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This webpage reproduces a section of
De Agricultura

by
Cato the Elder

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1934

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!


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Chapters 53‑60

Marcus Cato
on Agriculture

p3[link to original Latin text] It is true that to obtain money by trade is sometimes more profitable, were it not so hazardous; and likewise money-lending, if it were as honourable. Our ancestors held this view and embodied it in their laws, which required that the thief be mulcted double and the usurer fourfold; how much less desirable a citizen they considered the usurer than the thief, one may judge from this. 2 And when they would praise a worthy man their praise took this form: "good husbandman, good farmer"; one so praised was thought to have received the greatest commendation. 3 The trader I consider to be an energetic man, and one bent on making money; but, as I said above, it is a dangerous career and one subject to disaster. 4 On the other hand, it is from the farming class that the bravest men and the sturdiest soldiers come, their calling is most highly respected, their livelihood is most assured and is looked on with the least hostility, and those who are engaged in that pursuit are least inclined to be disaffected. And now, to come back to my subject, the above will serve as an introduction to what I have undertaken.

1 1   [link to original Latin text] When you are thinking of acquiring a farm, keep in mind these points: that you be not over-eager in buying nor spare your pains in examining, p5and that you consider it not sufficient to go over it once. However often you go, a good piece of land will please you more at each visit. 2 Notice how the neighbours keep up their places; if the district is good, they should be well kept. Go in and keep your eyes open, so that you may be able to find your way out. It should have a good climate, not subject to storms; the soil should be good, and naturally strong. 3 If possible, it should lie at the foot of a mountain and face south; the situation should be healthful, there should be a good supply of labourers, it should be well watered, and near it there should be a flourishing town, or the sea, or a navigable stream, or a good and much travelled road. 4 It should lie among those farms which do not often change owners; where those who have sold farms are sorry to have done so. It should be well furnished with buildings. Do not be hasty in despising the methods of management adopted by others.1 It will be better to purchase from an owner who is a good farmer and a good builder. When you reach the steading, observe whether there are numerous oil presses and wine vats; 5 if there are not, you may infer that the amount of the yield is in proportion. The farm should be one of no great equipment, but should be well situated. See that it be equipped as economically as possible, and that the land be not extravagant. 6 Remember that a farm is like a man — however great the income, if there is extravagance but little is left. 7 If you ask me what is the best kind of farm, I should say: a hundred iugera2 of land, comprising all sorts of soils, and in a good situation; a vineyard comes first if it produces bountifully p7wine of a good quality; second, a watered garden; third, an osier-bed; fourth, an oliveyard; fifth, a meadow; sixth, grain land;3 seventh, a wood lot; eighth, an arbustum;4 ninth, a mast grove.5

2 1   [link to original Latin text] When the master arrives at the farmstead, after paying his respects to the god of the household, let him go over the whole farm, if possible, on the same day; if not, at least on the next. When he has learned the condition of the farm, what work has been accomplished and what remains to be done, let him call in his overseer the next day and inquire of him what part of the work has been completed, what has been left undone; whether what has been finished was done betimes, and whether it is possible to complete the rest; and what was the yield of wine, grain, and all other products. 2 Having gone into this, he should make a calculation of the labourers and the time consumed. If the amount of work does not seem satisfactory, the overseer claims that he has done his best, but that the slaves have not been well, the weather has been bad, slaves have run away, he has had public work6 to do; when he has given these and many other excuses, call the overseer back to your estimate of the work done and the hands employed. 3 If it has been a rainy season, remind him of the work that could have been done on rainy days: scrubbing and pitching wine vats, cleaning the farmstead, shifting p9grain, hauling out manure, making a manure pit, cleaning seed, mending old harness and making new; and that the hands ought to have mended their smocks and hoods. 4 Remind him, also, that on feast days old ditches might have been cleaned, road work done, brambles cut, the garden spaded, a meadow cleared, faggots bundled, thorns rooted out, spelt ground, and general cleaning done. When the slaves were sick, such large rations should not have been issued. 5 After this has been gone into calmly, give orders for the completion of what work remains; run over the cash accounts, grain accounts, and purchases of fodder; run over the wine accounts, the oil accounts — what has been sold, what collected, balance due, and what is left that is saleable; where security for an account should be taken, let it be taken; 6 and let the supplies on hand be checked over. Give orders that whatever may be lacking for the current year be supplied; that what is superfluous be sold; that whatever work should be let out be let. Give directions as to what work you want done on the place, and what you want let out,7 and leave the directions in writing. 7 Look over the live stock and hold a sale. Sell your oil, if the price is satisfactory, and sell the surplus of your wine and grain. Sell worn-out oxen, blemished cattle, blemished sheep, wool, hides, an old wagon, old tools, an old slave, a sickly slave, and whatever else is superfluous. The master should have the selling habit, not the buying habit.

3 1   [link to original Latin text] In his youth the owner should devote his attention to planting. He should think a long time about building, but planting is a thing not to be thought about but done. When you reach the age p11of thirty-six you should build, if you have your land planted.8 In building, you should see that the steading does not lag behind the farm nor the farm behind the steading. 2 It is well for the master to have a well-built barn9 and storage room and plenty of vats for oil and wine, so that he may hold his products for good prices; it will redound to his wealth, his self-respect, and his reputation. He should have good presses, so that the work may be done thoroughly. Let the olives be pressed immediately, to prevent the oil from spoiling. Remember that high winds come every year and are apt to beat off the olives; 3 if you gather them at once and the presses are ready, there will be no loss on account of the storm, and the oil will be greener and better. 4 If the olives remain too long on the ground or the floor they will spoil, and the oil will be rancid. Any sort of olive will produce a good and greener oil if it is pressed betimes. 5 For an oliveyard of 120 iugera there should be two pressing equipments, if the trees are vigorous, thickly planted, and well cultivated. The mills should be stout and of different sizes, so that if the stones become worn you may change. Each should have its own leather ropes, six sets of hand bars, six double sets of pins, and leather belts. Greek blocks10 run on double ropes of Spanish broom; 6 you can work more rapidly with eight pulleys above, and six below; if you wish to use wheels it will work more slowly but with less effort.

4 1   [link to original Latin text] Have good stalls, stout pens, and latticed feed-racks. The rack bars should be a foot apart; if you make them in this way the cattle will not scatter their feed. Build your dwelling-house9 in accordance p13with your means. If you build substantially on a good farm, placing the house in a good situation, so that you can live comfortably in the country, you will like to visit it, and will do so oftener; the farm will improve, there will be less wrongdoing, and you will receive greater returns; the forehead is better than the hindhead.11 Be a good neighbor, and do not let your people commit offences. If you are popular in the neighbourhood it will be easier for you to sell your produce, easier to let out your work,12 easier to secure extra hands. If you build, the neighbours will help you with their work, their teams, and their materials; if trouble comes upon you, which God forbid,13 they will be glad to stand by you.

