Pliny the Elder, Natural History (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Plin. Nat.].
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WE now pass on to the Natural History of the various grains, of the garden plants and flowers, and indeed of all the other productions, with the exception of the trees and shrubs, which the Earth, in her bounteousness, affords us—a boundless field for contemplation, if even we regard the herbs alone, when we take into consideration the varieties of them, their numbers, the flowers they produce, their odours, their colours, their juices, and the numerous properties they possess—all of which have been engendered by her with a view to either the preservation or the gratification of the human race.

On entering, however, upon this branch of my subject, it is my wish in the first place to plead the cause of the Earth, and to act as the advocate of her who is the common parent of all, although in the earlier [Note] part of this work I have already had occasion to speak in her defence. For my subject matter, as I proceed in the fulfillment of my task, will now lead me to consider her in the light of being the producer of various noxious substances as well; in consequence of which it is that we are in the habit of charging her with our crimes, and imputing to her a guilt that is our own. She has produced poisons, it is true; but who is it but man that has found them out? For the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, it is sufficient to be on their guard against them, and to keep at a distance from them. The elephant, we find, and the gurus, know how to

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sharpen [Note] and renovate their teeth against the trunks of trees, and the rhinoceros against rocks; wild boars, again, point their tusks like so many poniards by the aid of both rocks and trees; and all animals, in fact, are aware how to prepare themselves for the infliction of injury upon others; but still, which is there among them all, with the exception of man, that dips his weapons in poison? As for ourselves, we envenom the point of the arrow, [Note] and we contrive to add to the destructive powers of iron itself; by the aid of poisons we taint the waters of the stream, and we infect the various elements of Nature; indeed, the very air even, which is the main support of life, we turn into a medium for the destruction of life.

And it is not that we are to suppose that animals are ignorant of these means of defence, for we have already had occasion to point out [Note] the preparations which they make against the attacks of the serpent, and the methods they devise for effecting a cure when wounded by it; and yet, among them all, there is not one that fights by the aid of the poison that belongs to another, with the sole exception of man. Let us then candidly confess our guilt, we who are not contented even with the poisons as Nature has produced them; for by far the greater portion of them, in fact, are artificially prepared by the human hand!

And then besides, is it not the fact, that there are many men, the very existence of whom is a baneful poison, as it were? Like that of the serpent, they dart their livid tongue, and the venom of their disposition corrodes every object upon which it concentrates itself. Ever vilifying and maligning, like the ill-omened birds of the night, they disturb the repose of that darkness which is so peculiarly their own, and break in upon the quiet of the night even, by their moans and wailings, the only sounds they are ever heard to emit. Like animals of inauspicious presage, they only cross our path to

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prevent us from employing our energies or becoming useful to our fellow-men; and the only enjoyment that is sought by their abominable aspirations is centred in their universal hatred of mankind.

Still, however, even in this respect Nature has asserted her majestic sway; for how much more numerous [Note] are the good and estimable characters which she has produced! just in the same proportion that we find her giving birth to productions which are at once both salutary and nutritious to man. It is in our high esteem for men such as these, and the commendations they bestow, that we shall be content to leave the others, like so many brakes and brambles, to the devouring flames of their own bad passions, and to persist in promoting the welfare of the human race; and this, with all the more energy and perseverance, from the circumstance that it has been our object throughout, rather to produce a work of lasting utility than to ensure ourselves a widely-spread renown. We have only to speak, it is true, of the fields and of rustic operations; but still, it is upon these that the enjoyment of life so materially depends, and that the ancients conferred the very highest rank in their honors and commendations.


Romulus was the first who established the Arval [Note] priesthood at Rome. This order consisted of the eleven sons of Accra Placentia, his nurse, [Note] together with Romulus himself, who assumed the appellation of the twelfth of the brotherhood. Upon this priesthood he bestowed, as being the most august dis- tinction that he could confer upon it, a wreath of years of corn, tied together with a white fillet; and this in fact, was the first chaplet that was ever used at Rome.This dignity is only ended with life itself, and whether in exile or in captivity, it

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always attends its owner. In those early days, two jugera of land were considered enough for a citizen of Rome, and to none was a larger portion than this allotted. And yet, at the present day, men who but lately were the slaves of the Emperor Nero have been hardly content with pleasure-gardens that occupied the same space as this; while they must have fishponds, forsooth, of still greater extent, and in some instances I might add, perhaps, kitchens even as well.

Numa first established the custom of offering corn to the gods, and of propitiating them with the salted [Note] cake; he was the first, too, as we learn from Hemina, to parch spelt, from the fact that, when in this state, it is more wholesome as an aliment [Note] This method, however, he could only establish one way: by making an enactment, to the effect that spelt is not in a pure state for offering, except when parched. He it was, too, who instituted the Fornacalia, [Note] festivals appropriated for the parching of corn, and others, [Note] observed with equal solemnity, for the erection and preservation of the "termini," or boundaries of the fields: for these termini, in those days, they particularly regarded as gods; while to other divinities they gave the names of Seia, [Note] from "sero," "to sow," and of Segesta, from tile "segetes," or "crops of standing corn," the statues of which goddesses we still see erected in the Circus. A third divinity it is forbidden by the rules of our religion to name even [Note] beneath a roof. In former days, too, they would not so much as taste the corn when newly cut, nor yet wine when just made, before the priests had made a libation of the first-fruits.


That portion of land used to be known as a "jugerum,"

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which was capable of being ploughed by a single "jugum," or yoke of oxen, in one day; an "actus" [Note] being as much as the oxen could plough at a single spell, fairly estimated, without stopping. This last was one hundred and twenty feet in length; and two in length made a jugerum. The most considerable recompense that could be bestowed upon generals and valiant citizens, was the utmost extent of land around which a person could trace a furrow with the plough in a single day. The whole population, too, used to contribute a quarter [Note] of a sextarius of spelt, or else half a one, per head.

From agriculture the earliest surnames were derived. Thus, for instance, the name of Pilumnus was given to him who invented the "pilum," or pestle of the bake-house, for pounding corn; that of Piso was derived from "piso," to grind corn; and those of Fabius, Lentulus, and Cicero, from the several varieties [Note] of leguminous plants in the cultivation of which respectively these individuals excelled. One individual of the family of the Junii received the name of "Bubuleus," [Note] from the skill he displayed in breeding oxen. Among the sacred ceremonials, too, there was nothing that was held more holy than the marriage by confarreation, [Note] and the woman just married used to present a cake made of spelt. [Note] Careless cultivation of the land was in those times an offence that came under the cognizance of the censors; and, as we learn from Cato, [Note] when it was said that such and such a man was a good agriculturist or a good husbandman, it was looked upon as the very highest compliment that could be paid him. A man came to be called "locuples," or "rich," from being "loci plenus," or "full of earth." Money, too, received its name of "pecunia," [Note] from "pecus," "cattle." At the present

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day, even, in the registers of the censors, we find set down under the head of "pascua," or "pasture lands," everything from which the public revenues are derived, from the fact that for a long period of time pasture lands were the only sources of the public revenue. Fines, too, were only imposed in the shape of paying so many sheep or so many oxen; and the benevolent spirit of the ancient laws deserves remark, which most considerately enjoined that the magistrate, when he in- flicted a penalty, should never impose a fine of an ox before having first condemned the same party to the payment of a sheep.

Those who celebrated the public games in honour of the ox received the name of Bubetii. [Note] King Servius was the first who impressed upon our copper coin [Note] the figures of sheep and oxen. To depasture cattle secretly by night upon the unripe crops on plough lands, or to cut them in that state, was made by the Twelve Tables [Note] a capital offence in the case of an adult; and it was enacted that the person guilty of it should be hanged, in order to make due reparation to the goddess Ceres, a punishment more severe, even, than that inflicted for murder. If, on the other hand, the offender was not an adult, he was beaten at the discretion of the prætor; a penalty double the amount of the damage was also exacted.

The various ranks, too, and distinctions in the state had no other origin than the pursuits of agriculture. The rural tribes held the foremost rank, and were composed of those who possessed lands; while those of the city, a place to which it was looked upon as ignominious to be transferred, had the discredit thrown upon them of being an indolent race. Hence it was that these last were only four in number, and received their names from the several parts of the City which they respectively inhabited; being the Suburran, the Palatine, Colline, and Exquiline tribes. Every ninth day [Note] the rural tribes used to visit the city for the purpose of marketing, and it was for this reason that it was made illegal to hold the comitia upon

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the Nundinaæ; the object being that the country people might not be called away thereby from the transaction of their business. In those days repose and sleep were enjoyed upon straw. Even to glory itself, in compliment to corn, the name was given of "adorea." [Note]

For my own part, I greatly admire [Note] the modes of expression employed in our ancient language: thus, for instance, we read in the Commentaries of the Priesthood to the follow- ing effect:—"For deriving an augury from the sacrifice of a bitch, [Note] a day should be set apart before the ear of corn appears from out of the sheath, [Note] and then again before it enters the sheath."


The consequence was, that when the Roman manners were such as these, the corn that Italy produced was sufficient for its wants, and it had to be indebted to no province for its food; and not only this, but the price of provisions was incredibly cheap. Manius Marcius, the ædile [Note] of the people, was the first who gave corn to the people at the price of one as for the modius. L. Minutius Augurinus, [Note] the same who detected, when eleventh tribune of the people, the projects of Spurius Mælius, reduced the price of corn on three market days, [Note] to one as per modius; for which reason a statue was erected in honour of him, by public subscription, without the Trigeminian Gate. [Note] T. Seius distributed corn to the people,

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in his ædileship, [Note] at one as per modius, in remembrance of which statues were erected in honour of him also in the Capitol and the Palatium: on the day of his funeral he was borne to the pile on the shoulders of the Roman people. In the year, [Note] too, in which the Mother of the Gods was brought to Rome, the harvest of that summer, it is said, was more abundant than it had been for ten years before. M. Yarro informs us, that in the year [Note] in which L. Metellus exhibited so many elephants in his triumphal procession, a modius of spelt was sold for one as, which was the standard price also of a congius of wine, thirty pounds' weight of dried figs, ten pounds of olive oil, and twelve pounds of flesh meat. Nor did this cheapness originate in the wide-spread domains of individuals encroaching continually upon their neighbours, for by a law proposed by Licinius Stolo, the landed property of each individual was limited to five hundred jugera; and he himself was convicted under his own law of being the owner of more than that amount, having as a disguise prevailed upon his son to lend him his name. Such were the prices of commodities at a time when the fortunes of the republic were rapidly on the increase. The words, too, that were uttered by Manius Curius [Note] after his triumphs and the addition of an immense extent of territory to the Roman sway, are well known: "The man must be looked upon," said he, "as a dangerous citizen, for whom seven jugera of land are not enough;" such being the amount of land that had been allotted to the people after the expulsion of the kings.

What, then, was the cause of a fertility so remarkable as this? The fact, we have every reason to believe, that in those days the lands were tilled by the hands of generals even, the soil exulting beneath a plough-share crowned with wreaths of laurel, and guided by a husbandman graced with triumphs: whether it is that they tended the seed with the same care that they had displayed in the conduct of wars, and manifested the same diligent attention in the management of their fields that they had done in the arrangement of the camp,

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or whether it is that under the hands of honest men everything prospers all the better, from being attended to with a scrupulous exactness. The honours awarded to Serranus [Note] found him engaged in sowing his fields, a circumstance to which he owes his surname. [Note] Cincinnatus was ploughing his four jugera of land upon the Vaticanian Hill—the same that are still known as the "Quintian Meadows," [Note] when the messenger brought him the dictatorship—finding him, the tradition says, stripped to the work, and his very face begrimed with dust. "Put on your clothes," said he, "that I may deliver to you the mandates of the senate and people of Rome." In those days these messengers bore the name of "viator," or "wayfarer," from the circumstance that their usual employ- ment was to fetch the senators and generals from their fields.

But at the present day these same lands are tilled by slaves whose legs are in chains, by the hands of malefactors and men with a branded face! And yet the Earth is not deaf to our adjurations, when we address her by the name of "parent," and say that she receives our homage [Note] in being tilled by hands such as these; as though, forsooth, we ought not to believe that she is reluctant and indignant at being tended in such a manner as this! Indeed, ought we to feel any surprise were the recompense she gives us when worked by chastised slaves, [Note] not the same that she used to bestow upon the labours of warriors?


Hence it was that to give precepts upon agriculture became one of the principal occupations among men of the highest rank, and that in foreign nations even. For among those who

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have written on this subject we find the names of kings even, Hiero, for instance, Attalus Philometor, and Archelaüs, as well as of generals, Xenophon, for example, and Mago the Carthaginian. Indeed, to this last writer did the Roman senate award such high honours, that, after the capture of Carthage, when it bestowed the libraries of that city upon the petty kings of Africa, it gave orders, in his case only, that his thirty-two Books should be translated into the Latin language, and this, although M. Cato had already compiled his Book of Precepts; it took every care also to entrust the execution of this task to men who were well versed in the Carthaginian tongue, among whom was pre-eminent D. Silanus, a member of one of the most illustrious families of Rome. I have already indicated, [Note] at the commencement of this work, the numerous learned authors and writers in verse, together with other illustrious men, whose authority it is any intention to follow; but among the number I may here more particularly distinguish M. Yarro, who, at the advanced age of eighty-eight years, thought it his duty to publish a treatise upon this subject.

(4.) Among the Romans the cultivation of the vine was introduced at a comparatively recent period, and at first, as indeed they were obliged to do, they paid their sole attention to the culture of the fields. The various methods of cultivating the land will now be our subject; and they shall be treated of by us in no ordinary or superficial manner, but in the same spirit in which we have hitherto written; enquiry shall be made with every care first into the usages of ancient days, and then into the discoveries of more recent times, our attention being devoted alike to the primary causes of these operations, and the reasons upon which they are respectively based. We shall make mention, [Note] too, of the various constellations, and of the several indications which, beyond all doubt, they afford to the earth; and the more so, from the fact that those writers who have hitherto treated of them with any degree of exact- ness, seem to have written their works for the use of any class of men but the agriculturist.

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First of all, then, I shall proceed in a great measure according to the dicta of the oracles of agriculture; for there is no branch of practical life in which we find them more numerous or more unerring. And why should we not view in the light of oracles those precepts which have been tested by the infallibility of time and the truthfulness of experience?

(5.) To make a beginning, then, with Cato [Note]—"The agricul- tural population," says he, "produces the bravest men, the most valiant soldiers, [Note] and a class of citizens the least given of all to evil designs.—Do not be too eager in buying a farm.— In rural operations never be sparing of your trouble, and, above all, when you are purchasing land.—A bad bargain is always a ground for repentance.—Those who are about to purchase land, should always have an eye more particularly to the water there, the roads, and the neighbourhood." Each of these points is susceptible of a very extended explanation, and replete with undoubted truths. Cato [Note] recommends, too, that an eye should be given to the people in the neighbourhood, to see how they look: "For where the land is good," says he, "the people will look well-conditioned and healthy."

Atilius Regulus, the same who was twice consul in the Punic War, used to say [Note] that a person should neither buy an unhealthy piece of land in the most fertile locality, nor yet the very healthiest spot if in a barren country. The salubrity of land, however, is not always to be judged of from the looks of the inhabitants, for those who are well-seasoned are able to withstand the effects of living in pestilent localities even. And then, besides, there are some localities that are healthy during certain periods of the year only; though, in reality, there is no soil that can be looked upon as really valuable that is not healthy all the year through. "That [Note] is sure to be bad land against which its owner has a continual struggle." Cato recommends us before everything, to see that the land which

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we are about to purchase not only excels in the advantages of locality, as already stated, but is really good of itself We should see, too, he says, that there is an abundance of manual labour in the neighbourhood, as well as a thriving town; that there are either rivers or roads, to facilitate the carriage of the produce; that the buildings upon the land are substantially erected, and that the land itself bears every mark of having been carefully tilled—a point upon which I find that many persons are greatly mistaken, as they are apt to imagine that the negligence of the previous owner is greatly to the purchaser's advantage; while the fact is, that there is nothing more expensive than the cultivation of a neglected soil.

