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Chapters 156‑157

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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Marcus Cato
on Agriculture

158[link to original Latin text] Recipe for a purgative, if you wish to purge thoroughly: Take a pot and pour into it p153six sextarii of water and add the hock of a ham, or, if you have no hock, a half-pound of ham-scraps with as little fat as possible. Just as it comes to a boil, add two cabbage leaves, two beet plants with the roots, a shoot of fern, a bit of the mercury-plant,119 two pounds of mussels, a capito120 fish and one scorpion, six snails, and a handful of lentils. 2 Boil all together down to three sextarii of liquid, without adding oil. Take one sextarius of this while warm, add one cyathus of Coan wine, drink, and rest. Take a second and a third dose in the same way, and you will be well purged. You may drink diluted Coan wine in addition, if you wish. Any one of the many ingredients mentioned above is sufficient to move the bowels; but there are so many ingredients in this concoction that it is an excellent purgative, and, besides, it is agreeable.

159 1   [link to original Latin text] To prevent chafing: When you set out on a journey, keep a small branch of Pontic wormwood under the anus.

160 1   [link to original Latin text] Any kind of dislocation may be cured by the following charm: Take a green reed four or five feet long and split it down the middle, and let two men hold it to your hips. Begin to chant: "motas uaeta daries dardares astataries dissunapiter" and continue until they meet. Brandish a knife over them, and when the reeds121 meet so that one touches the other, grasp with the hand and cut right and left. If the pieces are applied to the dislocation or the fracture, it will heal. And none the less chant every day, and, in the case of a dislocation, in this manner, if you wish: "huat haut haut istasis tarsis ardannabou dannaustra."

161 1   [link to original Latin text] Method of planting asparagus: Break up p155thoroughly ground that is moist, or is heavy soil. When it has been broken, lay off beds, so that you may hoe and weed them in both directions without trampling the beds. In laying off the beds, leave a path a half-foot wide between the beds on each side. Plant along a line, dropping two or three seeds together in a hole made with a stick, and cover with the same stick. After planting, cover the beds thickly with manure; plant after the vernal equinox. When the shoots push up, weed often, being careful not to uproot the asparagus with the weed. The year it is planted, cover the bed with straw through the winter, so that it will not be frostbitten. Then in the early spring uncover, hoe, and weed. The third year after planting burn it over in the early spring; after this do not work it before the shoots appear, so as not to injure the roots by hoeing. In the third or fourth year you may pull asparagus from the roots; for if you break it off, sprouts will start and die off. You may continue pulling until you see it going to seed. The seed ripens in autumn; when you have gathered it, burn over the bed, and when the asparagus begins to grow, hoe and manure. After eight or nine years, when it is now old, dig it up, after having thoroughly worked and manured the ground to which you are to transplant it, and made small ditches to receive the roots. The interval between the roots of the asparagus should be not less than a foot. In digging, loosen the earth around the roots so that you can dig them easily, and be careful not to break them. Cover them very deep with sheep dung; this is the best for this purpose, as other manure produces weeds.

162 1   [link to original Latin text] Method of curing hams and Puteolan p157ofella.122 You should salt hams in the following manner, in a jar or large pot: When you have bought the hams cut off the hocks. Allow a half-modius of ground Roman salt to each ham. Spread salt on the bottom of the jar or pot; then lay a ham, with the skin facing downwards, and cover the whole with salt. Place another ham over it and cover in the same way, taking care that meat does not touch meat. Continue in the same way until all are covered. When you have arranged them all, spread salt above so that the meat shall not show, and level the whole. When they have remained five days in the salt remove them all with their own salt. Place at the bottom those which had been on top before, covering and arranging them as before. Twelve days later take them out finally, brush off all the salt, and hang them for two days in a draught. On the third day clean them thoroughly with a sponge and rub with oil. Hang them in smoke for two days, and the third day take them down, rub with a mixture of oil and vinegar, and hang in the meat-house. No moths or worms will touch them.


The Editor's Notes:

119 A plant which still retains this name in botany.

120 Unknown.

121 i.e. the two halves, apparently at both ends.

122 Supposed to be the same as the offulae carnis, lumps of salted pork, mentioned by Columella (XII, 55, 4).


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