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Book II

This webpage reproduces a Book of the
De Re Rustica

of
Columella

published in Vol. I
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1941

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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Book IV

(Vol. I) Columella
De Re Rustica

p227 Book III

1 1 Legamen ad paginam Latinam "Thus far of the tillage of the land," as says that most excellent poet.1 For, Publius Silvinus, as we are about to speak on the same topics, there is nothing to keep us from beginning under good omens with the opening words of that most renowned poem. There follows the management of trees, which is a most important part of rural husbandry. They are diverse in kind, and of many shapes; for trees of various sorts, as the same author relates,

of their own will come forth,

By mortals not constrained;2

and many, too, grow from seed planted by our own hand.3 2 But those that are propagated without human aid, the wild and untamed, bear fruits or seeds according to their several natures; while those on which labour is spent are fitted for a greater yield.

I must speak first, then, of that kind which supplies us with food. And of this there is a threefold division: for from a small shoot there comes forth either a tree, as the olive; or a shrub, as the palm of the plains; or a third something which we can properly call neither tree nor shrub, as is the vine. p2293 This last we rightly set above all other woody plants, not only for the sweetness of its fruits, but also because of the readiness with which in nearly every country and climate, except, however, the icy cold or burning hot, it responds to human care; it thrives on plain as well as hillside, in compact soil no less than in loose, often also in thin land, in fat ground and lean, in dry ground and wet; 4 and it alone has the greatest endurance of both sorts of intemperate weather — either under a cold sky or one that is hot and stormy. Nevertheless an important consideration is the variety and the habit of the vine which you propose to cultivate, in relation to the conditions of the region. For its cultivation is not the same in every climate and in every soil, nor is there only one variety of that plant; and which kind is best of all is not easy to say, since experience teaches that to every region its own variety is more or less suited. 5 Still the wise farmer will have discovered by test that the kind of vine proper for level country is one which endures mists and frosts without injury; for a hillside, one which withstands drought and wind. He will assign to fat and fertile land a vine that is slender and not too productive by nature; to lean land, a prolific vine; to heavy soil, a vigorous vine that puts forth much wood and foliage; to loose and rich soil, one that has few canes. He will know that it is not proper to commit to a moist place a vine with thin-skinned fruit and unusually large grapes, but one whose fruit is tough-skinned, small, and full of seeds; and that plants of a different nature are properly entrusted to a dry site. 6 But in addition to this the proprietor of the place with not be unaware p231that the nature of the climate — cold or warm, dry or moist, subject to hail and wind or calm, clear or foggy — is a more potent influence. 7 To cold or foggy conditions he will adapt two varieties of vine, either the early ripe, whose fruits mature before cold weather, or those with firm and hard berries, whose clusters drop their blossoms during the foggy season and are presently ripened by freezing weather and frosts, as those of other grapes are ripened by warmth. To a windy and unsettled climate also he will boldly commit the same hardy vines and those of the hard-berried variety. On the other hand, he will entrust to a warm climate the more delicate and heavier-bearing sorts. For a dry climate he will select such as are rotted by rains or continual dews; for a dewy one, those that suffer in dry weather; for one subject to hailstorms, those that have tough and broad leaves for the better protection of the fruit. A calm and clear-skied region does not refuse to admit any kind of vine, though most suitably one whose clusters or berries fall quickly.

8 But if your own wishes are to be considered in the selection of site and climate for your vineyards, the best soil, as Celsus very rightly believes, is neither too compact nor loose, but closer to the loose type; neither poor nor excessively rich, but nearest to the fertile kind; neither flat nor steep, but like plain-land with a rise; neither dry nor wet, but moderately moist; one which does not abound in springs, either on the surface or in the depths of the earth, but which supplies the roots with moisture close at hand — 9 and that neither bitter nor brackish, lest it spoil the flavour of the wine p233and check the growth of the vine's greenery with a kind of scaly rust, if only we believe Vergil when he says,

Unkind to crops is salty ground, and what is bitter called;

It is not tamed by ploughman's toil, nor does it keep unstained

The good repute of Bacchus' child and other fruits' fair name.4

10 Furthermore, as I have said before, a vineyard does not want an icy climate nor, on the other hand, one that is burning hot, though it thrives better in warm weather than in cold. It is harmed more by rain than by clear weather, and is more kindly disposed to a dry soil than to one that is subject to too much rain. It delights in moderate and gentle breezes, but is liable to injury from squalls. And this is the character of climate and soil that is most commendable.

2 1 Further, the grape is planted either for eating or for the pouring forth of its juice. It is not profitable to establish vineyards for food unless the plot is so close to a city that conditions warrant the selling of the raw grapes to marketers, as we do other fruit. When this is the case, the early ripe and hard-berried5 varieties are especially to be planted, and then the Purple and the Bumast (full-breasted),6 the Dactyl (date-shaped)7 and the Rhodian, and the Libyan and the Ceraunian;8 p2352 and not only those that can be recommended for agreeableness of flavour, but also those whose appearance can commend them, such as the Stephanitan (coronary),9 the Tripedanean (three-foot kind),10 the Unciarian (ounce-weight),11 and the Cydonitan (quince-grape);12 likewise those vines whose grapes keep well in winter and are stored in jars, as the Venuculan,13 and the Numisian, which has recently been proved for this purpose. 3 But when our interest is in the wine, a vine is selected which is both heavy in yield and strong in wood, because the one contributes greatly to the income of the husbandman, and the other to the durability of the stock. 4 But such a vine is especially good if it does not put forth leaves too quickly, if also it casts its flowers very early in the season and does not ripen too slowly; moreover, if it easily withstands frosts and fog and blight, does not rot in rainy weather, and does not shrivel up in times of drought. 5 A vine of this sort, though only moderately fruitful, should be our choice, if only we have a piece of ground where the flavour of the wine is distinguished and costly; for if it is of poor quality or low in price, it is best to plant the most prolific vines, so that our revenues may be increased by the greater quantity of the yield. 6 Moreover, in nearly every type of place champaign slopes produce the larger quantity of wine, but hill lands the better flavoured; and in a temperate climate hills that slope to the north are more productive, while those with a southern exposure yield a superior quality. p2377 And there is no doubt that the nature of some vines is such that in the quality of their wine they sometimes excel, sometimes are excelled, according to their situation. The Aminean varieties14 alone, except where the climate is exceedingly cold, and even if they decline in quality in comparison with their best, are said to provide wines of more or less true taste and to surpass all others in flavour. 8 Though they bear one name, they are not of the same appearance. We know of two "sister" vines, of which the smaller is earlier and better in casting its blossoms and may be trained to tree and trellis15 alike. On the tree it requires rich ground; on the trellis, ordinary soil. And it far surpasses the larger variety by reason of its sturdier endurance of rain and wind. 9 For the larger sort is quickly spoiled in the blossom, and more so on trellises than on trees; and on this account it is not suitable for vineyards, and hardly fit for an arbustum16 except in ground that is very rich and vigorous; for it does not thrive in ordinary ground, and much less so in lean ground. It is distinguished by its great amount of rank woody growth and the large size of its leaves, clusters, and berries; it is also longer from joint to joint. In quantity of fruit it is surpassed by the smaller variety; it is not outdone in flavour. And both p239of these, to be sure, are Aminean vines. 10 But there are two other vines, called "twins," which derive their name from their producing of double clusters; they yield a harsher wine, but keep equally well. The smaller of the two is everywhere very well known, because it covers those most famous slopes of Vesuvius and of Surrentum17 in Campania. It is sprightly amid the western breezes of summer, but downcast in western winds; 11 and so in other sections of Italy it is suitable, not so much for vineyards, as for the arbustum, although in the regions above mentioned it bears the yoke18 very well. It produces wood and fruit — except for its double clusters — not unlike the smaller "sister" vine, just as the larger "twin" is like the larger "sister"; but the smaller vine is the better in that it is more fruitful even in ordinary soil, for I have already said that the other does not yield except in very rich ground. 12 Some also approve very highly the "woolly" Aminean, which acquires this epithet not from the fact that it alone, of all the Aminean varieties, is hoary with down, but because it is especially so. A producer of exceedingly good wine, though mellower than those above mentioned, it also makes a rank growth; and for this reason, because of the compactness of its foliage, it often does not cast its blossoms perfectly, and it also rots quickly after the fruit has matured. 13 In addition to the number that we have mentioned, there is included a "single"19 Aminean not unlike the larger "twin" — p241a vine of first rank in the appearance of leafy shoots and stock, but somewhat inferior in the flavour of its wine; though even so it ranks next to the most outstanding varieties and is even to be preferred for qualities of its own. For it is more fruitful, it is better in casting its flowers, it bear compact light-coloured clusters of plumper grapes, it does not degenerate in poor land, and consequently it is counted among the most profitable vines. 14 The Nomentan vines20 follow close after the Amineans in excellence of wine, but in productivity they are often loaded full and keep exceedingly well what they have produced. But of these, too, the smaller is the more prolific; its leaf is not so deeply cleft, and its wood is not so red as that of the larger variety — from which colour the vines are called rubellanae. These vines are also called faeciniae from the fact that they make more dregs (faeces) than other varieties. 15 Still they make up for this disadvantage in the greater number of their clusters, which they produce even on a trellis but better on a tree. They endure winds and rains valiantly, drop their flowers early, and therefore ripen sooner. They bear up under every adversity except that of heat; for, having small-berried and tough-skinned clusters, they shrivel in high temperatures. They delight most of all in rich land, which can add some fullness to clusters that are naturally scanty and small. 16 The Eugenians endure a cold, dewy ground and climate very well as long as they remain on the Alban hills; for in a changed situation they hardly p243answer to their own name.21 The same is true of the Allobrogian22 vines: the agreeableness of their wines is affected by a change of region. 17 The three Apian23 also are recommended for their great qualities; all of them fruitful and quite suitable for the trellis and for trees, though the one with bare leaves is superior. For the two lanate varieties, though of like appearance as to leaves and branches, differ in the quality of their juice, as one of them is slower in acquiring flatness of taste from long keeping. 18 They are very prolific in rich ground, and fruitful also in average soil; their fruit ripens early, and for that reason they are very well suited for cold localities; they yield a sweet wine, but are not good for the head, sinews, and veins. If they are not gathered at the proper time they become the prey of rains, winds, and bees; and it is because of this plundering that they are surnamed from the word meaning "bees" (apes). And these are the vines most renowned for their precious flavours.