For this reason it is that Cato [Note] says that it is best to buy land of a careful proprietor, and that the methods adopted by others ought not to be hastily rejected—that it is the same with land as with mankind—however great the proceeds, if at the same time it is lavish and extravagant, there will be no great profits left. Cato looks upon a vineyard as the most [Note] profitable investment; and he is far from wrong in that opinion, seeing that he takes such particular care to retrench all superfluous expenses. In the second rank he places gardens that have a good supply of water, and with good reason, too, supposing always that they are near a town. The ancients gave to meadow lands the name of "parata," or lands "always ready." [Note]

Cato being asked, on one occasion, what was the most certain source of profit, "Good pasture land," was his answer; upon which, enquiry was made what was the next best. "Pretty good [Note] pasture lands," said he—the amount of all which is, that he looked upon that as the most certain source of income which stands in need of the smallest outlay. This, however, will naturally vary in degree, according to the nature of the respective localities; and the same is the case with the maxim [Note] to which he gives utterance, that a good agriculturist must be

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fond of selling. The same, too, with his remark, that in his youth a landowner should begin to plant without delay, but that he ought not to build until the land is fully brought into cultivation, and then only a little at a time: and that the best plan is, as the common proverb has it, "To profit by the folly of others;" [Note] taking due care, however, that the keeping up of a farm-house does not entail too much expense. Still, however, those persons are guilty of no falsehood who are in the habit of saying that a proprietor who is well housed comes all the oftener to his fields, and that "the master's forehead is of more use than his back." [Note]


The proper plan to be pursued is this: [Note] the farm-house must not be unsuitable for the farm, nor the farm for the house; and we must be on our guard against following the examples of L. Lucullus and Q. Scævola, who, though living in the same age, fell into the two opposite extremes; for whereas the farm-house of Scævola was not large enough for the produce of his farm, the farm of Lucullus was not sufficiently large for the house he built upon it; an error which gave occasion to the reproof of the censors, that on his farm there was less of ground for ploughing than of floor for sweeping. The proper arrange- ments for a farm-house are not to be made without a certain degree of skill. C. Marius, who was seven times consul, was the last person who had one built at Misenum; [Note] but he erected it with such a degree of that artistic skill which he had displayed in castrametation, that Sylla Felix [Note] even made the remark, that in comparison with Marius, all the others had been no better than blind. [Note]

It is generally agreed, that a farm-house ought neither to be built near a marsh, nor with a river in front of it; for, as

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Homer [Note] has remarked, with the greatest correctness, unwholesome vapours are always exhaled from rivers before the rising of the sun. In hot localities, a farm-house should have a northern aspect, but where it is cold, it should look towards the south; where, on the other hand, the site is temperate, the house should look due east. Although, when speaking [Note] of the best kinds of soil, I may seem to have sufficiently discussed the characteristics by which it may be known, I shall take the present opportunity of adding a few more indications, employing the words of Cato [Note] more particularly for the purpose. "The dwarf-elder," says he, "the wild plum, [Note] the bramble, the small bulb, [Note] trefoil, meadow grass, [Note] the quercus, and the wild pear and wild apple, are all of them indicative of a corn land. The same is the case, too, where the land is black, or of an ashy colour. All chalky soils are scorching, unless they are very thin; the same, too, with sand, unless it is remarkably fine. These remarks, however, are more applicable to champaign localities than declivities."

The ancients were of opinion, that before everything, moderation should be observed in the extent of a farm; for it was a favourite maxim of theirs, that we ought to sow the less, and plough the more: such too, I find, was the opinion entertained by Virgil, [Note] and indeed, if we must confess the truth, it is the wide-spread domains that have been the ruin [Note] of Italy, and soon will be that of the provinces as well. Six proprietors were in possession of one half of Africa, [Note] at the period when

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the Emperor Nero had them put to death. With that greatness of mind which was so peculiarly his own, and of which he ought not to lose the credit, Cneius Pompeius would never purchase the lands that belonged to a neighbour. Mago has stated it as his opinion, that a person, on buying a farm, ought at once to sell his town house; [Note] an opinion, however, which savours of too great rigidity, and is by no means conformable to the public good. It is with these words, indeed, that he begins his precepts; a good proof, at all events, that he looks upon the personal inspection of the owner as of primary importance.

The next point which requires our care is to employ a farmsteward [Note] of experience, and upon this, too, Cato [Note] has given many useful precepts. Still, however, it must suffice for me to say that the steward ought to be a man nearly as clever as his master, though without appearing to know it. It is the very worst plan of all, to have land tilled by slaves let loose from the houses of correction, as, indeed, is the case with all work entrusted to men who live without hope. I may possibly appear guilty of some degree of rashness in making mention of a maxim of the ancients, which will very probably be looked upon as quite incredible—"That nothing is so disadvantageous as to cultivate land in the highest style of perfection." L. Tarius Rufus, a man who, born in the very lowest ranks of life, by his military talents finally attained the consulship, [Note] and who in other respects adhered to the old-fashioned notions of thriftiness, made away with about one hundred millions of sesterces, which, by the liberality of the late Emperor Augustus, he had contrived to amass, in buying up lands in Picenum, and cultivating them in the highest style, his object being to gain a name thereby; the consequence of which was, that his heir renounced [Note] the inheritance. Are we of opinion, then, that ruin and starvation must be the necessary consequence of such a course as this? Yes, by Hercules! and the very best plan of all is to let moderation guide our judgment in all things. To cultivate land well is absolutely necessary, but to cultivate

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it in the very highest style is mere extravagance, unless, indeed, the work is done by the hands of a man's own family, his tenants, or those whom he is obliged to keep at any rate. But besides this, even when the owner tills the land itself, there are some crops which it is really not worth the while to gather, if we only take into account the manual labour expended upon them. The olive, too, should never be too highly [Note] cultivated, nor must certain soils, it is said, be too carefully tilled, those of Sicily, [Note] for instance; hence it is, that new comers there so often find themselves deceived. [Note]


In what way, then, can land be most profitably cultivated? Why, in the words of our agricultural oracles, "by making good out of bad." But here it is only right that we should say a word in justification of our forefathers, who in their precepts on this subject had nothing else in view but the benefit of mankind: for when they use the term "bad" here, they only mean to say that which costs the smallest amount of money. The principal object with them was in all cases to cut down expenses to the lowest possible sum; and it was in this spirit that they made the enactments which pronounced it criminal for a person who had enjoyed a triumph, to be in possession, among his other furniture, of ten pounds' weight of silver plate: which permitted a man, upon the death of his farmsteward, to abandon all his victories, and return to the cultivation of his lands—such being the men the culture of whose farms the state used to take upon itself; and thus, while they led our armies, did the senate act as their steward.

It was in the same spirit, too, that those oracles of ours have given utterance to these other precepts, to the effect that he is a bad agriculturist who has to buy what his farm might have supplied him with; that the man is a bad manager who does in the day-time what he might have done in the night, except, indeed, when the state of the weather does not allow

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it; that he is a worse manager still, who does on a work-day what he might have done on a feast-day; [Note] but that he is the very worst of all, who works under cover in fine weather, in- stead of labouring in the fields.

I cannot refrain from taking the present opportunity of quoting one illustration afforded us by ancient times, from which it will be found that it was the usage in those days to bring before the people even questions connected with the various methods employed in agriculture, and will be seen in what way men were accustomed to speak out in their own defence. C. Furius Chresimus, a freedman, having found himself able, from a very small piece of land, to raise far more abundant harvests than his neighbours could from the largest farms, became the object of very considerable jealousy among them, and was accordingly accused of enticing away the crops of others by the practice of sorcery. Upon this, a day was named by Spurius Calvinus, the curule ædile, for his appearance. Apprehensive of being condemned, when the question came to be put to the vote among the tribes, he had all his implements of husbandry brought into the Forum, together with his farm servants, robust, Well-conditioned, and well-clad people, Piso says. The iron tools were of first-rate quality, the mattocks were stout and strong, the plough-shares ponderous and substantial, and the oxen sleek and in prime condition. When all this had been done, "Here, Roman citizens," said he, "are my implements of magic; but it is impossible for me to exhibit to your view, or to bring into this Forum, those midnight toils of mine, those early watchings those sweats, and those fatigues." Upon this, by the unanimous voice of the people, he was immediately acquitted. Agriculture, in fact, depends upon the expenditure of labour and exertion; and hence it is that the ancients were in the habit of saying, that it is the eye of the master that does more towards fertilizing a field than anything else.

We shall give the rest of these precepts in their appropriate places, according as we find them adapted to each variety of cultivation; but in the meantime we must not omit some of a general nature, which here recur to our recollection, and more

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particularly that maxim of Cato, as profitable as it is humane: "Always act in such away as to secure the love of your neighbours." He then proceeds to state his reasons for giving this advice, but it appears to me that no one surley can entertain the slightest doubt upon the subject. One of the very first recommendations that he gives is to take every care that the farm servants are kept in good condition. [Note] It is a maxim universally agreæd upon in agriculture, that nothing must be done too late; and again, that everything must be done at its proper season; while there is a third precept, which reminds us that opportunities lost can never be regained. The male- diction uttered by Cato against rotten ground has been treated of at some length already; [Note] but there is another precept which he is never tired of repeating, "Whatever can be done by the help of the ass, will cost the least money."

Fern will be sure to die at the end of a couple of years, if you prevent it from putting forth leaves; the most efficient method of ensuring this is to beat the branches with a stick while they are in bud; for then the juices that drop from it will kill the roots. [Note] It is said, too, that fern will not spring up again if it is pulled up by the roots about the turn of the summer solstice, or if the stalks are cut with the edge of a reed, or if it is turned up with a plough-share with a reed placed [Note] upon it. In the same way, too, we are told that reeds may be effectually ploughed up, if care is taken to place a stalk of fern upon the share. A field infested with rushes should be turned up with the spade, or, if the locality is stony, with a two-pronged mattock: overgrown shrubs are best removed by fire. Where ground is too moist, it is an advantageous plan to cut trenches in it and so drain it; where the soil is cretaceous, these trenches should be left open; and where it is loose, they should be strengthened with a hedge to prevent them from falling in. When these drains are made on a declivity, they should have a layer of gutter tiles at the bottom, or else house tiles with the face upwards: in some cases, too, they should be covered [Note]

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with earth, and made to run into others of a larger size and wider; the bottom, also, should, if possible, have a coating of stones or of gravel. The openings, too, should be strengthened with two stones placed on either side, and another laid upon the top. Democritus has described a method of rooting up a forest, by first macerating the flower of the lupine [Note] for one day in the juice of hemlock, and then watering the roots of the trees with it.


As the field is now prepared, we shall proceed to speak of the nature of the various kinds of grain; we must premise, however, that there are two principal classes of grain, the cereals, [Note] comprising wheat and barley, and the legumina, such as the bean and the chick-pea, for instance. The difference between these two classes is too well known to require any further description.


The cereals are divided again into the same number of varieties, according to the time of the year at which they are sown. The winter grains are those which are put in the ground about the setting of the Vergiliæ, [Note] and there receive their nutriment throughout the winter, for instance, wheat, [Note] spelt, [Note] and barley. [Note] The summer grains are those which are sown in summer, before the rising of the Vergiliæ, [Note]

-- 4020 --

such as millet, [Note] panic, [Note] sesame, [Note] horminum, [Note] and irio, [Note] in accordance, however, with the usage of Italy only; for in Greece and Asia all the grains are sown just after the setting of the Vergiliæ. There are some, again, that aræ sown at either season in Italy, and others at a third period, or, ill other words, in the spring. Some authors give the name of spring- grain to millet, panic, lentils, [Note] chick-peas, [Note] and alica, [Note] while they call wheat, barely, beans, turnips, and rape, sementive or early sowing seeds. Certain species of wheat are only sown to make fodder for cattle, and are known by the name of "farrago," [Note] or mixed grain; the same, too, with the leguminous plants, the vetch, for instance. The lupine. [Note] however, is grown in common as food for both cattle and men.

All the leguminous [Note] plants, with the exception of the bean, have a single root, hard and tough, like wood, and destitute of numerous ramifications; the chick-pea has the deepest root of all. Corn has numerous fibrous roots, but no ramifications. Barley makes its appearance [Note] above ground the seventh day after sowing; the leguminous plants on the fourth, or at the very latest, the seventh; the bean from the fifteenth day to the twentieth: though in Egypt the leguminous plants appear as early as the third day after they are sown. In barley, one extremity of the grain throws out the root, and the other the

-- 4021 --

blade; this last flowers, too, before the other grain. In the cereals in general it is the thicker end of the seed that throws out the root, the thinner end the blossom; while in the other seeds both root and blossom issue from the same part.

During the winter, corn is in the blade; but in the spring winter corn throws out a tall stem. As for millet and panic, they grow with a jointed and grooved [Note] stalk, while sesame has a stem resembling that of fennel-giant. The fruit of all these seeds is either contained in an ear, as in wheat and barley, for instance, and protected from the attacks of birds and small animals by a prickly beard bristling like so many plisades; or else it is enclosed in pods, as in the leguminous plants, or in capsules, as in sesame and the poppy. Millet and panic can only be said to belong to the grower and the small birds in common, as they have nothing but a thin membrane to cover them, without the slightest protection. Panic receives that name from the panicule [Note] or down that is to be seen upon it; the head of it droops languidly, and the stalk tapers gradually in thickness, being of almost the toughness and consistency of wood: the head is loaded with grain closely packed, there being a tuft upon the top, nearly a foot in length. In millet the husks which embrace the grain bend downward with a wavy tuft upon the edge. There are several varieties of panic, the mammose, for instance, the ears of which are in clusters with small edgings of down, the head of the plant being double; it is distinguished also according to the colour, the white, for instance, the black, the red, and the purple even. Several kinds of bread are made from millet, but very little from panic: there is no grain known that weighs heavier than millet, and which swells more in baking. A modius of millet will yield sixty pounds' weight of bread; and three sextarii steeped in water will make one modius of fermenty. [Note] A kind of millet [Note] has been introduced from India into Italy within the last ten years, of a swarthy colour, large grain, and a

-- 4022 --

stalk like that of the reed. This stalk springs up to the height of seven feet, and has tufts of a remarkable size, known by the name of "phobæ." [Note] This is the most prolific of all the cereals, for from a single grain no less than three sextarii [Note] are produced: it requires, however, to be sown in a humid soil.

Some kinds of corn begin to form the ear at the third joint, and others at the fourth, though at its first formation the ear remains still concealed. Wheat, however, has four [Note] articulations, spelt [Note] six, and barley eight. In the case of these last, the ear does not begin to form before the number of joints, as above mentioned, is complete. Within four or five days, at the very latest, after the ear has given signs of forming, the plant begins to flower, and in the course of as many days or a little more, sheds its blossom: barley blossoms at the end of seven days at the very latest. Varro says that the grains are perfectly formed at the end of four times [Note] nine days from their flowering, and are ready for cutting at the ninth month.

The bean, again, first appears in leaf, and then throws out a stalk, which has no articulations [Note] upon it. The other legu- minous plants have a tough, ligneous stalk, and some of them throw out branches, the chick-pea, the fitch, and the lentil, for instance. In some of the leguminous plants, the pea, for example, the stem creeps along the ground, if care is not taken to support it by sticks: if this precaution is omitted, the quality is deteriorated. The bean and the lupine are the only ones among the leguminous plants that have a single stem: in all the others the stem throws out branches, being of a ligneous nature, very thin, and in all cases hollow. Some of these plants throw out the leaves from the root, others at the top. [Note] Wheat, barley, and the vetch, all the plants, in fact, which produce straw, have a single leaf only at the summit: in barley, however, this leaf is rough, while in the others it

-- 4023 --

is smooth. * * * In the bean, again, the chick-pea, and the pea, the leaves are numerous and divided. In corn the leaf is similar to that of the reed, while in the bean it is round, as also in a great proportion of the leguminous plants. In the ervilia [Note] and the pea the leaf is long, [Note] in the kidney-bean veined, and in sesame [Note] and irio the colour of blood. The lupine and the poppy are the only ones among these plants that lose [Note] their leaves.

