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Bill Thayer

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Chapters 91‑103

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,
please let me know!


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Chapters 126‑134

Marcus Cato
on Agriculture

[link to original Latin text] 104 1 Wine for the hands to drink through the winter: Pour into a jar 10 quadrantals of must, 2 quadrantals of sharp vinegar, 2 quadrantals of boiled must, 50 quadrantals of fresh water. Stir  p99 with a stick thrice a day for five consecutive days. Then add 64 sextarii of old sea-water, cover the jar, and seal ten days later. This wine will last you until the summer solstice; whatever is left over after the solstice will be a very sharp and excellent vinegar.

[link to original Latin text] 105 1 If your place is far from the sea, you may use this recipe for Greek wine: Pour 20 quadrantals of must into a copper or lead boiler and heat. As soon as the wine boils, remove the fire; and when the wine has cooled, pour into a jar holding 40 quadrantals. Pour 1 modius of salt and 1 quadrantal of fresh water into a separate vessel, and let a brine be made; and when the brine is made pour it into the jar. Pound rush and calamus in a mortar to make a sufficient quantity, and pour 1 sextarius into the jar to give it an odour. Thirty days later seal the jar, and rack off into amphorae in the spring. Let it stand for two years in the sun, then bring it under cover. This wine will not be inferior to the Coan.88

[link to original Latin text] 106 1 Preparation of sea-water: Take 1 quadrantal of water from the deep sea where no fresh water comes; parch 1½ pounds of salt, add it, and stir with a rod until a boiled hen's egg will float; then stop the stirring. Add 2 congii of old wine, either Aminnian or ordinary white, and after mixing thoroughly pour into a pitched jar and seal. If you wish to make a larger quantity of sea-water, use a proportionate amount of the same materials.

[link to original Latin text] 107 1 To coat the brim of wine jars, so as to give a good odour and to keep any blemish from the wine: Put 6 congii of the best boiled must in a copper or lead vessel; take a hemina of dry crushed  p101 iris and 5 pounds of fragrant Campanian melilot, grind very fine with the iris, and pass through a sieve into the must. Boil the whole over a slow fire of faggots, stirring constantly to prevent scorching; continue the boiling, until you have boiled off a half. When it has cooled, pour into a sweet smelling jar covered with pitch, seal, and use for the brims of wine jars.

[link to original Latin text] 108 1 If you wish to determine whether wine will keep or not, place in a new vessel half an acetabulum of large pearl barley and a sextarius of the wine you wish to test; place it on the coals and bring it to a boil two or three times; then strain, throw away the barley, and place the wine in the open. Taste it the next morning. If it is sweet, you may know that the wine in the jar will keep; but if it is slightly acid it will not.

[link to original Latin text] 109 1 To make sharp wine mild and sweet: Make 4 pounds of flour from vetch, and mix 4 cyathi of wine with boiled must; make into small bricks and let them soak for a night and a day; then dissolve with the wine in the jar, and seal sixty days later. The wine will be mild and sweet, of good colour and of good odour.

[link to original Latin text] 110 1 To remove a bad odour from wine: Heat a thick clean piece of roofing-tile thoroughly in the fire. When it is hot coat it with pitch, attach a string, lower it gently to the bottom of the jar, and leave the jar sealed for two days. If the bad odour is removed the first time, that will be best; if not, repeat until the bad odour is removed.

[link to original Latin text] 111 1 If you wish to determine whether wine has been watered or not: Make a vessel of ivy wood and put in it some of the wine you think has water  p103 in it. If it contains water, the wine will soak through and the water will remain, for a vessel of ivy wood will not hold wine.

[link to original Latin text] 112 1 Recipe for Coan wine: Take sea-water at a distance from the shore, where fresh water does not come, when the sea is calm and no wind is blowing, seventy days before vintage. After taking it from the sea, pour into a jar, filling it not fully but to within five quadrantals of the top. Cover the jar, leaving space for air, and thirty days later pour it slowly and carefully into another jar, leaving the sediment in the bottom. Twenty days later pour in the same way into a third jar, and leave until vintage. Allow the grapes from which you intend to make the Coan wine to remain on the vine, let them ripen thoroughly, and pick them when they have dried after a rain. Place them in the sun for two days, or in the open for three days, unless it is raining, in which case put them under cover in baskets; clear out any berries which have rotted. Then take the above-mentioned sea-water and pour 10 quadrantals into a jar holding 50; then pick the berries of ordinary grapes from the stem into the jar until you have filled it. Press the berries with the hand so that they may soak in the sea-water. When the jar is full, cover it, leaving space for air, and three days later remove the grapes from the jar, tread out in the pressing-room, and store the wine in jars which have been washed clean and dried.