19 There are, nevertheless, vines of second quality which can be commended for their growth and fruitfulness, such as the Bituric24 and the Basilic, the smaller of which the Spaniards call coccolobis,25 — both of them by far the closest to the very best; for their wine stands long keeping and attains some degree of excellence with age. 20 And in fact they surpass in productiveness all that I have mentioned above, and also in hardiness; for they withstand storms and rain with the greatest fortitude, they have a good amount of juice, and do not fail in lean ground. They endure cold weather better than wetness, and wetness better than dryness, and yet they are p245not bothered by heat. 21 Next after these are the Visula26 and the smaller Argitis,27 which thrive in ground of middling quality; for they make a rank growth in rich ground because of their excessive vigour, while in lean ground they grow spindling and are devoid of fruit. They have a greater fondness for the trellis than for trees, though the Argitis is productive even on high supports and makes a luxuriant growth of wood and grape clusters. 22 The Visula, better suited to very low frames, makes little wood but tough and broad leaves, whose size affords the fruit very good protection against hail; but if this is not gathered as soon as it is ripe, it falls to the ground; and in wet weather it rots even before it falls off. 23 There are also the Helvolans,28 which some call variae (variegated); they are neither purple nor black, and get their name, if I mistake not, from their dun (helvus) shade. The one which is more nearly black is the better as to quantity of wine, while the other is more highly prized in the matter of flavour. In neither of them does the colour of the berries appear to be uniform. Both yield white must in greater or smaller quantity every year. They make a better covering on a tree, though doing well on a trellis. They are productive also in mediocre soil, as are the smaller and larger Pretians.28 But the latter are commended more highly for the quality of their wine, and they put forth much wood and foliage and ripen quickly. 24 The Albuelis,29 as Celsus says, is more profitable on a hill than on a plain; on a tree than on a trellis; and at the top p247of the tree than at the lower part. It produces much wood and many clusters. For those Greekling vines — such as the Mareotic, the Thasian, the Psithian, and the Sophortian — though they have an agreeable taste, still in our localities they yield little juice because of the small size of the berries. Nevertheless the black Inerticulan, which certain Greeks call amethystos,30 may be placed in the second tribe, so to speak, because it makes good wine and is harmless; from this fact, too, it takes its name, because it is considered inactive (iners) in its effect on the sinews, although not dull in taste.

25 Celsus makes a third class of those vines which are commended for fruitfulness alone, such as the three Helvenacans,31 of which the two larger are considered by no means equal to the smaller in the quality and quantity of their must. One of them, which people who live in Gaul call marcus,32 produces ordinary wine; and the other, which they designate as the "long vine" and also the "white vine," yields a wine of low grade and of no such quantity as the number of its clusters promises at first glance. 26 The smallest and best of the three is very readily recognized by its leaf, for it bears the roundest leaf of all of them; and it is praiseworthy because it endures drought best of all, because it bears cold p249if only it is free from rain, because in some regions its wine is racked off for long keeping, and especially because it alone gives a good name to even the poorest of soil by reason of its own fertility. 27 [Celsus includes also] such as the Spionian, rich in must but fruitful in the size rather than the number of its clusters; such as the Horconian,33 the Murgentine,33 which is the same as the Pompeian, the Numisian, the Venuculan, also called Scirpulan and Sticulan;34 such as the black Fragellan, the Merican, the Rhaetian, and that most prolific of all vines within our acquaintance, the greater Arcelacan,35 wrongly considered by many to be the Argitis. 28 For as to those that have recently come to my knowledge — I mean the Pergulan, the Irtiolan, and the Fereolan — I could not easily declare with certainty in what class they are to be considered; for, though I know that they are passably fruitful, I have not been able as yet to pass judgment on the quality of the wine that they produce. We have discovered also that there is an early-ripe vine, hitherto unknown to us and called Dracontion after the Greek fashion, which may be compared in fruitfulness and agreeableness to the Arcelacan, the Basilic, and the Bituric vines, and in its high quality to the Aminean. 29 There are, besides, many sorts of vines of which we can relate p251neither the number nor the names with assurance. And, indeed, as the poet says,36

to know their number is of no concern.

One who would know of this might also wish to learn

How many grains of Libyan sand by western breeze are stirred.

30 For all countries and almost all separate districts of those countries have their peculiar types of vines, which they designate according to their own fashion; some vine-stocks also have changed their names along with the places where they are grown; and some, as I said above, have so far departed from their peculiar character, through a change of place, as to be unrecognizable. And so in our own Italy, not to speak of the whole far-flung world, neighbouring peoples disagree in the names of vines, and their designations vary. 31 Therefore it is a mark of the wise teacher not to retard his students with quibbling over a list of names of a sort which it is impossible to master, but in general to lay down as a precept what Celsus says, and Marcus Cato before him — that no kind of vine should be planted except that approved by common report, and that none should be kept for any length of time unless proved by test. And where the many advantages of a particular region invite us to plant a superior vine, we shall search out one of good origin, says Julius Graecinus; where there is nothing at all or not much to encourage us, we shall look rather for fruitfulness, which is not excelled in worth to the same degree that it excels p253in abundance of yield.37 32 But as for this opinion, though I myself was of the same mind not long ago, I shall soon tell in the proper place what my more private judgment is. For it is my purpose to teach the method by which vineyards may be managed so as to be at the same time fruitful and productive of a wine that will bring a good price.

3 1 Now, before discoursing on the planting of vines, I think it not out of place to lay down, as a sort of foundation for the coming discussion, the principle that we would have carefully weighed and investigated in advance whether viticulture will enrich the proprietor; for it is well-nigh purposeless as yet to give directions for planting vines, as long as the prior question is not yet affirmatively answered — whether vines should be kept at all. And most people would be doubtful on this point, to such an extent that many would avoid and dread such an ordering of their land, and would consider it preferable to own meadows and pastures, or woodland for cutting; 2 for in the matter of ground planted with trees for the support of vines38 there has been no little dispute even among authorities, Saserna being unfavourable to this kind of land, and Tremelius approving it most highly. But we shall make an appraisal of this opinion in its proper place. Meanwhile those devoted to the study of agriculture must be informed of one thing first of all — that the return from vineyards is a very rich one. And to pass over the old-time fertility of the land, of which Marcus Cato long ago, and Terentius Varro39 more recently, recorded that each iugerum of vineyard yielded six hundred urnae40 of wine — for Varro so declares most emphatically in the first book of his Res Rusticae — p255and that this was the customary yield not in one district alone but also in the country around Faventia41 and in the Ager Gallicus,42 which is now annexed to Picenum; 3 in our own times, at any rate, the neighbourhood of Nomentum is illumined by a most distinguished reputation; and especially that part owned by Seneca,43 a man of outstanding genius and erudition, on whose estates it is learned that every iugerum of vineyard has yielded approximately eight cullei.44 For the things that happened in our Ceretanum45 seem to have been in the nature of a prodigy, in that a certain vine on your place exceeded the number of two thousand clusters, and with me, that eight hundred grafted stocks of less than two years46 yielded seven cullei, or that first-class vineyards produced a hundred amphorae47 to the iugerum, when meadows, pastures, and woodland seem to do very well by the owner if they bring in a hundred sesterces48 for every iugerum. 4 For we can hardly recall a time when grain crops, throughout at least the greater part of Italy, returned a yield of four for one.49 Why, then, is viticulture in disrepute? Not, indeed, through its own fault, but because of human failings, says Graecinus; in the first place because no one takes pains in searching after cuttings, and for that reason most people plant vineyards of the worst sort; and then they do not nourish their vines, once planted, in such a way as p257to let them gain strength and shoot out before they wither; and if they do happen to grow, they are careless in the matter of cultivation. 5 Even at the very start they think that it makes no difference what kind of ground they plant; or rather they pick out the very worst section of their lands, as though such ground alone were particularly fit for this plant because incapable of producing anything else. Either they do not understand even the method of setting them or else they fail to put it into practice even when they do understand it. Then too, they seldom have the dowry50 — that is, the equipment — in readiness for their vineyards; though this, if neglected, uses up many days of toil and puts a constant drain on the coffers of the proprietor. 6 Most people, in fact, strive for the richest possible yield at the earliest moment; they make no provision for the time to come, but, as if living merely from day to day, they put such demands upon their vines and load them so heavily with young shoots as to show no regard for succeeding generations. After committing all these acts, or at any rate most of them, they would rather do anything at all than admit their own guilt; and they complain that their vineyards do not yield them a return — vineyards which they themselves have ruined through greed, or ignorance, or neglect. 7 But any who combine painstaking care with scientific knowledge receive, not forty, or at least thirty according to my reckoning, but, as Graecinus says, though setting the lowest estimate, twenty amphorae from every iugerum, p259they will easily outdo in the increase of their ancestral estates all those who hold fast to their hay and pot-herbs. And he is not mistaken in this; for, like a careful accountant, he sees, when his calculations are made, that this kind of husbandry is of the greatest advantage to his estate. 8 For, admitting that vineyards demand a very generous outlay, still seven iugera require the labour of near more than one vinedresser, upon whom people in general set a low value, thinking that even some malefactor may be acquired from the auction-block;51 but I, disagreeing with the opinion of the majority, consider a high-priced vinedresser of first importance. And supposing his purchase price to be 6000 or, better, 8000 sesterces, when I estimate the seven iugera of ground as acquired for just as many thousands of sesterces,52 and that the vineyards with their dowry — that is, with stakes and withes — are set out for 2000 sesterces per iugerum, still the total cost, reckoned to the last farthing, amounts to 29,000 sesterces. 9 Added to this is interest at six per cent. per annum, amounting to 3480 sesterces for the two-year period when the vineyards, in their infancy as it were, are delayed in bearing. The sum total of principal and interest comes to 32,480 sesterces. And if the husbandman would enter this amount as a debt against his vineyards just as a moneylender does with a debtor, so that the owner may realize the aforementioned six per cent. interest on that total as a perpetual annuity, he should take in 1950 sesterces every year. By this reckoning the return from seven iugera, even according to the estimate of Graecinus, exceeds the p261interest on 32,480 sesterces. 10 For, assuming that the vineyards are of the very worst sort, still, if taken care of, they will yield certainly one culleus of wine to the iugerum; and even though every forty urns are sold for 300 sesterces, which is the lower market price, nevertheless seven cullei make a total of 2100 sesterces — a sum far in excess of the interest at six per cent. 11 And these figures, as we have given them, take account of the calculations of Graecinus. But our own opinion is that vineyards which yield less than three cullei to the iugerum should be rooted out. And, even so, we have made our calculations up to this point as if there were no quicksets53 to be taken from the trenched ground; though this item alone, at a favourable price, would clear the entire cost of the land, if only the land belongs, not to the provinces, but to Italy. 12 And no one should be skeptical of this statement when he distinguishes between my method and that of Julius Atticus; for I am now planting between the rows 20,000 mallet-shoots54 to every iugerum of vineyard, while he sets out four thousand fewer.55 Assuming that his way is the better one, still no ground, even the most unfavourable, will fail to yield a return exceeding the expense incurred; 13 since, even though 6000 of the plants die through the carelessness of the vinedresser, still the remaining 10,000 will be purchased by contract-vineyardists, cheerfully and at a profit, for 3000 sesterces. This sum exceeds by one thirdº the 2000 sesterces which we have named above as the cost of planting one iugerum of vines, and yet our own management has now progressed to the point where husbandmen are not p263averse to purchasing quicksets from me at a price of six hundred sesterces a thousand. 14 But anyone else will hardly go beyond the above-named figure; for no one will readily take our word for it that there is such a quantity of wine upon our small pieces of ground as you, Silvinus, know to be the case. For that reason I have quoted the average and customary price of quicksets, so that those who, through want of knowledge, avoid this branch of husbandry, may be brought over more quickly to my opinion with no dissenting vote. 15 Therefore either the revenue from ground prepared for planting or the hope of vintages to come should encourage us in the planting of vines. And now that we have shown that it is consistent with good business to plant them, we shall offer directions for putting them in order.