The leguminous plants remain a longer time in flower, the fitch and the chick-pea more particularly; but the bean is in blossom the longest of them all, for the flower remains on it forty days; not, indeed, that each stalk retains its blossom for all that length of time, but, as the flower goes off in one, it comes on in another. In the bean, too, the crop is not ripe all at once, as is the case with corn; for the pods make their appearance at different times, at the lowest parts first, the blossom mounting upwards by degrees.

When the blossom is off in corn, the stalk gradually thickens, and it ripens within forty days at the most. The same is the case, too, with the bean, but the chick-pea takes a much shorter time to ripen; indeed, it is fit for gathering within forty days from the time that it is sown. Millet, panic, sesame, and all the summer grains are ripe within forty days after blossoming with considerable variations, of course, in reference to soil and weather. Thus, in Egypt, we find barley cut at the end of six months, and wheat at the end of seven, from the time of sowing. In Hellas, again, barley is cut in the seventh month, and in Peloponnesus in the eighth; the wheat being got in at a still later period.

Those grains which grow on a stalk of straw are enclosed in an envelope protected by a prickly beard; while in the bean and the leguminous plants in general they are enclosed in pods upon branches which shoot alternately from either side. The cereals are the best able to withstand the winter, but the leguminous plants afford the most substantial food. In wheat, the

-- 4024 --

grain has several coats, but in barley, [Note] more particularly, it is naked and exposed; the same, too, with arinca, [Note] but most of all, the oat. The stem is taller in wheat than it is in barley, but the ear is more bearded [Note] in the last. Wheat, barley, and winter-wheat [Note] aræ threshed out; they are cleaned, too, for sowing just as they are prepared for the mill, there being no necessity for parching [Note] them. Spelt, on the other hand, millet, and panic, cannot be cleaned without parching them; hence it is that they are always sown raw and with the chaff on. Spelt is preserved in the husk, too, for sowing, and, of course, is not in such case parched by the action of fire.

18.11 CHAP. 11.—SPELT.

Of all these grains barley is the lightest, [Note] its weight rarely exceeding fifteen pounds to the modius, while that of the bean is twenty-two. Spelt is much heavier than barley, and wheat heavier than spelt. In Egypt they make a meal [Note] of olyra, [Note] a third variety of corn that grows there. The Gauls have also a kind of spelt peculiar to that country: they give it the name of "brace," [Note] while to us it is known as "sanldala:" it has a grain of remarkable whiteness. Another difference, again, is the fact that it yields nearly four pounds more of bread to the modius than any other kind of spelt. Verrius states that for three hundred years the Romans made use of no other meal than that of corn.

-- 4025 --

18.12 CHAP. 12.—WHEAT.

There are numerous kinds of wheat which have received their names from the countries where they were first produced. For my part, however, I can compare no kind of wheat to that of Italy either for whiteness or weight, qualities for which it is more particularly distinguished: indeed it is only with the produce of the more mountainous parts of Italy that the foreign wheats can be put in comparison. Among these the wheat of Bœotia [Note] occupies the first rank, that of Sicily the second, and that of Africa the third. The wheats of Thrace, Syria, and, more recently, of Egypt, used to hold the third rank for weight, these facts having been ascertained through the medium of the athletes; whose powers of consumption, equal to those of beasts of burden, have established the gradations in weight, as already stated. Greece, too, held the Pontic [Note] wheat in high esteem; but this has not reached Italy as yet. Of all the varieties of grain, however, the Greeks gave the preference to the kinds called dracontion, strangia, and Selinusium, the chief characteristic of which is a stem of remarkable thickness: it was this, in the opinion of the Greeks, that marked them as the peculiar growth of a rich soil. On the other hand, they recommended for sowing in humid soils an extremely light and diminutive species of grain, with a remarkably thin stalk, known to them as speudias, and standing in need of an abundance of nutriment. Such, at all events, were the opi- nions generally entertained in the reign of Alexander the Great, at a time when Greece was at the height of her glory, and the most powerful country in the world. Still, however, nearly one hundred and forty-four years before the death of that prince we find the poet Sophocles, in his Tragedy of "Triptolemus," praising the corn of Italy before all others. The passage, translated word for word, is to the following effect:— "And favour'd Italy grows white with hoary wheat." And it is this whiteness that is still one of the peculiar merits of the Italian wheat; a circumstance which makes me the more surprised to find that none of the Greek writers of a later period have made any reference to it.

-- 4026 --

Of the various kinds of wheat which are imported at the present day into Rome, the lightest in weight are those which come from Gaul and Chersonnesus; for, upon weighing them, it will be found that they do not yield more than twenty pounds to the modius. The grain of Sardinia weighs half a pound more, and that of Alexandria one-third of a pound more than that of Sardinia; the Sicilian wheat is the same in weight as the Alexandrian. The Bœotian wheat, again, weighs a whole pound more than these last, and that of Africa a pound and three quarters. In Italy beyond the Padus, the spelt, to my knowledge, weighs twenty-five pounds to the modius, and, in the vicinity of Clusium, six-and-twenty. We find it a rule, universally established by Nature, that in every kind of commissariat bread [Note] that is made, the bread exceeds the weight of the grain by one-third; and in the same way it is generally considered that that is the best kind of wheat, which, in kneading, will absorb one congius of water. [Note] There are some kinds of wheat which give, when used by themselves, an additional weight equal to this; the Balearic wheat, for instance, which to a modius of grain yields thirty-five pounds weight of bread. Others, again, will only give this additional weight by being mixed with other kinds, the Cyprian wheat and the Alexandrian, for example; which, if used by themselves, will yield no more than twenty pounds to the modius. The wheat of Cyprus is swarthy, and produces a dark bread; for which reason it is generally mixed with the white wheat of Alexandria; the mixture yielding twenty-five pounds of bread to the modius of grain. The wheat of Thebais, in Egypt, æhen made into bread, yields twenty-six pounds to the modius. To knead the meal with sea-water, as is mostly done in the maritime districts, for the purpose of saving the salt, is extremely pernicious; there is nothing, in fact, that will more readily predispose the human body to disease. In Gaul and Spain, where they make a drink [Note] by steeping corn in the way that has been already described—they employ the foam [Note] which thickens upon the surface as a leaven: hence it is that the bread in those countries is lighter than that made else- where.

-- 4027 --

There are some differences, also, in the stem of wheat; for the better the kind the thicker it is. In Thrace, the stem of the wheat is covered with several coats, [Note] which are rendered absolutely necessary by the excessive cold of those regions. It is the cold, also, that led to the discovery there of the three-month [Note] wheat, the ground being covered with snow most of the year. At the end mostly of three months after it has been sown, this wheat is ready for cutting, both in Thrace and in other parts of the world as well. This variety is well known, too, throughout all the Alpine range, and in the northern pro- vinces there is no kind of wheat that is more prolific; it has a single stem only, is by no means of large size in any part of it, and is never sown but in a thin, light soil. There is a two-month [Note] wheat also found in the vicinity of Ænos, in Thrace, which ripens the fortieth day after sowing; and yet it is a surprising fact, that there is no kind of wheat that weighs heavier than this, while at the same time it produces no bran. Both Sicily and Achaia grow it, in the mountainous districts of those countries; as also Eubœa, in the vicinity of Carystus. So greatly, then, is Columella in error, [Note] in supposing that there is no distinct variety of three-month wheat even; the fact being that these varieties have been known from the very earliest times. The Greeks give to these wheats the name of "setanion." It is said that in Bactria the grains of wheat are of such an enormous size, that a single one is as large as our ears of corn. [Note]

18.13 CHAP. 13.—BARLEY: RICE.

Of all the cereals the first that is sown is barley. We shall state the appropriate time for sowing each kind when we come to treat of the nature of each individually. In India, there is

-- 4028 --

both a cultivated and a wild [Note] barley, from which they make excellent bread, as well as alica. [Note] But the most favourite food of all there is rice, [Note] from which they prepare a ptisan [Note] similar to that made from barley in other parts of the world. The leaves of rice are fleshy, [Note] very like those of the leek, but broader; the stem is a cubit in height, the blossom purple, and the root globular, like a pearl in shape. [Note]

18.14 CHAP. 14.—POLENTA.

Barley is one of the most ancient aliments of man, a fact that is proved by a custom of the Athenians, mentioned by Menander, [Note] as also by the name of "hordearii," [Note] that used to be given to gladiators. The Greeks, too, prefer barley to anything else for making polenta. [Note] This food is made in various ways: in Greece, the barley is first steeped in water, and then left a night to dry. The next day they parch it, and then grind it in the mill. Some persons parch it more highly, and then sprinkle it again with a little water; after which they dry it for grinding. Others shake the grain from out of the ear while green, and, aftær cleaning and soaking it in water, pound it in a mortar. They then wash the paste in baskets, and leave it to dry in the sun; after which they pound it again, clean it, and grind it in the mill. But whatever the mode of preparation adopted, the proportions are always twenty pounds of barley to three pounds of linseed, [Note] half a pound of coriander, and fifteen drachmæ [Note] of salt: the ingredients are first parched, and then ground in the mill.

Those who want it for keeping, store it in new earthen vessels, with fine flour and bran. In Italy, the barley is parched without being steeped in water, and then ground to a

-- 4029 --

fine meal, with the addition of the ingredients already mentioned, and some millet as well. Barley bread, which was extensively used by the ancients, has now fallen into universal disrepute, and is mostly used as a food for cattle only.

18.15 CHAP. 15.—PTISAN.

With barley, too, the food called ptisan [Note] is made, a most substantial and salutary aliment, and one that is held in very high esteem. Hippocrates, one of the most famous writers on medical science, has devoted a whole volume to the praises of this aliment. The ptisan of the highest quality is that which is made at Utica; that of Egypt is prepared from a kind of barley, the grain of which grows with two points. [Note] In Baltic and Africa, the kind of barley from which this food is made is that which Turranius calls the "smooth" [Note] barley: the same author expresses an opinion, too, that olyra [Note] and rice are the same. The method of preparing ptisan is universally known.

18.16 CHAP. 16.—TRAGUM.

In a similar manner, too, tragum is prepared from seed [Note] wheat, but only in Campania and Egypt.

18.17 CHAP. 17.—AMYLUM.

Amylum is prepared from every kind of wheat, and from winter-wheat [Note] as well; but the best of all is that made from three-month wheat. The invention of it we owe to the island of Chios, and still, at the present day, the most esteemed kind comes from there; it derives its name from its being made without the help of the mill. [Note] Next to the amylum made with three-month wheat, is that which is prepared from the lighter kinds of wheat. In making it, the grain is soaked in

-- 4030 --

fresh water, placed in wooden vessels; care being taken to keep it covered with the liquid, which is changed no less than five times in the course of the day. If it can be changed at night as well, it is all the better for it, the object being to let it imbibe the water gradually and equally. When it is quitæ soft, but before it turns sour, it is passed through linen cloth, or else wicker-work, after which it is poured out upon a tile covered with leaven, and left to harden in the sun. Next to the amylum of Chios, that of Crete is the most esteemed, and next to that the Ægyptian. The tests of its goodness are its being light and smooth: it should be used, too, while it is fresh. Cato, [Note] among our writers, has made mention of it.

18.18 CHAP. 18.—the NATURE OF BARLEY.

Barley-meal, too, is employed for medicinal purposes; and it is a curious fact, that for beasts of burden they make a paste of it, which is first hardened by the action of fire, and then ground. It is then made up into balls, which are introduced with the hand into the paunch, the result of which is, that the vigour and muscular strength of the animal is considerably increased. In some kinds of barley, the ears have two rows of grains, [Note] and in others more; in some cases, as many as six. [Note] The grain itself, too, presents certain differences, being long and thin, or else short or round, white, black, [Note] or, in some instances, of a purple colour. This last kind is employed for making polenta: the white is ill adapted for standing the severity of the weather. Barley is the softest of all the grains: it can only be sown in a dry, loose soil, [Note] but fertile withal. The chaff of barley ranks among the very best; indeed, for litter there is none that can be compared with it. Of all grain, barley is the least exposed to accidents, as it is gathered before the time that mildew begins to attack wheat; for which reason it is that the provident agriculturist sows only as much wheat

-- 4031 --

as may be required for food. The saying is, that "barley is sown in a money-bag," because it so soon returns a profit. The most prolific kind of all is that which is got in at Carthage, [Note] in Spain, in the month of April. It is in the same month that it is sown in Celtiberia, and yet it yields two harvests in the same year. All kinds of barley are cut sooner than other grain, and immediately after they are ripe; for the straw is extremely brittle, and the grain is enclosed in a husk of remarkable thinness. It is said, too, that a better polenta [Note] is made from it, if it is gathered before it is perfectly ripe.


The several kinds of corn are not everywhere the same; and even where they are the same, they do not always bear a similar name. The kinds most universally grown are spelt, by the ancients known as "adorea," winter wheat, [Note] and wheat; [Note] all these being common to many countries. Arinca was originally peculiar to Gaul, though now it is widely diffused over Italy as well. Egypt, too, Syria, Cilicia, Asia, and Greece, have their own peculiar kinds, known by the names of zea, [Note] olyra, and wheat. [Note] In Egypt, they make a fine flour from wheat of their own growth, but it is by no means equal to that of Italy. Those countries which employ zea, have no spelt. Zea, however, is to be found in Italy, and in Campania more particularly, where it is known by the name of "seed." [Note] The grain that bears this name enjoys a very considerable celebrity, as we shall have occasion to state [Note] on another occasion; and it is in honour of this that Homer [Note] uses the expression, ζείδωρος ἄρουρα, and not, as some suppose, from the fact of the earth giving life. [Note] Amylum is made, too, from this grain, but of a

-- 4032 --

coarser [Note] quality than the kind already mentioned; [Note] this, however, is the only difference that is perceptible.

The most hardy kind, however, of all the grains is spelt, and the best to stand the severity of the weather; it will grow in the very coldest places, as also in localities that are but half tilled, or soils that are extremely hot, and destitute of water. This was the earliest food of the ancient inhabitants of Latium; a strong proof of which is the distributions of adorea that were made in those times, as already stated. [Note] It is evident, too, that the Romans subsisted for a long time upon pottage, [Note] and not bread; for we find that from its name of "puls," certain kinds of food are known, even at the present day, as "pulmentaria." [Note] Ennius, too, the most ancient of our poets, in describing the famine in a siege, relates how that the parents snatched away the messes of pottage [Note] from their weeping children. At the present day, even, the sacrifices in conformity with the ancient rites, as well as those offered upon birthdays, are made with parched pottage. [Note] This food appears to have been as much unknown in those days in Greece as polenta was in Italy.


There is no grain that displays a greater avidity than wheat, and none that absorbs a greater quantity of nutriment. With all propriety I may justly call winter wheat [Note] the very choicest of all the varieties of wheat. It is white, destitute of all flavour, [Note] and not oppressive [Note] to the stomach. It suits moist

-- 4033 --

localities particularly well, such as we find in Italy and Gallia Comata; but beyond the Alps it is found to maintain its character only in the territory of the Allobroges and that of the Memini; for in the other parts of those countries it degenerates at the end of two years into common wheat. [Note] The only method of preventing this is to take care and sow the heaviest grains only.

(9.) Winter wheat furnishes bread of the very finest quality and the most esteemed delicacies of the bakers. The best bread that is known in Italy is made from a mixture of Cam- panian winter wheat with that of Pisæ. The Campanian kind is of a redder colour, while the latter is white; when mixed with chalk, [Note] it is increased in weight. The proper proportion for the yield of Campanian wheat to the modius of grain is four sextarii of what is known as bolted flour; [Note] but when it is used in the rough and has not been bolted, then the yield should be five sextarii of flour. In addition to this, in either case there should be half a modius of white meal, with four sextarii of coarse meal, known as "seconds," and the same quantity of bran. [Note] The Pisan wheat produces five sextarii of fine flour to the modius; in other respects it yields the same as that of Campania. The wheat of Clusium and Arretium gives another sextarius of fine flour, but the yield is similar to that of the kinds already mentioned in all other respects. If, however, as much of it as possible is converted into fine wheat meal, the modius will yield sixteen pounds weight of white bread, and three of seconds, with half a modius of bran. These differences, however, depend very materially upon the grinding; for when the grain is ground quite dry it produces more meal, but when sprinkled with salt water [Note] a whiter flour, though at the same time a greater quantity of bran. It is very evident that "firina," the name we give to meal, is derived from "far." A modius of meal made from Gallic winter

-- 4034 --

wheat, yields twenty-two pounds of bread; while that of Italy, if made into bread baked in tins, [Note] will yield two or three pounds more. When the bread is baked in the oven, [Note] two pounds must be added in weight in either case.