5 1   [link to original Latin text] The following are the duties of the overseer:— He must show good management. The feast days must be observed. He must withhold his hands from another's goods and diligently preserve his own. He must settle disputes among the slaves; and if anyone commits an offence he must punish him properly in proportion to the fault. 2 He must see that the servants are well provided for, and that they do not suffer from cold or hunger. Let him keep them busy with their work — he will more easily keep them from wrongdoing and meddling. If the overseer sets his face against wrongdoing, they will not do it; if he allows it, the master must not let him go unpunished. He must express his appreciation of good work, so that others may take pleasure in well-doing. The overseer must not be a gadabout, he must always be sober, and must not go out to dine. He must keep the servants busy, and see that the master's orders are carried out. p15He must not assume that he knows more than the master. 3 He must consider the master's friends his own friends. He must pay heed to anyone to whom he has been bidden to listen. He must perform no religious rites, except on the occasion of the Compitalia14 at the cross-roads, or before the hearth. He must extend credit to no one without orders from the master, and must collect the loans made by the master. He must lend to no one seed-grain, fodder, spelt, wine, or oil. He must have two or three households, no more, from whom he borrows and to whom he lends. 4 He must make up accounts with the master often. He must not hire the same day-labourer or servant or caretaker for longer than a day. He must not want to make any purchases without the knowledge of the master, nor want to keep anything hidden from the master. He must have no hanger-on. He must not consult a fortune-teller, or prophet, or diviner, or astrologer.15 He must not stint the seed for sowing, for that brings bad fortune. He must see to it that he knows how to perform all the operations of the farm, and actually does perform them often, but not to the point of becoming exhausted; 5 by so doing he will learn what is in his servants' minds, and they will perform their work more contentedly. Also, he will be less disposed to gad about, will be in better health, and will enjoy his sleep more. He must be the first out of bed, the last to go to bed. Before then he must see that the farmstead is closed, that each one is asleep in his proper place, and that the stock have fodder.

6 See that the draft oxen are looked after with the greatest care, and be somewhat indulgent to the p17teamsters to make them look after their stock with more pleasure. See that you keep your ploughs and ploughshares in good condition. Be careful not to plough land which is cariosa16 or drive a cart over it, or turn cattle into it; if you are not careful about this, you will lose three years' crop of the land on which you have turned them. 7 Litter the cattle and flocks carefully, and see that their hoofs are kept clean. Guard against the scab in flocks and herds; it is usually caused by under-feeding and exposure to wet weather. See that you carry out all farm operations betimes, for this is the way with farming: if you are late in doing one thing you will be late in doing everything. If bedding runs short, gather oak leaves and use them for bedding down sheep and cattle. See that you have a large dunghill; 8 save the manure carefully, and when you carry it out, clean it of foreign matter and break it up. Autumn is the time to haul it out. During the autumn also dig trenches around the olive trees and manure them. Cut poplar, elm, and oak leaves betimes; store them before they are entirely dry, as fodder for sheep. Second-crop hay and after-math should also be stored dry. Sow turnips, forage crops, and lupines after the autumn rains.

6 1   [link to original Latin text] This rule should be observed as to what you should plant in what places:— Grain should be sown in heavy, rich, treeless soil; and if this sort of soil is subject to fogs it should preferably be sown with rape, turnips, millet, and panic-grass. In heavy, warm soil plant olives17 — those for pickling, the long variety, the Sallentine, the orcites, the posea, the Sergian, the Colminian, the waxy-white; choose especially the varieties which are commonly agreed p19to be the best for these districts. Plant this variety of olives at intervals of twenty-five or thirty feet. 2 Land which is suitable for olive planting is that which faces the west and is exposed to the sun; no other will be good. Plant the Licinian olive in colder and thinner soil. If you plant it in heavy or warm soil the yield will be worthless, the tree will exhaust itself in bearing, and a reddish scale will injure it. 3 Around the borders of the farm and along the roads plant elms and some poplars, so that you may have leaves for the sheep and cattle; and the timber will be available if you need it. Wherever there is a river bank or wet ground, plant poplar cuttings and a reed thicket. The method of planting is as follows:— turn the ground with the mattock and then plant the eyes of the reed three feet apart. Plant there also the wild asparagus,18 so that it may produce asparagus; 4 for a reed thicket goes well with the wild asparagus, because it is worked and burned over, and furnishes a shade when shade is needed. Plant Greek willows along the border of the thicket, so that you may have withes for tying up vines.

Choose soil for laying out a vineyard by the following rules:— In soil which is thought to be best adapted for grapes and which is exposed to the sun, plant the small Aminnian,19 the double eugeneum, and the small parti-coloured; in soil that is heavy or more subject to fogs plant the large Aminnian, the Murgentian, the Apician, and the Lucanian. The other varieties, and especially the hybrids, grow well anywhere.

7 1   [link to original Latin text] It is especially desirable to have a plantation20 on a suburban farm, so that firewood and faggots may p21be sold, and also may be furnished for the master's use. On the same farm should be planted anything adapted to the soil, and several varieties of grapes, such as the small and large Aminnian and the Apician. Grapes are preserved in grape-pulp in jars;21 2 also they keep well in boiled wine, or must, or after-wine.22 You may hang up the hard-berried and the larger Aminnian and they will keep as well dried before the forge fire as when spread in the sun. 3 Plant or ingraft all kinds of fruit — sparrow-apples, Scantian and Quirinian quinces,23 also other varieties for preserving, must-apples and pomegranates (the urine or dung of swine should be applied around the roots of these to serve as food for the fruit); of pears, the volema, the Anician frost-pears (these are excellent when preserved in boiled wine),24 4 the Tarentine, the must-pear, the gourd-pear, and as many other varieties as possible; of olives, the orcite and posea, which are excellent when preserved green in brine or bruised in mastic25 oil. When the orcites are black and dry, powder them with salt for five days; then shake off the salt, and spread them in the sun for two days, or pack them in boiled must without salt. Preserve sorbs in boiled must; or you may dry them; make them quite free from moisture. Preserve pears in the same way.

8 1   [link to original Latin text] Plant mariscan figs in chalky, open soil. The African, Herculean, Saguntine, the winter variety, the black Tellanian with long pedicles, in soil which is richer or manured. Lay down a meadow, so that you may have a supply of hay — a water meadow if you have it, if not, a dry meadow. 2 Near a town it is well to have a garden planted with all manner of p23vegetables, and all manner of flowers for garlands — Megarian bulbs, conjugulan myrtle,26 white and black myrtle, Delphian, Cyprian, and wild laurel, smooth nuts, such as Abellan, Praenestine, and Greek filberts. The suburban farm, and especially if it be the only one, should be laid out and planted as ingeniously as possible.

9 1   [link to original Latin text] Osier-beds should be planted in damp, marshy, shady ground, near a stream. But be sure that the master will need them or that he can find a market for them. If you have a water supply, pay particular attention to water meadows; if not, have all the dry meadows possible. This is the sort of farm which it is profitable to make anywhere.

