Pliny the Elder, Natural History (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Plin. Nat.].
<<Plin. Nat. 18.59 Plin. Nat. 18.60 (Latin) >>Plin. Nat. 18.61

18.60 CHAP. 60.—THE PROPER TIME FOR WINTER SOWING.

Most persons anticipate the proper time for sowing, and begin to put in the corn immediately after the eleventh day of the autumnal equinox, at the rising of the Crown, when we may reckon, almost to a certainty, upon several days of rainy weather in succession. Xenophon [Note] is of opinion, that sowing should not be commenced until the Deity has given us the signal for it, a term by which Cicero understands the rains that prevail in November. The true method to be adopted, however, is not to sow until the leaves begin to fall. Some persons are of opinion that this takes place at the setting of the

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Vergiliæ, or the third day before the ides of November, as already stated, [Note] and they carefully observe it, for it is a constellation very easily remarked in the heavens, and warns us to resume our winter clothes. [Note] Hence it is, that immediately on its setting, the approach of winter is expected, and care is taken by those who are on their guard against the exorbitant charges of the shop-keepers, to provide themselves with an appropriate dress. If the Vergiliæ set with cloudy weather, it forebodes a rainy winter, and the prices of cloaks [Note] immediately rise; but if, on the other hand, the weather is clear at that period, a sharp winter is to be expected, and then the price of garments of other descriptions is sure to go up. But as to the husbandman, unacquainted as he is with the phænomena of the heavens, his brambles are to him in place of constellations, and if he looks at the ground he sees it covered with their leaves. This fall of the leaves, earlier in one place and later in another, is a sure criterion of the temperature of the weather; for there is a great affinity between the effects produced by the weather in this respect, and the nature of the soil and climate. There is this peculiar advantage, too, in the careful observation of these effects, that they are sure to be perceptible throughout the whole earth, while at the same time they have certain features which are peculiar to each individual locality.—A person may perhaps be surprised at this, who does not bear in mind that the herb pennyroyal, [Note] which is hung up in our larders, always blossoms on the day of the winter solstice; so firmly resolved is Nature that nothing shall remain concealed from us, and in that spirit has given us the fall of the leaf as the signal for sowing.

Such is the true method of interpreting all these phenomena, granted to us by Nature as a manifestation of her will. It is in this way that she warns us to prepare the ground, makes us a promise of a manure, as it were, in the fall of the leaves, announces to us that the earth and the productions thereof are thus protected by her against the cold, and warns us to hasten the operations of agriculture.

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Pliny the Elder, Natural History (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Plin. Nat.].
<<Plin. Nat. 18.59 Plin. Nat. 18.60 (Latin) >>Plin. Nat. 18.61

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