(10.) Wheat yields a fine flour [Note] of the very highest quality. In African wheat the modius ought to yield half a modius of fine flour and five sextarii of pollen, that being the name given to fine wheat meal, in the same way that that of winter wheat is generally known as "fos," or the "flower." This fine meal is extensively used in copper works and paper manufactories. In addition to the above, the modius should yield four sextarii of coarse meal, and the same quantity of bran. The finest wheaten flour will yield one hundred [Note] and twenty-two pounds of bread, and the fine meal of winter wheat one hundred [Note] and seventeen, to the modius of grain. When the prices of grain are moderate, meal sells at forty asses the modius, bolted wheaten flour at eight asses more, and bolted flour of winter wheat, at sixteen asses more. There is another distinction again in fine wheaten flour, which originated formerly in the days of L. Paul's. There were three classes of wheat; the first of which would appear to have yielded seventeen pounds of bread, the second eighteen, and the third nineteen pounds and a third: to these were added two pounds and a half of seconds, [Note] and the same quantity of brown [Note] bread, with six sextarii of bran. [Note]

Winter wheat never ripens all at once, and yet there is none of the cereals that can so ill brook any delay; it being of so delicate a nature, that the ears directly they are ripe will begin to shed their grain. So long, however, as it is in stalk, it is exposed to fewer risks than other kinds of wheat, from the fact

-- 4035 --

of its always having the ear upright, and not retaining the dew, which is a prolific cause of mildew.

From arinca [Note] a bread of remarkable sweetness is made. The grains in this variety lie closer than they do in spelt; the ear, too, is larger and more weighty. It is rarely the case that a modius of this grain does not weigh full sixteen pounds. In Greece they find great difficulty in threshing it; and hence it is that we find Homer [Note] saying that it is given to beasts of burden, this being the same as the grain that he calls "olyra." In Egypt it is threshed without any difficulty, and is remarkably prolific. Spelt has no beard, and the same is the case with winter wheat, except [Note] that known as the Laconion variety. To the kinds already mentioned we have to add bromos, [Note] the winter wheat just excepted, and tragos, [Note] all of them exotics introduced from the East, and very similar to rice. Tiphe [Note] also belongs to the same class, from which in our part of the world a cleaned grain resembling rice is prepared. Among the Greeks, too, there is the grain known as zea; and it is said that this, as well as tiphe, when cleaned from the husk and sown, will degenerate [Note] and assume the form of wheat; not immediately, but in the course of three years.


There is no grain more prolific than wheat, Nature having bestowed upon it this quality, as being the substance which she destined for the principal nutriment of man. A modius of

-- 4036 --

wheat, if the soil is favourable, as at Byzacium, [Note] a champaign district of Africa, will yield as much as one hundred and fifty [Note] modii of grain. The procurator of the late Emperor Augustus sent him from that place—a fact almost beyond belief—little short of four hundred shoots all springing from a single grain; and we have still in existence his letters on the subject. In a similar manner, too, the procurator of Nero sent him three hundred and sixty stalks all issuing from a single grain. [Note] The plains of Leontium in Sicily, and other places in that island, as well as the whole of Bætica, and Egypt more particularly, yield produce a hundred-fold. The most prolific kinds of wheat are the ramose wheat, [Note] and that known as the "hun- dred-grain" [Note] wheat. Before now, as many as one hundred beans, too, have been found on a single stalk.


We have spoken [Note] of sesame, millet, and panic as belonging to the summer grains. Sesame [Note] comes from India, where they extract an oil from it; the colour of its grain is white. Similar in appearance to this is the erysimum of Asia and Greece, and indeed it would be identical with it were it not that the grain is better filled. [Note] It is the same grain that is known among us as "irio;" and strictly speaking, ought rather to be classed among the medicaments than the cereals. Of the same nature, too, is the plant called "horminum" [Note] by the Greeks, though resembling cummin [Note] in appearance; it is sown at the same time as sesame: no animal will eat either this or irio while green.


All the grains aræ not easily broken. In Etruria they first

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parch the spelt in the ear, and then pound it with a pestle shod with iron at the end. In this instrument the iron is notched [Note] at the bottom, sharp ridges running out like the edge of a knife, and concentrating in the form of a star; so that if care is not taken to hold the pestle perpendicularly while pounding, the grains will only be splintered and the iron teeth broken. Throughout the greater part of Italy, however, they employ a pestle that is only rough [Note] at the end, and wheels turned by water, by means of which the corn is gradually ground. I shall here set forth the opinions given by Mago as to the best method of pounding corn. He says that the wheat should be steeped first of all in water, and then cleaned from the husk; after which it should be dried in the sun, and then pounded with the pestle; the same plan, he says, should be adopted in the preparation of barley. In the latter case, however, twenty sextarii of grain require only two sextarii of water. When lentils are used, they should be first parched, and then lightly pounded with, the bran; or else, adopting another method, a piece of unbaked brick and half a modius of sand [Note] should be added to every twenty sextarii of lentils.

Ervilia should be treated in the same way as lentils. Sesame should be first steeped in warm water, and then laid out to dry, after which it should be rubbed out briskly, and then thrown into cold water, so that the chaff may be disengaged by floating to the surface. After this is done, the grain should again be spread out in the sun, upon linen cloths, to dry. Care, however, should be taken to lose no time in doing this, as it is apt to turn musty, and assume a dull, livid colour. The grains, too, which are just cleaned from the husk, require various methods of pounding. When the beard is ground by itself, without the grain, the result is known as "acus," [Note] but it is only used by goldsmiths. [Note] If, on the other hand, it is beaten

-- 4038 --

out on the threshing-floor, together with the straw, the chaff has the name of "palea," * * * * and in most parts of the world is employed as fodder for beasts of burden. The residue of millet, panic, and sesame, is known to us as "apluda;" but in other countries it is called by various other names.

18.24 CHAP. 24.—MILLET.

Campania is particularly prolific in millet, and a fine white porridge is made from it: it makes a bread, too, of remarkable sweetness. The nations of Sarmatia [Note] live principally on this porridge, and even the raw meal, with the sole addition of mares' milk, or else blood [Note] extracted from the thigh of the horse. The Æthiopians know of no other grain but millet and barley.

18.25 CHAP. 25.—PANIC.

The people of Gaul, and of Aquitania [Note] more particularly, make use of panic; the same is the case, too, in Italy beyond the Padus, with the addition, however, of the bean, without which they prepare none of their food. There is no aliment held in higher esteem than panic by the nations of Pontus. The other summer grains thrive better in well-watered soils than in rainy localities; but water is by no means beneficial to millet or panic when they are coming into blade. It is recommended not to sow them among vines or fruit-trees, as it is generally thought that these crops impoverish the soil.


Millet is more particularly employed for making leaven; and if kneaded with must, [Note] it will keep a whole year. The same is done, too, with the fine wheat-bran of the best quality; it is kneaded with white must three days old, and then dried in the sun, after which it is made into small cakes. When required for making bread, these cakes are first soaked in water,

-- 4039 --

and then boiled with the finest spelt flour, after which the whole is mixed up with the meal; and it is generally thought that this is the best method of making bread. The Greeks have established a rule that for a modius of meal eight ounces of leaven is enough.

These kinds of leaven, however, can only be made at the time of vintage, but there is another leaven which may be prepared with barley and water, at any time it may happen to be required. It is first made up into cakes of two pounds in weight, and these are then baked upon a hot hearth, or else in an earthen dish upon hot ashes and charcoal, being left till they turn of a reddish brown. When this is done, the cakes are shut close in vessels, until they turn quite sour: when wanted for leaven, they are steeped in water first. When barley bread used to be made, it was leavened with the meal of the fitch, [Note] or else the chicheling vetch, [Note] the proportion being, two pounds of leaven to two modii and a half of barley meal. At the present day, however, the leaven is prepared from the meal that is used for making the bread. For this purpose, some of the meal is kneaded before adding the salt, and is then boiled to the consistency of porridge, and left till it begins to turn sour. In most cases, however, they do not warm it at all, but only make use of a little of the dough that has been kept from the day before. It is very evident that the principle which causes the dough to rise is of an acid nature, and it is equally evident that those persons who are dieted upon fermented bread are stronger [Note] in body. Among the ancients, too, it was generally thought that the heavier wheat is, the more wholesome it is.


It seems to me quite unnecessary to enter into an account of the various kinds of bread that are made. Some kinds, we find, receive their names from the dishes with which they are eaten, the oyster-bread, [Note] for instance: others, again, from their peculiar delicacy, the artolaganus, [Note] or cake-bread, for example; and others from the expedition with which they are

-- 4040 --

prepared, such as the "speusticus," [Note] or "hurry-bread." Other varieties receive their names from the peculiar method of baking them, such as oven-bread, [Note] tin-bread, [Note] and mould-bread. [Note] It is not so very long since that we had a bread introduced from Parthia, known as water-bread, [Note] from a method in kneading it, of drawing out the dough by the aid of water, a process which renders it remarkably light, and full of holes. like a sponge: some call this Parthian bread. The excellence of the finest kinds of bread depends principally on the goodness of the wheat, and the fineness of the bolter. Some persons knead the dough with eggs or milk, and butter even has been employed for the purpose by nations that have had leisure to cultivate the arts of peace, and to give their attention to the art of making pastry. Picenum still maintains its ancient reputation for making the bread which it was the first to invent, alica [Note] being the grain employed. The flour is kept in soak for nine days, and is kneaded on the tenth with raisin juice, in the shape of long rolls; after which it is baked in an oven in earthen pots, till they break. This bread, however, is never eaten till it has been well [Note] soaked, which is mostly done in milk mixed with honey.


There were no bakers at Rome until [Note] the war with King Perseus, more than five hundred and eighty years after the building of the City. The ancient Romans used to make their own bread, it being an occupation which belonged to the women, as we see the case in many nations even at the present day. Plautus speaks of the artopta, or bread-tin, in his Comedy of the Alularia, [Note] though there has been considerable discussion for that very reason among the learned, whether or

-- 4041 --

not that line really belongs to him. We have the fact, too, well ascertained, in the opinion of Ateius Capito, that the cooks in those days were in the habit of making the bread for persons of affluence, while the name of "pistor" [Note] was only given to the person who pounded, or "pisebat," the spelt. In those times, they had no cooks in the number of their slaves but used to hire them for the occasion from the market. The Gauls were the first to employ the bolter that is made of horse-hair; while the people of Spain make their sieves and meal-dressers of flax, [Note] and the Egyptians of papyrus and rushes.

18.29 CHAP. 29.—ALTCA.

But among the very first things of all, we ought to speak of the method employed in preparing alica, [Note] a most delightful and most wholesome food, and which incontestably confers upon Italy the highest rank among the countries that produce the cereals. This delicacy is prepared, no doubt, in Egypt as well, but of a very inferior quality, and not worth our notice. In Italy, however, it is prepared in numerous places, the territories of Verona and Pisæ, for example; but that of Campania is the most highly esteemed. There, at the foot of mountains capped with clouds, runs a plain, not less in all than forty miles in extent. The land here—to give a description first of the nature of the soil—is dusty on the surface, but spongy below, and as porous as pumice. The inconveniences that generally arise from the close vicinity of mountains are here converted into so many advantages: for the soil, acting on it as a sort of filter, absorbs the water of the abundant rains that fall; the consequence of which is, that the water not being left to soak or form mud on the surface, the cultivation is greatly facilitated thereby. This land does not return, by the aid of any springs, the moisture it has thus absorbed, but thoroughly digests it, by warming it in its bosom, in a heated oven as it were. The ground is kept cropped the whole year through, once with panic, and twice with spelt; and yet in the spring, when the soil is allowed to have a moment's repose,

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it will produce roses more odoriferous by far than the cultivated rose: for the earth here is never tired of producing, a circumstance in which originated the common saying, that Campania produces more unguents [Note] than other countries do oil.

In the same degree, however, that the Campanian soil excels that of all other countries, so does that part of it which is known to us as Laboriæ, [Note] and to the Greeks as Phlegræum, surpass all the rest. This district is bounded on two sides by the consular high road, which leads from Puteoli to Capua on the one side, and from Cumæ on the other.

Alica is prepared from the grain called zea, which we have already mentioned [Note] as being known to us as "seed" wheat. The grain is cleansed in a wooden mortar, for fear lest stone, from its hardness, should have the effect of grating it. The motive power for raising the pestle, as is generally known, is supplied by slaves working in chains, the end of it being enclosed in a case of iron. After the husks have been removed by this process, the pure grain is broken to pieces, the same implements being employed. In this way, there are three different kinds of alica made, the finest, the seconds, and the coarse, which last is known as "aphærema." [Note] Still, however, these various kinds have none of them that whiteness as yet for which they are so distinguished, though even now they are preferable to the Alexandrian alica. With this view—a most singular fact—chalk [Note] is mixed with the meal, which, upon becoming well incorporated with it, adds very materially to both the whiteness and the shortness [Note] of the mixture. This chalk is found between Puteoli and Neapolis, upon a hill called Leucogæum; [Note] and there is still in existence a decree of the late Emperor Augustus, (who established a colony at Capua), which orders a sum of twenty thousand sesterces to be paid annually from his exchequer to the people of Neapolis, for the lease of this hill. His motive for paying this rent, he stated, was the fact that the people of Campania had alleged that it

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was impossible to make their alica without the help of this mineral. In the same hill, sulphur is found as well, and the springs of Araxus issue from its declivities, the waters of which are particularly efficacious for strengthening the sight, healing wounds, and preventing the teeth from becoming loose.

A spurious kind of alica is made, more particularly of a degenerate kind of zea grown in Africa; the ears of it are larger and blacker than those of the genuine kind, and the straw is short. This grain is pounded with sand, and even then it is with the greatest difficulty that the outer coats are removed; when stripped, the grain fills one half only of the original measure. Gypsum, in the proportion of one fourth, is then sprinkled [Note] over it, and after the mixture has been well incorporated, it is bolted through a meal-sieve. The portion that remains behind, after this is done, is known as "excepticia," [Note] and consists of the coarser parts; while that which has passed through is submitted to a second process, with a finer sieve; and that which then refuses to pass has the name of "secun- daria." [Note] That, again, which, in a similar manner, is submitted to a third sifting, with a sieve of the greatest fineness, which will only admit of sand passing through it, is known as "cribraria," [Note] when it remains on the top of the sieve.

There is another method, again, that is employed every where for adulterating it. They pick out the whitest and largest grains of wheat, and parboil them in earthen pots; these are then dried in the sun till they have regained their original size, after which they are lightly sprinkled with water, and then ground in a mill. A better granæum [Note] is made from zea than from wheat, although it is nothing else, in fact, but a spurious alica: it is whitened by the addition of boiled milk, in place of chalk.


We now come to the history of the leguminous plants, among which the place of honour must be awarded to the

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bean; [Note] indeed, some attempts have even been made to use it for bread. Bean meal is known as "lomentum;" and, as is the case with the meal of all leguminous plants, it adds considerably, when mixed with flour, to the weight of the bread. Beans are on sale at the present day for numerous purposes, and are employed for feeding cattle, and man more particu- larly. They are mixed, also, among most nations, with wheat, [Note] and panic more particularly, either whole or lightly broken. In our ancient ceremonials, too, bean pottage [Note] occupies its place in the religious services of the gods. Beans are mostly eaten together with other food, but it is generally thought that they dull the senses, and cause sleepless nights attended with dreams. Hence it is that the bean has been condemned [Note] by Pythagoras; though, according to some, the reason for this denunciation was the belief which he entertained that the souls of the dead are enclosed in the bean: it is for this reason, too, that beans are used in the funereal banquets of the Parentalia. [Note] According to Varro, it is for a similar cause that the Flamen abstains from eating beans: in addition to which, on the blossom of the bean, there are certain letters of ill omen to be found.