10 1   [link to original Latin text] This is the proper equipment for an oliveyard of 240 iugera:27 An overseer, a housekeeper, 5 labourers, 3 teamsters, 1 muleteer, 1 swineherd, 1 shepherd — a total of 13 persons; 3 yoke of oxen, 3 pack-asses to carry manure, 1 ass for the mill, and 100 sheep; 2 5 complete oil-pressing equipments, 1 copper vessel holding 30 quadrantals,27 with copper cover, 3 iron hooks, 3 water-pots, 2 funnels, 1 copper vessel holding 5 quadrantals, with copper cover, 3 hooks, 1 small bowl, 2 oil jars, 1 jar holding 50 heminae (?),27 1 water bucket, 1 basin, 1 small pot, 1 ewer, 1 platter, 1 chamber-vessel, 1 watering-pot, 1 ladle, 1 candlestick, 1 sextarius27 measure; 3 large carts, 6 ploughs and ploughshares, 3 yokes fitted with straps, 6 sets of ox harness; 3 1 harrow, 4 manure hampers, 3 manure baskets, 3 pack-saddles, 3 pads for the asses; tools: 8 forks, 8 hoes, 4 spades, 5 shovels, 2 four-toothed rakes, 8 scythes, 5 straw-hooks, p255 pruning-hooks, 3 axes, 3 wedges, 1 hand-mill, 2 tongs, 1  poker, 2 braziers; 4 100 oil-jars, 12 pots, 10 jars for holding grape pulp, 10 for holding amurca,28 10 wine jars, 20 grain jars, 1 lupine vat, 10 large jars, 1 wash-tub, 1 bath-tub, 2 water-basins, several covers for jars and pots; 1 donkey-mill, 1 hand-mill, 1 Spanish mill, 3 collars and traces, 1 small table,29 2 copper disks, 2 tables, 3 large benches, 1 bedroom stool, 5 3 stools, 4 chairs, 2 arm-chairs, 1 bed in the bedroom, 4 beds on cords, and 3 common beds; 1 wooden mortar, 1 fuller's mortar, 1 loom, 2 mortars, 4 pestles — one for beans, one for grain, one for seed, one for cracking kernels; 1 modius30 measure, 1 half-modius measure; 8 mattresses, 8 coverlets, 16 cushions, 10 table covers, 3 napkins, 6 servants' hoods.

11[link to original Latin text] This is the proper equipment for a vineyard of 100 iugera: An overseer, a housekeeper, 10 labourers, 1 teamster, 1 muleteer, 1 willow-worker, 1 swineherd — a total of 16 persons; 2 oxen, 2 draft donkeys, 1 for the mill; 3 complete presses, vats for holding five vintages of 800 cullei,30 20 jars for holding grape pulp, 2 20 for grain, and the necessary covers and tops; 6 pots covered with Spanish broom, 4 amphorae30 of the same kind, 2 funnels, 3 wicker strainers, 3 strainers for removing the flower, 10 vessels for juice; 2 carts, 2 ploughs, 1 wagon yoke, 1 iugum vinarium,30 1 donkey yoke; 1 copper disk, 1 mill harness, 1 copper vessel holding a culleus, 1 copper cover, 3 iron hooks, 1 copper boiler holding a culleus, 3 2 water pots, 1 watering-pot, 1 basin, 1 small pot, 1 wash-basin, 1 water-bucket, 1 platter, 1 ladle, 1 p27candlestick, 1 chamber-vessel, 4 beds, 1 bench, 2 tables, 1 small table,31 1 clothes chest, 1 wardrobe, 6 long benches, 1 iron-bound modius measure, 1 half-modius measure, 1 wash-tub, 1 bath-tub, 1 lupine vat, 10 large pots; 4 2 complete sets of ox-harness, 3 of donkey-harness, 3 pack-saddles, 3 baskets for wine-lees, 3 donkey-mills, 1 hand-mill; tools: 5 rush-hooks, 6 tree-hooks, 3 pruning-hooks, 5 axes and 4 wedges, 2 ploughs, 10 forks, 6 spades, 4 shovels, 2 four-toothed rakes, 4 manure-hampers, 1 manure-basket; 40 grape-knives, 10 broom-hooks, 2 braziers, 2 tongs; 1 poker; 5 20 Amerine baskets, 40 planting-baskets or troughs, 40 wooden scoops, 2 trays, 4 mattresses, 4 coverlets, 6 cushions, 6 table covers, 3 napkins, 6 servants' hoods.

12 1   [link to original Latin text] This is the necessary equipment for the pressing-room: For 5 vats, 5 mounted press-beams, with 3 spares; 5 windlasses with 1 spare; 5 leather ropes; 5 hoisting ropes, 5 cables; 10 pulleys; 5 bands; 5 posts for the press-beams to rest on; 3 large jars; 40 levers; 40 stout wooden pins to brace the anchor-posts if they spread, and 6 wedges; 5 mills, 10 small casks, 10 troughs, 10 wooden spades, 5 iron shovels.

13 1   [link to original Latin text] The following equipment is needed for the pressing-room at the time of pressing: A pitcher, 1 copper vessel holding 5 quadrantals, 3 iron hooks, 1 copper disk, — millstones, 1 strainer, 1 sieve, 1 axe, 1 bench, 1 large wine-jar, 1 key for the pressing-room, 1 complete bed for two free workmen who act as watchmen to sleep on (while the third, who is a slave, should sleep with the labourers), — new and — old baskets, 1 net-cord, 1 cushion, — lanterns, 1 hide, 2 gridirons, 1 meat-rack, 1 ladder.

p29 2 The following equipment is needed for the oil cellar: Oil jars and covers, 14 oil vats, 2 large and 2 small oil flasks, 3 copper ladles, 2 oil amphorae, 3 1 water-jar, 1 jar holding fifty heminae (?),32 1 sextarius oil-measure, 1 pan, 2 funnels, 2 sponges, 2 earthenware pitchers, 2 half-amphora measures, 2 wooden ladles, 2 locks with bars for the cellar, 1 set of scales, 1 one‑hundred-pound weight, and other weights.

14 1   [link to original Latin text] If you are contracting for the building of a new steading from the ground up, the contractor should be responsible for the following:— All walls as specified, of quarry-stone set in mortar, pillars of solid masonry, all necessary beams, sills, uprights, lintels, door-framing, supports, winter stables and summer feed racks for cattle, a horse stall, 2 quarters for servants, 3 meat-racks, a round table, 2 copper boilers, 10 coops, a fireplace, 1 main entrance and another at the option of the owner, windows, 10 two-foot lattices for the larger windows, 6 window-shutters, 3 benches, 5 stools, 2 looms, 1 small mortar for crushing wheat, 1 fuller's mortar, trimmings, and 2 presses. 3 The owner will furnish the timber and necessary material for this and deliver it on the ground, and also 1 saw and 1 plumb-line (but the contractor will fell, hew, square, and finish the timber), stone, lime, sand, water, straw, and earth for making mortar. If the steading should be struck by lightning an expiatory prayer must be offered. The price of this work from an honest owner, who furnishes duly all necessary materials and pays conscientiously, one sesterce32 per tile. 4 The roof will be reckoned as follows: On the basis of a whole tile, one which is one-fourth broken is counted two p31for one; all gutter tiles are counted each as two; and all joint-tiles each as four.33

In a steading of stone and mortar groundwork, carry the foundation one foot above ground, the rest of the walls of brick;34 add the necessary lintels and trimmings. 5 The rest of the specifications as for the house of rough stone set in mortar. The cost per tile will be one sesterce. The above prices are for a good owner, in a healthful situation. The cost of workmanship will depend upon the count.35 In an unwholesome situation, where summer work is impossible, the generous owner will add a fourth to the price.

