record the
agreement on this point, because it is believed to be unique: but
many precedents for plunging the reader _in medias res_, as does the
surviving text, might be found in the modern short story of the
artist in style. As M. Boissier points out Varro might have cited the
beginning of the Odyssey as a precedent for this.]

[Footnote 110: This is a paraphase of a favorite locution of Homer's
heroes, whose characteristic modesty does not, however, permit them
to apply it to themselves, as Varro does. Thus in _Iliad_, VII, 114,
Agamemnon advises Menelaos not to venture against Hector, whom "even
Achilles dreadeth to meet in battle, wherein is the warrior's glory,
and Achilles is better far than thou."]

[Footnote 111: Virgil (Aen. VII, 314) made a fine line out of this
tradition, endowing the sturdy race of Fauns and Nymphs who inhabited
the land of Saturn before the Golden Age, with the qualities of the
trees on whose fruit they subsisted, "gensque virum truncis et duro
robore nata."]

[Footnote 112: In the registers of the censors every thing from which
the public revenues were derived was set down under the head of
_pascua_, or "pasture lands," because for a long time the pasture
lands were the only source of such revenue. Cf. Pliny, _H.N._ XVIII,

[Footnote 113: Olisippo is the modern Lisbon. This tradition about the
mares of the region is repeated by Virgil (Geo. III, 272) by Columella
(VI, 27) and by Pliny (VIII, 67). Professor Ridgeway in _The Origin
and Influence of the Thoroughbred Horse_ describes it as "an
aetiological myth to explain the swiftness of horses" for the fleetest
horses came out of the West; thus Pegasus was born at the springs of
the ocean, and there is the passage in Homer (_Iliad_, XVI, 149) about
the horses "that flew as swift as the winds, the horses that the
harpy Podarge (Swift Foot) bare to the West Wind as she grazed on the
meadows by the stream of the Ocean." Hence we may conclude that there
was a race of swift horses in Portugal in the earliest times, which
Professor Ridgeway would doubtless like very much to prove, in support
of his interesting thesis, were derived from Libya.]

[Footnote 114: _Hypenemia_, or barren eggs, are described intelligently
by Aristotle (H.A.V. 1, 4, VI. 2, 5), and, with Varro's confidence in
the country traditions, by Pliny, H.N. X, 80.

If he had known it, Varro might have here cited the fact that the
unfertilized queen bee is parthenogenetic, though producing only male
bees; i.e., drones: but it remained for a German clergyman, Dzierzon,
to discover this in the eighteenth century.]

[Footnote 115: Cf. Plautus _Menaechmi_, II, 2, 279. One of the two
Menaechmi is, on his arrival at Epidamnus, mistaken for his brother,
of whose existence he does not know, and much to his amazement is
introduced into the brother's life and possessions. At first he
expostulates, accusing the slave of the brother, who has mistaken his
identity, of being crazy and offers to exorcise him by a sacrifice
of weanling pigs, wherefore he asks the question quoted in the text.
Varro was evidently fond of this passage, as he quotes it again,
_post_, p. 221. The _Menaechmi_ is one of the immortal comedies and
has survived in many forms on the modern stage all over Europe. From
it Shakespeare derived the plot of the _Comedy of Errors_.]

[Footnote 116: It is interesting to compare these sane therapeutics with
Cato's practice less than two hundred years previous (_ante_, p. 47),
which was characteristic of the superstitious peasant who in Italy
still seeks the priest to bless his ailing live stock.]

[Footnote 117: This Atticus was Cicero's intimate friend to whom he
addressed so many of his charming letters. He changed his name as
stated in the text, the new name being that of an uncle who adopted
him, as we learn from his life by Nepos. As is well known to all
students of Cicero, Atticus had dwelt in Athens many years and derived
his income from estates in Epirus, which is the point of Scrofa's

[Footnote 118: This requirement of short legs is the more remarkable
because of the long journeys which Varro says the Roman sheep were
required to make between their summer and winter pastures. A similar
necessity and bad roads created in England, before the eighteenth
century, a demand for long legged sheep. Prothero (_English Farming
Past and Present_) quotes a description of the "true old Warwickshire
ram" in 1789: "His frame large and remarkably loose. His bone
throughout heavy. His legs long and thick, terminating in large splaw

One of the things which Bakewell accomplished was to shorten the legs
as well as to increase the mutton on his New Leicesters. Of Bakewell,
Mr. Prothero justly says, "By providing meat for the million he
contributed as much to the wealth of the country as Arkwright or

[Footnote 119: Shepherds still look for the black or spotted tongue in
the mouth of the ram, for the reason given by Varro, but the warning
is no longer put in the shepherds' manual.]

[Footnote 120: Varro would still feel at home in Apulia, for there the
sheep industry is carried on much as it was in his time, and thence
the _calles publicae_, to which he refers, still lead to the summer
pastures in the Apennines. Cf. Beauclerk _Rural Italy_, chap. V. "The
extensive pasturages of the 'Tavoliere di Puglia' (Apulia) are of
great importance and have a history of their own. This vast domain
covers 750,000 acres: its origin belongs to the time of the Roman
Conquests and the protracted wars of the Republic, which were fought
out in the plains, whence they became deserted and uncultivated, fit
only for public pastures in winter time ... the periodical emigrations
of the flocks continue as in the past times: they descend from the
mountains into the plains by a network of wide grassy roads which
traverse the region in every direction and are called _tratturi_.
These lanes are over 100 yards in width and cover a total length
of 940 miles.... Not less than 50,000 animals are pastured on the
Tavoliere, requiring over 1,500 square miles of land for their
subsistence.... Five thousand persons are employed as shepherds."]

[Footnote 121: Varro quite uniformly uses words which indicate that he
was accustomed to see sheep driven (_abigere, propellere, adpellere_)
but we can see the flocks _led_ in Italy today, as they were in
Palestine soon after Varro's death, according to the testimony of that
beautiful figure of the Good Shepherd (_St. John_, X, 4): "And when he
putteth forth his own sheep he goeth before them, and the sheep follow
him, for they know his voice." R. Child, in his "Large Letter" in
Hartlib's _Legacie_, gives the explanation of the difference in the

"Our sheep do not follow their shepherds as they do in all other
countries: for the shepherd goeth before and the sheep follow like a
pack of dogs. This disobedience of our sheep doth not happen to us,
as the Papist Priests tell their simple flocks, because we have left
their great shepherd the Pope; but because we let our sheep range
night and day in our fields without a shepherd: which other countries
dare not for fear of wolves and other ravenous beasts, but are
compelled to guard them all day with great dogs and to bring them home
at night, or to watch them in their folds."]

[Footnote 122: Cf. Dante, _Purg_. XXVII, 79.

      "Le capre
  Tacite all' ombra mentre che'l sol ferve
  Guardate dal pastor che'n su la verga
  Poggiato s'e, e lor poggiato serve."]

[Footnote 123: It will be recalled that when Odysseus, disguised as a
beggar, was making his way to his house in company with the faithful
swineherd Eumaeus, they met the goatherd Melanthius "leading his goats
to feast the wooers, the best goats that were in all the herds."
(_Odyssey_, XVII, 216), and that subsequently he suffered a terrible
punishment for this unfaithfulness to his master's interests.]

[Footnote 124: Pliny (VIII, 76) calls these excrescences _lanciniae_, or
folds, and attributes them exclusively to the she goat, as Varro seems
to do also, but Columella (VII, 6) attributes them to the buck.]

[Footnote 125: Aristotle (H.A. I, 9.1) refers to this opinion and
denounces it as erroneous.]

[Footnote 126: The Roman _denarius_, which has been here and later
translated _denier_, may be considered for the purpose of comparing
values as, roughly, the equivalent of the modern franc, or lira, say
20 cents United States money.]

[Footnote 127: Macrobius (_Saturn_. I, 6) tells another story of the
origin of this cognomen, which, if not so heroic as that in the text,
is entertaining. It is related that a neighbour's sow strayed on
Tremelius' land and was caught and killed as a vagrant. When the
owner came to claim it and asserted the right to search the premises
Tremelius hid the carcass in the bed in which his wife was lying and
then took a solemn oath that there was no sow in his house except that
in the bed.]

[Footnote 128: It would seem, as Gibbon says of the Empress Theodora,
that this passage could be left "veiled in the obscurity of a learned
language"; but it may be noted that the _locus classicus_ for the
play on the word is the incident of the Megarian "mystery pigs" in
Aristophanes' _Acharnians_, 728 ff. Cf. also Athenaeus, IX, 17, 18.]

[Footnote 129: Cf. Pliny (_H.N._ VIII, 77): "There is no animal that
affords a greater variety to the palate of the epicure: all the others
have their own peculiar flavour, but the flesh of the hog has nearly
fifty different flavours."]