There are some peculiar religious usages connected with the bean. It is the custom to bring home from the harvest a bean by way of auspice, which, from that circumstance, has the name of "referiva." [Note] In sales by public auction, too, it is thought lucky to include a bean in the lot for sale. It is a fact, too, that the bean is the only one among all the grains that fills out at the increase of the moon, [Note] however much it may have been eaten away: it can never be thoroughly boiled in sea-water, or indeed any other water that is salt.

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The bean is the first leguminous plant that is sown; that being done before the setting of the Vergiliæ, in order that it may pass the winter in the ground. Virgil [Note] recommends that it should be sown in spring, according to the usage of the parts of Italy near the Padus: but most people prefer the bean that has been sown early to that of only three months' growth; for, in the former case, the pods as well as the stalk afford a most agreeable fodder for cattle. When in blossom more particularly, the bean requires water; but after the blossom has passed off, it stands in need of but very little. It fertilizes [Note] the ground in which it has been sown as well as any manure hence it is that in the neighbourhood of Thessaly and Macedonia, as soon as it begins to blossom, they turn up [Note] the ground.

The bean, too, grows wild in most countries, as in those islands of the Northern Ocean, for instance, which for that reason have been called by us the "Fabariæ." [Note] In Mauritania, also, it is found in a wild state in various parts, but so remarkably hard that it will never become soft by boiling.

In Egypt there is a kind of bean [Note] which grows upon a thorny stalk; for which reason the crocodiles avoid it, being apprehensive of danger to their eyes. This stalk is four cubits in length, and its thickness, at the very most, that of the finger: were it not for the absence of articulations in it, it would resemble a soft reed in appearance. The head is similar to that of the poppy, being of a rose colour: the beans enclosed in this head are not above thirty in number; the leaves are large, and the fruit is bitter and odoriferous. The root, however, is highly esteemed by the natives as a food, whether eaten raw or well boiled; it bears a strong resemblance to that of the reed. This plant grows also in Syria and Cilicia, and upon the banks of Lake Torone in Chalcidice.

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Among the leguminous plants the lentil is sown in the month of November, and the pea, [Note] among the Greeks. The lentil thrives best in a soil that is rather thin than rich, and mostly stands in need of dry weather. There are two kinds of lentil grown in Egypt; one of which is rounder and blacker than the other, which has a peculiar shape of its own. The name of this plant has been applied to various uses, and among others has given origin to our word "lenticula." [Note] I find it stated in some authors that a lentil diet is productive of evenness of temper. The pea requires to be sown in a warm, sunny spot, and is ill able to endure cold; hence in Italy and the more rigorous climates, it is sown in the spring only, a light, loose soil being chosen for the purpose.


The chick-pea [Note] is naturally salt, [Note] for which reason it is apt to scorch the ground, and should only be sown after it has been steeped a day in water. This plant presents considerable differences in reference to size, colour, [Note] form, and taste. One variety resembles in shape a ram's head, from which circumstance it has received the name of "arietinum;" there are both the white and the black arietinum. There is also the columbine chick-pea, by some known as the "pea of Venus;" it is white, round, and smooth, being smaller than the arietinum, and is employed in the observances of the night festivals or vigils. The chicheling vetch, [Note] too, is a diminutive kind of chick-pea, unequal and angular, like [Note] the pea. The chickpea that is the sweetest in flavour is the one that bears the closest resemblance to the fitch; the pod in the black and the red kinds is more firmly closed than in the white ones.

-- 4047 --


The pod of the chick-pea is rounded, while in other legu- minous plants it is long and broad, like the seed which it contains; in the pea, again, it is of a cylindrical form. In the case of the kidney-bean [Note] it is usual to eat the pod together with the seed. This last may be sown in all kinds of soils indifferently, between the ides of October [Note] and the calends of November. [Note] As soon as ever the leguminous plants begin to ripen, they ought to be plucked, for the pods will very soon open and the seed fall out, in which case it is very difficult to find: the same is the case, too, with the lupine. But before we pass on to the lupine, it will be as well to make some mention of the rape. [Note]

18.34 CHAP. 34. (13.)—THE RAPE.

The Latin writers have only treated of this plant in a cursory manner, while those of Greece have considered it a little more attentively; though even they have ranked it among the garden plants. If, however, a methodical arrangement is to be strictly observed, it should be spoken of immediately after corn, or the bean, at all events; for next to these two produc- tions, there is no plant that is of more extensive use. For, in the first place, all animals will feed upon it as it grows; and it is far from being the least nutritious plant in the fields for various kinds of birds, when boiled in water more particularly. Cattle, too, are remarkably fond of the leaves of rape; and the stalks and leaves, when in season, are no less esteemed as a food for man than the sprouts of the cabbage; [Note] these, too, when turned yellow and left to die in the barn, are even more highly esteemed than [Note] when green. As to the rape itself, it will keep all the better if left in its mould, aftær which it should be dried in the open air till the next crop is nearly ripe, as a resource in case of scarcity. Next to those of the

-- 4048 --

grape and corn, this is the most profitable harvest of all for the countries that lie beyond the Padus. The rape is by no means difficult to please in soil, for it will grow almost anywhere, indeed where nothing else can be sown. It readily derives nutriment from fogs and hoar-frosts, and grows to a marvellous size; I have seen them weighing upwards of forty pounds. [Note] It is prepared for table among us in several ways, and is made to keep till the next crop, its Fermentation [Note] being prevented by preserving it in mustard. It is also tinted with no less than six colours in addition to its own, and with purple even; in- deed, that which is used by us as food ought to bæ of no other colour. [Note]

The Greeks have distinguished two principal species of rape, the male and the female, [Note] and have discovered a method of obtaining them both from the same seed; for when it is sown thick, or in a hard, cloggy soil, the produce will be male. The smaller the seed the better it is in quality. There are three kinds of rape in all; the first is broad and flat, the second of a spherical shape, and tile third, to which the name of "wild" rape [Note] has been given, throws out a long root, similar in appearance to a radish, with an angular, rough leaf, and an acrid juice, which, if extracted about harvest, and mixed with a woman's milk, is good for cleansing the eves and improving defective sight. The colder the weather the sweeter they are, and the larger, it is generally thought; heat makes them run to leaf. The finest rape of all is that grown in the district of Nurslia: it is valued at as much as one sesterce [Note] per pound, and, in times of scarcity, two even. That of the next best quality is produced on Mount Algidus.

18.35 CHAP. 35.—THE TURNIP.

The turnip [Note] of Amiternum, which is pretty nearly of the

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same nature as the rape, thrives equally well in a cold soil. It is sown just before the calends of March, [Note] four sextarii of seed to the jugerum. The more careful growers recommend that the ground should be turned up five times before putting in the turnip, and four for rape, care being taken, in both cases, to manure it well. Rape, they say, will thrive all the better, if it is sown together with some chaff. They will have it, too, that the sower ought to be stripped, and that he should offer up a prayer while sowing, and say: "I sow this for myself and for my neighbours." The proper time for sowing both kinds is the period that intervenes between the festivals [Note] of the two divinities, Neptune and Vulcan. It is said, too—and it is the result of very careful observation—that these plants will thrive wonderfully well, if they are sown as many days after the festival of Neptune as the moon was old when the first snow fell the previous winter. They are sown in spring as well, in warm and humid localities.

18.36 CHAP. 36. (14.)—THE LUPINE.

The lupine is the next among the leguminous plants that is in extensive use, as it serves for food for man in common with the hoofed quadrupeds. To prevent it from springing out of the pod [Note] while being gathered, and so lost, the best plan is to gather it immediately after a shower. Of all the seeds that are sown, there is not one of a more marvellous nature than this, or more favoured by the earth. First of all, it turns every day with the sun, [Note] and shows the hour to the husbandman, even though the weather should happen to be cloudy and overcast. It blossoms, too, no less than three times, and so attached is it to the earth, that it does not require to be covered with the soil; indeed, this is the only seed that does not require the earth to be turned up for sowing it. It thrives more particularly on a sandy, dry, and even gravelly soil; and requires no further care to be taken in its cultivation. To such a degree is it attached to the earth, that even

-- 4050 --

though left upon a soil thickly covered with brambles, it will throw out a root amid the leaves and brakes, and so con- trive to reach the ground. We have already stated [Note] that the soil of a field or vineyard is enriched by the growth of a crop of lupines; indeed, so far is it from standing in need of manure, that the lupines will act upon it as well as the very best. It is the only seed that requires no outlay at all, so much so, in fact, that there is no necessity to carry it even to the spot where it is sown; for it may be sown the moment it is brought from the threshing-floor: [Note] and from the fact that it falls from the pod of its own accord, it stands in need of no one to scatter it.

This is [Note] the very first grain sown and the last that is gathered, both operations generally taking place in the month of September; indeed, if this is not done before winter sets in, it is liable to receive injury from the cold. And then, besides, it may even be left with impunity to lie upon the ground, in case showers should not immediately ensue and cover it in, it being quite safe from the attacks of all animals, on account of its bitter taste: still, however, it is mostly covered up in a slight furrow. Among the thicker soils, it is attached to a red earth more particularly. In order to enrich [Note] this earth, it should be turned up just after the third blossom; but where the soil is sandy, after the second. Chalky and slimy soils are the only ones that it has an aversion to; indeed, it will never come to anything when sown in them. Soaked in warm water, it is used as a food, too, for man. One modius is a sufficient meal for an ox, and it is found to impart considerable vigour to cattle; placed, too, upon the abdomen [Note] of children, it acts as a remedy in certain cases. It is an excellent plan to season the lupine by smoking it; for when it is kept in a moist state, maggots are apt to attack the germ, and render it useless for reproduction. If cattle have eaten it off while in leaf, as a matter of necessity it should be ploughed in as soon as possible.

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18.37 CHAP. 37. (15.)—THE VETCH.

The vetch, [Note] too, enriches the soil, and its cultivation en- tails no labour on the agriculturist. It is sown after the ground has been but once turned up, and requires neither hoe- ing nor manuring; nothing at all, indeed, except harrowing there are three periods for sowing it; the first is about the setting of Arcturus, when it is intended for feeding cattle in the month of December, while in the blade; this crop, too, is the best of all for seed, for, although grazed upon, it will bear just as well. The second crop is sown in the month of January, and the last in March; this last being the best crop for fodder. Of all the seeds this is the one that thrives best in a dry soil; still, however, it manifests no repugnance to a shaded locality. This grain, if gathered when quite ripe, produces a chaff superior to that of any other. If sown near vines supported by trees, the vetch will draw away the juices from the vines, and make them languid.

18.38 CHAP. 38.—THE FITCH.

The cultivation of the fitch, [Note] too, is attended with no difficulty. It requires weeding, however, more than the vetch. Like it, the fitch has certain medicinal [Note] properties; for we find the fact still kept in remembrance by some letters of his, that the late Emperor Augustus was cured by its agency. Five modii will sow as much ground as a yoke of oxen can plough in a day. If sown in the month of March, [Note] it is injurious, they say, to oxen: and when sown in autumn, it is apt to produce head-ache. If, however, it is put in the ground at the beginning of spring, it will be productive of no bad results.

18.39 CHAP. 39. (16.)—SILICIA.

Silicia, [Note] or, in other words, fenugreek, is sown after alight ploughing [Note] merely, the furrows being no more than some four

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fingers in depth; the less the pains that are bestowed upon it the better it will thrive—a singular fact that there should be anything that profits from neglect. The kinds, however, that are known as "secale" and "farrago" require harrowing only.


The people of Taurinum, at the foot of the Alps, give to secale [Note] the name of "asia;" it is a very inferior [Note] grain, and is only employed to avert positive famine. It is prolific, but has a straw of remarkable thinness; it is also black and sombre-looking, but weighs extremely heavy. Spelt is mixed with this grain to modify its bitterness, [Note] and even then it is very disagreeable to the stomach. It will grow upon any soil, and yields a hundred-fold; it is employed also as a manure for enriching the land.


Farrago, a mixture made of the refuse of "far," or spelt, is sown very thick, the vetch being sometimes mingled with it; in Africa, this mixture is sometimes made with barley. All these mixtures, however, are only intended for cattle, and the same is the case with the cracca [Note] a degenerate kind of leguminous plant. Pigeons, it is said, are so remarkably fond of this grain, that they will never leave the place where it has been given to them.


Among the ancients there was a sort of fodder, to which Cato [Note] gives the name of "ocinum;" it was employed by them to stop scouring in oxen. This was a mixture of various kinds of fodder, cut green before the frosts came on. Mamilius Sura, however, explains the term differently, and says that ten modii of beans, two of vetches, and the same quantity of ervilia, [Note] were mixed and sown in autumn on a jugerum of land. He

-- 4053 --

states, also, that it is a still better plan to mix some Greek oats [Note] with it, the grain of which never falls to the ground; this mixture, according to him, was ocinum, and was usually sown as a food for oxen. Varro [Note] informs us that it received its name on account of the celerity with which it springs up, from the Greek ὠχέως, "quickly."

18.43 CHAP. 43.—LUCERNE.

Lucerne [Note] is by nature an exotic to Greece even, it having been first introduced into that country from Media, [Note] at the time of the Persian wars with King Darius; still it deserves to be mentioned among the very first of these productions. So superior are its qualities, that a single sowing will last more than thirty [Note] years. It resembles trefoil in appearance, but the stalk and leaves are articulated. The longer it grows in the stalk, the narrower is the leaf. Amphilochus has devoted a whole book to this subject and the cytisus. [Note] The ground in which it is sown, being first cleaned and cleared of stones, is turned up in the autumn, after which it is ploughed and harrowed. It is then harrowed a second and a third time, at intervals of five days; after which manure is laid upon it. This seed requires either a soil that is dry, but full of nutriment, or else a well-watered one. After the ground has been thus pre- pared, the seed is put in the month of May; [Note] for if sown earlier, it is in danger from the frosts. It is necessary to sow the seed very thick, so that all the ground may be occupied, and no room left for weeds to shoot up in the intervals; a result which may be secured by sowing twenty modii to the jugerum. The seed must be stirred at once with the rake, to prevent the sun from scorching it, and it should be covered over with earth as speedily as possible. If the soil is naturally damp or weedy, the lucerne will be overpowered, and the spot

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degenerate into an ordinary pasture; it is necessary, therefore, directly the crop is an inch in height, to disengage it from all weeds, by hand, in preference to the weeding-hook.

It is cut when it is just beginning to flower, and this is repeated as often as it throws out new blossoms; which happens mostly six [Note] times in the year, and four at the very least. Care should be taken to prevent it from running to seed, as it is much more valuable as fodder, up to the third year. It should be hoed in the spring, and cleared of all other plants; and in the third year the surface should be well worked with the weeding-hook. By adopting this method, the weeds will be effectually destroyed, though without detriment to the lucerne, in consequence of the depth of its roots. If the weeds should happen to get ahead of it, the only remedy is to turn it up repeatedly with the plough, until the roots of the weeds are thoroughly destroyed. This fodder should never be given to cattle to satiety, otherwise it may be necessary to let blood; it is best, too, when used while green. When dry, it becomes tough and ligneous, and falls away at last into a thin, useless dust. As to the cytisus, which also occupies the very foremost rank among the fodders, we have already spoken [Note] of it at sufficient length when describing the shrubs. It remains for us now to complete our account of all the cereals, and we shall here devote a portion of it to the diseases to which they are subject.