[link to original Latin text] 113 1 To impart a sweet aroma: Take a tile covered with pitch, spread over it warm ashes, and cover with aromatic herbs, rush and the palm which the perfumers keep, place in a jar and cover, so that  p105 the odour will not escape before you pour in the wine. Do this the day before you wish to pour in the wine. Pour the wine into the jars from the vat immediately, let them stand covered for fifteen days before sealing, leaving space for air, and then seal. Forty days later pour off into amphorae, and add one sextarius of boiled must to the amphora. Do not fill the amphorae higher than the bottom of the handles, and place them in the sun where there is no grass. Cover the amphorae so that water cannot enter, and let them stand in the sun not more than four years; four years later, arrange them in a wedge, and pack them closely.

[link to original Latin text] 114 1 If you wish to make a laxative wine: After vintage, when the vines are trenched, expose the roots of as many vines as you think you will need for the purpose and mark them; isolate and clear the roots. Pound roots of black hellebore in the mortar, and apply around the vines. Cover the roots with old manure, old ashes, and two parts of earth, and cover the whole with earth. Gather these grapes separately; if you wish to keep the wine for some time as a laxative, do not mix it with the other wine. Take a cyathus of this wine, dilute it with water, and drink it before dinner; it will move the bowels with no bad results.

[link to original Latin text] 115 1 Throw in a handful of black hellebore to the amphora of must, and when the fermentation is complete, remove the hellebore from the wine; save this wine for a laxative.

To prepare a laxative wine: When the vines are trenched, mark with red chalk so that you will not mix with the rest of the wine; place three bundles of black hellebore around the roots and cover with  p107 earth. Keep the yield from these vines separate during the vintage. Put a cyathus into another drink; it will move the bowels and the next day give a thorough purging without danger.

[link to original Latin text] 116 1 To preserve lentils: Infuse asafetida​89 in vinegar, soak the lentils in the infusion of vinegar and asafetida, and expose to the sun; then rub the lentils with oil, allow them to dry, and they will keep quite sound.

[link to original Latin text] 117 1 To season green olives: Bruise the olives before they become black and throw them into water. Change the water often, and when they are well soaked press out and throw into vinegar; add oil, and a half pound of salt to the modius of olives. Make a dressing of fennel and mastic steeped in vinegar, using a separate vessel. If you wish to mix them together they must be served at once. Press them out into an earthenware vessel and take them out with dry hands when you wish to serve them.

[link to original Latin text] 118 1 To season green olives which you wish to use after vintage, add as much must as vinegar; for the rest, season them as stated above.

[link to original Latin text] 119 1 Recipe for a confection of green, ripe, and mottled olives. Remove the stones from green, ripe, and mottled olives, and season as follows: chop the flesh, and add oil, vinegar, coriander, cummin, fennel, rue, and mint. Cover with oil in an earthen dish, and serve.

[link to original Latin text] 120 1 If you wish to keep grape juice through the whole year, put the grape juice in an amphora, seal the stopper with pitch, and sink in the pond. Take it out after thirty days; it will remain sweet the whole year.

 p109  [link to original Latin text] 121 1 Recipe for must cake: Moisten 1 modius of wheat flour with must; add anise, cummin, 2 pounds of lard, 1 pound of cheese, and the bark of a laurel twig. When you have made them into cakes, put bay leaves under them, and bake.

[link to original Latin text] 122 1 To blend a wine as a remedy for retention of urine: Macerate capreida​90 or Jupiter, add a pound of it, and boil in 2 congii of old wine in a copper or lead vessel. After it cools, pour into a bottle. Take a cyathus in the morning before eating; it will prove beneficial.

[link to original Latin text] 123 1 To blend a wine as a remedy for gout: Cut into small chips a piece of juniper wood a half-foot thick, boil with a congius of old wine, and after it cools pour into a bottle. Take a cyathus in the morning before eating; it will prove beneficial.

[link to original Latin text] 124 1 Dogs should be chained up during the day, so that they may be keener and more watchful at night.

[link to original Latin text] 125 1 Recipe for myrtle wine: Dry out black myrtle in the shade, and when dried keep it until vintage. Macerate a half-modius of myrtle into an urna of must and seal it. When the must has ceased to ferment remove the myrtle. This is a remedy for indigestion, for pain in the side, and for colic.

The Editor's Notes:

88 The making of Coan wine is described in Chapter 112.

89 The same as silpium, mentioned in Chapter 157, 7, where see note.

90 The plant is mentioned only in this passage, and cannot be identified.

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Page updated: 8 Mar 20