15 1   [link to original Latin text] Construct the enclosure walls of mortar, rough stone, and rubble (the owner furnishing all the materials) five feet high, 1½ feet thick, with a one-foot coping, 14 feet long, and let out the plastering. If he lets the walls of the steading by the hundred feet, that is, ten feet on every side, 5 libellae36 to the foot, and 10 victoriati for a strip one foot by ten.37 The owner shall build the foundation 1½ feet thick, and will furnish one modius of lime and two modii of sand for each linear foot.

16 1   [link to original Latin text] The following are proper terms of a contract for burning lime on shares: The burner prepares the kiln, burns the lime, takes it from the kiln, and cuts the wood for the kiln. The owner furnishes the necessary stone and wood for the kiln.

17 1   [link to original Latin text] Oak wood and also wood for vine props is always ripe for cutting at the time of the winter solstice. Other species which bear seed are ripe when the seeds are mature, while those which are seedless are ripe when they shed bark. The pine, p33because it has both green and ripe seed (such seed may be gathered from the cypress and the pine at any season) is ripe and ready at any season. 2 The same tree has second-year cones from which the seed will fall, and first-year cones; when the latter are just beginning to open, they are ready for gathering. They begin to ripen at seed-time, and continue to ripen then for more than eight months. The first-year cones are green. The elm is fit for cutting a second time when the leaves fall.

18 1   [link to original Latin text] If you wish to build a pressing-room with four vats facing each other, lay off the vats as follows: Anchor-posts 2 feet thick, 9 feet high, including tenons; 2 openings hollowed out 3½ feet long, 6 fingers wide, the bottom of the opening 1½ feet from the ground; 2 feet between anchor-post and wall; 1 foot between the two anchor-posts, and 16 feet straight to the first guide-posts; guide-posts 2 feet in diameter and 10 feet high, including the tenons; windlass 9 feet high, exclusive of mortice; press-beam 25 feet long, and the tongue on it 2½ long. Allow 30 feet of floor space for each pair of vats, with their conduits, and 20 feet for four mills, right and left. 3 Allow 22 feet between the guide-posts of one press and those of the next for the levers. Allow 20 feet for the second set of vats facing them, from the last guide-post to the wall behind the anchor-posts. Total for the pressing-room with four vats, 66 feet by 52 feet. Between the walls, where you intend to mount the anchor-posts, make solid foundations 5 feet deep; cover the whole area 5 feet by 2½ feet with hard stones to a depth of 1½ feet; 4 in this clear a place for two bolts, and fix the posts firmly in the stone with the p35bolt. Fill the interval between the two anchor-posts with oak, and pour lead over it. Let the head of the anchor-posts project six fingers, and cap it with an oak head so as to make a place for the posts to stand. 5 Make a 5‑foot foundation and lay on it a flat stone, 2½ by 2½ by 1½ feet, and set the posts on it. Mount the corresponding posts in the same way. Above the anchor-posts and the guide-posts lay a horizontal beam, 2 feet by 1, 37 feet long, or two beams if you have no solid ones of that size. Under these beams, between the conduits and the end walls, in the position of the mills, run a beam 1½ feet square and 23½ feet long, or two pieces. 6 On these rest the beams which stand above the main posts, and on these timbers build a wall and join it to the timber to give it sufficient weight. Where you are to build a seat for the press make a foundation 5 feet deep, 6 feet across; the seat and circular conduit 4½ feet in diameter. For the rest of the pavement make the foundation uniformly 2 feet deep. 7 First pack down the bottom, and then spread successive half-foot layers of finely crushed stone and sanded lime. Construct the pavement as follows: After levelling, spread the first layer of gravel and sanded lime, and tamp it down; then spread a similar layer over it, sift lime with a sieve to the depth of two fingers, and then lay a pavement of dry potsherds. When completed, pack and rub down so as to have a smooth surface. 8 All anchor-posts and guide-posts should be of oak or pine. If you wish to use shorter timbers, cut conduits on the outside; if this method is employed you will need 22‑foot timbers. 9 Make the disk 4 feet in diameter, 6 fingers thick, constructed in sections in the Punic style with p37dovetailed oak. When you have fitted them together, fasten with pins of dogwood. Fit three crossbars to the disk, and fasten them with iron nails. Make the disk of elm or hazel; if you have both, lay them alternately.

19 1   [link to original Latin text] For a wine press make the guide-posts and anchor-posts two feet higher, and above the holes in the anchor-posts, which should be one foot apart, make a place for one pin. Cut six openings, a half-foot square, in each of the windlass beams, 2 placing the first a half-foot from the tenon, and the others at equal intervals. Set a hook in the middle of the windlass; the centre of the distance between the anchor-posts should correspond with the middle of the windlass, where the hook should be set, in order to have the press-beam exactly in the middle. When you set the tongue, measure from the centre of the press-beam so that it may be exactly midway between the anchor-posts; allow one thumb width play. The longest levers are 18 feet, the second size 16, the third 15; the hand-spikes are 12, 10, and 8 feet respectively.

20 1   [link to original Latin text] Method of mounting the mill. The iron pivot which stands on the post must stand straight upright in the centre; it should be fastened firmly on all sides with willow wedges, and lead should be poured over it to prevent it from shaking; if it moves, take it out and fasten it again in the same way, so that it will not move. 2 Make the sockets for the stones of orcite olive wood, and fasten them with lead, being careful to keep them tight. Fix them on the axle. Make one piece bushings, a thumb wide, flanged at both ends and double-nailed to keep them from falling out.

21 1   [link to original Latin text] Make a ten-foot bar as thick as the sockets p39require, the mid-point to fit between the stones. Drill a hole in the middle as large as the iron pivot, so that the latter may be inserted in it. Insert here an iron casing to fit into the pivot and the bar. 2 Make a hole in the bar, 4 finger-tips square and 3 finger-tips deep, and on the lower side of the bar fasten an iron plate of the breadth of the middle of the bar, perforated to fit over the pivot. After piercing the holes face them on both sides with metal plates, and bend back all four plates to the lower side of the bar; 3 under these plates fasten thin metal strips on both sides, and fasten them together so that the holes in which the small handles are fitted may not spread. At the point where the bar enters the sockets be careful to face them on both sides with four trough-shaped iron plates and fasten them in the middle with nails. Above these plates pierce the bar on the outside for the bolt to fasten the stone. 4 On top of the opening place a one-pound iron collar, 6 fingers wide, pierced on both sides to allow the bolt to enter. All this is for the purpose of preventing the bar from wearing on the stone. Make four rings to place around the stone to keep the bar and the bolt from wearing on the inside. Use elm or beech for the bar. 5 The same smith should make and set the necessary iron work, at a cost of 60 sesterces; you can buy lead for the bar for 4 sesterces; wages of the workman who assembles and sets the sockets with lead, at least 8 sesterces, and the same man should adjust the mill. Total cost, 72 sesterces, exclusive of helpers.