18.44 CHAP. 44. (17.)—the DISEASES OF GRAIN: THE OAT.

The foremost feature of disease in wheat is the oat. [Note] Barley, too, will degenerate into the oat; so much so, in fact, that tile oat has become an equivalent for corn; for the people of Germany are in the habit of sowing it, and make their porridge of nothing else. This degeneracy is owing more particularly to humidity of soil and climate; and a second cause is a weakness in the seed, the result of its being retained too long in the ground before it makes its appearance above it. The same, too, will

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be the consequence, if the seed is decayed when put in the ground. This may be known, however, the moment it makes its appearance, from which it is quite evident that the defect lies in the root. There is another form of disease, too, which closely resembles the oat, and which supervenes when the grain, already developed to its full size, but not ripe, is struck by a noxious blast, before it has acquired its proper body and strength; in this case, the seed pines away in the ear, by a kind of abortion, as it were, and totally disappears.

The wind is injurious to wheat and barley, at three [Note] periods of the year in particular: when they are in blossom, directly the blossom has passed off, and just as the seed is beginning to ripen. In this last case, the grain wastes away, while in the two former ones it is prevented from being developed. Gleams of sunshine, every now and then, from the midst of clouds, are injurious to corn. Maggots, too, breed [Note] in the roots, when the rains that follow the seed-time are succeeded by a sudden heat, which encloses the humidity in the ground. Maggots make their appearance, [Note] also, in the grain, when the ear ferments through heat succeeding a fall of rain. There is a small beetle, too, known by the name of "cantharis," [Note] which eats away the blade. All these insects die, however, as soon as their nutriment fails them. Oil, [Note] pitch, and grease are pre- judicial to grain, and care should be taken not to let them come in contact with the seed that is sown. Rain is only beneficial to grain while in the blade; it is injurious to wheat and barley while they are in blossom, but is not detrimental to the leguminous plants, with the exception of the chick-pea. When grain is beginning to ripen, rain is injurious, and to barley in particular. There is a white grass [Note] that grows in the fields, very similar to panic in appearance, but fatal to cattle. As to

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darnel, [Note] the tribulus, [Note] the thistle, [Note] and the burdock, [Note] I can consider them, no more than the bramble, among the maladies that attack the cereals, but rather as so many pests inflicted on the earth. Mildew, [Note] a malady resulting from the inclemency of the weather, and equally attacking the vine [Note] and corn, is in no degree less injurious. It attacks corn most frequently in localities which are exposed to dews, and in vallies which have not a thorough draught for the wind; windy and elevated spots, on the other hand, are totally exempt from it. Another evil, again, in corn, is over-luxuriance, when it falls to the ground beneath the weight [Note] of the grain. One evil, however, to which all crops in common, the chick-pea even, are exposed, is the attacks of the caterpillar, when the rain, by washing away the natural saltness of the vegetation, makes it [Note] all the more tempting for its sweetness.

There is a certain plant, [Note] too, which kills the chick-pea and the fitch, by twining around them; the name of it is "orobanche." In a similar manner, also, wheat is attacked by darnel, [Note] barley by a long-stalked plant, called "ægilops," [Note] and the lentil by an axe-leafed grass, to which, from the resemblance [Note] of the leaf, the Greeks have given the name of "pelecinon." All these plants, too, kill the others by entwining around them. In the neighbourhood of Philippi, there is a plant known as ateramon, [Note] which grows in a rich soil, and

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kills the bean, after it has been exposed, while wet, to the blasts of a certain wind: when it grows in a thin, light soil, this plant is called "teramon." The seed of darnel is extremely minute, and is enclosed in a prickly husk. If introduced into bread, it will speedily produce vertigo; and it is said that in Asia and Greece, the bath-keepers, when they want to disperse a crowd of people, throw this seed upon burning coals. The phalangium, a diminutive insect of the spider genus, [Note] breeds in the fitch, if the winter happens to be wet. Slugs, too, breed in the vetch, and sometimes a tiny snail makes its way out of the ground, and eats it away in a most singular manner.

These are pretty nearly all the maladies to which grain is subject.


The best remedy for these maladies, so long as grain is in the blade, is the weeding-hook, and, at the moment of sowing, ashes. [Note] As to those diseases which develop themselves in the seed and about the root, with due care precautions may be effectually employed against them. It is generally supposed that if seed has been first steeped in wine, [Note] it will be less exposed to disease. Virgil [Note] recommends that beans should be drenched with nitre and amurca of olives; and he says that if this is done, they will be all the larger. Some persons, again, are of opinion, that they will grow of increased size, if the seed is steeped for three days before it is sown in a solution of urine and water. If the ground, too, is hoed three times, a modius of beans in the pod, they say, will yield not less than a modius

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of shelled [Note] beans. Other seeds, again, it is said, will be exempt from the attacks of maggots, if bruised cypress [Note] leaves are mixed with them, or if they are sown just at the moon's conjunction. Many persons, for the more effectual protection of millet, recommend that a bramble-frog should be carried at night round the field before the hoeing is done, and then buried in an earthen vessel in the middle of it. If this is done, they say, neither sparrows nor worms will attack the crop. The frog, however, must be disinterred before the millet is cut; for if this is neglected, the produce will be bitter. It is pretended, too, that all seeds which have been touched by the shoulders of a mole are remarkably productive.

Democritus recommends that all seeds before they are sown should be steeped in the juice of the herb known as "aizoüm," [Note] which grows on tiles or shingles, and is known to us by the Latin name of "sedum" or "digitellum." [Note] If blight pre- vails, or if worms are found adhering to the roots, it is a very common remedy to sprinkle the plants with pure amurca of olives without salt, and then to hoe the ground. If, however, the crop should be beginning to joint, it should be stubbed at once, for fear lest the weeds should gain the upper hand. I know for certain [Note] that flights of starlings and sparrows, those pests to millet and panic, are effectually driven away by means of a certain herb, the name of which is unknown to me, being buried at the four corners of the field: it is a wonderful thing to relate, but in such case not a single bird will enter it. Mice are kept away by the ashes of a weasel or a cat being steeped in water and then thrown upon the seed, or else by using the water in which the body of a weasel or a cat has been boiled. The odour, however, of these animals makes itself perceived in the bread even; for which reason it is generally thought a better plan to steep the seed in ox-gall. [Note] As for mildew, that greatest curse of all to corn, if branches of laurel are

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fixed in the ground, it will pass away from the field into the leaves of the laurel. Over-luxuriance in corn is repressed by the teeth of cattle, [Note] but only while it is in the blade; in which case, if depastured upon ever so often, no injury to it when in the ear will be the result. If the ear, too, is once cut off, the grain, it is well known, will assume a larger [Note] form, but will be hollow within and worthless, and if sown, will come to nothing.

At Babylon, however, they cut the blade twice, and then let the cattle pasture on it a third time, for otherwise it would run to nothing but leaf. Even then, however, so fertile is the soil, that it yields fifty, and, indeed, with care, as much as a hundred, fold. Nor is the cultivation of it attended with any difficulty, the only object being to let the ground be under water as long as possible, in order that the extreme richness and exuberance of the soil may be modified. The Euphrates, however, and the Tigris do not deposit a slime, in the same way that the Niles does in Egypt, nor does the soil produce vegetation spontaneously; but still, so great is the fertility, that, although the seed is only trodden in with the foot, a crop springs up spontaneously the following year. So great a dif- ferrous in soils as this, reminds me that I ought to take this opportunity of specifying those which are the best adapted for the various kinds of grain.


This, then, is the opinion expressed by Cato [Note] on the subject: "In a dense and fertile soil wheat should be sown: but if the locality is subject to fogs, rape, radishes, millet, and panic. Where the land [Note] is cold and moist, sowing should be commenced earlier; but where it is hot, at a later period. In a red, black, or gravelly soil, provided it is not watery, lupines should be sown; but in chalk, red earth, or a watery soil, spelt. [Note] Where a locality is dry, free from weeds, and not overshadowed, wheat should be put; in; and where the soil is

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strong and powerful, beans. Vetches should be grown in a soil as free from water and weeds as possible; while wheat and winter wheat are best adapted to an open, elevated locality, fully exposed to the warmth of the sun, the lentil thrives best in a meager, red earth, free from weeds. Barley is equally suited for fallow land and for a soil that is not intended to be fallow, and three-month wheat, for a soil upon which a crop of ordinary wheat would never ripen, but strong enough to bear."

The following, too, is sound advice: [Note] Those plants should be sown in a thin soil which do not stand in need of much nutriment, the cytisus, for instance, and such of the leguminous plants, with the exception of the chick-pea, as are taken up by the roots and not cut. From this mode of gathering them —"legers"—the leguminous derive their name. Where it is a rich earth, those plants should be grown which require a greater proportion of nutriment, codeword for instance, wheat, winter-wheat, and flax. The result, then, will be, that a light soil will be given to barley—the root of that grain standing in need of less nutriment—while a more dense, though easily-worked soil, will be assigned to wheat. In humid localities spelt should be sown in preference to wheat; but where the soil is of moderate temperature, either wheat or barley may be grown. Declivities produce a stronger growth of wheat, but in smaller quantities. Spelt and winter-wheat adopt a moist, cretaceous soil in preference to any other.

(18.) The only occasion on which there ever was a prodigy connected with grain, at least that I am aware of, was in the consulship of P. Ælias and Census Cornelius, the year [Note] in which Hannibal was vanquished: on that occasion, we find it stated, corn was seen growing upon trees. [Note]


As we have now spoken at sufficient length of the several varieties of grain and soil, we shall proceed to treat of the methods adopted in tilling the ground, taking care, in the very

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first place, to make mention of the peculiar facilities enjoyed by Egypt in this respect. In that country, performing the duties of the husbandman, the Nile begins to overflow, as already stated, [Note] immediately after the summer solstice or the new moon, gradually at first, but afterwards with increased impetuosity, as long as the sun remains in the sign of Leo, When the sun has passed into Virgo, the impetuosity of the overflow begins to slacken, and when he has entered Libra the river subsides. Should it not have exceeded twelve cubits in its overflow, famine is the sure result; and this is equally the case if it should chance to exceed sixteen; for the higher it has risen, the more slowly it subsides, and, of course, the seedtime is impeded in proportion. It was formerly a very general belief that immediately upon the subsiding of the waters the Egyptians were in the habit of driving herds of swine over the ground, for the purpose of treading the seed into the moist soil—and it is my own impression that this was done in ancient times. At the present day even, the operation is not attended with much greater labour. It is well known, however, that the seed is first laid upon the slime that has been left by the river on its subsidence, and then ploughed in; this being done at the beginning of November. After this is done, a few persons are employed in stubbing, an operation known there as "botanismos." The rest of the labourers, however, have no occasion to visit the land again till a little before the calends of April, [Note] and then it is with the reaping-hook. The harvest is completed in the month of May. The stem is never so much as a cubit in length, as there is a stratum of sand beneath the slime, from which last alone the grain receives its support. The best wheat of all is that of the region of Thebais, Egypt [Note] being of a marshy character.

The method adopted at Seleucia in Babylonia is very similar to this, but the fertility there is still greater, owing to the overflow of the Euphrates and Tigris, [Note] the degree of irrigation being artificially modified in those parts. In Syria, too, the furrows are made extremely light, while in many parts of

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Italy, again, it takes as many as eight oxen to pant and blow at a single plough. All the operations of agriculture, but this in particular, should be regulated by the oracular precept— "Remember that every locality has its own tendencies."


Ploughs are of various kinds. The coulter [Note] is the iron part that cuts up the dense earth before it is broken into pieces, and traces beforehand by its incisions the future furrows, which the share, reversed, [Note] is to open out with its teeth. Another kind—the common plough-share—is nothing more than a lever, furnished with a pointed beak; while another variety, which is only used in light, easy soils, does not present an edge projecting from the share-beam throughout, but only a small point at the extremity. In a fourth kind again, this point is larger and formed with a cutting edge; by the agency of which implement, it both cleaves the ground, and, with the sharp edges at the sides, cuts up the weeds by the roots. There has been invented, at a comparatively recent period, in that part of Gaul [Note] known as Rhætia, a plough with the addition of two small wheels, and known by the name of "plaumorati." [Note] The extremity of the share in this has the form of a spade: it is only used, however, for sowing in cultivated lands, and upon soils which are nearly fallow. The broader the plough-share, the better it is for turning up the clods of earth. Immediately after ploughing, the seed is put into the ground, and then harrows [Note] with long teeth are drawn over it. Lands which have been sown in this way require no hoeing, but two or three pairs of oxen are employed in ploughing. It is a fair estimate to consider that a single yoke of oxen can work forty jugera of land in the year, where the soil is light, and thirty where it is stubborn.

18.49 CHAP. 49. (19,)—THE MODE OF PLOUGHING.

In ploughing, the most rigid attention should be paid to the

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oracular precepts given by Cato [Note] on the subject. "What is the essence of good tillage? Good ploughing. What is the second point? Ploughing again. What is the third point? Manuring. Take care not to make crooked furrows. Be careful to plough at the proper time." In warm localities it is necessary to open the ground immediately after the winter solstice, but where it is coke, directly after the vernal equinox: this, too, should be done sooner in dry districts than in wet ones, in a dense soil than a loose one, in a rich land than a meagre one. In countries where the summers are hot and oppressive, the soil cretaceous or thin, it is the best plan to plough between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox. Where, on the other hand, the heat is moderate, with frequent falls of rain, and the soil rich and full of vegetation, the ploughing should be done during the prevalence of the heat. A deep, heavy soil, again, should be ploughed in winter; but one that is very thin and dry, only just before putting in the seed.

Tillage, too, has its own particular rules [Note]—Never touch the ground while it is wet and cloggy; plough with all your might; loosen the ground before you begin to plough. This method has its advantages, for by turning up the clods the roots of the weeds are killed. Some persons recommend that in every case the ground should be turned up immediately after the vernal equinox. Land that has been ploughed once in spring, from that circumstance has the name of "vervactum." [Note] This, too, is equally necessary in the case of fallow land, by which term is meant land that is sown only in alternate years. The oxen employed in ploughing should be harnessed as tightly as possible, to make them plough with their heads up; attention paid to this point will prevent them from galling the neck. If it is among trees and vines that you are ploughing, the oxen should be muzzled, to prevent them from eating off the tender buds. There should be a small bill-hook, too, projecting from the plough-tail, for the purpose of cutting up the roots; this plan being preferable to that of turning them up with the share, and so straining the oxen. When ploughing, finish the furrow at one spell, and never stop to take breath in the middle.

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It is a fair day's work to plough one jugerum, for the first time, nine inches in depth; and the second time, one jugerum and a half—that is to say, if it is an easy soil. If this, however, is not the case, it will take a day to turn up half a jugerum for the first time, and a whole jugerum the second; for Nature has set limits to the powers of animals even. The furrows should be made, in every case, first in a straight line, and then others should be drawn, crossing them obliquely. [Note] Upon a hill-side the furrows are drawn transversely [Note] only, the point of the share inclining upwards at one moment and downwards [Note] at another. Man, too, is so well fitted for labour, that he is able to supply the place of the ox even; at all events, it is without the aid of that animal that the mountain tribes plough, having only the hoe to help them. [Note]

The ploughman, unless he stoops to his work, is sure to prevaricate, [Note] a word which has been transferred to the Forum, as a censure upon those who transgress—at any rate, let those be on their guard against it, where it was first employed. The share should be cleaned every now and then with a stick pointed with a scraper. The ridges that are left between every two furrows, should not be left in a rough state, nor should large clods be left protruding from the ground. A field is badly ploughed that stands in need of harrowing after the seed is in; but the work has been properly done, when it is impossible to say in which direction the share has gone. It is a good plan, too, to leave a channel every now and then, if the nature of the spot requires it, by making furrows of a larger size, to draw off the water into the drains.

(20.) After the furrows have been gone over again transversely, the clods are broken, where there is a necessity for it, with either the harrow or the rake; [Note] and this operation is repeated

-- 4065 --

after the seed has been put in. This last harrowing is done, where the usage of the locality will allow of it, with either a toothed harrow, or else a plank attached to the plough. This operation of covering in the seed is called "lirare," from which is derived the word "deliratio." [Note] Virgil, [Note] it is generally thought, intends to recommend sowing after four ploughings, in the passage where he says that land will bear the best crop, which has twice felt the sun and twice the cold. Where the soil is dense, as in most parts of Italy, it is a still better plan to go over the ground five times before sowing; in Etruria, they give the land as many as nine ploughings first. The bean, however, and the vetch may be sown with no risk, without turning up the land at all; which, of course, is so much labour saved.