4 1 One who has it at heart to make plantations of vines should guard especially against the willingness to entrust them to another's care in preference to his own; and he should not buy quicksets. But he should plant at home shoots of the sort most approved, and should make a nursery of vines from which he may clothe his land with vineyards. For foreign cuttings, transplanted from a different locality, are less at home in our soil than are the native varieties, and for that reason, being strangers, so to speak, they dread a change of climate and situation; 2 and also they offer no definite assurance of quality, seeing that it is uncertain whether the one who has planted them has set out shoots of a carefully tested and approved variety. Therefore a period of two years must be considered the minimum p265time within which the quality of the cuttings can certainly show itself; though, as I have said, it has always been of the greatest importance to set out stock of carefully selected origin. 3 Next after this he should remember to make a careful choice of site for his vineyards; and when he has come to a decision on this point he should know that the greatest pains must be employed in trenching the ground. After he has finished the trenching he should use no less care in the planting of the vine, and after the planting he should attend with greatest diligence to the matter of cultivation; for this is, so to speak, the chief and crowning point of the investment, since on it rests the decision as to whether it has been better or worse for the proprietor to commit his money to the soil rather than to employ it in idleness. Therefore I shall discuss in their proper order each of those matters which I have proposed.

5 1 A vine-nursery should be established in ground that is neither hungry nor wet, but moist and of medium quality rather than fat; though nearly all authorities have designated a very fertile soil for this purpose. This I consider as not at all to the advantage of the husbandman; for even though the cuttings quickly take root and shoot up when planted in strong soil, yet if transferred to poorer soil when they become quicksets, they wither and cannot grow to maturity. 2 Moreover, it is the mark of a wise husbandman to transplant from poorer ground to better rather than from better to poorer. For this reason an intermediate quality is most approved in the choice of a site, because it stands on the border line between good and bad. For if necessity afterwards demands the setting of the p267young plants at the proper time in lean ground, they will be conscious of no great change when transferred from mediocre to poor soil; or if a more fertile field is to be planted, they gain strength far more quickly in the rich ground. 3 On the other hand, it is not at all consistent with reason to make a nursery of vines in the very poorest ground, since the majority of the slips die, and such as do survive are slow in becoming fit for transplanting. A piece of average and moderately dry ground, then, is best suited for the nursery; and it should first be worked with the trenching-spade,56 which equals the depth of the trenching when the ground is turned up to two and one-half feet. Then, leaving three-foot spaces for the cultivation of the plants, 600 cuttings are to be set in each of the rows which measure 240 feet. 4 This number makes a total of 24,000 plants to the iugerum.57 But the examination and choice of shoots takes precedence of this care. For, as I have often said before, the planting of the most approved kind of stock is the foundation, so to speak, of the aforesaid matter.

6 1 But the choice must be made with two considerations in mind; for it is not enough merely that the mother vine from which the cuttings are sought should be prolific, but a more discriminating method must be employed, that they may be taken from those parts of her body which are both generative and especially fruitful. 2 Moreover, the prolific vine p269whose offspring we wish to rear should not be valued merely because it puts forth grape clusters in great quantity, for this may be due to the large size of the stock and the great number of fruiting canes;58 though I should not call that a fruitful vine where only one cluster is seen to each cane. But if a larger number of clusters hang upon every young shoot; if from every eye on its many mature branches it sprouts out with fruit; if, finally, it also puts out from its firm wood a green shoot with some clusters; if, too, it is heavy with the fruit of its secondary shoots;59 such a vine, fruitful beyond doubt, should be marked out for the gathering of mallet-shoots. 3 The mallet-shoot, moreover, is a young shoot growing out of a cane of the year before; it is named according to its resemblance, because, projecting on both sides in that part where it is cut from the old branch, it has the appearance of a mallet. Our opinion is that this should be taken from the most prolific stock every time that the vines are pruned, and carefully planted, with three or four eyes showing above ground, in soil that is moderately moist but not wet; if only it be our first consideration that the vine from which the shoot is taken be not uncertain in its flowering, that its berries have no difficulty in growing big, and that it bear fruit which is neither early nor too late in ripening. For the former is damaged by birds, and the latter by p271wintry storms as well. 4 Moreover, such a kind of vine is not proved by one vintage; for even a vine that is naturally unfruitful may produce an abundant yield a single time, either because of the bountifulness of the year or for other reasons. But when confidence in the slips has been established by the completion of several years of campaigning, as it were, there can be no doubt as to its fruitfulness. Yet such an examination is not carried beyond a period of four years; for the quality of plants usually becomes manifest in that period of time during which the sun returns to the same division of the zodiac through the same signs by which it began its circuit — a period of fourteen hundred and sixty-one entire days, which students of celestial matters call ἀποκατάστασις.60

7 1 But I am sure, Publius Silvinus, that you have long been inquiring in your own mind to what variety that fruitful vine belongs which we are at such pains to describe — whether one of those which are commonly regarded as most prolific nowadays is meant. For very many people are high in their praise of the Bituric, many of the Spionian, some of the Basilic, and several of the Arcelacan. 2 We, too, do not deprive these varieties of our approbation, for they yield a very great quantity of wine; but we have resolved to teach the planting of vines of a sort that will produce fruit in no less abundance than the above-mentioned varieties, and that have p273a rich flavour like that of the Aminean, or at least not far from that taste. I am aware that the belief of nearly all agriculturists is at variance with my way of thinking; a belief which, as regards Aminean vines, has become deep-rooted and has gained strength from a native and inborn unfruitfulness. 3 For this reason there is greater necessity on our part of fortifying with many examples a method recalled from times past — a method which, being condemned through the slothfulness as well as the indiscretion of husbandmen and obscured, as it were, by the darkness of ignorance, has been deprived of the light of truth. The time is not unsuitable, then, for us to turn our attention first to considerations which seem able to correct this general misunderstanding.

8 1 Therefore, Publius Silvinus, if we will look at nature through the keener eyes of the mind, so to speak, we shall find that she has established an equable law of fertility for all green things even as for human beings and other living creatures; and that she has not so bestowed special endowments on some nations or regions as to deny like gifts altogether to others. To some peoples she has granted the gift of producing numerous progeny, as to the Egyptians and Africans, with whom the birth of twins is common and almost an annual occurrence; but of Italian stock, too, she has willed that there be women of extraordinary fertility — Alban women of the Curiatian family, mothers of three children at one birth.61 p2752 She has adorned Germany with armies of exceedingly tall men; but she has not wholly deprived other nations of men of exceptional stature. For Cicero bears witness that there was once a Roman citizen, Naevius Pollio,62 who was a foot taller than the tallest of other men; and recently we ourselves might have seen, among the exhibits of the procession at the games in the Circus, a man of the Jewish race who was of greater stature than the tallest German. 3 I pass to cattle. Mevania63 is famous for its herds of tall cattle, Liguria for small; but an ox of low stature is seen now and then in Mevania, and a bull of towering proportions in Liguria. India is said to excite astonishment for the hugeness of its wild animals; yet who will deny that beasts of equally vast size are bred in this land, when we consider that elephants are brought forth within our own walls? 4 But I return to various kinds of crops. They say that Mysia and Libya produce enormous quantities of grain, but that the fields of Apulia and Campania are not wanting in rich crops; that Tmolus and Corycus64 are considered famous for the saffron-flower, and Judaea and Arabia for their precious scents; but that our own community is not destitute of aforesaid plants, for in many sections of the city we see at one time cassia putting forth its leaves, again the frankincense plant, and gardens blooming with myrrh and saffron. 5 Surely these examples p277remind us that Italy is most responsive to care bestowed by mankind, in that she has learned to produce the fruits of almost the entire world when her husbandmen have applied themselves to the task. Therefore our doubts should be lessened as to that fruit which is a native, as it were, belonging to and born of our soil. For there is no doubt that, of all the vines that the earth sustains, those of the Massic, Surrentine, Alban, and Caecuban lands hold first place in the excellence of their wine.

9 1 The fruitfulness of these vines may leave something to be desired, but even this may be aided by diligence on the part of the vine-dresser. For, as I said a little before, if nature, that most bounteous parent of all things, has endowed every people and land with their own peculiar gifts, though in such a way as not to deprive others entirely of like endowments, why should we doubt that she has observed the aforesaid rule also in the case of vines? So that, although she has willed that some varieties be especially prolific, such as the Bituric and Basilic, yet she has not made the Aminean variety so barren that, of many thousands of them, there may not be found at least a very few fruitful vines, just as those Alban sisters among the humankind of Italy. 2 Not only would this be highly probable, but what is more, experience has taught us the truthfulness of it; for on my place at Ardea, which I owned many years ago, and also on my estates at Carseoli and Alba,65 I had marked vines of the Aminean variety, p279very few in number, to be sure, but so fruitful that on a trellis each of them yielded three urnae, while on pergolas they produced ten amphorae to each vine. 3 And this fruitfulness in Aminean vines should not seem beyond belief. For how could Terentius Varro, and Marcus Cato before him, maintain that every iugerum of vineyard yielded the old-time husbandmen six hundred urnae of wine,66 if fruitfulness was wanting in the Amineans — the only vines, for the most part, with which the ancients were acquainted? Unless, despite our belief up to this time that our most ancient vines are the Amineans, we are to suppose that they cultivated vineyards of the Bituric and Basilic varieties, vines which, being but recently indeed imported from far distant countries, have just come to our notice. 4 Therefore if anyone would, for several vintages, search out and mark such Aminean vines as I have said were in my possession not long ago, so as to take from them the most fertile cuttings, he could produce vineyards of equal excellence and productiveness. For there is no doubt that nature herself has decreed that the offspring shall resemble the mother. Hence it is, too, that the shepherd in the Bucolics says,

So whelps like dogs; so kids, I knew,

Were like unto their dams.67

5 And hence those who contend in the sacred games protect with watchful care the progeny of their swiftest race-horses, and upon the multiplying of offspring of noble stock they base their hope of future victories. We too, for a reason like theirs p281in selecting the progeny of victorious Olympic mares, should base our hope of a bountiful vintage upon the selection of progeny of the most fruitful Amineans. And there is no reason why the tediousness of the time required should discourage anyone; for any delay that occurs is taken up in the testing of the shoot. 6 But when the fruitfulness of the vine has been proved, it is very quickly raised to a very large number by ingrafting.68 You especially, Silvinus, can bear me out in this, since you will readily recall that I completed the planting of two iugera of vineyard within two years time by making grafts from one early-ripe vine belonging to you on your place at Caere.69 7 What number of vines, then, do you think could be grafted within the same length of time with shoots taken from two iugera, when these two iugera are themselves the offspring of one vine? Therefore, as I have said, if we will exercise industry and care we shall easily, by the aforesaid method, establish vineyards of Aminean vines as fruitful as those of the Bituric or Basilic varieties: only it will be of importance, in transplanting the sets, to give heed to like conditions of climate and situation and to the habit of the vine itself; since a cutting is usually impaired in quality if the situation of the ground or climatic conditions are distasteful to it, or even if it is transferred from tree to trellis. 8 Accordingly, we shall transplant from cold places to cold, from warm to the like, and from open vineyards to open vineyards. Yet Aminean stock can better endure the change from a cold to a warm situation than from a warm to a cold; because every kind of vine, and especially that p283just mentioned, has a natural fondness for warmth rather than cold. 9 But the quality of the soil, too, is of very great assistance, so that the transfer should be made from lean or ordinary ground to a better sort; for a vine which has been accustomed to rich soil can in no way endure lean ground unless you manure it rather frequently. And these precepts we have given, in general, as to care in the choice of cuttings; next it is proper to advise in particular that slips be selected, not only from the most prolific vine, but also from the most fruitful part of the vine.