22 1   [link to original Latin text] The mill should be adjusted as follows: Level it so that the stones are set at equal distances from the rims and clearing the bottom of the mortar by a little finger's breadth; see that the stones do not p41rub the basin at all. There should be a finger's breadth between the stone and the column; if the space is greater and the stones are too far distant, 2 wind a cord around the column tightly several times so as to fill in the excessive space. If the stones are set too deep and rub the bottom of the basin too much, place perforated wooden disks over the pivot and on the column and thus regulate the height. In the same way adjust the spread with wooden disks or iron rings until the stones fit accurately.

3 A mill is bought near Suessa for 400 sesterces and fifty pounds of oil. The cost of assembling is 60 sesterces, and the charge for transportation by oxen, with six days' wages of six men, drivers included, is 72 sesterces. The bar complete costs 72 sesterces, and there is a charge of 25 sesterces for oil; the total cost is 629 sesterces. At Pompeii one is bought complete for 384 sesterces, freight 280 sesterces. It is better to assemble and adjust on the ground, and this will cost 60 sesterces, making a total cost of 724 sesterces. 4 If you are fitting old mills with stones, they should be 1 foot 3 fingers thick at the centre and 1 foot in diameter,38 with a half-foot square opening; alter them to fit the mill after they have been hauled. These can be bought at the yard of Rufrius for 180 sesterces, and fitted for 30 sesterces. The price is the same at Pompeii.

23 1   [link to original Latin text] Have everything that is needed ready for the vintage; let vats be cleaned, baskets mended and pitched, necessary jars be pitched on rainy days; let hampers be made ready and mended, spelt be ground, salt fish be bought, and windfall olives be salted. 2 Gather the inferior grapes for the sharp wine for the hands to drink, when the time comes. p43Divide the grapes gathered each day, after cleaning and drying, equally between the jars. If necessary, add to the new wine a fortieth part of must boiled down from untrod grapes, or a pound and a half of salt to the culleus. 3 If you use marble dust,a add one pound to the culleus; mix this with must in a vessel and then pour into the jar. If you use resin, pulverize it thoroughly, three pounds to the culleus of must, place it in a basket, and suspend it in the jar of must; shake the basket often so that the resin may dissolve. 4 When you use boiled must or marble dust or resin, stir frequently for twenty days and press down daily. Divide the must of the second pressing39 and add equally to each jar.

24 1   [link to original Latin text] Directions for making Greek wine: Gather carefully well-ripened Apician grapes, and add to the culleus of must two quadrantals of old sea-water, or a modius of pure salt. If the latter is used, suspend it in a basket and let it dissolve in the must. If you wish to make a straw-coloured wine, take equal parts of yellow and Apician wine and add a thirtieth part of old boiled wine. Add a thirtieth part of concentrated must to any kind of blended wine.

25 1   [link to original Latin text] When the grapes are ripe and gathered, let the first be kept for household use. See that they are not gathered until they are thoroughly ripe and dry, that the wine may not lose its reputation. Sift the fresh husks daily through a bed stretched on cords, or make a sieve for the purpose, and after treading place them in pitched jars or a pitched vat. Have this sealed tight, to feed to cattle through the winter; or if you wish you can soak some of it a while and you will have an after-wine for the hands to drink.

p45 26[link to original Latin text] After the vintage is over order all the pressing utensils, hampers, baskets, ropes, props, and bars to be stored, each in its proper place. Have the jars containing wine wiped off twice a day, and see that you provide each jar with its own broom with which to wipe off the edges. Thirty days after the gathering, if the fermentation is complete, seal the jars. If you wish to draw off the wine from the lees, this will be the best time to do it.

27 1   [link to original Latin text] Sow clover, vetch, fenugreek,40 beans and bitter-vetch as forage for cattle. Make a second and a third sowing of forage; then plant the other crops. Dig trenches in fallow ground for olives, elms, vines, and figs, and plant at seed-time.41 If the ground is dry, transplant42 olives at seed-time, prune the young olives which had been planted before, and trench the trees.

28 1   [link to original Latin text] In transplanting olives, elms, figs, fruit trees, vines, pines, and cypresses, dig them up carefully, roots and all, with as much of their own soil as possible, and tie them up so that you can transport them. Have them carried in a box or basket. Be careful not to dig them up or transport them when the wind is blowing or when it is raining, for this is especially to be avoided. 2 When you place them in the trench, bed them in top soil, spread dirt over them to the ends of the roots, trample it thoroughly, and pack with rammers and bars as firmly as possible; this is the most important thing. Before transplanting, cut off the tops of trees which are more than five fingers in diameter and smear the scars with dung and wrap them in leaves.

29 1   [link to original Latin text] Divide your manure as follows: Haul one-half for the forage crops, and when you sow these, if p47this ground is planted with olives, trench and manure them at this time; then sow the forage crops. Add a fourth of the manure around the trenched olives when it is most needed, and cover this manure with soil. Save the last fourth for the meadows, and when most needed, as the west wind is blowing,43 haul it in the dark of the moon.

30 1   [link to original Latin text] Feed the cattle elm, poplar, oak, and fig leaves as long as these last; and keep the sheep supplied with green leaves as long as you have them. Fold sheep on land which you intend to plant, and feed them leaves there until the forage is full grown. Save as carefully as possible the dry fodder which you have stored against winter, and remember how long winter lasts.

31 1   [link to original Latin text] Let all necessary preparations be made for the olive harvest: Let ripe withes and willow branches be gathered betimes as material for making new baskets and mending old ones. Have dry oak, elm, nut, and fig sticks for making pins buried in the dunghill or in water, and make pins from them when needed. Have oak, ilex, laurel, and elm levers ready. Make the press-beam preferably of black hornbeam. 2 Take out elm, pine, nut, and all other timber which you are felling, when the moon is on the wane, after noon, while there is no south wind. It is ready for cutting when the seed is ripe. Be careful not to haul it or work it in the wet. Timber that has no seed is ready for cutting when the bark peels. Do not handle any timber or vine when the south wind is blowing, unless you are compelled to do so.

32 1   [link to original Latin text] See that you begin early to trim vines and trees. Layer vines into trenches, and, so far as p49possible, train them to grow vertically. The trees should be trimmed as follows: The branches which you leave should spread out, should be cut straight up, and should not be left too thick. 2 The vines should be well knotted;44 and be especially careful not to bend them downward along any of the branches and not to tie them too tightly. See that the trees are well "wedded,"45 and that a sufficient number of vines are planted for them; and wherever it is necessary let these be detached from the trees and buried in the ground, and two years later cut them off from the old stock.

33 1   [link to original Latin text] Have the vineyard treated as follows: Tie a well-knotted vine straight up, keeping it from bending, and make it grow vertically, so far as you can. Leave fruit-bearing shoots and reserve stubs46 at proper intervals. Train the vines as high as possible and tie them firmly, but without choking them. Cultivate as follows: at seed-time trench the soil around the crown of the vine, 2 and after pruning cultivate around it. Begin ploughing, and run straight furrows back and forth. Set out young vines as early as possible, then harrow; prune the old ones very slightly, or rather, if you need cuttings, layer the branches and take off the cuttings two years later. The proper time for cutting back the young plant is when it is strong. 3 If there are gaps in the rows, run furrows and plant rooted cuttings, keep the furrows clear of shade, and cultivate frequently. In an old vineyard sow clover if the soil is lean (do not sow anything that will form a head), and around the roots apply manure, straw, grape dregs, or anything of the sort, to make it stronger. 4 When the vine begins to form leaves, thin them. Tie up the young vines at frequent p51intervals to keep the stems from breaking, and when they begin to climb the props tie the tender branches loosely, and turn them so that they will grow vertically. When the grapes begin to turn, tie up the vines, strip the leaves so as to expose the grapes, and dig around the stocks.