[Footnote 130: In his stimulating book, _Comment la route crée le type
Social_, Edmond Desmolins submits an ingenious hypothesis to explain
the pre-eminence of the Gauls in the growing and making of pork,
and how that pre-eminence was itself the explanation of their early
success in cultivating the cereals. He describes their migrating
ancestors, the Celts, pushing their way up the Danube as hordes of
nomad shepherds with their vast flocks and herds of horses and cattle,
on the milk of which they had hitherto subsisted. So long as they
journeyed through prairie steppes, the last of which was Hungary, they
maintained their shepherd character, but when they once passed the
site of the present city of Vienna and entered the plateau of Bavaria,
they found new physical conditions which caused them to reduce and to
separate their herds of large cattle--an unbroken forest affording
little pasture of grass. Here they found the wild boar subsisting upon
the mast of the forest, and him they domesticated out of an economic
necessity, to take the place of their larger cattle as a basis of food
supply. Until then they had not been meat eaters, and so had known no
necessity for cereals, for milk is a balanced ration in itself. But
this change of diet required them also to take to agriculture and so
to abandon their nomad life.

'By reason of the habits of the animal, swine husbandry has a tendency
in itself to confine those engaged in it to a more or less sedentary
life, but we are about to see how the Celts were compelled to
accomplish this important evolution by an even more powerful force.
Meat cannot be eaten habitually except in conjunction with a
cereal ... and of all the meats pork is the one which demands this
association most insistently, because it is the least easily digested
and the most heating of all the meats.... So that is how the adoption
of swine husbandry and a diet of pork compelled our nomad Celts to
take the next step and settle down to agriculture.']

[Footnote 131: This Gallic _tomacina_ was doubtless the ancestor of the
_mortadella_ now produced in the Emilia and known to English speaking
consumers as "Bologna" sausage.]

[Footnote 132: The Gaul of which Cato was here writing is the modern
Lombardy, one of the most densely populated and richest agricultural
districts in the world. Here are found today those truly marvellous
"marchite" or irrigated meadows which owe the initiative for their
existence to the Cistercian monks of the Chiaravalle Abbey, who began
their fruitful agricultural labours in the country near Milan in the
twelfth century. There is a recorded instance of one of these meadows
which yielded in a single season 140 tons of grass per hectare, equal
to 75 tons of hay, or 30 tons per acre! The meadows are mowed six
times a year, and the grass is fed green to Swiss cows, which are kept
in great numbers for the manufacture of "frommaggio di grana," or
Parmesan cheese. This system of green soiling maintains the fertility
of the meadows, while the by-product of the dairies is the feeding of
hogs, which are kept in such quantity that they are today exported as
they were in the times of Cato and Varro. There is no region of the
earth, unless it be Flanders, of which the aspect so rejoices the
heart of a farmer as the Milanese. Well may the Lombard proverb say,
"Chi ha prato, ha tutto."]

[Footnote 133: Virgil (_Aen_. VII, 26) subsequently made good use of
this tradition of the founding of Lavinium, the sacred city of the
Romans where the Penates dwelt and whither solemn processions were
wont to proceed from Rome until Christianity became the State
religion. The site has been identified as that of the modern village
of Practica, where a few miserable shepherds collect during the winter
months, fleeing to the hills at the approach of summer and the dread

[Footnote 134: Cf. Polybius, XII, 4: 'For in Italy the swineherds manage
the feeding of their pigs in the same way. They do not follow close
behind the beasts, as in Greece, but keep some distance in front of
them, sounding their horn every now and then: and the animals follow
behind and run together at the sound. Indeed, the complete familiarity
which the animals show with the particular horn to which they belong
seems at first astonishing and almost incredible. For, owing to the
populousness and wealth of the country, the droves of swine in Italy
are exceedingly large, especially along the sea coast of the Tuscans
and Gauls: for one sow will bring up a thousand pigs, or some times
even more. They, therefore, drive them out from their night styes to
feed according to their litters and ages. When if several droves are
taken to the same place they cannot preserve these distinctions of
litters: but they, of course, get mixed up with each other both as
they are being driven out and as they feed, and as they are being
brought home. Accordingly, the device of the horn blowing has been
invented to separate them when they have got mixed up together,
without labour or trouble. For as they feed one swineherd goes in
one direction sounding his horn, and another in another and thus the
animals sort themselves of their own accord and follow their own horn
with such eagerness that it is impossible by any means to stop or
hinder them. But in Greece when the swine get mixed up in the oak
forests in their search for the mast, the swineherd who has most
assistants and the best help at his disposal, when collecting his own
animals drives off his neighbours' also. Some times, too, a thief lies
in wait and drives them off without the swineherd knowing how he has
lost them, because the beasts straggle a long way from their drivers
in their eagerness to find acorns, when they are just beginning to

Bishop Latimer in one of his sermons quotes the phrase used in his
youth, at the time of the discovery of America, in calling hogs: 'Come
to thy minglemangle, come pur, come pur.' It would be impossible to
transcribe the traditional call used in Virginia. One some times
thinks that it was the original of the celebrated 'rebel yell' of
General Lee's army.]

[Footnote 135: The use of the Greek salutation was esteemed by the more
austere Romans of the age of Scipio an evidence of preciosity, to be
laughed at: and so Lucienus' jesting apology for the use of it here
doubtless was in reference to Lucilius' epigram which Cicero has
preserved, _de Finibus_, I, 3.

       "Graece ergo praetor Athenis
  Id quod maluisti te, quum ad me accedi, saluto
  [Greek: Chaire] inquam, Tite: lictores turma omni cohorsque
  [Greek: Chaire] Tite! Hinc hostis mi Albucius, hinc inimicus."

It was the word which the Romans taught their parrots. Cf. Persius,
_Prolog_. 8.]

[Footnote 136: The working ox was respected by the ancient Romans as a
fellow labourer. Valerius Maximus (VIII, 8 _ad fin_.) cites a case of
a Roman citizen who was put to death, because, to satisfy the craving
of one of his children for beef to eat, he slew an ox from the plough.
Ovid puts this sentiment in the mouth of Pythagoras, when he agrees
that pigs and goats are fit subjects for sacrifice, but protests
against such use of sheep and oxen. (_Metamor_. XV, 139.)

  "Quid meruere boves, animal sine fraude dolisque
  Innocuum, simplex, natum tolerare labores?
  Immemor est demum, nee frugum manere dignus
  Qui potuit curvi demto modo pondere arati
  Ruricolam mactare suum: qui trita labore
  Ilia quibus toties durum renovaverat arvum
  Tot dederse messes, percussit colla securi."]

[Footnote 137: The learned commentators have been able to discover
nothing about either this Plautius or this Hirrius, but it appears
that Archelaus wrote a book under the title Bugonia, of which nothing
survives. It may be conjectured, however, on the analogy of Samson's
riddle to the Philistines, "Out of the eater came forth meat, and
out of the strong came forth sweetness," (_Judges_, XIV, 14), that
Plautius meant to imply that some good might be the consequence of the
evil Hirrius had done: and that Vaccius cited the allusion to suggest
to Varro that, while he might know nothing much about cattle,
his attempt to deal with the subject might provoke some useful

[Footnote 138: Darwin, _Animals and Plants_, II, 20, cites this passage
and says that "at the present day the natives of Java some times drive
their cattle into the forests to cross with the wild Banteng." The
crossing of wild blood on domestic animals is not, however, always
successful. A recent visitor to the German agricultural experiment
station at Halle describes "a curious hairy beast with great horns,
a wild look in his eye, a white streak down his back and a bumpy
forehead, which had in it blood from cattle which had lived on the
plains of Thibet, which had grazed on the lowland pastures of Holland,
which had roamed the forests of northeast India and of the Malay
Peninsular, and had wandered through the forests of Germany. We
Americans had sympathy for this beast. He was some thing like
ourselves, with the blood of many different races flowing through his

[Footnote 139: Pliny (VIII, 66) cites the fact that the Scythians always
preferred mares to stallions for war, and gives an ingenious reason
for the preference. Aristotle (_H.A._ VI, 22) says that the Scythians
rode their pregnant mares until the very last, saying that the
exercise rendered parturition more easy. Every breeder of heavy draft
horses has seen a mare taken from the plough and have her foal in the
field, with no detriment to either: and the story of the mare Keheilet
Ajuz, who founded the best of the Arab families, is well known, but
bears repetition. I quote from Spencer Borden, _The Arab Horse_, p.
44: "It is related that a certain Sheik was flying from an enemy,
mounted on his favourite mare. Arab warriors trust themselves only to
mares, they will not ride a stallion in war. The said mare was at the
time far along toward parturition: indeed she became a mother when the
flying horseman stopped for rest at noonday, the new comer being a
filly. Being hard pressed the Sheik was compelled to remount his mare
and again seek safety in flight, abandoning the newborn filly to her
fate. Finally reaching safety among his own people, great was the
surprise of all when, shortly after the arrival of the Sheik on his
faithful mare, the little filly less than a day old came into camp
also, having followed her mother across miles of desert. She was
immediately given into the care of an old woman of the tribe (Ajuz
= an old woman), hence her name Keheilet Ajuz, 'the mare of the old
woman,' and grew to be the most famous of all the animals in the
history of the breed."]