10 1 Now, the most fruitful cuttings are not, as ancient authorities proposed, the extreme part of the vine — what they call its head, that is, the outermost and most extended shoot; for in this also husbandmen are mistaken. But the reason for this misapprehension lies in the prime appearance of the shoot and in the number of clusters very often seen on the longest branch. But we should not be deceived in this matter; for it comes about, not through the natural fertility of that branch, but through favourableness of location; because all the moisture and nourishment that is supplied by the soil courses through the other portions of the stem until it arrives at the tip. 2 For by natural respiration all the nourishment of a green plant is drawn, as a sort of vital breath, into the highest point, passing through the pith of the stem as though through a siphon, which mechanics call diabetes;70 and when it arrives at that point, it halts there and is consumed. Hence it is that the most vigorous growth is found either in p285the head of the vine or in the main stem71 close to the roots. 3 More than that, the latter shoots, those that spring from the hard wood, are sterile, and yet they have a two-fold reason for their vigour, in that they do not bear fruit, and because they derive their nourishment from the full and undiminished flow of sap next to the ground; and the former are fruitful and strong because they sprout from young wood, and because, as I stated above, any nourishment that comes to them is not shared with others. The intermediate shoots are the leanest because the sap hastens past them, being partially cut off below and drawn to itself above. 4 Therefore the leading shoot should not be regarded as fruitful even though it may bear much fruit, since it is forced into bearing by the fertility of its situation; but that branch should be considered fruitful which, situated in the middle of the vine, does not fail in even that unfavourable place but displays its bounteousness through numerous offspring. Such a shoot, when transplanted, seldom degenerates, since it passes from a worse to a better lot; for whether set out in trenched ground, or grafted on a stock, it is fed fat with nourishment in greater abundance than before, when it was on scant rations. 5 Accordingly, we shall take pains to select propagating shoots from the places just mentioned, which country people call umeri,72 but such canes as we shall have previously observed to have borne fruit. For if they are destitute of fruit, our opinion is that this part of the vine, much as it is to be commended, contributes nothing to the fruitfulness of the cutting. It is, therefore, a very mistaken notion that is held by those farmers who believe that p287it makes very little difference how many clusters a branch may have borne, if only it is taken from a fruitful vine and is not one that sprouted from the hard wood of the stock, — what they call pampinarium.73

6 This notion, however, arising from ignorance in the matter of selecting cuttings, causes vineyards to have, first, too little fruitfulness, and then too much barrenness. For who, indeed, over what is now a long span of years, has laid down for the farmer, as he was selecting his cuttings, these precepts which we have just now set forth? As a result of this practice the men who are most lacking in intelligence enter into an occupation that is especially indispensable, and also those most lacking in strength; for, as I have said, it is the least useful fellow, one who can do no other work, who is put to this task.74 7 Such a person, moreover, even if he has some knowledge of the selection of shoots, conceals that knowledge and lays it aside because of his lack of strength; and that he may have the full number which the overseer has ordered, he does nothing carefully, nothing conscientiously. The one thing that he keeps before him is to get done with the task that is set; when, even though he may both know and carry out what he knows, he receives from his masters one precept p289alone — not to break off the stock-branch but to add everything else to the supply of cuttings.

8 But we, having at first taken reason as a guide, and now a long period of experimentation as well, choose no shoot, and consider none to be fruitful, except one that has borne fruit in the generative part of the vine. For one that has come forth in a barren place, luxuriant and strong but destitute of offspring, offers a deceptive appearance of fruitfulness but possesses no generative power. 9 Common sense teaches us that this is undoubtedly true, if only, as in our own bodies every member has its peculiar functions, so too the parts of fruit-bearing stocks have their proper duties. We know that human beings have a soul breathed into them as a charioteer and guide of their members, and that sense were implanted in them for the perception of those impressions which are discovered by touch, by smell, by hearing, and by seeing; that feet were devised for walking and arms for embracing. And that my discourse may not wander without restraint over all the relations of sensory functions, the ears can effect nothing that belongs to the eyes, and the eyes nothing that belongs to the ears; nor, indeed, is the power of procreation bestowed upon the hands or the feet. 10 But the father of the universe concealed in the belly that which he willed should be unknown to mankind, in order that the eternal creatress75 of things, endowed with divine understanding, might mingle in certain hidden parts of the body, as it were, in mystery p291and concealment, those sacred elements of the soul with terrestrial principles,76 and fashion this sort of living machine. 11 By this law she produced cattle and trees; by this she fashioned the various kinds of vines, for which this same mother and parent first laid, as it were, certain foundations of roots upon which they might stand, as upon feet. Then upon these she placed the trunk, corresponding in a way to the upright carriage and appearance of a body; in the next place she caused it to spread out with branches as if with arms; and then she drew forth stems and shoots corresponding to hands, of which she endowed some with fruit and clothed others with leaves alone for the protection and safe-keeping of their progeny.

12 If, then, from these vines, as I have said above, we select, not those parts which capable of conception and heavy with young, but their coverings and sun-shades, so to speak, which are destitute of fruit, our toil will certainly have been spent for shade and not for a harvest of grapes. 13 What, then, is my point? Why, if a shoot is destitute of offspring, even though it be sprung, not from hard wood, but from young, do we condemn it as sure to be barren also in time to come? Just now, indeed, our reasoning inferred that every part of the body has assigned to it a peculiar function which is manifestly appropriate to that part; so that a vine shoot, too, if sprung from a favourable place, may have in it the power of fruitfulness even though it be remiss in bearing for a time. 14 I would not deny that I have taken it upon myself to prove this point; but I declare most emphatically that a rod, even though sprung from a fruit-bearing part of the vine, does not even possess p293the power of productiveness if it has not itself borne fruit. And this statement is not at variance with the former opinion. For it is evident that some men are incapable of procreation even though they have the full number of members; so that it should not be beyond belief that a cane sprung from a generative place, if devoid of fruit at present, will be devoid of progeny in the future also.

15 And so, to return to the usage of the farmers, they give the name spadones or eunuchs77 to that sort of shoots which have produced nothing; which they would not do if they did not suppose them to be incapable of bearing. It is this very appellation that suggested to me a reason for not choosing mallet-shoots,78 even though they were sprung from an approved part of the vine, if they had not borne fruit; although I understand that even these are not entirely affected with barrenness. For I admit that stock-shoots79 too, though they have come out of the hard wood, acquire fruitfulness the following season; and for that reason they are reduced to a single spur,80 so that it may have strength for bearing fruit. 16 But we find that offspring of this sort owes not so much to the spur itself as to the munificence of the mother vine. For because it clings to its own stock, which is naturally fruitful, still mingling with the elements of its parent,81 born of prolific seed and reared, so to speak, at the breasts of a nurse, it learns little by little to produce fruit. But when a slip is torn from the stock prematurely and unseasonably, p295without regard to a certain maturity required by nature, and is either planted in the ground or even grafted on a shortened stock, just as the age of childhood is capable not even of coition and much less of conception, so it either suffers complete loss of its generative power or at any rate has less of it. 17 Therefore I think that we should take especial care in the choice of cuttings, to select from a fruitful part of the vine those shoots which, by having already produced fruit, give promise of future productiveness; and yet we should not be satisfied with single clusters, but should especially approve those shoots which are conspicuous for the greatest number of offspring. Or shall we not commend the shepherd who multiplies the progeny of a dam that has borne twins, and the goatherd who breeds the young of those animals which are noted for bearing three at one birth? For he hopes, of course, that the offspring will match the productiveness of their parents. 18 In the matter of vines we also shall follow this very method, and the more so because we have found out that seeds,82 even though carefully tested, sometimes degenerate through some natural malignity; and this the poet would impress upon us, as if we were deaf to the truth, in saying,

Some seeds I've seen, though chosen with time and care,

Degenerate still, unless with human hand

The largest were selected every year.

But so it is; it is the will of fate

That all things backward turn, all things deteriorate.83

p297 It is to be understood that this was said, not merely of the seeds of legumes, but of the whole matter of agriculture. 19 If only we have discovered by a long period of observation, as we certainly have discovered, that a shoot which has borne four clusters, when it is cut off and put into the ground, degenerates so far from the fruitfulness of the parent stock as to produce sometimes one, occasionally even two clusters fewer than before, 20 to what extent do we think that they will fall short which have produced two clusters or usually one on the parent stock, when even the most fruitful shoots often dread transplanting? And so I gladly profess myself a demonstrator of this method, rather than its inventor, lest anyone should think that our ancestors are unjustly deprived of the praise that is their due. For there is no doubt that they knew of it, even though it has been handed down in no writing except those lines of Vergil which we have quoted, and yet in such a way as to give directions for the seeds of legumes.84 21 For why did they reject the rod sprung from the hard wood, or even the "arrow"85 cut from the fruitful mallet-shoot which they had approved, if they considered that it made no difference from what place the cuttings were gathered? Was it because they had no doubt that the power of fruitfulness was present in certain members, so to speak, that they very wisely condemned the stock shoot and the arrow as useless for planting? If this is the case, there is no doubt that p299they disapproved far more of that cane which, though sprung from a bearing part, had borne no fruit. 22 For if they thought that the arrow — that is, the uppermost part of a mallet-cutting — was deserving of censure even though it was a part of a bearing shoot, how much more does mere common sense show that they would have disapproved of a slip, if it is sterile, even though it be sprung from the best part of the vine? Unless — and this is absurd — they believed that one which had been worthless on the mother vine would be fruitful when transplanted and cut off from its stock and deprived of its maternal sustenance. It may be that this has been told at greater length than a statement of the truth required; but even so, in fewer words than were demanded by the badly distorted and deep-rooted notion of country people.

