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Bill Thayer

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Chapters 74‑90

This webpage reproduces a section of
De Agri Cultura

Cato the Elder

published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1934

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Chapters 104‑125

Marcus Cato
on Agriculture

 p93  [link to original Latin text] 91 1 To make a threshing-floor: Turn the soil for the floor and pour amurca​82 over it thickly, letting it soak in. Then break up the clods carefully, level the ground, and pack it with rammers; then cover again with amurca and let it dry. If you build in this way the ants will not injure it, and weeds will not grow.

[link to original Latin text] 92 1 To keep weevils and mice from injuring grain, make a slime of amurca with a little chaff added, leaving it quite thin and working thoroughly.​83 Cover the whole granary with the thick slime, and then add a coat of amurca over the whole. After it has dried, store cooled grain there, and the weevils will not injure it.

[link to original Latin text] 93 1 If an olive tree is sterile, trench it and wrap it with straw. Make a mixture of equal parts of amurca and water and pour it around the tree; an urna​84 is sufficient for a large tree, and a proportionate quantity for the smaller trees. If you do the same thing for bearing trees they will be even more productive; do not wrap these with straw.

[link to original Latin text] 94 1 To make fig trees retain their fruit, do everything as for the olive, and in addition bank them deep in early spring. If you do this the fruit will not drop prematurely, the trees will not be scaly, and they will be much more productive.

[link to original Latin text] 95 1 To keep caterpillars off the vines: Strain stored amurca and pour 2 congii into a copper vessel; heat over a gentle fire, stirring constantly with a stick until it reaches the consistency of honey. Take one-third sextarius of bitumen, and  p95 one-fourth sextarius of sulphur, pulverize each in a mortar separately, and add in very small quantities to the warm amurca, at the same time stirring with a stick, and let it boil again in the open; for if you boil it under cover it will blaze up when the mixture of bitumen and sulphur is added. When it reaches the consistency of glue let it cool. Apply this around the trunk and under the branches, and caterpillars will not appear.

[link to original Latin text] 96 1 To keep scab from sheep; Take equal parts of old strained amurca, water in which lupines have been boiled, and dregs of good wine, and mix all together. After shearing, smear the whole body with this, and let them sweat two or three days. Then wash them in the sea, or, if you have no sea-water, make a brine and wash them in it. If you do this as directed, they will not have the scab, will bear more wool and of better quality, and ticks will not bother them. Use the same remedy for all quadrupeds if they have the scab.

[link to original Latin text] 97 1 Grease the axle, belts, shoes, and hides with boiled amurca; you will make them all better.

[link to original Latin text] 98 1 To protect clothing from moths: Boil amurca down to one-half its volume and rub it over the bottom, the outside, the feet, and the corners of the chest. After it is dry, store the clothing and the moths will not attack it. Also, if you rub it over the whole surface of wooden furniture it will prevent decay, and the article when rubbed will have a higher polish. You may also use it as a polish for any kind of copper vessel, after cleaning the article thoroughly. After applying the amurca, rub the vessel when it is to be used; it will have a lustre, and will be protected from rust.

 p97  [link to original Latin text] 99 1 If you wish to keep dried figs from spoiling, place them in an earthenware vessel and coat this with boiled amurca.

[link to original Latin text] 100 1 If you intend to store oil in a new jar, first wash down the jar with crude amurca, shaking for a long time so that it may soak up the amurca thoroughly. If you do this, the jar will not soak up the oil, it will make the oil better, and the jar itself will be stronger.

[link to original Latin text] 101 1 To preserve myrtle or any other twigs with the berries, or fig branches with the leaves, tie them together into bundles and plunge them into amurca until they are covered. But the fruit to be preserved should be picked a little before it is ripe, and the vessel in which it is stored should be sealed tight.

[link to original Latin text] 102 1 When a serpent has bitten an ox or any other quadruped, macerate an acetabulum​85 of fennel flower, which the physicians call smyrnaeum,​86 in a hemina of old wine. Administer through the nostrils, and apply swine's dung to the wound itself. Treat a person in the same way if occasion arises.

[link to original Latin text] 103 1 To keep cattle well and strong, and to increase the appetite of those which are off their feed, sprinkle the feed which you give with amurca. Feed in small quantities at first to let them grow accustomed to it, and then increase. Give them less often a draught of equal parts of amurca and water. Do this every fourth or fifth day. This treatment will keep them in better condition, disease will stay away from them.87

The Editor's Notes:

82 See note 1, page 24.

83 A similar slime is recommended in Chapter 128; but there the verb used is fracescat. Macrescant or macerescant would have about the same meaning.

84 See Glossary.

85 See Glossary.

86 The word melanthium seems to mean either "cultivated fennel," or "camomile"; and smyrnaeum is derived from smyrna, myrrh.

87 Cf. Columella, VI, 4, 4.

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Page updated: 7 Dec 22