[Footnote 140: Varro does not describe the livery of the horses of his
day, as he does of cattle, but Virgil (_Georg_. III, 81) supplies the
deficiency, asserting that the best horses were bay (_spadices_) and
roan (_glauci_) while the least esteemed were white (_albi_) and dun
(_gilvi_), which is very interesting testimony in support of the most
recent theory of the origin of the thoroughbred horse. Professor
Ridgeway who, opposing Darwin's conclusion, contends for a multiple
origin of the historic and recent races of horses, has collected a
mass of information about the marking of famous horses of all ages in
his _Origin and Influence of the Thoroughbred Horse_. He maintains
that a bay livery, with a white star and stockings, the development
of protective coloration from an originally striped coat, such as has
gone on more recently in the case of the quaggas, is absolute evidence
of the North African origin of a horse, and he shows that all the
swiftest horses mentioned in history are of that race, while the
heavier and less mettlesome horses of Northern origin have been, when
pure bred, dun coloured or white.

Of the Italian breeds mentioned by Varro, Professor Ridgeway
conjectures that the Etruscan (or Rosean) was probably an improved
Northern horse, while the Apulian, from the South of Italy,
represented an admixture of Libyan blood.]

[Footnote 141: Aristotle (_H.A._ VI, 22) preceded Varro with this good
advice, saying that a mare "produces better foals at the end of four
or five years. It is quite necessary that she should wait one year
and should pass through a fallow, as it were--[Greek: poiein osper

[Footnote 142: Mules were employed in antiquity from the earliest times.
In Homer they were used for drawing wagons: thus Nausicaa drove a mule
team to haul out the family wash, and Priam made his visit to Achilles
in a mule litter. Homer professes to prefer mules to oxen for
ploughing. There were mule races at the Greek games. Aristotle
(_Rhetoric_, III, 2) tells an amusing story of Simonides, who, when
the victor in the mule race offered him only a poor fee, refused to
compose an ode, pretending to be shocked at the idea of writing about
"semi-asses," but, on receipt of a proper fee, he wrote the ode
beginning: "Hail, daughters of storm-footed mares," although they were
equally daughters of the asses.]

[Footnote 143: The breed of Maremma sheep dogs, still preferred in
Italy, is white. He is doubtless the descendant of the large woolly
"Spitz" or Pomeranian wolf dog which is figured on Etruscan coins.]

[Footnote 144: In his essay,_Notre ami le chien_, Maeterlinck maintains
eloquently that the dog alone among the domestic animals has given his
confidence and friendship to man. "We are alone, absolutely alone, on
this chance planet: and amid all the forms of life that surround us
not one excepting the dog has made alliance with us. A few creatures
fear us, most are unaware of us, and not one loves us. In the world of
plants, we have dumb and motionless slaves: but they serve us in spite
of themselves.... The rose and the corn, had they wings, would fly at
our approach, like birds. Among the animals, we number a few servants
who have submitted only through indifference, cowardice or stupidity:
the uncertain and craven horse, who responds only to pain and is
attached to nothing ... the cow and the ox happy so long as they are
eating and docile because for centuries they have not had a thought of
their own.... I do not speak of the cat, to whom we are nothing more
than a too large and uneatable prey: the ferocious cat whose side long
contempt tolerates us only as encumbering parasites in our own homes.
She at least curses us in her mysterious heart: but all the others
live beside us as they might live beside a rock or a tree."

The effective use of this thesis in the scene of the revolt of the
domestic animals in the Blue Bird will be remembered.]

[Footnote 145: This method of securing the faithful affection of a dog
is solemnly recommended, without acknowledgment to Saserna, in the
seventeenth century editions of the _Maison Rustique_ (I, 27).]

[Footnote 146: Keil happily points out that in his book on the Latin
language (VII, 31), Varro quotes the "ancient proverb" to which he
here refers, viz.: "canis caninam non est" dog doesn't eat dog.]

[Footnote 147: Aristotle (_H.A._ VI, 20) says that puppies are blind
from twelve to seventeen days, depending upon the season of the year
at which they are born. Pliny (_H N._ VIII, 62) says from seven to
twenty days, depending upon the supply of the mother's milk.]

[Footnote 148: It was among these hardy shepherd slaves that Spartacus
recruited his army in 72-71 B.C., as did Caelius and Milo in 48 B.C.,
while their descendants were the brigands who infested Southern Italy
even in the nineteenth century.]

[Footnote 149: Gaius, I, 119, II, 24, 41, describes in detail the
processes here referred to by which a slave was acquired under the
Roman law.]

[Footnote 150: Dennis, in his _Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria_, draws
a picture of modern Italy which may serve to illustrate Varro's sketch
of the mountain life of the shepherds of his day:

"Occasionally in my wanderings on this site (Veii) I have entered,
either from curiosity or for shelter, one of the _capanne_ scattered
over the downs. These are tall conical thatched huts which the
shepherds make their winter abode. For in Italy, the lowlands being
generally unhealthy in summer, the flocks are driven to the mountains
about May, and as soon as the great heats are past are brought back to
the rich pastures of the plains. It is a curious sight, the interior
of a _capanna_, and affords an agreeable diversity to the antiquity
hunter. A little boldness is requisite to pass through the pack of
dogs, white as new dropt lambs, but large and fierce as wolves, which,
were the shepherd not at hand, would tear in pieces whoever might
venture to approach the hut: but with one of the _pecoraj_ for a
Teucer, nothing is to be feared. The _capanne_ are of various sizes.
One I entered not far from Veii was thirty or forty feet in diameter
and fully as high, propped in the centre by two rough masts, between
which a hole was left in the roof for the escape of smoke. Within the
door lay a large pile of lambs, there might be a hundred, killed that
morning and already flayed, and a number of shepherds were busied
in operating on the carcases of others: all of which were to be
dispatched forthwith to the Roman market. Though a fierce May sun
blazed without, a huge fire roared in the middle of the hut: but this
was for the sake of the _ricotta_, which was being made in another
part of the _capanna_. Here stood a huge cauldron, full of boiling
ewes' milk. In a warm state this curd is a delicious jelly and has
often tempted me to enter a _capanna_ in quest of it, to the amazement
of the _pecoraj_, to whom it is _vilior alga_. Lord of the cauldron,
stood a man dispensing ladlefuls of the rich simmering mess to his
fellows, as they brought their bowls for their morning allowance:
and he varied his occupation by pouring the same into certain small
baskets, the serous part running off through the wicker and the
residue caking as it cooled. On the same board stood the cheeses,
previously made from the cream. In this hut lived twenty-five men,
their nether limbs clad in goat skins, with the hair outwards,
realizing the satyrs of ancient fable: but they had no nymphs to
tease, nor shepherdesses to woo, and never

          'sat all day
  Playing on pipes of corn, and versing love
  To amorous Phillida.'

They were a band of celibates without the vows. In such huts they
dwell all the year round, flaying lambs or shearing sheep, living
on bread, _ricotta_ and water, very rarely tasting meat or wine and
sleeping on shelves ranged round the hut, like berths in a ship's
cabin. Thus are the dreams of Arcadia dispelled by realities."]

[Footnote 151: In modern Italy the shepherds do not take their women
with them to the _saltus_, but, as Dennis says, lead there the life of
"celibates, without the vows."]

[Footnote 152: In the Venitian provinces of Italy today the women are
still seen at work in the harvest and rice fields with their babes in
their bosoms: but the most amazing modern spectacle of this kind
is that of women coaling ships in the East, carrying their unhappy
youngsters up and down the coal ladders throughout the work.]

[Footnote 153: The author of _Maison Rustique_ did not agree with Varro
in this opinion. I quote from Surflet's translation of 1606 (I, 7):

"And for writing and reading it skilleth not whether he be able to
doe it or no, or that he should have any other charge to looke unto
besides that of yours, or else that he should use another to set downe
in writing such expences as he hath laid out: for paper will admit any

[Footnote 154: This temple and fig tree stood in Rome at the foot of the
Palatine hill, in the neighbourhood of the Lupercal. It was under this
fig tree that Romulus and Remus were supposed to have been suckled by
the wolf.]

[Footnote 155: 'That is the beste grease that is to a shepe, to grease
hym in the mouthe with good meate,' says Sir Anthony Fitzherbert.]

[Footnote 156: Pliny (VII, 59) says that most nations learn the use of
barbers next after that of letters, but that the Romans were late in
this respect. Varro himself wore a beard, as appears on the coin he
struck during the war with the Pirates. It is reproduced in Smiths
_Dict. Gr. and Rom. Biog_., III, p. 1227.]