11 1 I now return to what remains of the topics proposed for systematic discussion. The business of preparing the ground86 comes next, after this attention owing to the choice of cuttings, provided, however, that agreement has been reached beforehand as to the quality of the soil. For there is no doubt that this, too, contributes in very great measure to the goodness and abundance of the fruit. And before considering the soil itself, we think it a matter of very first importance that land hitherto untilled, if we have such, should be chosen in preference to that upon which there has been a crop of grain or a plantation of trees and vines. 2 As to vineyards which have become worthless through long neglect, it is agreed by all authorities that they are worst of p301all if we wish to replant them, because the lower soil is imprisoned in a tangle of many roots, as if caught in a net, and has not yet lost that infection and rottenness of old age by which the earth is deadened and numbed as if by some poison or other.87 3 For this reason a piece of wild land is an especially good choice, and even if occupied with bushes or trees it is easily cleared, because all things that spring up naturally do not push their roots far nor to a great depth, but spread and extend them through the surface soil; and when they are cut off with the axe and are rooted out, the little that remains in the lower soil may be dug up with mattocks and brought together and heaped up for fermentation. But if you should have no unbroken ground, the next choice is ploughed land that is free of trees. Failing this, there is allotted to vineyards a plantation of trees and vines standing very far apart, or an olive grove — but preferably old olive trees which have not been wedded to vines. 4 Last of all, as I have said, is the renewing of a worn-out vineyard. Now if circumstances make this necessary, all remaining parts of the vines should first be rooted out; then all the ground should be fertilized with dry dung or, if this is not available, with the freshest manure of another sort; and so it should be turned over, and all the unearthed roots must be very carefully brought to the surface and burned; and then again the dug ground should be covered generously either with old manure, because that does not produce weeds, or with earth brought from the bramble thickets. 5 But where p303there is clean fallow, free from trees, we must consider before working it whether or not the land is suitable for young vine-shoots; and this is most easily discovered through the sprouts that come up of their own accord. For there is no soil so destitute of shrubs as not to produce some shoots, such as wild pears and plums or at least brambles; for even though these are varieties of thorns, still it is their common habit to grow up strong and thrifty and heavy with fruit. 6 Therefore, if we observe that they are not shrivelled and scaly, but smooth and bright, tall and prolific, then we shall know that the ground is suitable for young shoots.

But in the matter of what is especially suited to vines, this point in general deserves special consideration, as I have stated before, if the soil is easily worked and moderately loose in texture — what we have said is called pulla; not because such soil alone is proper for vineyards, but because it is especially so. 7 For who, though he be but an ordinary farmer, does not know that even the hardest tufa or toph-stone, once it is broken up in pieces and thrown up on the surface, is softened and loosened by storms and cold no less than by summer's heat; and that during hot weather it is very effective in cooling the roots of the vines and in holding moisture — conditions most suitable for the nourishing of the young shoot? And that for a like reason free gravel, pebbly ground, and loose stones are approved? on condition, however, that they are mixed with fat soil, for they meet with the greatest disapproval in lean ground. 8 Moreover, the flint-stone also, in my p305opinion, is friendly to vineyards when it is moderately well covered with earth, because, being cold and retentive of moisture, it does not allow the roots to thirst during the rising of the Dog-star. Hyginus indeed, following Tremelius, asserts that the bases of mountains, which have received the soil that washes down from their summits, or even valley lands that have been formed by the soil deposits of rivers and floods, are especially suited for vineyards; and I do not disagree. 9 Clayey soil is considered serviceable for the vine: but, by itself, the clay which potters use, and which some call argilla,88 is most unfriendly; and no less so is hungry gravel and, as Julius Atticus says, everything that makes a shrivelled shoot — that being soil which is either wet or salty, or sour too, or thirsty and extremely dry. Still the ancients approved black and reddish sand when mixed with vigorous earth; for they said that ground containing red toph-stone, unless aided with manure, produced puny vines. 10 Ruddle, as the same Atticus says, is heavy and does not offer roots an easy hold. But the same soil is nourishing to the vine when once it has obtained a hold, though it is more difficult to work, since you cannot dig it when wet because it is very sticky, nor when too dry because it is hard beyond measure.

12 1 But that we may not now wander through the endless varieties of soil, it will be not out of place to call to mind a standard rule, as it were, of Julius Graecinus which has been laid down for the appraisal of land suitable for vineyards. For that same p307Graecinus speaks as follows: That some land is hot or cold, damp or dry, loose or compact, light or heavy, fat or lean; but that soil which is excessively hot cannot support the vine, because it burns it, nor can the very cold soil, because it allows no action of the roots when they are benumbed and chilled, as it were, by excessive cold, — for they extend themselves only when they are drawn out by moderate warmth: 2 that soil of more than the proper moisture causes rotting of the plants that are set, while, on the other hand, excessive dryness deprives the plants of their natural sustenance and either kills them entirely or makes them scaly and shrivelled: that very compact ground does not absorb the rains, does not readily allow the circulation of air, is very easily broken through, and affords cracks through which the sun penetrates to the roots of the plants; and the same binds and chokes the plants, which are, so to speak, imprisoned and confined: 3 that soil which is immoderately loose allows rains to pass through it as through a funnel, and is then completely dried out and parched by sun and wind: that heavy ground can hardly be subdued by any cultivation, while light ground can hardly be kept up by any: that the fattest and most fertile soil suffers from rankness of growth, the lean and poor soil from barrenness. There is need, he says, of much intermixture among these so different extremes, as is requisite also in our own bodies, whose well-being depends on a fixed and, so to speak, balanced proportion of the hot and the cold, the moist and the dry, the compact and the loose. 4 And yet, in the case of land which is designed for vineyards, he says that this proportion should not be placed in equipoise but p309should incline more in one direction or the other, so that the land may be rather warm than cold, rather dry than wet, rather loose than compact, and so on in any like matters to which one who plants vineyards should direct a careful gaze. 5 All of this, in my opinion, is of greater advantage when climatic conditions also are favourable: and in this matter there is long-standing disagreement as to what quarter of the heavens the vineyards should face, Saserna facing the east especially, and next to that the south, and then the west; Tremelius Scrofa thinking a southern exposure superior to all others, Vergil explicitly rejecting the west in the words,

Nor slope your vineyards toward the setting sun;89

and Democritus and Mago commending the northern quarter of the heavens, because they think that vineyards exposed to it become the most productive, even though they may be surpassed in the quality of their wine. 6 To us it has seemed best to direct in general that vineyards have, in cold regions, a southern exposure, and that in warm ones they face the east; on condition, however, that they are not harassed by the south and south-east winds, as are the maritime coasts of Baetica. If, however, your tracts are subject to the aforementioned winds, it will be better to entrust them to the north or the west wind; but in hot provinces, such as Egypt and Numidia, they will be exposed more properly to the north alone. And now that all these matters have been carefully examined, we shall take up at last the trenching of the ground.90

p311 13 Now the method of doing this must be handed down, not only to future husbandmen of the Italian race, but also to those from the provinces; for in countries that are far distant and quite remote this particular way of turning and subduing a field is very little practised, but the vines are set for the most part either in planting-holes or in furrows. 2 Those, moreover, whose habit it is to set the vine in planting-holes, after excavating the earth for about three feet in length and two in depth — to as great a width as that of the iron spade permits, lay the shoots on both sides along the walls of the ditches and bend them to stand erect at the opposite sides of the holes; and then, allowing two eyes to project above the ground, they replace the earth about it and level off the rest. This they do in the same time, leaving undug skips of the same number of feet, until they come to the end of the row. 3 Then leaving a space, according to each man's habit of cultivating with either plough or two-pronged mattock, they set the next row. And if the earth is merely turned by a spade-man, the minimum distance between rows is five feet, and seven is the maximum; but if with oxen and plough, the minimum is seven feet, while ten is large enough. 4 Yet some set all their vines at ten-foot intervals, in the form of a quincunx,91 so that the ground may be broken up by diagonal and cross ploughing in the manner of fallow land. This sort of vineyard is not to the advantage of the farmer except where, in very fertile soil, the vine is of large growth. But those who dread the expense of trenching the ground, and yet wish to p313imitate that trenching in some measure, run straight furrows to a width of six feet, leaving alternate strips of equal width; then they dig the furrows and deepen them to three feet, and place the vines or shoots along the sides of the hollows. 5 Some, with greater saving of expense, make a furrow two and three-fourths feet deep and five feet wide; then, leaving three times as much unbroken ground, they cut the next furrow. When they have done this throughout the whole plot set aside for vines, they set upright in the sides of the furrows either quicksets or young vine-branches as freshly cut as possible, putting in among the plants set in the regular rows a great number of cuttings which, after they have gained strength, they may propagate in cross-trenches in the ground which was left unbroken, and so arrange their vineyards in rows at equal distances. But these methods of planting vineyards, as we have given them, are ours to employ or reject according to the nature and favourableness of each region.

6 It is now my intention to hand down the method of trenching a piece of ground. And first of all, when we have marked out a site for vineyards, whether it be a plantation of trees or natural woodland, every bush and tree should be rooted out and removed, so as not to be a hindrance to the digger thereafter, and that the ground already trenched may not be pressed down by heavy masses lying upon it and trodden down by the coming and going of those who carry off the branches and tree trunks. 7 For it is of no little importance that trenched ground be in a very loose state and, if possible, not violated even by a footprint; so that the earth, being evenly stirred, may give way generally to the roots of the young plant in p315whatever direction they creep out, not repelling their growth by its harshness, but taking them into its tender nourishing bosom, as it were, admitting the rains of heaven and dispensing them for the sustenance of the plants, and acting with all its members in harmony for the rearing of its new offspring.

8 A level field should be dug two and one-half feet deep, a sloping region three feet; but a steeper hill should be turned to a depth of four feet, because when earth is carried down from a higher to a lower place, the amount thrown back is barely sufficient for trenching unless you make the bank much higher than on level ground. On the other hand, in sunken valleys it is not proper to set the vine less than two feet deep. For it is better not to plant it at all than to leave it suspended on the surface of the earth; except, however, when marshy ground stands in the way, as in the district about Ravenna, and prevents digging deeper than a foot and a half. 9 It is, moreover, a first principle of the aforesaid operation not to deepen the furrow little by little, as is the practice of most farmers of our time, and so by a second or third gradation to arrive at the intended depth of trenching; but, running a line evenly forward, to extend a continuous trench with perpendicular sides and to pile the earth together behind you as it is removed, and to sink the trench down until it has reached the prescribed measure of depth. 10 Then the line must be moved evenly over the whole extent of the gradation; and you must see to it that the width is made the same that bottom as it was started at the top. There is need, too, of an experienced and watchful observer to give orders that the bank be made plumb and the furrow p317cleared, and that all the ground not yet thrown up be added to the earth already moved; just as I directed in the preceding book,92 when I was handing down the methods of ploughing, in my warning that no ridges or skips should be left anywhere and that there should be no hard part covered over with surface clods. 11 But our ancestors, devising a certain kind of instrument for the measuring of this work, have fashioned a straight bar and on the side93 of it a small rod which, when reaching down to the depth to which the furrow should be sunk, touches the uppermost part of the bank. This sort of measuring device farmers call ciconia or stork.94 But this too is open to fraud, because it makes a very great difference whether you place it slantwise or in an upright position. For this reason we have added certain parts to this contrivance, to do away with quarrels and disputes of contending parties. 12 For we have fastened95 two pieces crosswise in the form of the Greek letter X and of a spread equal to the width to which the trencher intends to make his ditch, and to the middle point, where the pieces are joined, we have fastened that old-fashioned ciconia in such a way as to stand at a right angle to it as upon a sub-base; then upon the transverse rod, which is on the side, p319we have fastened a workman's plumb-line.96 When the instrument so constructed is let down into the trench, it settles all dispute between master and contractor without injustice to either. 13 For the star, which we have said has the appearance of the Greek letter, measures the ground at the bottom of the trench and at the same time tests its exact level, because, if there is any slope downward or upward, it is detected by the position of the instrument; for the plumb-line that is placed on the aforementioned rod shows the one or the other and does not allow the overseer of the work to be deceived. The work so measured and levelled off progresses always towards a likeness to tilled fallow; and as the line is moved ahead, as much space is taken up as is occupied by the length and breadth of the trench that has been dug.97 And this method of preparing ground is most approved.