We must not here omit to mention still one other method of ploughing, which the devastations of warfare have suggested in Italy that lies beyond the Padus. The Salassi, [Note] when ravaging the territories which lay at the foot of the Alps, made an attempt to lay waste the crops of panic and millet that were just appearing above the ground. Finding, however, that Nature resisted all their endeavours, they passed the plough over the ground, the result of which was that the crops were more abundant than ever; and this it was that first taught us the method of ploughing in, expressed by the word "artrare," otherwise "aratrare," in my opinion the original form. This is done either just as the stem begins to develope itself, or else when it has put forth as many as two or three leaves. Nor must we withhold from the reader a more recent method, which was discovered the year but one before this, [Note] in the territory of the Treviri. The crops having been nipped by the extreme severity of the winter, the people sowed the land over again in the month of March, and had a most abundant harvest.

We shall now proceed to a description of the peculiar methods employed in cultivating each description of grain.

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For winter wheat, spelt, wheat, zea, [Note] and barley, harrow, hoe and stub upon the days which will be mentioned [Note] in the sequel. A single hand per jugerum will be quite enough for any one of these kinds of grain. The operation of hoeing loosens the ground in spring when it has been hardened and saddened by the rigours of the winter, and admits the early sun to the interior. In hoeing, every care must be taken not to go beneath the roots of the corn; in the case of wheat, zea, and barley, it is best to give a couple of hoeings. Stubbing, [Note] when the crop is just beginning to joint, cleanses it of all noxious weeds, disengages the roots of the corn, and liberates the growing blade from the clods. Among the leguminous plants, the chick-pea requires the same treatment that spelt does. The bean requires no stubbing, being quite able of itself to overpower all weeds; the lupine, too, is harrowed only. Millet and panic are both harrowed and hoed; but this operation is never repeated, and they do not require stubbing. Fenugreek and the kidney-bean require harrowing only.

There are some kinds of ground, the extreme fertility of which obliges the grower to comb down the crops while in the blade—this is done with a sort of harrow [Note] armed with pointed iron teeth—and even then he is obliged to depasture cattle upon them. When, however, the blade has been thus eaten down, it stands in need of hoeing to restore it to its former vigour.

But in Bactria, and at Cyrenæ in Africa, all this trouble has been rendered quite unnecessary by the indulgent benignity of the climate, and after the seed is in, the owner has no occasion to return to the field till the time has come for getting in the harvest. In those parts the natural dryness of the soil prevents noxious weeds from springing up, and, aided by the night dews alone, the soil supplies its nutriment to the grain. Virgil [Note] recommends that the ground should be left to enjoy repose every other year; and this, no doubt, if the extent of the farm will admit of it, is the most advantageous plan. If, however, cir-

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cumstances will not allow of it, spelt should be sown upon the ground that has been first cropped with lupines, vetches, or beans; for all these have a tendency to make the soil more fertile. We ought to remark here more particularly, that here and there certain plants are sown for the benefit of others, although, as already stated in the preceding Book, [Note] not to repeat the same thing over again, they are of little value themselves. But it is the nature of each soil that is of the greatest importance.


There is a city of Africa, situate in the midst of the sands as you journey towards the Syrtes and Great Leptis, Tacape [Note] by name. The soil there, which is always well-watered, enjoys a degree of fertility quite marvellous. Through this spot, which extends about three miles each way, a spring of water flows—in great abundance it is true—but still, it is only at certain hours that its waters are distributed among the inhabitants. Here, beneath a palm of enormous size, grows the olive, beneath the olive the fig, beneath the fig, again, the pomegranate, beneath the pomegranate the vine, and beneath the vine we find sown, first wheat, then the leguminous plants, and after them garden herbs—all in the same year, and all growing beneath another's shade. Four cubits square of this same ground—the cubit [Note] being measured with the fingers contracted and not extended—sell at the rate of four denarii. [Note] But what is more surprising than all, is the fact that here the vine bears twice, and that there are two vintages in the year. Indeed, if the fertility of the soil were not distributed in this way among a multitude of productions, each crop would perish from its own exuberance: as it is, there is no part of the year that there is not some crop or other being gathered in; and yet, it is a well-known fact, that the people do nothing at all to promote this fruitfulness.

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There are very considerable differences, too, in the nature of water, as employed for the purposes of irrigation. In the province of Gallia Narbonensis there is a famous fountain, Orge by name; within it there grow plants which are sought for with such eagerness by the cattle, that they will plunge over head into the water to get at them; it is a well ascertained [Note] fact, however, that these plants, though growing in the water, receive their nutriment only from the rains that fall. It is as well then that every one should be fully acquainted with the nature, not only of the soil, but of the water too.


If the soil is of that nature which we have already [Note] spoken of as "tender," [Note] after a crop of barley has been grown upon it, millet may be sown, and after the millet has been got in, rape. In succession to these, again, barley may be put in, or else wheat, as in Campania; and it will be quite enough, in such case, to plough the ground when the seed is sown. There is another rotation again—when the ground has been cropped with spelt, [Note] it should lie fallow the four winter months; after which, spring beans should be put in, to keep it occupied till the time comes for cropping it with winter beans. Where the soil is too rich, it may lie fallow one year, care being taken after sowing it with corn to crop it with the leguminous plants the third year. [Note] Where, on the other hand, it is too thin, the land should lie fallow up to the third year even. Some persons recommend that corn should never be sown except in land which has lain fallow the year before.


The proper method of manuring is here a very important subject for consideration—we have already treated of it at some length in the preceding Book. [Note] The only point that is

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universally agreed upon is, that we must never sow without first manuring the ground; although in this respect even there are certain rules to be observed. Millet, panic, rape, and turnips should never be sown in any but a manured soil. If, on the other hand, the land is not manured, sow wheat there in preference to barley. The same, too, with fallow lands; though in these it is generally recommended that beans should be sown. It should be remembered, however, that wherever beans are sown, the land should have been manured at as recent a period as possible. If it is intended to crop ground in autumn, care must be taken to plough in manure in the month of September, just after rain has fallen. In the same way, too, if it is intended to sow in spring, the manure should be spread in the winter. It is the rule to give eighteen cart-loads of manure to each jugerum, and to spread it well before ploughing it in, [Note] or sowing the seed. [Note] If this manuring, however, is omitted, it will be requisite to spread the land with aviary dust just before hoeing is commenced. To clear up any doubts with reference to this point, I would here observe that the fair price for a cart-load of manure is one denarius; where, too, sheep furnish one cart-load, the larger cattle should furnish ten: [Note] unless this result is obtained, it is a clear proof that the husbandman has littered his cattle badly.

There are some persons who are of opinion that the best method of manuring land is to pen sheep there, with nets erected to prevent them from straying. If land is not manured, it will get chilled; but if, on the other hand, it is over-manured, it becomes burnt up: it is a much better plan, too, to manure little and often than in excess. The warmer the soil is by nature, the less manure it requires.


The best seed of all is that which is of the last year's growth. That which is two years old is inferior, and three the worst of all

-- 4070 --

—beyond that, it is unproductive. [Note] The same definite rule which applies to one kind of seed is applicable to them all: the seed which falls to the bottom [Note] on the threshing-floor, should be reserved for sowing, for being the most weighty it is the best in quality: there is no better method, in fact, of ascertaining its quality. The grains of those ears which have intervals between the seed should be rejected. The best grain is that which has a reddish hue, [Note] and which, when broken between the teeth, presents the same [Note] colour; that which has more white within is of inferior quality. It is a well-known fact that some lands require more seed than others, from which circumstance first arose a superstition that exists among the peasantry; it is their belief that when the ground demands the seed with greater avidity than usual, it is famished, and devours the grain. It is consistent with reason to put in the seed where the soil is humid sooner than elsewhere, to prevent the grain from rotting in the rain: on dry spots it should be sown later, and just before the fall of a shower, so that it may not have to lie long without germinating and so come to nothing. When the seed is put in early it should be sown thick, as it is a considerable time before it germinates; but when it is put in later, it should be sown thinly, to prevent it from being suffocated. There is a certain degree of skill, too, required in scattering the seed evenly; to ensure this, the hand must keep time [Note] with the step, moving always with the right foot. There are certain persons, also, who have a secret method [Note] of their own, having been born [Note] with a happy hand which imparts fruitfulness to the grain. Care should be taken not to sow seed in a warm locality which has been grown in a cold

-- 4071 --

one, nor should the produce of an early soil be sown in a late one. Those who give advice to the contrary have quite misapplied their pains.


[Note]In a soil of middling quality, the proper proportion of seed is five modii of wheat or winter-wheat to the jugerum, ten of spelt or of seed-wheat—that being the name which we have mentioned [Note] as being given to one kind of wheat—six of barley, one-fifth more of beans than of wheat, twelve of vetches, three of chick-pease, chicheling vetches, and pease, ten of lupines, three of lentils—(these last, however, it is said, must be sown with dry manure)—six of fitches, six of fenugreek, four of kidney-beans, twenty of hay grass, [Note] and four sextarii of millet and panic. Where the soil is rich, the proportion must be greater, where it is thin, less. [Note]

There is another distinction, too, to be made; where the soil is dense, cretaceous, or moist, there should be six modii of wheat or winter-wheat to the jugerum, but where the land is loose, dry, and prolific, four will be enough. A meagre soil, too, if the crop is not very thinly sown, will produce a diminutive, empty ear. Rich lands give a number of stalks to each grain, and yield a thick crop from only a light sowing. The result, then, is, that from four to six modii must be sown, according to the nature of the soil; though there are some who make it a rule that five modii is the proper proportion for sowing, neither more nor less, whether it is a densely-planted locality, a declivity, or a thin, meagre soil. To this subject bears reference an oracular precept which never can be too carefully observed [Note]—"Don't rob the harvest." [Note] Attius, in his Praxidicus, [Note] has added that the proper time for sowing is,

-- 4072 --

when the moon is in Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, and Aquarius. Zoroaster says it should be done when the sun has passed twelve degrees of Scorpio, and the moon is in Taurus.


We now come to a subject which has been hitherto deferred by us, and which requires our most careful attention—the proper times for sowing. This is a question that depends in a very great degree upon the stars; and I shall therefore make it my first care to set forth all the opinions that have been written in reference to the subject. Hesiod, the first writer who has given any precepts upon agriculture, speaks of one period only for sowing—the setting of the Vergiliæ: but then he wrote in Bœotia, a country of Hellas, where, as we have already stated, [Note] they are still in the habit of sowing at that period.

It is generally agreed by the most correct writers, that with the earth, as with the birds and quadrupeds, there are certain impulses for reproduction; and the epoch for this is fixed by the Greeks at the time when the earth is warm and moist. Virgil [Note] says that wheat and spelt should be sown at the setting of the Vergiliæ, barley between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, and vetches, [Note] kidney-beans, and lentils at the setting of Boötes: [Note] it is of great importance, therefore, to ascertain the exact days of the rising and setting of these constellations, as well as of the others. There are some, again, who recommend the sowing to be done before the setting of the Vergiliæ, but only in a dry soil, and in those provinces where the weather is hot; for the seed, they say, [Note] if put in the ground will keep, there being no moisture to spoil it, and within a single day after the next fall of rain, will make its appearance above ground. Others, again, are of opinion that sowing should begin about seven days after the setting of the Vergiliæ, a period which is mostly followed by rain. Some think that cold soils should be sown immediately after the autumnal equinox, and a warm soil later, so that the blade may not put forth too luxuriantly before winter.

It is universally agreed, however, that the sowing should

-- 4073 --

not be done about the period of the winter solstice; for this very good reason—the winter seeds, if put in before the winter solstice, will make their appearance above ground on the seventh day, whereas, if they are sown just after it, they will hardly appear by the fortieth. There are some, however, who begin very early, and have a saying to justify their doing so, to the effect that if seed sown too early often disappoints, seed put in too late always does so. On the other hand, again, there are some who maintain that it is better to sow in spring than in a bad autumn; and they say that if they find themselves obliged to sow in spring, they would choose the period that intervenes between the prevalence of the west winds [Note] and the vernal equinox. Some persons, however, take no notice of the celestial phenomena, and only regulate their movements by the months. In spring they put in flax, the oat, and the poppy, up to the feast of the Quinquatria, [Note] as we find done at the present day by the people of Italy beyond the Padus. There, too, they sow beans and winter-wheat in the month of November, and spelt at the end of September, up to the ides of October: [Note] others, however, sow this last after the ides of October, as late as the calends of November. [Note]

The persons who do this take no notice, consequently, of the phænomena of Nature, while others, again, lay too much stress upon them, and hence, by these refined subtleties and distinctions, only add to their blindness; for here are ignorant rustics, not only dealing with a branch of learning, but that branch astronomy! It must still, however, be admitted that the observation of the heavens plays a very important part in the operations of agriculture; and Virgil, [Note] we find, gives it as his advice, that before any thing else, we should learn the theory of the winds, and the revolutions of the stars; for, as he says, the agriculturist, no less than the mariner, should regulate his movements thereby. It is an arduous attempt, and almost beyond all hope of success, to make an endeavour to introduce the divine science of the heavens to the uninformed

-- 4074 --

mind of the rustic; still, however, with a view to such vast practical results as must be derived from this kind of knowledge, I shall make the attempt. There are some astronomical difficulties, however, which have been experienced by the learned even, that ought to be first submitted for consideration, in order that the mind may feel some encouragement on abandoning the study of the heavens, and may be acquainted with facts at least, even though it is still unable to see into futurity.


In the first place, it is almost an utter impossibility to calculate with a fair degree of accuracy the days of the year and the movements of the sun. To the three hundred and sixty-five days there are still to be added the intercalary days, the result of the additional quarters of a day and night: hence it is, that it is found impossible to ascertain with exactness the proper periods for the appearance of the stars. To this we must add, too, a certain degree of uncertainty connected with these matters, that is universally admitted; thus, for instance, bad and wintry weather will often precede, by several days, the proper period for the advent of that season, a state of things known to the Greeks as προχειμάζειν; [Note] while at another time, it will last longer than usual, a state of circumstances known as ἐπιχειμάζειν. [Note] The effects, too, of the changes that take place in the seasons will sometimes be felt later, and at other times earlier, upon their reaching the face of the earth; and we not unfrequently hear the remark made, upon the return of fine weather, that the action of such and such a constellation is now completed. [Note] And then, again, as all these phænomena depend upon certain stars, arranged and regulated in the vault of heaven, we find intervening, in accordance with the movements of certain stars, hailstorms and showers, themselves productive of no slight results, as we have already observed, [Note] and apt to interfere with the anticipated regular recurrence of the seasons. Nor are we to suppose that these disappointments fall upon the human race only, for other animated beings, as well as ourselves,

-- 4075 --

are deceived in regard to them, although endowed with even a greater degree of sagacity upon these points than we are, from the fact of their very existence depending so materially upon them. Hence it is, that we sometimes see the summer birds killed by too late or too early cold, and the winter birds by heat coming out of the usual season. It is for this reason, that Virgil [Note] has recommended us to study the courses of the planets, and has particularly warned us to watch the passage of the cold star Saturn.

There are some who look upon the appearance of the butterfly as the surest sign of spring, because of the extreme delicacy of that insect. In this present year, [Note] however, in which I am penning these lines, it has been remarked that the flights of butterflies have been killed three several times, by as many returns of the cold; while the foreign birds, which brought us by the sixth of the calends of February [Note] every indication of an early spring, after that had to struggle against a winter of the greatest severity. In treating of these matters, we have to meet a twofold difficulty: first of all, we have to ascertain whether or not the celestial phænomena are regulated by certain laws, and then we have to seek how to reconcile those laws with apparent facts. We must, however, be more particularly careful to take into account the convexity of the earth, and the differences of situation in the localities upon the face of the globe; for hence it is, that the same constellation shows itself to different nations at different times, the result being, that its influence is by no means perceptible everywhere at the same moment. This difficulty has been considerably enhanced, too, by various authors, who, after making their observations in different localities, and indeed, in some instances, in the same locality, have yet given us varying or contradictory results.