[Footnote 157: Cowper's verse in _The Task_ seems to be all that is
happy in the way of translation of Varro's text, "divina natura dedit
agros, ars humana aedificavit urbes": but Cowley's "God the first
garden made, and the first city Cain" was probably Cowper's source.
Cowley was a reader of Varro, as his pleasant and sane essay _Of
Agriculture_ shows.]

[Footnote 158: Following the precedent of the first and second books in
the matter of local colour, the scene of this third book, relating to
villas and the "small deer," which were there reared, is laid in
the _villa publica_ at Rome, and the characters of the dialogue are
selected for the suggestion which their names may make of the denizens
of the aviary, the barn yard and the bee-stand.]

[Footnote 159: This Appius Claudius Pulcher served in Asia under his
brother-in-law Lucullus, was Augur in B.C. 59, Consul in 54 and Censor
in 50. He wrote a book on augural law and the habits of birds at which
Cicero poked some rather mean fun. He fixes the date of the dialogue.]

[Footnote 160: In Varro's time, as today, the river Velinus drained the
fresh pastures of the Umbrian prairie of Rosea, "the nurse of Italy,"
which lay below the town of Reate (the modern Rieti), and was
originally the bed of a lake. Its waters are so strongly impregnated
with carbonate of lime that by their deposit of travertine they tend
to block their own channel. The drainage of Rosea has, therefore,
always been a matter of concern to the live stock industry of Reate,
and in B.C. 272 M. Curius Dentatus opened the first of several
successful artificial canals (the last dating from the sixteenth
century, A.D.), which still serve to lead the Velinus into the Nar at
the renowned Cascate delle Marmore. For two hundred years the people
of Interamna (the modern Terni) had complained that their situation
below the falls was endangered by Curius' canal, and finally in B.C.
54 the Roman Senate appointed the commission to which Appius Claudius
refers in the text, to hear the controversy. Cicero was retained as
counsel for the people of Reate, and during the hearing stopped, as
Appius Claudius did, with our friend Axius at his Reatine villa, and
wrote about the visit to the same Atticus whom we met in Varro's
second book, as follows (_ad Atticum_, IV, 15): "After this was over
the people of Reate summoned me to their Tempe to plead their
cause against the people of Interamna, before the Consul and ten
commissioners, the question being concerning the Veline lake, which,
drained by M. Curius by means of a channel cut through the mountain,
now flows into the Nar: by this means the famous Rosea has been
reclaimed from the swamp, though still fairly moist. I stopped with
Axius, who took me also to visit the Seven Waters." What was once
deemed a danger is a double source of profit to the modern folk of
Interamna. Tourists today crowd to see the same waterfall which Cicero
visited, taking a tram from the busy little industrial town of Terni:
and the waters which flow from Velinus now serve to generate power
with which armour plates are manufactured for the Italian navy on the
site of the ancient Interamna.]

[Footnote 161: Sicilian honey was famous for its flavour because of
the bee pasture of thyme which there abounded, especially at Hybla.
Theophrastus (H.P. III, 15, 5) explains that the honey of Corsica had
an acrid taste, because the bees pastured there largely on box trees.]

[Footnote 162: These denizens of the Roman villa are all enumerated by
Martial in his delightful verses (III, 38) upon Faustinus' villa at
Baiae. The picture of the barn yard is very true to life in all ages,
especially the touch of the hungry pigs sniffing after the pail of the
farmer's wife:

  "Vagatur omnis turba sordidae cortis
  Argutus anser, gemmeique pavones
  Nomenque debet quae rubentibus pennis,
  Et picta perdix, Numidicaeque guttatae
  Et impiorum phasiana Colchorum.
  Rhodias superbi feminas prement galli
  Sonantque turres plausibus columbarum,
  Gemit hinc palumbus, inde cereus turtur
  Avidi sequuntur villicae sinum porci:
  Matremque plenam mollis agnus exspectat."]

[Footnote 163: The _sestertius_ was one quarter of a _denarius_, or,
say, the equivalent of five cents. It was also called _nummus_, as
we say "nickel." The ordinary unit used by the Romans in reckoning
considerable sums of money was 1,000 sesterces, which may accordingly
be translated as the equivalent of (say) $50. Axius' jackass thus cost
$2,000, while Seius' income from his villa was $2,500 per annum, that
of Varro's aunt from her aviary was $3,000, and that of Axius from
his farm $1,500. Cicero records that Axius was a money lender, which
explains the fun here made of his avarice.]

[Footnote 164: Columella, writing about one hundred years after Varro,
refers to this passage and says that luxury had so developed since
Varro's time that it no longer required an extraordinary occasion,
like a triumph, to bring the price of thrushes to three _denarii_ a
piece, but that that had become a current quotation.]

[Footnote 165: A minerval was the fee (of Minerva) paid to a school

[Footnote 166: The inventor of the auspices _ex tripudiis_ or the
feeding of chickens was evidently an ingenious poultry fancier who
succeeded in securing the care of his favourites at the public

[Footnote 167: This was L. Marcius Philippus, the orator mentioned
by Horace (_Epist_. I, 7, 46), who was Consul in B.C. 91, and was
celebrated for his luxurious habits, which his wealth enabled him to
gratify. His son married the widow of C. Octavius and so became the
step-father of the Emperor Augustus.]

[Footnote 168: This was _turdus pilaris_, the variety of thrush which is
called field fare.]

[Footnote 169: The traveller by railway from Rome to Naples passes near
Varro's estate of Casinum, and if he stops at the mediaeval town of
San Germano to visit the neighbouring Badia di Monte Cassino, where
the "angelic doctor" Thomas Aquinas was educated, he will find Varro's
memory kept green: for he will be entertained at the _Albergo Varrone_
("very fair but bargaining advisable," sagely counsels Mr. Baedeker)
and on his way up the long winding road to the Abbey there will be
pointed out to him the river Rapido, on the banks of which Varro's
aviary stood, and nearby what is reputed to be the site of the
old polymath's villa which Antony polluted with the orgies Cicero
described in the second Philippic. Antony's destruction of his library
was a great blow to Varro, but one likes to think that his ghost can
take satisfaction in the maintenance, so near the haunts of his flesh,
of such a noble collection of books as is the continuing pride of the
Abbey on the mountain above.]

[Footnote 170: Varro's Museum, or study where he wooed the Muses, on his
estate at Casinum was not unlike that of Cicero at his native Arpinum,
which he described (de Leg. II, 3) agreeably as on an island in the
cold and clear Fibrenus just above its confluence with the more
important river Liris, where, like a plebeian marrying into a
patrician family, it lost its name but contributed its freshness. The
younger Pliny built a study in the garden of his Laurentine villa near
Ostia, which he describes (II, 17) with enthusiasm: "horti diaeta est,
amores mei, re vera amores": and here he found refuge from the tumult
of his household during the festivities of the Saturnalia, which
corresponded with our Christmas. In the ante bellum days every
Virginia gentleman had such an "office" in his house yard where he
pretended to transact his farm business, but where actually he
was wont to escape from the obligations of family and continuous

[Footnote 171: The commentators on this interesting but obscure
description of Varro's aviary have at this point usually endeavoured
to explain the arrangements of the chamber under the lantern of
the _tholus_ with respect to its use as a dining room which Varro
frequented himself, and hence have been amused into all kinds of
difficulties of interpretation. The references to the _convivae_ are
what lead them astray, and it remained for Keil to suggest that this
was a playful allusion to the birds themselves, a conclusion which is
strengthened by Varro's previous statement of the failure of Lucullus'
attempt to maintain a dining room in his aviary.]

[Footnote 172: Cf. Vitruvius, I, 6: "Andronicus Cyrrhestes built at
Athens an octagonal marble tower, on the sides of which were carved
images of the eight winds, each on the side opposite that from which
it blew. On the pyramidal roof of this tower he placed a bronze Triton
holding a rod in his right hand, and so contrived that the Triton,
revolving with the wind, always stood opposed to that which prevailed,
and thus pointed with his rod to the image on the tower of the wind
that was blowing at the moment." The ruins of this Tower of the Winds
may still be seen in Athens. There is a picture of it in Harper's
Dictionary of Classical Antiquities in the article _Andronicus_.]

[Footnote 173: One ventures to translate _athletoe comitiorum_ by Mr.
Gladstone's famous phrase.]

[Footnote 174: Reading "tesserulas coicientem in loculum."]

[Footnote 175: A French translator might better convey the intention
of the pun, contained in the _ducere serram_ of the text, by the
locution, _une prise de bec_.]

[Footnote 176: It probably will not comfort the ultimate consumer who
holds in such odium the celebrated "Schedule K" of the Payne-Aldrich
tariff, to realize that the American wool grower puts no higher
value on his sheep than did his Roman ancestor, as revealed by this
quotation from the stock yards of Varro's time. It is interesting,
however, to the breeder to know that a good price for wool has always
stimulated the production of the best stock. Strabo says that the wool
of Turdetania in Spain was so celebrated in the generation after Varro
that a ram of the breed (the ancestors of the modern Merino) fetched
a talent, say $1,200; a price which may be compared with that of the
prize ram recently sold in England for export to the Argentine for as
much as a thousand pounds sterling, and considered a good commercial
investment at that. Doubtless the market for Rosean mules comforted
Axius in his investment of the equivalent of £400 in a breeding jack.]