14 1 There follows the task of planting the vine; it is properly set out either in spring or in autumn; preferably in the spring if the weather is rainy or cold, or if the land is either fat or flat and wet plain; in autumn, on the other hand, if the atmosphere is dry or warm, if it is a poor and dry plain or a lean and steep hill. There are about forty days of the spring planting, from the Ides of February98 up to the equinox; and of the autumn planting, from the Ides of October to the Calends of December.99 2 Moreover, there are two kinds of planting, with cuttings or with quicksets, both of which are in use by farmers; and in the provinces more use is made of the cutting, for they do not concern themselves with nurseries p321and have no experience in the making of quicksets. This kind of planting has been disapproved with good reason by most vinedressers of Italy, because the quickset is superior in very many particulars: 3 for it is less likely to die, since, because of its strength, it has a readier endurance of heat and cold and other kinds of weather; and, in the next place, it reaches maturity earlier. The result is that it also comes more quickly in condition to bear fruit; and besides, there is no doubt that it is more generally transplanted.100 Still, a cutting may be set immediately in loose and light ground, in place of a quickset; but ground that is compact and heavy certainly requires a rooted vine.

15 1 The planting, then, is made preferably in prepared ground that is well cleaned and harrowed and levelled off, leaving five feet between the rows in lean ground, and six feet in medium soil. But in fat soil intervals of seven feet must be allowed, so as to leave greater space of open ground over which the numerous and far-reaching branches of firm wood may spread themselves. This laying-out of vineyards in quincunx arrangement is accomplished by a very quick method: for a line is stitched with purple or some other striking colour at intervals of the same number of feet as you have determined upon for the distance between rows; and when so marked it is stretched along the dug ground, and a reed is thrust in beside each bit of purple. 2 In this way the rows are equally spaced.101 When this has been done, the digger follows and, leaving spaces by turns along the rows, he digs a trench from one reed to the next, not less than two and one-half feet deep on the level, two and three-quarters feet on sloping p323land, and even three feet in steep places. After the trenches are put down to this depth, the quicksets are set in such a way that they are laid flat, each by itself and in opposite directions from the middle of the trench, and raised upright alongside the reeds at opposite ends of the ditches. 3 But the planter's duty is, first, to transfer the plant from the nursery in as fresh condition as possible, and, if this can be done, at the very moment that he wishes to plant it — removing it carefully and without mutilation; then to prune it all over like an old vine, reducing it on one very strong cane of firm wood and smoothing off the knots and scars; also, if any roots have been injured — and especial care must be taken that this does not happen in removing the vine — to cut them off; and then to set out the plant, bending it in such a way that the roots of two vines may not be intertwined. For this is easy to avoid by placing along the bottom, close to the opposite sides of the trenches, a few stones whose weight should not exceed five pounds each.102 4 These seem, as Mago records, to ward off the winter's wetness and the summer's heat from the vine roots. Vergil, agreeing with Mago, teaches the safeguarding and strengthening of young plants in these words:

With them you bury scaly shells or moisture-drinking stone.103

and, a little later,

And some are found who cover them with rock or heavy tile,

Thus offering shelter 'gainst the driving rains, and shelter, too,

When sultry Dog-star splits the fields that lie agape with thirst.104

p325 5 The same Carthaginian author approves an application of grape-husks mixed with dung when the plants are set in the trench, on the ground that they encourage and draw out the rootlets; saying that this gives a suitable warmth to the trenches during the cold and wet weather of winter, and supplies the growing plants with nourishment and moisture in summer. But if the ground to which the vine is committed seems to be lean, his advice is that rich soil be brought from some distance and put into the trenches. Whether this is profitable the annual yield of the region and an estimate of the labour involved will teach us.

16 1 Trenched ground is suitable for planting when it is slightly moist; and yet it is better to commit the plant to it even when dry than when it is muddy. And when the plant extends several joints above the upper edge of the trench, that part of the top which projects above is cut off, leaving only two eyes above ground, and the trench is filled by throwing the earth into it. Then, after the trenched ground is levelled off, the mallet-cutting is to be planted between the rows of vines. It will be sufficient to set this in a single line in the centre of the space that lies vacant between the vines; 2 for in this way the cutting itself will regain its strength the better, and the ground will be left moderately free for the cultivation of the plants in the rows. Then, in the same line in which the quickset is arrayed, five mallet-shoots are to be set for each p327foot of space, as reserves from whose number it may be possible to set a slip in place of a vine that has died; and this foot is taken from the middle space between the rows in such a way as to be equally distant from the vines on either side. 3 Julius Atticus considers 16,000 cuttings enough for this kind of planting. But we plant 4000 more, because a large number of them are lost through the carelessness of the vinedressers, while the rest, that do thrive, are thinned out by the deaths of the young plants.

17 1 On the matter of setting the shoot there has been no little dispute among authorities. Some have held that the whole rod, just as it was pulled from the parent vine, is proper for planting; and dividing this into sections with five or even six eyes each, they committed the several slips to the earth. This I by no means approve, agreeing rather with those authorities who have said that the upper part of the branch is not suitable for bearing fruit, and who gave their approval rather to that part which is joined to the old branch. But they wholly rejected the "arrow." 2 Farmers give the name "arrow" to the extreme portion of a shoot, either because it has withdrawn farther from its mother and has, so to speak, shot out and darted away from her, or because, being drawn out into a point, it bears a resemblance to the aforesaid missile.105 3 Our wisest husbandmen have said, then, that the arrow should not be planted, and yet they have failed to give us the reason for their opinion; obviously because to those men of much experience in agricultural affairs that reason was obvious and almost laid bare before p329the eyes. For every fruiting cane bears in abundance within the limits of the fifth or sixth bud; while in the remaining portion, however great its length, it is entirely lacking in fruit or displays very small clusters. For this reason the barrenness of the tip was justly censured by the ancients. Moreover, the mallet-shoot was so planted by these same ancients that some part of the old branch remained fixed to the new. 4 But experience has condemned this kind of planting. For all that was left of the old wood quickly rotted with the moisture after it was set and covered with earth, and by the damage to itself it killed the tender roots lying next to it and scarcely creeping out as yet; and when this happened, the upper part of the plant would wither. Afterwards Julius Atticus and Cornelius Celsus, the most distinguished authorities of our time, following the example of the Sasernas, father and son, smoothed off every remaining bit of the old branch at the very joint where the new wood begins, and so they set the slip, tip and all.

18 1 But Julius Atticus pressed the aforesaid plant into the ground with its head106 twisted and bent so that it might not slip away from the trench-fork. The name pastinum or trench-fork, by the way, is given by farmers to that two-pronged implement of iron with which the plants are set.107 Hence even old vineyards which were turned by the spade for a second time were said to be "repastinated," this term belonging properly to a vineyard that was restored; but modern custom, ignorant of ancient usage, applies the term "repastinated" to p331any ground that is stirred and prepared for vineyards. But let us return to the subject before us.

2 Quite wrong, in my opinion, is the method of planting employed by Julius Atticus, which allows mallet-cuttings with bent and twisted heads; and there is more than one reason for avoiding this practice: in the first place, because no stem which is damaged and broken before it is put into the ground thrives better than one that is planted whole without suffering any injury; and in the second place, anything that is curved back and tending upward at the time of planting resists the efforts of the digger, in the manner of a hook, when the time comes for taking it up, and like a barb fixed in the ground it is broken off before it can be pulled out. For the wood is brittle in that section where it received injury when twisted and bent at the time of planting, and for this reason it loses the majority of its roots, which are broken off. 3 But, even though I pass over these disadvantages, surely I cannot conceal a point that is most hurtful; for a short time ago, while speaking of the uppermost part of the shoot, which I said was called the arrow, I observed that fruit is generally put forth within the limits of the fifth or sixth eye nearest to the old branch. 4 Therefore one who bends the shoot destroys this productive part; because that part which is doubled over contains three or four eyes, and the remaining two or three fruit-bearing eyes are pressed deep into the earth, and when so buried they produce, not wood, but roots. Thus it comes about that, what we p333have avoided in not planting the arrow, we comply with in the case of a mallet-cutting of this sort, which we must make longer if we wish to plant it twisted. Nor is there any doubt that the buds next to the tip, which are unfruitful, are left on it; from which sprout young shoots, either barren or at least less fruitful, which farmers call racemarii. 5 And furthermore, it is of the greatest importance that a cutting which is set in the ground should heal over and quickly form a callus at the point where it is cut from the mother vine. For, if this does not happen, excessive moisture is drawn up through the open pith of the vine, as though through a tube, and makes the stock hollow; and the result is that hiding-places are provided for ants and other creatures that cause the lower part of the vine-stalk to rot. And this also happens when plants are bent back; for when their lower sections are broken in taking them up, they are planted with the pith exposed; and when water and the aforementioned animals creep into them, they soon waste away. 6 Therefore the best method is to plant a straight cutting, whose butt end, when caught in the two prongs of the trenching-fork, is easily held in the narrow jaws of the implement and so thrust into the ground; and a cutting that is set in this way heals over sooner. For it puts out roots from the butt, where it was cut off, and these cover the callus as they grow; and, besides, the wound itself, looking downwards, does not admit as much moisture as the one which, being bent back and facing upwards, conveys through its pith, as though through a funnel, all the rains that fall upon it.

p335 19 The length that a cutting should have is not absolutely fixed, since it should be made shorter if its eyes are close together, or longer if they are far apart. Still, it should be not more than a foot nor less than nine inches in length: lest in the latter case, being at the surface of the earth, it dry out in hot weather; while in the former case, if set too deep, it may make removal difficult after it has made some growth. But the above applies to planting in level ground. For on hillsides, where the land falls off rapidly, it may be set to a depth of a foot and a palm. 2 A situation in a valley or a wet plain allows even a cutting of three buds, which is a little less than nine inches but in any case more than half a foot in length. And this cutting is called "three-budded," not from the fact that it consists of three eyes in all — since it is usually full of sprouts about the wound where it was cut from its mother — but because, apart from those buds with which it is crowded at the butt, it has three joints in succession and the same number of buds. In addition, I offer this advice also to one who is planting either the cutting or the rooted vine — to avoid excessive wind and sun, lest the plants dry out; and both of these are warded off without inconvenience by throwing a garment or any sort of thick covering around the plants. 3 However, it is better to choose for the planting a day when the air is still or at least stirring but lightly. For the sun is easily kept off by canopies.