5 Cut willows at the proper time, strip the bark, and tie them in tight bundles. Save the bark, and when you need it for the vines, steep some of it in water to make tapes. Save the withes for making baskets.

34 1   [link to original Latin text] I return to the matter of planting. Plant the coldest and most humid ground first, and then the rest of the ground in turn to the warmest, which should come last. 2 Do not work ground which is cariosa47 at all. Lupine48 will do well in soil that is reddish, and also in ground that is dark, or hard, or poor, or sandy, or not wet. Sow spelt49 preferably in soil that is chalky, or swampy, or red, or humid. Plant wheat in soil that is dry, free from weeds, and sunny.

35 1   [link to original Latin text] Plant beans in strong soil which is protected from storms; vetch and fenugreek50 in places as clear of weeds as possible. Wheat and winter wheat should be sown on high, open ground, where the sun shines longest. Lentils should be planted in unfertile and reddish soil, free of weeds; 2 barley in new ground, or ground which does not need to lie fallow. Spring wheat should be planted in ground in which you cannot ripen the regular variety, or in ground which, because of its strength, does not need to lie fallow. Plant turnips, kohlrabi seed, and radishes in land well manured or naturally strong.

p53 36[link to original Latin text] Fertilizers for crops: Spread pigeon dung on meadow, garden, and field crops. Save carefully goat, sheep, cattle, and all other dung. Spread or pour amurca51 around trees, an amphora to the larger, an urn to the smaller, diluted with half its volume of water, after running a shallow trench around them.

37 1   [link to original Latin text] Things which are harmful to crops: If you work land which is cariosa; chick peas are harmful, because they are torn out by the roots and are salty; barley, fenugreek, bitter vetch, and all crops which are pulled out by the roots, exhaust the soil. Do not bury olive seeds in land intended for crops.

2 Crops which fertilize land: Lupines, beans, and vetch.

You may make compost of straw, lupines, chaff, bean stalks, husks, and ilex and oak leaves. Pull up the elder and hemlock bushes which grow in the grain fields, and the high grass and sedge around the willow bed; use them for bedding down sheep, and decayed leaves for cattle. Separate part of the olive seeds and throw them into a pit, add water, and mix them thoroughly with a shovel. Make trenches around the olive trees and apply this mixture, adding also burned seeds. 3 If a vine is unhealthy, cut its shoots into small bits and plough or spade them in around it.

The following is evening work for winter: Work up into vine poles and stakes the wood which was brought under cover the day before to dry out; make faggots; and clear out manure. Do not touch timber except in the dark of the moon, or in its last phase. 4 The best time to take out timber which you p55dig up or fell is during the seven days following the full moon. Above all things, do not work, or fell, or, if you can avoid it, even touch timber which is wet, or frosted, or covered with dew. 5 Hoe and weed grain twice, and strip the wild oats. Remove the twigs from the prunings of vines and trees, and make them into bundles; and heap the vine and fig sticks for the forge, and the split wood for the use of the master.

38 1   [link to original Latin text] Build the lime-kiln ten feet across, twenty feet from top to bottom, sloping the sides in to a width of three feet at the top. If you burn with only one door, make a pit inside large enough to hold the ashes, so that it will not be necessary to clear them out. Be careful in the construction of the kiln; see that the grate covers the entire bottom of the kiln. 2 If you burn with two doors there will be no need of a pit; when it becomes necessary to take out the ashes, clear through one door while the fire is in the other. Be careful to keep the fire burning constantly, and do not let it die down at night or at any other time. Charge the kiln only with good stone, as white and uniform as possible. 3 In building the kiln, let the throat run straight down. When you have dug deep enough, make a bed for the kiln so as to give to it the greatest possible depth and the least exposure to the wind. If you lack a spot for building a kiln of sufficient depth, run up the top with brick,52 or face the top on the outside with field stone set in mortar. 4 When it is fired, if the flame comes out at any point but the circular top, stop the orifice with mortar. Keep the wind, and especially the south wind, from reaching the door. The calcining of the stones at the top will show that the whole has calcined; also, the calcined stones at the bottom will settle, and the flame will be less smoky when it comes out.

p57 If you cannot sell your firewood and faggots, and have no stone to burn for lime, make charcoal of the firewood, and burn in the field the faggots and brush you do not need. Where you have burned them plant poppies.

39 1   [link to original Latin text] When the weather is bad and no other work can be done, clear out manure for the compost heap; clean thoroughly the ox stalls, sheep pens, barnyard, and farmstead; and mend wine-jars with lead, or hoop them with thoroughly dried oak wood. If you mend it carefully, or hoop it tightly, closing the cracks with cement and pitching it thoroughly, you can make any jar serve as a wine-jar. Make a cement for a wine-jar as follows: Take one pound of wax, one pound of resin, and two-thirds of a pound of sulphur, and mix in a new vessel. 2 Add pulverized gypsum sufficient to make it of the consistency of a plaster, and mend the jar with it. To make the colour uniform after mending, mix two parts of crude chalk and one of lime, form into small bricks, bake in the oven, pulverize, and apply to the jar.

In rainy weather try to find something to do indoors. Clean up rather than be idle. Remember that even though work stops, expenses run on none the less.

40 1   [link to original Latin text] The following work should be done in the spring: Trenches and furrows should be made, ground should be turned for the olive and vine nurseries, vines should be set out; elms, figs, fruit trees, and olives should be planted in rich, humid ground. Figs, olives, apples, pears, and vines should be grafted in the dark of the moon, after noon, when the south wind is not blowing. The following is a good method of grafting olives, figs, p59pears or apples: 2 Cut the end of the branch you are going to graft, slope it a bit so that the water will run off, and in cutting be careful not to tear the bark. Get you a hard stick and sharpen the end, and split a Greek willow. Mix clay or chalk, a little sand, and cattle dung, and knead them thoroughly so as to make a very sticky mass. Take your split willow and tie it around the cut branch to keep the bark from splitting. 3 When you have done this, drive the sharpened stick between the bark and the wood two finger-tips deep. Then take your shoot, whatever variety you wish to graft, and sharpen the end obliquely for a distance of two finger-tips; take out the dry stick which you have driven in and drive in the shoot you wish to graft. Fit bark to bark, and drive it in to the end of the slope. In the same way you may graft a second, a third, a fourth shoot, as many varieties as you please. 4 Wrap the Greek willow thicker, smear the stock with the kneaded mixture three fingers deep, and cover the whole with ox-tongue,53 so that if it rains the water will not soak into the bark; this ox-tongue must be tied with bark to keep it from falling off. Finally, wrap it in straw and bind tightly, to keep the cold from injuring it.