[Footnote 177: In feudal times the right to maintain a dove cote was
the exclusive privilege of the lord of the manor. According to their
immemorial custom, which Varro notices, the pigeons preyed on the
neighbourhood crops and were detested by the community in consequence.
During the French revolution they were one of the counts in the
indictment of the land-owning aristocracy, and in the event the
pigeons as well as their owners had the sins of their forefathers
justly visited upon them. The American farmer who has a pigeon-keeping
neighbour and is restrained by the pettiness of the annoyance from
making a point on their trespasses, feels something of the blind and
impotent wrath of the French peasant against the whole pigeon family.]

[Footnote 178: It appears that the Romans actually hired men to chew the
food intended for cramming birds, so as to relieve the unhappy victims
even of such exercise as they might get from assimilating their diet.
Columella (VII, 10) in discussing the diet of thrushes deprecates
this practice, sagely saying that the wages of the chewers are out
of proportion to the benefit obtained, and that any way the chewers
swallow a good part of what they are given to macerate.

The typical tramp of the comic papers who is forever looking for
occupation without work might well envy these Roman professional
chewers. Not even Dr. Wiley's "poison squad" employed to test food
products could compare with them.]

[Footnote 179: These prices of $10 and $50 and even $80 a pair for
pigeons, large as they seem, were surpassed under the Empire.
Columella says (VIII, 8): "That excellent author, M. Varro, tells us
that in his more austere time it was not unusual for a pair of pigeons
to sell for a thousand sesterces, a price at which the present day
should blush, if we may believe the report that men have been found to
pay for a pair as much as four thousand _nummi_." ($200.)]

[Footnote 180: The market for chickens and eggs in the United States
would doubtless astonish the people of Delos as much as the statistics
do us (ipsa suas mirantur Gargara messes!). It is solemnly recorded
that the American hen produces a billion and a quarter dozen eggs per
annum, of a value greater than that of either the wheat or cotton
crops, and yet there are many of us who cannot get our hens to lay
more than a hundred eggs a year!]

[Footnote 181: Reading _ad infirma crura_. This practice is explained
more at length by Columella (VIII, 2, 3) who specifies the spurs,
_calcaribus inustis_.

Buffon, who describes a 'practice of trimming the combs of capons,
adds (V, 302) an interesting account of an experiment which he says he
had made "une espece de greffe animale": after trimming the comb of
a growing cockerel his budding spurs were cut out and grafted on the
roots of the comb, where they took root and flourished, growing to a
length of two and a half inches, in some cases curving forward like
the horns of a ram, and in others turning back like those of a goat.]

[Footnote 182: The dusting yard which Varro here describes was in the
open, but Columella (VIII, 3) advises what modern poultry farmers
pride themselves upon having recently discovered,--a covered
scratching pen strewn with litter to afford exercise for the hens in
rough weather. It will be observed that, so far as ventilation is
concerned, Varro recommends a hen house open to the weather: this is
another standard of modern practice which has had a hard struggle
against prejudice. Columella adds two more interesting bits of advice,
that for the comfort of the hens the roosts should be cut square, and
for cleanliness their water trough should be enclosed leaving
only openings large enough to receive a hen's head. With so much
enlightenment and sanitation one would expect one or the other of
these Romans to tell us of some "teeming hen" like Herrick's who laid
"her egg each day."

We are proud to be able to cite the eminent Roseburg Industrious Biddy
who, in the year of grace 1912, achieved the championship of America
with a record of 266 eggs in ten months and nineteen days, and was
sold for $800: but Varro is content to suggest that a hen will lay
more eggs in a season than she can hatch, and the conservative
Columella (VIII, 5) that the number of eggs depends upon diet.]

[Footnote 183: The guinea fowl got their Greek name, _meleagrides_,
because the story was that the sisters of Meleager were turned into
guinea hens. Pliny (_H.N._ X, 38) says that they fight every year on
Meleager's tomb. It is a fact that they are a pugnacious fowl. Buffon
says that guinea fowl disappeared from Europe in the Dark Ages and
were not known again until the route to the Indies via the Cape of
Good Hope was opened when they were imported anew from the west coast
of Africa.]

[Footnote 184: Reading, "propter fastidium hominum." Cf. Pliny (X, 38),
whose explanation is "propter ingratum virus."]

[Footnote 185: There is a Virginia practice of feeding a fat turkey
heavily on bread soaked in wine or liquor just before he is killed,
the result being that as the turkey gets into that condition which
used to put our ancestors under the table, he relaxes all his tendons
and so is sweeter and more tender when he comes above the table. There
is a humanitarian side to the practice which should recommend it even
to the W.C.T.U. as well as to the epicure.]

[Footnote 186: Many thousands of geese used to be driven every year to
Rome from the land of the Morini in Northern Gaul, but the Germans are
the modern consumers. A British consular report says that in addition
to the domestic supply a special "goose train" of from fifteen to
forty cars is received daily in Berlin from Russia. It would seem that
the goose that lays the golden egg has emigrated to Muscovy. Buffon
says that the introduction of the Virginia turkey into Europe drove
the goose off the tables of all civilized peoples.]

[Footnote 187: Columella (VIII, 14) repeats this myth, but Aristotle
(_H.A._ V, 2, 9) says that geese bathe _after_ breeding. Buffon gives
a Gallic touch, "ces oiseaux preludent aux actes de l'amour en allant
d'abord s'egayer dans l'eau."]

[Footnote 188: Reading _seris_. It is the _Cichorium endivia_ of
Linnaeus. Cf. Pliny (_H.N._ XX, 32.)]

[Footnote 189: Varro does not mention it, but the Romans knew and prized
_pâté de foie gras_ under the name _ficatum_, which indicates that
they produced it by cramming their geese with a diet of figs. Cf.
Horace's verse "pinguibus et ficis pastum iecur anseris albi."

In Toulouse, whence now comes the best of this dainty of the epicure,
the geese are crammed daily with a dough of corn meal mixed with the
oil of poppies, fed through a tin funnel, which is introduced into the
esophagus of the unhappy bird. At the end of a month the stertorous
breathing of the victim proclaims the time of sacrifice to Apicius.
The liver is expected to weigh a kilogram, (say two pounds), while
at least two kilograms of fat are saved in addition, to garnish the
family _plat_ of vegetables during the remainder of the year.]

[Footnote 190: Reading _foeles_, which Keller, in his account of the
fauna of ancient Italy in the Cambridge _Companion to Latin Studies_,
identifies with _Martes vulgaris_. Sir Anthony Fitzherbert calls them
fullymartes. It does not appear that the Romans had in Varro's time
brought from Egypt our household cat, _F. maniculata_. They used
weasels and tame snakes for catching mice.]

[Footnote 191: Darwin (_Animals and Plants_, I, 8) cites this passage
and argues that Varro's advice to cover the duck yard with netting to
keep the ducks from flying out is evidence that in Varro's time ducks
were not entirely domesticated, and hence that the modern domestic
duck is the same species as the wild duck. It may be noted, however,
that Varro gives the same advice about netting the chicken yard,
having said that chickens had been domesticated from the beginning of

[Footnote 192: The ancient Etruscan city of Tarquinii is now known
as Corneto. The wild sheep which Lippinus there kept in his game
preserves were probably the _mouflon_ which are still hunted in
Sardinia and Corsica, though they may have been the Phrygian wild
sheep (_Aegoceros argali_) which Varro mentions in Book II. Pliny
(_H.N._ VIII, 211) says that this Lippinus was the first of the Romans
to keep wild animals enclosed; that he established his preserves
shortly before the Civil Wars, and that he soon had imitators.]

[Footnote 193: Reading * * * * [Transcriber's note: the preceding four
*s are actually four instances of the "infinity" symbol (like a digit
8 rotated horizontally)]_passum_. The Roman mile, _mille passuum_, was
142 yards less than the English mile.]

[Footnote 194: Of the three kinds of hares mentioned by Varro the
"common Italian kind" was _L. timidus_, a roast shoulder of which
Horace vaunts as a delicacy: the Alpine hare was _L. variabilis_,
which grows white on the approach of winter: and the _cuniculus_ was
the common rabbit known to our English ancestors as the coney. Strabo
records (Casaub, 144) that the inhabitants of the Gymnesian (Balearic)
Islands in Spain sent a deputation to Augustus to request a military
force to exterminate the pest of rabbits, for such was their multitude
that the people were being crowded out of their homes by them, in
which their plight was that of modern Australia. They were usually
hunted in Spain with muzzled ferrets imported from Africa.]