But, before putting an end to this discussion, we must speak of a matter which we have not yet touched upon — whether vines of one or several kinds are to be kept, and whether these are to be separated and kept apart, sort by sort, or jumbled p337together and intermingled, one with another. We shall deal first with the question first proposed.

20 1 It is, then, the part of a wise farmer to plant that vine which he especially approves, with no shoot of any other sort standing between, and always to increase the number of that vine as far as possible. But it is also the part of a man of foresight to set out different kinds as well. For there is never a year so mild and temperate as not to inflict some injury upon some variety of the vine: if it is dry, that kind which thrives on moisture is damaged; if rainy, that which delights in dry weather; if cold and frosty, that which cannot endure blighting cold; or if hot, that which cannot bear heat. 2 And, not to run through, at this time, a thousand rigours of the weather, there is always something to work harm to vineyards. Therefore, if we plant but one kind, when that thing happens which is hurtful to that kind, we shall be deprived of the whole vintage; for he who is without plants of different sorts will have no reserve supply. 3 But if we make plantings of various kinds of vines, some of them will escape injury to produce a yield. And yet this reason should not force us to many varieties of vines: but what we have judged to be an extraordinary variety, that we should produce in as great numbers as possible; then that which is next to the first choice, and after that the kind which is of third or even fourth rank. So far let us be content with a sort of quartet, so to speak, of champion vines; for it is quite enough to p339await the luck of the vintage with four varieties, or five at the most.108

4 As for the other point, which I had next proposed, I have no doubt that vines should be separated according to their species and set in their proper plots, and marked off by foot-paths and boundary lines;109 not that I myself have been able to obtain this of my household, or that any one of those before me accomplished it, however much he may have approved. For this is the most difficult of the farmer's tasks, because it requires the utmost care in the selection of plants, and in separating them there is need, for the most part, of the greatest good fortune combined with wisdom. But sometimes, as the divine author Plato says, the beauty of a thing attracts us to the pursuit even of those ends to which, because of the frailty of human nature, we cannot attain. 5 And yet if our years suffice, and if our knowledge and means are in accord with our desires, we shall accomplish the task without great difficulty; though we must persist for more than a brief portion of our lives, so that a large number may be classified over a period of several years. For not every period of time permits a decision in this matter, seeing that vines which cannot be distinguished because of their likeness in colour or stock or shoots or berry make themselves known by the ripening of their fruit and by their foliage. Nevertheless, I would not say that this care can be employed by anyone except the head of the family; 6 for it is folly to intrust it to an overseer or vinedresser, p341since — what would be easier by far — it has been the lot of very few farmers as yet to be free from stock that produces black wine, though the colour of the grape may be detected even by the most inexperienced person.

21 1 Nevertheless, one method suggests itself to me of accomplishing very quickly what we have proposed: that, if we have old vineyards, we should ingraft individual plots with slips of every sort, each kind by itself. Thus I have no doubt that within a few years we shall obtain many thousands of cuttings from the grafted vines, and that we shall set in separate blocks the plants so distinguished from one another. 2 Moreover, the advantage of doing this may urge us on for many reasons: in the first place, to begin with the less important, because in respect to every concern of life, not only in farming but in every branch of study, the wise man delights more in those things which are separated into their proper kinds than in those which are thrown helter-skelter, so to speak, and jumbled together into a common heap: 3 and in the second place, because even the man who is quite unversed in country life, if he should enter a field at the proper time, would marvel most pleasurably at the benevolence of nature, when on the one side the Bituric vines with their rich fruits correspond to the Helvolans, with like fruit, on the other side; when the Arcelacans turn his course to p343the one side and the Spionians or Basilicans to the other side, whereby the fostering earth each year, as if delighting in never-ending parturition,110 extends to mortals her breasts distended with new wine. Meanwhile, as father Bacchus is propitious to the pregnant vine-branches, either of the white or yellow variety, and of the ruddy kind or that which gleams with purple sheen, on every hand Autumnus glows, laden with his fruits of changing hue. 4 But though all these give the greatest delight, still profit prevails over pleasure. For the head of the household comes down the more willingly to feast his eyes upon his wealth in proportion to its splendour; and, as the poet says of the sacred deity,

Wheresoever the god has turned his goodly head,111

truly, whatever the person and eyes of the master are frequent visitors, there the fruit abounds in richer measure.112 But, dismissing this statement, which is applicable also to vines not grouped according to their kinds, I shall proceed with those matters which are most deserving of notice.

5 Vine-plants of different kinds do not cast their blossoms at the same time, nor do they reach the time of ripening together. For this reason, the man who does not have his vineyards divided according to their kinds must suffer one or the other of these disadvantages: either he must gather the late fruit along with the early ripe, which soon causes sourness; or, if he awaits the ripening of the late fruit, he may p345lose the early vintage, which, being assailed by the plunderings of birds and by rains or winds, usually comes to ruin. 6 But if he should wish to gather the fruit of each kind at intervals of time, he must first take the risk of carelessness on the part of the vintagers; for it would be impossible to assign the same number of overseers, one to each man, to watch over them and give orders that the sour grapes shall not be gathered.

Moreover, when vines of different kinds ripen at the same time, the taste of the better kind is spoiled by the worse, and the flavour of many, when blended into one, becomes intolerant of age. And so necessity forces the farmer to market his wine when it is new, though it would bring a better price if the selling could be put off for a year, or at least until summer. 7 Now the separating of varieties, in that the vinedresser can more readily give each its proper pruning when he knows the particular sort in that plot when he is pruning; and this is a different practice to observe in vineyards that are planted with many sorts of vines, because the greater part of the pruning is done during the time when the vine is not even bearing distinctive foliage. And it makes a great difference, according to the nature of each stock, whether the vinedresser allows the growth of more or fewer canes, whether he is encouraging the growth of the vine by leaving long shoots or retarding p347it by close pruning. 8 Moreover, it is of very great importance what quarter of the heavens every kind of vineyard faces. For not every kind thrives in a hot situation nor, on the other hand, in a cold one; but it is a peculiarity inherent in young vines that some thrive exposed to the south because they are better adapted to warmth, while others want a northern exposure because they are damaged by heat; and certain kinds delight in the moderate temperature of an eastern or western exposure. 9 One who separates the various sorts by sections has regard to these differences as to situation and setting. He also gains no small advantage in that he is put to less labour and expense for the vintage; for the grapes are gathered at the proper time, as each variety begins to grow ripe,113 and those that have not yet reached maturity are left until a later time without loss; 10 nor does the simultaneous ageing and ripening of fruit precipitate the vintage and force the hiring of more workmen, however great the cost. Now this also is a great advantage, to be able to preserve the flavour of every variety — not blended but true and genuine — and to put it away by itself whether it be Biturican or Basilican or Spionian. These varieties, when racked off in this fashion, attain the rank of nobility, because nothing of a different sort enters in to counteract their keeping qualities; for even after fifteen years or a little p349longer no trace of inferiority can be detected in their flavour, because almost every wine has the property of acquiring excellence with age. 11 Therefore, as we proposed to show, the orderly distribution of varieties is of the greatest advantage; and yet, if you cannot effect such an arrangement, the next best method is to plant no vines of different sorts except those which have a similar flavour and produce fruit that reaches maturity at the same time. Furthermore, if you are interested in fruit trees, you may set the tops of fig or pear or apple trees at the very ends of the rows on that side of the vineyard which lies to the north, so that they may not shade it when they grow up; and after two years' time you may graft them or, if they are of superior quality, you may transplant them as mature trees. So much for the planting of vineyards.

There still remains that part of most importance — that we give directions also for their cultivation, and of this we shall treat at length in the book that follows.


The Editor's Notes:

1 Vergil, Georg. II.1.

2 Georg. II.10‑11.

3 Cf. Georg. II.14, Pars autem posito surgunt de semine.

4 Georg. II.238‑240.

5 Duracinae: Pliny suggests (N. H. XIV.14) that the name was derived from the toughness of the skin.

6 So called from the round and swelling appearance co their clusters (cf. μαστός, breast, and βου- indicating largeness). Varro, R. R. II.5.4, refers to this grape as bumamma (cow's udder); cf. Pliny, N. H. XIV.15, tument vero mammarum (p233)modo Bumasti; and ibid. 40, Purpureae, cognomine Bumammiae.

7 Cf. Pliny, N. H. XIV.15, praelongis Dactyli porriguntur acinis.

8 Isidore (Orig. XVII.5.17) says that they were so named because of their fiery red colour (cf. κεραυνός, lightning).

9 From στέφανος, crown. So called, says Pliny (N. H. XIV.42), because the leaves run between the berries, to resemble a coronet.

10 The name is derived from the size of the vine; Pliny, N. H. XIV.41.

11 Called Unciales by Pliny (loc. cit.), from the weight of their grapes.

12 From their quince-like flavour; or from Cydonia in Crete.

13 Also called Sirculan; sec. 27, below, and Pliny, N. H. XIV.34. On their preserving qualities see XII.45.1; Pliny, loc. cit.; Horace, Serm. II.4.71.

14 Highly praised by all authorities; but see especially Chap. 9, below, and Pliny, N. H. XIV.21‑22. Isidore (Orig. XVII.5.18) says that it is called Aminean quasi sine mineo, id est sine rubore, producing a white wine.

15 Lit. "yoke" (iugum), defined by Varro (R. R. I.8.1) as the support fastened cross-wise to the upright props (pedamenta), thus forming a frame or trellis.

16 Vinea denotes the vineyard proper, in which the vines were either allowed to trail along the ground or trained to stand upright beside props; De Arb. 4.1. The arbustum was a plantation of lopped-off trees (preferably poplar, elm, and ash), upon which the vines were trained and festooned from tree to tree; see V.6, De Arb. 16.

Thayer's Note: For a further extension of meaning, see the article Vinea of Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

17 Modern Sorrento.

18 I.e. is trained to the trellis (iugum).

19 Seemingly a vine with single clusters, in contrast to the double-clustered "twin" (sec. 10, above). But singularis habetur may mean "there is held to be of outstanding merit."

20 From Nomentum, an ancient Sabine town, now Mentana; cf. Pliny, N. H. XIV.23.

21 εὐγενής, "well-born"; cf. Pliny, N. H. XIV.25.