41 1   [link to original Latin text] Vine grafting may be done in the spring or when the vine flowers, the former time being best. Pears and apples may be grafted during the spring, for fifty days at the time of the summer solstice, and during the vintage; 2 olives and figs should be grafted during the spring. Graft the vine as follows: Cut off the stem you are grafting, and split p61the middle through the pith; in it insert the sharpened shoots you are grafting, fitting pith to pith. A second method is: If the vines touch each other, cut the ends of a young shoot of each obliquely, and tie pith to pith with bark. 3 A third method is: With an awl bore a hole through the vine which you are grafting, and fit tightly to the pith two vine shoots of whatever variety you wish, cut obliquely. Join pith to pith, and fit them into the perforation, one on each side.54 4 Have these shoots each two feet long; drop them to the ground and bend them back toward the vine stock, fastening the middle of the vine to the ground with forked sticks and covering with dirt. Smear all these with the kneaded mixture, tie them up and protect them in the way I have described for olives.

42 1   [link to original Latin text] Another method of grafting figs and olives is: Remove with a knife the bark from any variety of fig or olive you wish, and take off a piece of bark containing a bud of any variety of fig you wish to graft. Apply it to the place you have cleared on the other variety, and make it fit. The bark should be three and a half fingers long and three fingers wide. Smear and protect as in the other operation.

43 1   [link to original Latin text] Ditches, if the ground is swampy, should be dug trough-shaped, three feet wide at the top, four feet deep, sloping to a width of one foot one palm at the bottom. Blind them with stones, or lacking stones, with green willow sticks laid crosswise in layers; or, failing this, with bundles of brush. Then dig trenches three and a half feet deep, four feet wide, so placed that the water will run off from the trenches into the ditch; and so plant olives. 2 Dig p63furrows and trenches for vines55 not less than two and a half feet deep and the same distance wide. If you wish the vines and olives which you have planted to grow fast, spade the furrows once a month, and dig around the foot of the olives every month until they are three years old. Treat other trees in the same way.

44 1   [link to original Latin text] The trimming of the olive-yard should begin fifteen days before the vernal equinox; you can trim to advantage from this time for forty-five days. Follow this rule: If the land is very fertile, clear out all dead branches only and any broken by the wind; if it is not fertile, trim more closely and plough. Trim clean, and smooth the stems.

45 1   [link to original Latin text] Cut olive slips56 for planting in trenches three feet long, and when you chop or cut them off, handle them carefully so as not to bruise the bark. Those which you intend to plant in the nursery should be cut one foot long, and planted in the following way: The bed should be turned with the trenching spade until the soil is finely divided and soft. 2 When you set the slip, press it in the ground with the foot; and if it does not go deep enough, drive it in with a mallet or maul, but be careful not to break the bark in so doing. Do not first make a hole with a stick, in which to set out the slip. It will thrive better if you plant it so that it stands as it did on the tree.57 3 The slips are ready for transplanting at three years, when the bark turns. If you plant in trenches or furrows, plant in groups of three, and spread them apart. Do not let them project more than four finger-widths above the ground; or you may plant the eyes.

p65 46[link to original Latin text] Make a nursery as follows: Choose the best, the most open, and the most highly fertilized land you have, with soil as nearly as possible like that into which you intend to transplant, and so situated that the slips will not have to be carried too far from the nursery. Turn this with a trench spade, clear of stones, build a stout enclosure, and plant in rows. Plant a slip every foot and a half in each direction, pressing into the ground with the foot; 2 and if it does not go deep enough, drive it in with a mallet or maul. Let the slips project a finger above the ground, and smear the tops with cow dung, placing a mark by each; hoe often if you wish the slips to grow rapidly. Plant other slips in the same way.

47 1   [link to original Latin text] The reed bed should be planted as follows: Plant the eyes three feet apart.

Use the same method for making and planting the vine nursery. Cut back the vine when it is two years old and transplant when it is three. If the ground on which you wish to plant the vine is to be used for pasture, see that the vine has been cut back three times before it is tied up to the tree; it should not be trained on the tree until it has five old knots. Plant a leek-bed every year, and you will have something to take off every year.

48 1   [link to original Latin text] In making the fruit nursery follow the method used in making the olive nursery. Plant separately each variety of slip.

Turn the ground with a trench spade where you are going to plant cypress seed, and plant at the opening of spring. 2 Make ridges58 five feet wide, add well-pulverized manure, hoe it in, and break the clods. Flatten the ridge, forming a shallow trough. Plant the seed as thickly as flax, sifting dirt a finger-breadth p67deep over it with a sieve. Level the ground with a board or the foot, and set forked stakes around the edges. Lay poles in the forks, and on these hang brush or fig-curtains,59 to keep off cold and sun. Make the covering high enough for a person to walk under. Hoe often, and clear off the weeds as soon as they begin to grow; for if you pull up the growth when it is hard, you will pull up the cypress with it.

3 Plant and cover pear and apple seed in the same way. use the same method for planting pine-nuts, but alter it slightly.

49 1   [link to original Latin text] You may transplant an old vine if you wish, up to the thickness of your arm.60 First prune back so as to leave not more than two buds on each branch; clear the dirt thoroughly from the roots over their full length, and be careful not to injure them. 2 Replace the vine just as it was, in a trench or furrow, cover with soil, and trample firmly. Plant, tie, and train it just as it was, and work it often.

50 1   [link to original Latin text] Manure meadows at the opening of spring, in the dark of the moon. When the west wind begins to blow and you close the dry meadows to stock, clean them and dig up all noxious weeds by the roots.

2 After pruning vines, pile the wood and branches; prune fig trees moderately, and clear those in the vineyard to a good height, so that the vines will not climb them; make new nurseries and repair old ones. All this before you begin cultivating the vines.

As soon as the sacred feast has been offered and eaten,61 begin the spring ploughing, working first the driest spots and last the heaviest and wettest, provided they do not get hard in the meantime.

p69 51[link to original Latin text] Layering of fruit trees and other trees: Press into the earth the scions which spring from the ground around the trees, elevating the tip so that it will take root.62 Then two years later dig up and transplant them. Fig, olive, pomegranate, quince, and all other fruit trees, laurel, myrtle, Praenestine nuts, and planes should all be layered, dug, and transplanted in the same way.

52 1   [link to original Latin text] When you wish to layer more carefully you should use pots or baskets with holes in them, and these should be planted with the scion in the trench. To make them take root while on the tree, make a hole in the bottom of the pot or basket and push the branch which you wish to root through it. Fill the pot or basket with dirt, trample thoroughly, and leave on the tree. When it is two years old, cut off the branch below the basket; 2 cut the basket down the side and through the bottom, or, if it is a pot, break it, and plant the branch in the trench with the basket or pot. Use the same method with a vine, cutting it off the next year and planting it with the basket. You can layer any variety you wish in this way.


The Editor's Notes:

1 Others render, "Be careful not rashly to refuse to learn from others."

2iugerum is approximately two-thirds of an acre. See Glossary, p531.