[Footnote 195: The edible snail, _helix pomatia_, L., is still an
article of commerce in France and Italy. They prey upon vines and
give evidence of their appreciation of the best by abounding in the
vineyards of the _Cote d'or_, the ancient Burgundy. There at the end
of summer they are gathered for the double purpose of protecting the
vines and delighting the epicure: are then stored in a safe place
until cold weather, when they considerately seal up their own shells
with a calcareous secretion and so are shipped to market.

Here is the recipe for 'escargots à la bourguignonne,' which despite
the prejudice engendered by _Leviticus_ (XI, 30.) may be recommended
to the American palate jaded by beefsteak and potatoes and the high
cost of living: "Mettre les escargots a bouillir pendant 5 a 10
minutes dans de l'eau salée, les retirer de leur coquille, les laver
a l'eau froide pour les debarrasser du limon, les cuire dans un
court-bouillon fortement assaisonné. Apres cuisson les replacer dans
le coquille bien nettoyee, en les garnissant au fond et par dessus
d'une farce de beurre frais manipule avec un fin hachis de persil,
cerfeuil, ail, echalote, sel et poivre. Avant de servir, faire
chauffer au four."]

[Footnote 196: Reading LXXX _quadrantes_. A comparison may be made of
this capacity with that of the ordinary snail known to the Romans,
for their smallest unit of liquid measure was called a _cochlear_, or
snail shell, and contained.02 of a modern pint, or, as we may say,
a spoonful: indeed the French word _cuiller_ is derived from

[Footnote 197: It is perhaps well to remind the American reader that the
European dormouse (_Myoxus glis_. Fr. _loir_. Ger. _siebenschlafer_)
is rather a squirrel than a mouse, and that he is still esteemed a
dainty edible, as he was by the Romans: indeed when fat, just before
he retires to hibernate, he might be preferred to 'possum and other
strange dishes on which some hospitable Americans regale themselves
and the patient palates of touring Presidents. In his treatise _De re
culinaria_ Apicius gives a recipe for a ragout of dormice which sounds

[Footnote 198: Darwin (_Animals and Plants_, XVIII) says: "I have never
heard of the dormouse breeding in captivity."]

[Footnote 199: Varro makes no mention of tea and bread and butter as
part of the diet of a dormouse; so we are better able to understand
his abstinence at the mad tea party in _Alice in Wonderland_. As
Martial (III, 58) calls him _somniculosus_, it is probable that his
table manners on that occasion were nothing new and that his English
and German names were always justified.]

[Footnote 200: This is one of Varro's puns which requires a surgical
operation to get it into one's head. Appius is selected to talk about
bees because his name has some echo of the sound of _apis_, the word
for bee.]

[Footnote 201: The study of bees was as interesting to the ancients as
it is to us. There have survived from among many others the treatises
of Aristotle, Varro, Virgil, Columella and Pliny, but they are all
made up, as Maeterlinck has remarked, of "erreurs charmantes," and for
that reason the antique lore of bees is read perhaps to best advantage
in the mellifluous verses of the fourth _Georgic_, which follow Varro

[Footnote 202: He might have said also that the hexagonal form of
construction employed by bees produces the largest possible result
with the least labour and material. Maeterlinck rehearses (_La Vie des
Abeilles_, 138) the result of the study of this problem in the highest

"Réaumur avait proposé au célèbre mathematicien Koenig le problem
suivant: 'Entre toutes les cellules hexagonales a fond pyramidal
compose de trois rhombes semblables et égaux, determiner celle qui
peut être construite avec le moins de matière?' Koenig trouva qu'une
telle cellule avait son fond fait de trois rhombes dont chaque grand
angle était de 109 degrés, 26 minutes et chaque petit de 70 degrés, 34
minutes. Or, un autre savant, Maraldi, ayant mesuré aussi exactement
que possible les angles des rhombes construits par les abeilles fixa
les grands à 109 degrés, 28 minutes, et les petits a 70 degrés, 32
minutes. Il n'y avait done, entre les deux solutions qu'une difference
de 2 minutes. II est probable que l'erreur, s'il y en a une, doit être
imputee a Maraldi plutot qu'aux abeilles, car aucun instrument ne
permet de mesurer avec une precision infaìllible les angles des
cellules qui ne sont pas assez nettlement definis."

Maclaurin, a Scotch physicist, checked Koenig's computations and
reported to the Royal Society in London in 1743 that he found a
solution in exact accord with Maraldi's measurements, thereby
completely justifying the mathematics of the bee architect.]

[Footnote 203: The Romans were as curious and as constant in the use of
perfumes as we are of tobacco. It is perhaps well to remember that
they might find our smoke as offensive as we would their unguents.]

[Footnote 204: Indeed one of the marvels of nature is the service
which certain bees perform for certain plants in transferring their
fertilizing pollen which has no other means of transportation. Darwin
is most interesting on this subject.]

[Footnote 205: The ancients, even Aristotle, did not know that the queen
bee is the common mother of the hive. They called her the king, and it
remained for Swammerdam in the seventeenth century to determine with
the microscope this important fact. From that discovery has developed
our modern knowledge of the bee; that the drones are the males and are
suffered by the (normally) sterile workers to live only until one of
them has performed his office of fertilizing once for all the new
queen in that nuptial flight, so dramatically fatal to the successful
swain, which Maeterlinck has described with wonderful rhetoric,
whereupon the workers massacre the surviving males without mercy. This
is the "driving out" which Varro mentions.]

[Footnote 206: This picture of the queen bee is hardly in accord with
modern observations. It seems that while the queen is treated with
the utmost respect, she is rather a royal prisoner than a ruler, and,
after her nuptial flight, is confined to her function of laying eggs
incessantly unless she may be unwillingly dragged forth to lead a
swarm. Maeterlinck thus pictures (_La Vie des Abeilles_, 174) her
existence with a Gallic pencil:

"Elle n'aura aucune des habitudes, aucunes des passions que nous
croyons inherentes à l'abeille. Elle n'eprouvera ni le desir du
soleil, ni le besoin de l'espace et mourra sans avoir visite une
fleur. Elle passera son existence dans l'ombre et l'agitation de la
foule à la recherche infatigable de berceaux à peupler. En revanche,
elle connaitra seule l'inquietude de l'amour."]

[Footnote 207: It would have interested Axius to know that the annual
consumption of honey in the United States today is from 100 to 125
million pounds and that the crop has a money value of at least ten
million dollars. To match Seius, we might put forward a bee farmer in
California who produces annually 150,000 pounds of honey from 2,000

[Footnote 208: Maeterlinck has made a charming picture of this habit of
propinquity of the bee-stand to the human habitation. He describes
(_La Vie des Abeilles_, 14) the old man who taught him to love bees
when he was a boy in Flanders, an old man whose entire happiness
"consistait aux beautés d'un jardin et parmi ces beautés la mieux
aimee et la plus visitées etait un roucher, composé de douze cloches
de paille qu'il avait peint, les unes de rose vif, les autres de jaune
clair, la plupart d'un bleu tendre, car il avail observé, bien avant
les experiences de Sir John Lubbock, que le bleu est la couleur
preferée des abeilles. Il avait installé ce roucher centre le mur
blanchi de la maison, dans l'angle que formait une des ces savoureuses
et fraiches cuisines hollondaises aux dressoirs de faience ou
étincalaient les etains et les cuivres qui, par la porte ouverte,
se reflétaient dans un canal paisible. Et l'eau chargés d'images
familières, sous un rideau de peupliers, guidait les regards jusqu'au
répos d'un horizon de moulins et de prés."]

[Footnote 209: Reading _Apiastro_. This is the _Melissa officinalis_ of
Linnaeus. Cf. Pliny, XX, 45 and XXI, 86.]

[Footnote 210: Bee keepers attribute to Reaumur the invention of the
modern glass observation hive, which has made possible so much of our
knowledge of the bee, but it may be noted that Pliny (_H.N._ XXI, 47)
mentions hives of "lapis specularis," some sort of talc, contrived for
the purpose of observing bees at work. The great advance in bee hives
is, however, the sectional construction attributed to Langstroth and
developed in America by Root.]

[Footnote 211: Columella, (IX, 14) referring to the myth of the
generation of bees in the carcase of an ox (out of which Virgil made
the fable of the pastor Aristaeus in the Fourth Georgic), explains
the practice mentioned in the text with the statement "hic enim quasi
quadam cognatione generis maxime est apibus aptus." The plastering
of wicker hives with ox dung persisted and is recommended in the
seventeenth century editions of the _Maison Rustique_.]

[Footnote 212: Reading _seditiosum_.]

[Footnote 213: This is a mistake upon which Aristotle could have
corrected Varro.]

[Footnote 214: After studying the commentators on this obscure passage,
I have elected to follow the emendation of Ursinus, which, although
Keil sneers at its license, has the advantage of making sense.]

[Footnote 215: _Sinapis arvensis_, Linn.]

[Footnote 216: _Sium sisarum_, Linn.]