22 Ibid. 26.

23 Ibid. 24.

24 Ibid. 27.

25 Ibid. 30.

26 Pliny, N. H. XIV.28.

27 Vergil, Georg. II.99‑100.

Argitisque minor, cui non certaverit ulla

Aut tantum fluere aut totidem durare per annos.

28 Pliny, N. H. XIV.29.

29 Ibid. 31.

30 ἀμέθυστος, "not drunken." Cf. the amethyst as a supposed remedy against drunkenness. On the name and quality of the vine, cf. Pliny, N. H. XIV.31 and Isidore, Orig. XVII.5.24.

31 Cf. Pliny, N. H. XIV.32‑33.

32 Sobel (Stud. Colum., 47‑48) points out the long standing error of editors and lexicographers in reading emarcum, without MS. authority, as a "Gallic" word. Rejecting also Schneider's interpretation of the word as Fr. marc, Sobel, comparing modern "Alexander" apples, "Victoria" plums, "Williams" pears, etc., proposes the familiar Roman praenomen to produce "Marcus" grapes.

33 Cf. Pliny, N. H. XIV.35.

34 Pliny, N. H. XIV.34.

35 Not mentioned as such by other writers.

36 Vergil, Georg. II.104‑106.

37 I.e the lower quality of the prolific vine is more than offset by the quantity of its yield.

38 I.e. the arbustum.

39 Varro, R. R. I.2.7, quoting Cato, Origines.

40urna = ½ amphora = about 3.42 U. S. (2.85 Brit.) gallons.

41 Mod. Faenza.

42 A strip of land running along the Adriatic coast of Italy.

43 Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the philosopher.

44culleus = 20 amphorae = about 137 U. S. (114 Brit.) gallons.

45 See Introd., p. xi.

46 Perhaps the two iugera of grafted vines mentioned in II.9.6. For the varying number of vines planted to the iugerum, see V.3.

47amphora = about 6.84 U. S. (5.70 Brit.) gallons.

48sestertius = about 4 cents.

49 Varro, in the preceding century, speaks (R. R. I.44.1‑2) of grain yields of 10 for 1 (cum decimo) at some places in Etruria, and of reported yields of hundredfold (cum centesimo) around Sybaris in Italy and at certain places in Syria and Africa.

50 An expression borrowed from the marriage custom of providing a portion for the bride; for the vine was proverbially "wedded" to its supporting tree.

51 Lit. the stone, or stone platform, at which slave auctions were held.

52 I.e. 7000.

53 Rooted cuttings.

54 See Chap. 6, sec. 3, below.

55 Cf. Chap. 16, sec. 3, below.

56 The bipalium had a cross-bar fitted to the handle at some distance above the blade, which allowed the spade to be pushed (p267)by the foot two spits deep — twice the depth of the ordinary spade (pala).

Thayer's Note: For both types of tool, see the article Pala in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.

57 The iugerum would thus measure 240 × 120 feet (V.2.3), and the cuttings would be set about five inches apart in the row.

58 Cf. V.6.29; Festus, 246 L, "palmites" vitium sarmenta appellantur, quod in modum palmarum humanarum virgulas quasi digitos edunt; Isidore, Orig. XVII.5.9.

59 Nepotes, laterals or secondary shoots, lit. "grandchildren" of the flagellum or cane in the order flagellum-pampinus-nepos, springing from the axil of the pampinus or leaf-stalk.

60 apocatastasis, meaning the "restoration" of a previous condition.

Thayer's Note: As for the idea itself, it's a curious bit of half-digested astronomy that doesn't fit very well with our author's usual level-headedness, and is thus hard to explain.

The sun returns, of course, to any precise point in the zodiac exactly once a year: that's the very definition of a year, and one need go no further for a "restoration" of a previous condition. The "Julian" calendar reform, however, (based on the work of Greco-Egyptian astronomers) was still more or less within living memory when Columella wrote: the fact that the length of the civil year isn't quite that of the natural solar year was thus still a fresh piece of knowledge, and the notion that the leap-year cycle solved the inequality had only recently filtered down to the rest of us (if the astronomers knew better). Add to this the related fact of the 1461-year Sothic cycle, that with Rome's acquisition of Egypt had also percolated into general consciousness, and we arrive at the further notion that the 1461 days of the leap-year cycle form a perfect apocatastasis, with more than a hint of magic and numerology.

None of this has anything at all to do with the eminently reasonable idea that you should wait three or four years to see how a particular varietal pans out on a particular piece of land; this pseudo-astronomical rationale sticks out like a sore thumb, and I wish I had some further reason to suspect a gloss.

61 Pliny (N. H. VII.33) mentions several cases of multiple births, including the famous sets of triplets, the Roman Horatii and the Alban Curiatii (Livy, I.24‑26). A woman in the Peloponnesus, he says, four times gave birth to quintuplets, (p273)while an Egyptian woman produced septuplets. The fertility of the Egyptians is attributed to their drinking of the waters of the fetifer (fertilizing) Nile.

62 Cf. Pliny, N. H. VII.74. It has been conjectured that the source of the story is a lost work of Cicero, De Admirandis, mentioned by Pliny, N. H. XXXI.12.

63 Modern Bevagna in Umbria, a region long famous for its huge white cattle.

64 Tmolus, a mountain in Phrygia; cf. Vergil, Georg. I.56. Corycus, a town and promontory in Cilicia.

Thayer's Note: Strabo (VIII.5.1) puts Corycus in Crete.

65 Ardea, Carseoli, and Alba were ancient towns of Latium; the site of the latter is not completely pinned down.

Thayer's Note: Ovid (FastiIV.683‑684) says that Carseoli was unsuited to olive cultivation, but a very good place to grow grain.

66 Cf. Chap. 3, sec. 2, above.

67 Vergil, Ecl. I.23.

68 By grafting scions of the proved vine on a large number of unproved stocks.

69 See Chap. 3, sec. 3, above.

70 So called, no doubt, because the liquid passes through (δια + βαίνω) the outstretched legs of the siphon.

71 Lit. "leg."

72 I.e. "shoulders." Cf. De Arb. 3.1, 20.1.

73 A leaf-branch, or stock-branch. Cf. V.6.29; and Pliny, N. H. XVII.181, Sic duo genera palmitum: quod e duro exit materiamque in proximum annum promittit, pampinarium vocatur aut, ubi supra cicatricem est, fructuarium; alterum ex anniculo palmite semper fructuarium.

74 Cf. IPraef. 12; I.9.4‑5.

75 I.e. Nature; cf. IPraef. 2; Pliny, N. H. XXXI.1.

76 Cf. Cicero, Tusc. Disp. I.18.42, I.20.47.

77 Cf. Isidore, Orig. XVII.5.6, Spadones sunt surculi fruge carentes, ex ipsa appellatione, quod sint inhabiles fructu et sterilitate affecti; Pliny, N. H. XIII.38.

78 See III.6.3.

79 See III.10.5.

80 Cf. IV.21.3.

81 Cf. Chap. 10, sec. 10, above.

82 Here a general term including any propagative portion of a plant, true seeds, cuttings, quicksets, layers, etc. (except buddings and grafts).

83 Vergil, Georg. I.197‑200.

84 Columella seems to refer to his previous quotation of Vergil (Georg. I.197‑200) in II.9.12.

85 The arrow is defined in Chap. 17, sec. 2, of this book; cf. Isidore, Orig. XVII.5.7, Sagittam rustici vocant novissimam partem surculi sive qui longius recessit a matre et quasi prosilivit, seu quia acuminis tenuitate teli speciem praefert.

86 This special preparation of the ground, called pastinatio, consisted of deep digging or trenching. Ground so prepared was called pastinatum, pastinatio or pastinum. Palladius (II.10.1), like Columella below (Chap. 13), speaks of three kinds of trenching: complete trenching of the ground, (p299)trenching in long strips or furrows (sulci), and trenching in short strips or planting-holes (scrobes).

87 In De Arb. 3.5, Columella advises against the replanting of old vineyard ground until after it has rested ten years.

88 Cf. ἄργιλλος, from ἀργής, white.

89 Georg. II.298.

90 See III.11.1, note.

91 An arrangement in blocks of five, like the cinque on a die. In this way any five in the same position form a square, with the fifth in the centre. See Chap. 15, secs. 1‑2, below.

92 II.2.25, 4.3.

93 "Middle" as the meaning here of latus (side) is defended by Gesner and accepted generally by other commentators.

94 This measuring device is not mentioned by other writers, though Isidore (Orig. XX.15.3) says that the Spaniards gave the name ciconia to a well sweep (tolleno) because the motion of the sweep, in drawing water, resembled the actions of the stork. Palladius (II.10.4) speaks of the use of the virga alone as a measure of the depth of trenched ground. It appears that the ancient ciconia here mentioned was in the form of the letter T, standing, like a stork, on one leg; though (p317)commentators disagree as to whether, in use, it was placed upright, inverted, or on its side. Columella's improvement, by the addition of X‑shaped cross-pieces (his stella), has also puzzled the commentators: some attach these pieces, at the point of intersection, to the base of the T and on the same plane; others think of the X as being in a horizontal position, i.e. lying flat on the ditch-bottom, with the T standing at right angles to it. The latter explanation seems the more probable, if text and translation are correct.

Thayer's Note: For one interpretation, with diagrams, see the article Ciconia in Daremberg & Saglio's Dictionnaire.

95 decussare = to make a decussis, Roman numeral ten.

96 The line and plummet, sometimes suspended from the apex of a triangular frame, formed a simple level (libella).

97 I.e., the new land, when so trenched in successive strips of the same dimensions, comes gradually to resemble a field that is kept in cultivation, though temporarily out of production.

98 Feb. 13.

99 Oct. 15-Dec. 1.

100 Because the quickset, having an established root system, is planted in a greater variety of soils than is the rootless cutting.

101 Cf. Palladius, III.9.10.

102 Cf. De Arb. 4.4 and Palladius, III.10.2‑3.

103 Georg. II.348.

104 Ibid. 350‑353.

105 Isidore (Orig. XVII.5.7) defines sagitta in the same terms; but Pliny has a different explanation (N. H. XVII.156), tertium genus adiectum etiamnum expeditus sine calce, quod (p327)sagittae vocantur, cum intorti panguntur, iidem cum recisi nec intorti, trigemmes.

106 Here = the thick end or butt of the mallet-cutting, like the "head" of a mallet.

107 Cf. Isidore, Orig. XX.14.8.

108 Cf. Palladius, III.9.11.

109 Palladius (loc. cit.) speaks to the same effect. Pliny (N. H. XVII.169) gives directions as to the size of the various plots and the widths of intervening roads or paths. Cf. also Columella, IV.18.

110 Cf. X.145, 157.

111 Vergil, Georg. II.392. The god is Bacchus.

112 Cf. IV.18.1; Palladius, I.6.1, Praesentia domini provectus est agri.

113 For Columella's method of determining the ripeness of grapes, see XI.2.67‑69.


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