3 It is most significant that Cato places grain farming sixth in importance. The second Punic War had completely demoralized the Republic. The yeomanry had been conscripted and the fields desolated and burned. "Roman farmers torn from their homes for years and demoralized by the camps were unable or unwilling to settle down into the quiet routine of agricultural life. . . . Their farms passed into the hands of capitalists, and the rich lands of Italy fell back into pasture, and half-naked slaves tended herds of cattle." (Smith, Rome and Carthage, p230.) Grain farming was no longer profitable, and it had become the custom to import grain from Sicily and Africa. The new Rome that emerged from this horrible war centred around a nobility of wealth and was in a state of demoralization. Such a condition naturally caused the cultivation of grain to be less (p7)important than that of the vine, the olive, domestic vegetables, or the rearing of cattle.

4 The word is used of a plantation of trees, to which the vines were "wedded," or of an orchard. Columella gives a description, Book V, Chap. 6, but Cato seems not to use the word in the sense first given.

5 To furnish feed for live-stock.

6 Possibly on the public roads, as in the French corvée.

7 It was the regular custom among the Romans to let out certain work by contract in contrast with the work that was done by the farm organization under the management of the overseer.

8 The "planting" is, of course, of trees and vines.

9 See Columella, I, 6; but Cato's villa had only two units, the villa urbana, or dwelling-house, and the villa rustica, for all other purposes.

10 See Glossary.

11 The content of this homely maxim appears in practically all the writers on agriculture, and has entered, in some form, into almost all proverbial wisdom. Perhaps its most popular modern form is taken from Poor Richard's Almanack: "The eye of a master will do more work than both his hands." Cf. Columella, I, 1, 18; Pliny, N. H.XVIII.31.

12 See note 1, p8.

13 bona salute is merely a formula to avoid the evil omen of mentioning misfortune.

14 The festival held annually at the cross-roads, in honour of the Lares Compitales. It occurred soon after the Saturnalia, in December, on a day or days appointed by the praetor.

Thayer's Note: For details and sources, see the articles Compitalia and Saturnalia of Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

15 Compare Horace's warning against "meddling with Babylonian calculations" (OdesI, 11), and many others. Columella, I, 8, 6, emphasizes the warning.

16 The term is explained by Columella, II, 4, 5: "That is, when, after a long dry spell, a light rain wets the surface but does not sink in." The injunction is repeated there.

17 For a description of the several varieties of olives, see Columella, V, 8. The Romans were experts in plant selection, and developed distinct varieties of all the leading horticultural and field crops.

18 Corruda: identified in the 5th (?) cent. herbal under the name of Pseudo-Apuleius (Herb., 84) as "the wild asparagus which the Greeks call ὄρμινον or μυακανδον, and by other names."

19 See Columella, III, 2 for a detailed discussion of varieties of grapes. In Chapter 9 he returns to the discussion of the Aminnian, and remarks that these were "almost the only varieties known to the ancients."

20 Cf. note 2, page 7.

21 Cf. 143.3, and Varro, I.54.2.

22 A small or sharp wine made from the husks of grapes; cf. Varro, I.54.3.

23 Cf. Varro, I.59.1, with note 108, page 294.

24 Cf. Varro, I.59.3.

25 This resin from the mastic-tree is used also to flavour a distilled liquor used in various countries, as Turkey, Greece, etc.

26 Pliny says (XV, 122) that the name is perhaps derived (p23)from that for marriage (coniugium). The colours are those of the berries.

27 See Glossary.

28 The watery residue left when the oil is drained from the (p25)crushed olives. For uses, see Chapters 66‑7, 69, 92‑3, 95‑101, 103, 128‑130.

29 Or kneading-trough.

30 See Glossary.

31 Or kneading-trough.

32 See Glossary.

33 This strange method of estimating the cost of a house has puzzled scholars, and various emendations have been proposed. The vallus is the semi-cylindrical tile overlapping the flat tiles at the line of juncture.

34 This is really "adobe," clay mixed with straw and sun-dried.

35 The rendering here given follows the Italian translation of Curcio.

36 The libella was 1/16 a denarius, the victoriatus ½.

37 The pertica (= decempeda) being a 10‑ft. measure.

38 This disproportionate dimension suggests to Schneider a faulty text; cf. specifications for stones of the second size in 135.6.

39 Squeezed from the chopped up (circumcidaneum) mass of grape refuse after the ordinary pressing; cf. Varro, I.54.3, and Columella, XII, 36.

40 Trigonella foenum-graecum,º an annual leguminous plant.

41 Columella, II, 8, 2, fixes the time "from the 24th of October to the time of the winter solstice." Varro, I.34, gives the same dates.

42 Compare Chapters 28, 32, 41, 42, 44, 45, 49, 51, 52; Varro, I.40; Columella, V, 9.

43 A harbinger of spring. Varro, I.28, makes the date the 7th of February. Cf. Chapter 50.

44 The "knots" are the joints or nodes where the vine will make new growth; of importance for budding (Virg., Georg. II, 74‑77) or for cleft grafting (Col., IV, 29, 8‑9).

45 i.e., support the clinging vines. See note 2, page 7.

46 Defined by Columella (IV, 21, 3) as short cut stumps to sprout out and replace those which may die near them.

47 See note 1, page 16.

48 A leguminous plant, used extensively for forage; see Columella, II, 10, 1.

49 A variety of wheat, probably with thick husk; see Columella, II, 6.

50 See note 1, page 44.

51 See note 1, page 24.

52 See note 2, page 30.

53 Pliny, Nat. Hist.XVII, 112, quoting this passage, merely comments that it is "a kind of plant." Ps. Apul. Herb., 42 tit. says that it gets its name (the same as the Greek buglossa) "from the fact that it has rough leaves in the shape of the tongue of the ox." In the absence of a scientific description, (p59)it is perhaps hazardous to identify it with our ox-tongue (Pieris echioides, L.)

54 A somewhat similar method of propagation is described by Columella nearly two centuries later, in a long chapter on vine-grafting (De Re Rust., IV, 29.7, 13‑14; cf. De Arb., 8, 3‑4), as rarely practised in his day though common among the ancients.

55 Columella, III, 13, gives an elaborate description of ditching and trenching.

56 The trunk or thick branches were cut or sawed into truncheons, sticks from one to three feet long, which took root when planted.

57 Cf. Chap. 49 and GeorgicsII, 270. Both Cato and Virgil follow Theophrastus, Hist. Plant.II, 5.

58 Cf. Varro, I.29.3: "the ground between two furrows, the elevated earth, is called porca, because that presents (porricit) the grain."

59 Screens made of fig branches. Cf. Columella, XII, 15, 1.

60 i.e. if its branches are stout.

61 See Chapters 83 and 131.

62 Columella, De Arb., 7, describes minutely three methods of layering, including this.


Thayer's Note:

a Before we all start thinking how weird the Romans were, thousands of tons of marble dust are used today in the food industry: that's the white powder that keeps sticks of gum from adhering to their wrappers, for example. To quote the Fitz‑Chem corporation, one of many companies that make the stuff, it is used (see their webpage) as "a calcium supplement and extender in such diversified food applications as flour, cake mixes, cereals, chewing gum, cornmeal, crackers and more."


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