[Footnote 217: The philosophy of the bee is not as selfish as that human
principle which Varro attributes to them. The hive does not send forth
its "youth" to found a colony, but, on the contrary, abandons its home
and its accumulated store of wealth to its youth and itself ventures
forth under the leadership of the old queen to face the uncertainties
of the future, leaving only a small band of old bees to guard the
hive and rear the young until the new queen shall have supplied a new

[Footnote 218: Reading _imbecilliores_.]

[Footnote 219: Pliny (_H.N_. IX, 81) relates that this loan was made to
supply the banquet on the occasion of one of the triumphs of Caesar
the dictator, but Pliny puts the loan at six thousand fishes.]

[Footnote 220: It is impossible to translate this pun into English,
_dulcis_ being the equivalent of both "fresh" and "agreeable," and
_amara_ of "salt" and "disagreeable." A French translator would have
at his command _doux_ and _amer_.]

[Footnote 221: Cf. Pliny (_H.N_. II, 96): "In Lydia the islands called
Calaminae are not only driven about by the wind, but may even be
pushed at pleasure from place to place, by which means many people
saved themselves in the Mithridatic war. There are some small islands
in the Nymphaeus called the Dancers, because, when choruses are sung,
they move in tune with the measure of the music."]

[Footnote 222: Reading _in ius vocare_, with the _double entendre_ of
service in a sauce and bringing to justice.]


_Actus (actus guadratus)_, unit of area in land measurement
Aegean Sea, derivation of name
Aesop's fable of the fox
Agriculture, distinguished from grazing, pottery-making, etc.
  definition of scope of
  purposes of, are profit and pleasure
  four divisions for the study of
  effect of conformation of the land on,
  effect of character of soil
Albutius, L.
Alfalfa, advice concerning
Alfius, Roman farmer banker
Alpine hares
Amurca, farm uses of
  used for anointing threshing floors
  waste of, by Romans
  method of preserving
Apiaries, location of
  _See_ Bees.
Apicius, recipe for ragout of dormice by,
Appian, quoted
Appius  Claudius Pulcher
Apples, storing
Apulian breed of horses
Aquinas, Thomas
_Arbusta_, the Italian
_Arista_, etymology of word
Aristotle, on blindness of puppies
  on goats' breathing through their ears
  on exercising of pregnant mares
  on breeding of mares
  story related by
_Arpent_, derivation of
Asparagus planting,
Asses, use of, as compared with other draught animals
  manure of
  certain choice breeds of
  buying, breeding, care of, etc.
  milk of
Atticus, T. Pomponius

Augeas, King, tradition concerning
Augustine, St., on Varro
  indebtedness of, to works of Varro
Aviaries, profits from
  two classes of
  those kept for profit
  those kept for pleasure
Aviary, Varro's, at Casinum


Bakewell, breeding of sheep by
Barbers, the first, in Italy
Barn yards, arrangement of
Barrows, hogs called
Bavaria, agriculture in Iowa contrasted with that in
Beans, use of, for green manuring
Beauclerk, W.N., on agriculture in modern Italy
Bees, eggs of unfertilized queen
  the keeping of
  theories concerning generation of
  treatises on, by ancient writers
  habits and houses of
  money to be made from
  location of stands for
  food for;
  structure and care of hives
  kinds of
  selection of
  swarming of
  removal of honey
  general care of
Benson, William, edition of _Georgics_ by, quoted
Birds, manure of
Blackbirds, houses for keeping
Blackstone, opinion by, cited
Bleat, etymology of word
Blood, use of, in composts
Boars, advice concerning
  altering; wild
Boissier, Gaston
  quoted and cited
_Boke of Husbandry_, Fitzherbert's
Bologna sausages
Bones, remedy for injuries to
Borden, Spencer, _The Arab Horse_ by, quoted
Boundaries,  protection  of farm
Buffon, quotations from
Bugs, recipe for exterminating
Buildings on farm


Cabbage, Cato's advocacy of the
Cakes, recipes for
Calendar of agricultural operations
Capons, chickens called
  method of caponizing cocks
_Caprae_, goats, derivation of word
_Capreolus_, a spiral tendril
Cascate delle Marmore
Casinum, Varro's estate of
Cassius, quoted
Cassius Dionysius
Cat, the modern household, unknown to Varro
Cato, Marcus Porcius
  the _De re rustica_ of
  literary style of, compared with Varro
Cats, contrasted with dogs in relations with man
Cattle, leaves as fodder for
  feeding of
  care of
  number and selection of, for a farm
  honour paid to, in naming Zodiacal signs and the constellations
  advice on breeding and feeding
  number of, to be kept
  advice on neat cattle
_Centuria_, defined
Chaff, derivation of word
Cheese, varieties and qualities of
Cheese cake
Chestnuts as food in Italy
Child, R., quoted
Cicero,  quoted concerning Varro
  verse from
Cleaning grain
Clement-Mullet, J.J., translation by
Climate, choice of, in buying a farm
  connection between conformation of land and
Clover, advice on seeding
Coburn, book on alfalfa by
Colours of horses, significance of
  on ploughing
  rules about the compost heap
  on soil improvement with legumes
  on dangers from mosquitoes
  on alfalfa
_Comedy of Errors_, origin of
Compost heap, rules concerning the
Concrete, fences of
Conformation of land, effect of, on agriculture
Constellations, names of cattle given to
Corn, structure of plant
 _See_ Grain
Corn land as distinguished from plough land
Corsican honey
Cotton seed, utilization of
Country life, antiquity of
Cowper and Cowley, lines by
Crescenzi, Pietro, cited
Cultivating time
Curing hams
Cuttage of plants
Cyrrhestes, Tower of the Winds built by


Dante, quotation from
Darwin, Charles, _Animals and Plants_ by
  on dormice
Dates, eating preserved
_Denarius_, value of the
Dennis, _Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria_ by, quoted
_De re rustica_, Cato's
Desmolins, Edmond, cited
Dickson, Andrew, quoted
Diophanes of Bithynia
Disease in cattle, and remedies
Dislocations of bones, remedy for
Dogs, watch
Donaldson's _Agricultural Biography_, quoted
Dondlinger, _Book of Wheat_ by, quoted
Dormice, enclosures for, feeding, etc.
  period for
Draught animals on farm
  number and choice of
Dry farming
Ducks, housing, care of, etc.
Dunghill fowl
Dusting yard for poultry


Eggs, the first course in Roman dinners
  number for setting
Elm trees, planting of
  for marking boundaries
Endive, as food for geese
Ensilage, question of use of, by ancients
Equipment of a farm


Fallow, as managed by the Romans
Farm, buying a
  laying out of the
  stocking the
  as a source of both profit and pleasure
  effect of conformation of the land
  effect of character of the soil
Farm hands, allowances for
  selection, treatment, number of, etc.,
_Farrago_, mixed fodder
  as food for geese
Feast days, observance of
Feed racks, construction of
Ferrero, cited
Field crops, planting of
Figs, season for propagating
  eating preserved
Fining the soil
Fishes, feeding and care of
Fish ponds
  fresh-water and salt-water
  number of, on one estate
Fitzherbert, Sir Anthony
  quoted; cited
  on combining two kinds of husbandry
  on greasing of sheep
Flock masters, duties of
Forage, derivation from _farrago_
Forage crops
Foremen of farm hands, qualifications of
Fowl. _See_ Poultry
Fowler, _Social Life at Rome_ by, quoted
France, yields of wine in
Freemen as agricultural labourers
Fruits, preserving
  time for using stored
Furlong, derivation of


Game preserves
Gauls, pre-eminence of, in
  growing and making of pork
  high qualities as shepherds
Geese, selection of, breeding, care, etc.
Geldings, horses called
_Geoponica_, the; cited
_Georgics_, Virgil's, passages based on information from Varro
Gestation, periods of
Gleaning of grain fields
_Gluma_, etymology of word
Goats, as foes of agriculture
  characteristics, breeding and handling
  milk of; use of hair and skins of; shearing of
Googe, Barnaby, translation of Heresbach by
Graftage of plants
Grain, advice on seeding
  storing of
  cleaning, when taken out of storage
  time for marketing
Granaries, varieties of
_Granum_, etymology of word
Grapes, harvesting of
  advice on storing
Grapevines, trellises and props for
Grazing, to be distinguished from agriculture
Greek writers on agriculture
Green manuring
Guinea fowl


_Haeredium_, defined
Hair, removal of superfluous
Hams, recipes for curing and cooking
Hares, varieties of
  _See_ Rabbits
Harte, Walter, _Essays on Husbandry_ by
  on alfalfa
Hartlib, Samuel
  on pasture _vs._ arable land
Harvester, ancient forerunners of the modern
Harvest time
Hay, harvesting the
  storing of
Health, location of farm steading with regard to
Healthfulness of farms, importance of
Hedges, myrtle
Heliotrope, habits of the
Herd dogs
Heresbach,  Conrad, cited
Herrick, Robert, quoted
  quoted and cited
Hives for bees, location and structure
  inventors of modern devices
Homer, quoted
  on use of mules
Honey, Sicilian and Corsican
  profits from
  removal of, from hive
Honeycomb, structure of the
Horace, cited
Horses, oxen _vs._
  manure of
  breeding, feeding, care of, etc.
House for residence on farm
Housekeeper, duties of the


Ibn-al-Awam, book of agriculture by
Implements, farming
Inarching, propagation by
Incantations as cures
Interamna, town of
Iowa, farming in Bavaria and
Italy, agriculture in modern


Johnson, Samuel, on Harte's _Husbandry_
  quoted on Shenstone
Joigneaux, P., on yields of wine in France
Jones, W.H., on malaria in the Roman Campagna
_Jugerum_, defined
_Jugum_, defined
Jungle fowl


Kames, Lord, quoted
Keil, quoted
Keller, cited
_Kitab al-felahah_ of Ibn-al-Awam


Labourers, agricultural
Lanciani, cited
Land, effect of conformation of, on agriculture
Leaves as fodder for cattle
Legumes, soil improvement with
Library, public, at Rome
Literature of farm management, ancient
Live stock, feeding
  care of
  origin and importance of husbandry of
  _See_ Cattle
Lombardy, agriculture in ancient and modern


Machiavelli, quoted
Maeterlinck, quoted on dogs
  on the antique lore of bees
  on the mathematics of the honeycomb
  on the queen bee's life
  on the nearness of the bee-stand to the dwelling-house
Mago the Carthagenian, treatise on farm management by
  Varro's account of
_Maison Rustique_, cited and quoted
Malaria in Roman Campagna
Manure, preparation of
  best kinds of
Manure pits, arrangement of
Manuring, importance of
Maremma sheep dogs
Mares, use of, for war horses
  milk of
Market day among the Romans
Marl, use of, as manure
Marrying the vine
Martial, quotation from
Meadows, protection of
  irrigated, of Lombardy
Measurement of land, units of area used in
Mile, the Roman
Military fences
Milk and milking, advice on
Minerval, a
Mitchell, Donald G.
Mommsen, quoted
Montesquieu, quoted
Moon, influence of, on agriculture
Moryson, Fynes, quoted
Mosquitoes, perception by Varro of damages from
Mules, remarks on foaling by
  uses, care of, etc.
Murray, Gilbert, translation of Euripides by
Must cake
Myers, F.W.H., cited


Neat cattle, buying, breeding, feeding, etc.
Neighbourhood, considerations of, in locating farm
Neighbours,  treatment  of one's
_Nummus_, a "nickel,"
_Nundinum_, the Roman week
Nurseries, protection of
Nuts, eating preserved


Oaks, effect of, on olive trees
_Oboerati_, class of bondservants called
_Ocinum_, basil
Oil, manufacture of, from olives
Oil-making implements
Olive farm, number of hands for working an
Olives, allowances of, for
  farm hands
  reasons for growth in Attica
  effect of oaks in neighbourhood of
  advice on planting
  propagating from truncheons
  harvesting of
  methods of preserving
  eating preserved
Olive salad
Onager, wild ass
  laying out and planting of
  _See_ Aviaries
Ortolans, houses for keeping
  duties of the
  location of room of
Ovid, quoted
  selling of worn-out
  comparison of horses and
  care of hoofs of
  treatment of sick
  number of, suitable for a farm
  qualities of, to be considered
  breaking of
  respect in which held by ancient Romans


  on the Gallic harvester
_Palma_, palm
  care of
  _vs_. arable land
Pâté de foie gras, known and prized by Romans
Peacocks, discussion of
Perfumes among the Romans
Persius, cited
  on Varro
  on the loss of Varro's books
Philippus, L. Marcius
Pigeon houses
  manure of
  kinds and care of
Pigs, weanling, called "sacred"
  field crops
  time of
  four methods of propagating
  time for using different methods of propagation
  mechanical action of
  _Menaechmi_ of
Pleasure as a main purpose of agriculture
  use of marl as manure noted by
  on the Gallic harvester
Pliny the Younger, study in garden of
Ploughing,  importance  of thorough
  of rotten land
Plough land, as distinguished from corn land
Pollio, Asinius, library at Rome founded by
Polybius, quoted
Pome fruits, storing
Pomegranates, preserving
Poultry, kinds, feeding, and care of
Poultry houses
Protection of nurseries and meadows
Prothero, quoted
Punning, Varro's use of


Quail, houses for keeping
  migrations of
Queen bees, recency of knowledge about
Quinces, storing
Quintilian, on Varro


Rabbits, warrens for
  breeding and feeding of
  derivation of Latin name for
Racking wine
Reate, asses from
_Rerum Rusticarum_ of Varro
  Virgil's indebtedness to
Rest room for farm hands
Ridgeway, quoted
  on markings of horses
Ridging land, custom of
Rogers, Thorold, quoted
Roman fever
Rome, insecurity of life in ancient
Rosea, drainage of, by artificial canals
Rosean breed of horses
Rotten land, precautions regarding


Sacred pigs
Salad, olive
Salt, allowance of, for farm hands
_Saltus_, defined
Salutations, Greek, as used by Romans
Saserna, as a writer on agriculture
  on number of farm hands necessary
  on securing allegiance of dogs
Scab among sheep and cattle
Scratches in horses, remedy for
Scratching pen for hens
_Scripulum_, defined
Scrofa, Tremelius
  origin of name
Sea birds, manure of
Seasons, agricultural
Seed, selection of
Seed bed, preparing the
Sellar, cited
Seneca, on Virgil's farming
_Sestertius_, value of the
Sheep, value of, for their manure
  buying of
  feeding, breeding, and care of
  shearing of
Sheep dogs
Shepherds, distinguished from farmers
  number and kind of, requisite
  purchase of slaves for
  life of
Sicilian honey
Size of farm
Slaves, selling of old and sick
  importance of food to contentment of
  selection of, for farm hands
  number of, for operating a farm
  buying, to act as shepherds
Snails, recipe for preparing cooked
  method of keeping in enclosures
  varieties of
  fattening of
Snakebite, remedy for
Soil, improvement of
  effect of character of, on agriculture
  different kinds of
  fining the
Solar measure of year
Solomon, quotation on ploughing from
Sour land, treatment of
Sowing, period for
Spring ploughing
Stables for live stock
Steading, building a
  husbandry of the
  development of the industries of the
Stamen, etymology of
Stocking a farm
Storing crops
Strabo, inventor of aviaries
Straw, derivation of word
Swine,  selecting, feeding, breeding, etc.


Tarquinii, ancient Etruscan city
Taylor, John, _Arator_ by, quoted
Teeth, telling age of animals by the
_Terra_, different senses of word
Thales of Miletus
Thebes, derivation of name
Theophrastus, works by
  on honey of Corsica
Thessalian horses
Thinning vines
Threshing floor, the
Thrushes, profits from
  houses for keeping
Tillage, advice on
Time, standards of
  the Roman week
Tools, farming
Toulouse, production of pâté de foie gras in
Transportation, importance of ease of
Trellises in vineyards
Trumpet, training hogs to obey sound of
  assembling wild boars and roebucks by the
Tull, Jethro
Turkeys, fattening
  effect of introduction into Europe, on geese
Turtle doves, housing and care of


Varro, Marcus Terentius
  the _Rerum Rusticarum_ of
  works of, besides _Rerum Rusticarum_,
  activities of, in war against pirates
  estate and museum of
Vegetable gardens
_Versus_, the, defined
Vetch, derivation of name
Veterinary science of ancient Romans
Villa, discussion of the Roman
Vines, for marking farm boundaries
  advice on planting
Vineyards, the maintenance of
  implements for
Vintage, work of the
  indebtedness of, to Varro
  formula for testing sour land by
  advice on ploughing
  on colours of horses
Vitruvius, quoted on Cyrrhestes' Tower of the Winds


Walnut trees, effect of, on surrounding land
Walter of Henley
  on use of marl as manure
Warrens, defined
Watch dogs, 116
Water for cattle
Water supply for a steading
Weaning, of young cattle
  of lambs
Weanling pigs
Week, the Roman
Wheat, seeding
  yields of
  structure of plant
  harvesting of
Wild asses
Wild boars, keeping of, in game preserves
Wind, impregnating of mares by the
Wind breaks for olive orchards
Wine, cabbage as an offset to effects of
  allowances of, for farm hands
  yields of, in ancient Italy
  racking, 173
  used in cramming fowls
Winnowing basket, use of, for a cradle
Winter ploughing
Wood pigeons, cramming and fattening
Wool, shearing sheep for


Xenophon, as a writer on agriculture


Year, solar measure of the
Young, Arthur
  inscription on tombstone of wife
  fences recommended by
  on necessary number of farm labourers


Zeno of Citium
Zodiacal signs, honour paid to cattle in

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