There have been three great schools of astronomy, the Chaldæan, the Ægyptian, and the Grecian. To these has been added a fourth school, which was established by the Dictator Cæsar among ourselves, and to which was entrusted the duty of regulating the year in conformity with the sun's revolution, [Note] under the auspices of Sosigenes, an astronomer of considerable learning and skill. His theory, too, upon the discovery of certain errors, has since been corrected, no intercalations having

-- 4076 --

been made for twelve [Note] successive years, upon its being found that the year which before had anticipated the constellations, was now beginning to fall behind them. Even Sosigenes himself, too, though more correct than his predecessors, has not hesitated to show, by his continual corrections in the three several treatises which he composed, that he still entertained great doubts on the subject. The writers, too, whose names are inserted at the beginning of this work, [Note] have sufficiently revealed the fact of these discrepancies, the opinions of one being rarely found to agree with those of another. This, however, is less surprising in the case of those whose plea is the difference of the localities in which they wrote. But with reference to those who, though living in the same country, have still arrived at different results, we shall here mention one remarkable instance of discrepancy. Hesiod—for under his name, also, we have a treatise extant on the Science of the Stars [Note]—has stated that the morning setting of the Vergiliæ takes place at the moment of the autumnal equinox; whereas Thales, we find, makes it the twenty-fifth day after the equinox, Anaximander the twenty-ninth, and Euctemon the forty-eighth.

As for ourselves, we shall follow the calculations made by Julius Cæsar, [Note] which bear reference more particularly to Italy; though at the same time, we shall set forth the dicta of various other writers, bearing in mind that we are treating not of an individual country, but of Nature considered in her totality. In doing this, however, we shall name, not the writers themselves, for that would be too lengthy a task, but the countries in reference to which they speak. The reader must bear in mind, then, that for the sake of saving space, under the head of Attica, we include the islands of the Cyclades as well; under that of Macedonia, Magnesia and Thracia; under that of Egypt,

-- 4077 --

Phœnice, Cyprus, and Cilicia; under that of Bœotia, Locris, Phocis, and the adjoining countries; under that of Hellespont, Chersonesus, and the contiguous parts as far as Mount Athos; under that of Ionia, Asia [Note] and the islands of Asia; under that of Peloponnesus, Achaia, and the regions lying to the west of it. Chaldæa, when mentioned, will signify Assyria and Babylonia, as well.

My silence as to Africa, [Note] Spain, and the provinces of Gaul, will occasion no surprise, from the fact that no one has published any observations made upon the stars in those countries. Still, however, there will be no difficulty in calculating them, even for these regions as well, on reference being made to the parallels which have been set forth in the Sixth Book. [Note] By adopting this course, an accurate acquaintance may be made with the astronomical relations, not only of individual nations, but of cities even as well. By taking the circular parallels which we have there appended to the several portions of the earth respectively, and applying them to the countries in question, that are similarly situate, it will be found that the rising of the heavenly bodies will be the same for all parts within those parallels, where the shadows projected are of equal length. It is also deserving of remark, that the seasons have their periodical recurrences, without any marked difference, every four years, in consequence of the influence [Note] of the sun, and that the characteristics of the seasons are developed in excess every eighth year, at the revolution of every hundredth moon.


The whole of this system is based upon the observation of three branches of the heavenly phænomena, the rising of the constellations, their setting, and the regular recurrence of the seasons. These risings and settings may be observed in two different ways:—The stars are either concealed, and cease to be seen at the rising of the sun, or else present themselves to our view at his setting—this last being more generally known by the name of "emersion" than of "rising," while their dis-

-- 4078 --

appearance is rather an "occultation" than a "setting."— Considered, again, in another point of view, when upon certain days they begin to appear or disappear, at the setting or the rising of the sun, as the case may be, these are called their morning or their evening settings or risings, according as each of these phenomena takes place at day-break or twilight. It requires an interval of three quarters of an hour at least before the rising of the sun or after his setting, for the stars to be visible to us. In addition to this, there are certain stars which rise and set twice. [Note] All that we here state bears reference, it must be remembered, to the fixed stars only.


The year is divided into four periods or seasons, the recurrence of which is indicated by the increase or diminution of the daylight. Immediately after the winter solstice the days begin to increase, and by the time of the vernal equinox, or in other words, in ninety days and three hours, the day is equal in length to the night. After this, for ninety-four days and twelve hours, the days continue to increase, and the nights to diminish in proportion, up to the summer solstice; and from that point the days, though gradually decreasing, are still in excess of the nights for ninety-two days, twelve hours, until the autumnal equinox. At this period the days are of equal length with the nights, and after it they continue to decrease inversely to the nights until the winter solstice, a period of eighty-eight days and three hours. In all these calculations, it must be remembered, equinoctial [Note] hours are spoken of, and not those measured arbitrarily in reference to the length of any one day in particular. All these seasons, too, commence at the eighth degree of the signs of the Zodiac. The winter solstice begins at the eighth degree of Capricorn, the eighth [Note] day before the calends of January, in general; [Note] the vernal equinox at the eighth degree of Aries; the summer solstice, at the eighth degree of Cancer; and the autumnal equinox at the eighth degree of Libra: and it is rarely that

-- 4079 --

these days do not respectively give some indication of a change in the weather.

These four seasons again, are subdivided, each of them, into two equal parts. Thus, for instance, between the summer solstice and the autumnal equinox, the setting of the Lyre, [Note] on the forty-sixth day, indicates the beginning of autumn; between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice, the morning setting of the Vergiliæ, on the forty-fourth day, denotes the beginning of winter; between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, the prevalence of the west winds on the forty-fifth day, denotes the commencement of spring; and between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice, the morning rising of the Vergiliæ, on the forty-eighth day, announces the commencement of summer. We shall here make seed-time, or in other words, the morning setting of the Vergiliæ, our starting-point; [Note] and shall not interrupt the thread of our explanation by making any mention of the minor constellations, as such a course would only augment the difficulties that already exist. It is much about this period that the stormy constellation of Orion departs, after traversing a large portion of the heavens. [Note]


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

-- 4080 --

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.

-- 4081 --


Varro [Note] has given no other sign but this [Note] for our guidance in sowing the bean. Some persons are of opinion that it should be sown at full moon, the lentil between the twenty-fifth and thirtieth day of the moon, and the vetch on the same days of the moon; and they assure us that if this is done they will be exempt from the attacks of slugs. Some say, however, that if wanted for fodder, they may be sown at these periods, but if for seed, in the spring. There is another sign, more evident still, supplied us by the marvellous foresight of Nature, with reference to which we will give the words employed by Cicero [Note] himself: "The lentisk, ever green and ever bent Beneath its fruits, affords a threefold crop: Thrice teeming, thrice it warns us when to plough."

One of the periods here alluded to, is the same that is now under consideration, being the appropriate time also for sowing flax and the poppy. [Note] With reference to this last, Cato gives the following advice: "Burn, upon land where corn has been grown, the twigs and branches which are of no use to you, and when that is done, sow the poppy there." The wild poppy, which is of an utility that is quite marvellous, is boiled in honey as a remedy for diseases in the throat, [Note] while the cultivated kind is a powerful narcotic. Thus much in reference to winter sowing.


And now, in order to complete what we may call in some measure an abridgment of the operations of agriculture, it is as well to add that it will be a good plan at the same period to manure the roots of trees, and to mould up the vines—a single hand being sufficient for one jugerum. Where, too, the nature of the locality will allow it, the vines, and the trees upon which they are trained, should be lopped, and the soil turned up with

-- 4082 --

the mattock for seed plots; trenches, too, should be opened out, and the water drained from off the fields, and the presses [Note] should be well washed and put away. Never put eggs beneath the hen between the calends of November [Note] and the winter solstice: [Note] during all the summer and up to the calends of November, you may put thirteen under the hen; but the number must be smaller in winter, not less than nine, however. Democritus is of opinion, that the winter will turn out of the same character [Note] as the weather on the day of the winter solstice and the three succeeding days; the same too with the summer and the weather at the summer solstice. About the winter solstice, for about twice seven days mostly, while the halcyon [Note] is sitting, the winds are lulled, and the weather serene; [Note] but in this case, as in all others, the influence of the stars must only be judged of by the result, and we must not expect the changes of the weather, as if out upon their recognizances, [Note] to make their appearance exactly on certain predetermined days.


Be careful never to touch the vine at the winter solstice. Hyginus recommends us to strain and even rack-off wine at the seventh day after the winter solstice, provided the moon is seven days old. About this period, also, the cherry-tree, he says, should be planted. Acorns, too, should now be put in soak for the oxen, a modius for each pair. If given in larger quantities, this food will prove injurious to their health; and whenever it is given, if they are fed with it for less than thirty days in succession, an attack of scab in the spring, it is said, will be sure to make you repent.

This, too, is the period that we have already assigned [Note] for cutting timber—other kinds of work, again, may be found for the hours of the night, which are then so greatly prolonged. There are baskets, hurdles, and panniers to be woven, and wood

-- 4083 --

to be cut for torches: squared stays [Note] for the vine may be prepared, too, thirty in the day time, and if rounded, [Note] as many as sixty. In the long hours of the evening, too, some five squared stays, or ten rounded ones may be got ready, and the same number while the day is breaking.


Between the winter solstice and the period when the west winds begin to prevail, the following, according to Cæsar, are the more important signs afforded by the constellations: the Dog sets in the morning, upon the third [Note] day before the calends of January; a day on the evening of which the Eagle sets to the people of Attica and the adjoining countries. On the day be- fore [Note] the nones of January, according to Cæsar's computation, the Dolphin rises in the morning, and on the next day, the Lyre, upon the evening of which the Arrow sets to the people of Egypt. Upon the sixth [Note] day before the ides of January, the Dolphin sets in the evening, and Italy has many days of continuous cold; the same is the case also when the sun enters Aquarius, about the sixteenth [Note] day before the calends of February. On the eighth [Note] before the calends of February, the star which Tubero calls the Royal Star [Note] sets in the morning in the breast of Leo, and in the evening of the day before [Note] the nones of February, the Lyre sets.

During the latter days of this period, whenever the nature of the weather will allow of it, the ground should be turned up with a double mattock, for planting the rose and the vine —sixty men to a jugerum. Ditches, too, should be cleaned out, or new ones made; and the time of day-break may be usefully employed in sharpening iron tools, fitting on handles, repairing such dolia [Note] as may have been broken, and rubbing up and cleaning their staves.

-- 4084 --


Between the prevalence of the west winds and the vernal equinox, the fourteenth day before [Note] the calends of March, according to Cæsar, announces three days of changeable weather; the same is the case, too, with the eighth [Note] before the calends of March, at the first appearance of the swallow, Arcturus rising on the evening of the next day. Cæsar has observed, that the same takes place on the third [Note] before the nones of March, at the rising of Cancer; and most authorities say the same with reference to the emersion of the Vintager. [Note] On the eighth [Note] before the ides of March, the northern limb of Pisces [Note] rises, and on the next day Orion, at which period also, in Attica, the Kite is first seen. Cæsar has noted, too, the setting of Scorpio on the ides of March, [Note] a day that was so fatal to him; and on the fifteenth [Note] before the calends of April, the Kite appears in Italy. On the twelfth [Note] before the calends of April, the Horse sets in the morning.

This interval of time is a period of extreme activity for the agriculturist, and affords him a great number of occupations, in reference to which, however, he is extremely liable to be deceived. He is summoned to the commencement of these labours, not upon the day on which the west winds ought to begin, but upon the day on which they really do begin, to blow. This moment then must be looked for with the most careful attention, as it is a signal which the Deity has vouchsafed us in this month, attended with no doubts or equivocations, if only looked for with scrupulous care. We have already stated in the Second Book, [Note] the quarter in which this wind blows, and the exact point from which it comes, and before long we shall have occasion to speak of it again still more in detail.

In the mean time, however, setting out from the day, what-

-- 4085 --

ever it may happen to be, on which the west winds begin to prevail (for it is not always on the seventh before the ides of February [Note] that they do begin), whether, in fact, they begin to blow before the usual time, as is the case with an early spring, or whether after, which generally happens when the winter is prolonged—there are subjects innumerable to engage the attention of the agriculturist, and those, of course, should be the first attended to, which will admit of no delay. Three month wheat must now be sown, the vine pruned in the way we have already [Note] described, the olive carefully attended to, fruit-trees put in and grafted, vineyards cleaned and hoed, seedlings laid out, and replaced in the nursery by others, the reed, the willow, and the broom planted and lopped, and the elm, the poplar, and the plane planted in manner already mentioned. At this period, also, the crops of corn ought to be weeded, [Note] and the winter kinds, spelt more particularly, well hoed. In doing this, there is a certain rule to be observed, the proper moment being when four blades have made their appearance, and with the bean this should never be done until three leaves have appeared above ground; even then, however, it is a better plan to clean them only with a slight hoeing, in preference to digging up the ground—but in no case should they ever be touched the first fifteen days of their blossom. Barley must never be hoed except when it is quite dry: take care, too, to have all the pruning done by the vernal equinox. Four men will be sufficient for pruning a jugerum of vineyard, and each hand will be able to train fifteen vines to their trees. [Note]

At this period, too, attention should be paid to the gardens and rose-beds, subjects which will be separately treated of in succeeding Books; due care should be given to ornamental gardening as well. It is now, too, the very best time for making ditches. The ground should now be opened for future purposes, as we find recommended by Virgil [Note] in particular, in order that the sun may thoroughly warm the clods. It is a piece of even more sound advice, which recommends us to plough no lands in the middle of spring but those of middling quality; for if this is done with a rich soil, weeds will be sure to spring up in the furrows immediately; and if, on the

-- 4086 --

other hand, it is a thin, meagre land, as soon as the heat comes on, it will be dried up, and so lose all the moisture which should be reserved to nourish the seed when sown. It is a much better plan, beyond a doubt, to plough such soils as these in autumn.

Cato [Note] lays down the following rules for the operations of spring. "Ditches," he says, "should be dug in the seed-plots, vines should be grafted, and the elm, the fig, the olive, and other fruit-trees planted in dense and humid soils. Such meadows [Note] as are not irrigated, must be manured in a dry moon, protected from the western blasts, and carefully cleaned; noxious weeds must be rooted up, fig-trees cleared, new seed-plots made, and the old ones dressed: all this should be done before you begin to hoe the vineyard. When the pear is in blossom, too, you should begin to plough, where it is a meagre, gravelly soil. When you have done all this, you may plough the more heavy, watery soils, doing this the last of all."

The proper time for ploughing, then, [Note] is denoted by these two signs, the earliest fruit of the lentisk [Note] making its appearance, and the blossoming of the pear. There is a third sign, however, as well, the flowering of the squill among the bulbous, [Note] and of the narcissus among the garland, plants. For both the squill and the narcissus, as well as the lentisk, flower three times, denoting by their first flowering the first period for ploughing, by the second flowering the second, and by the third flowering the last; in this way it is that one thing affords hints for another. There is one precaution, too, that is by no means the least important among them all, not to let ivy touch the bean while in blossom; for at this period the ivy is noxious [Note] to it, and most baneful in its effects. Some plants, again, afford certain signs which bear reference more particularly to themselves, the fig for instance; when a few leaves only are found shooting from the summit, like a cup in shape, then it is more particularly that the fig-tree should be planted.


The vernal equinox appears to end on the eighth [Note] day be-

-- 4087 --

fore the calends of April. Between the equinox and the morning rising of the Vergiliæ, the calends [Note] of April announce, according to Cæsar, [stormy weather]. [Note] Upon the third [Note] before the nones of April, the Vergiliæ set in the evening in Attica, and the day after in Bœotia, but according to Cæsar and the Chaldæans, upon the nones. [Note] In Egypt, at this time, Orion and his Sword begin to set. According to Cæsar, the setting of Libra on the sixth before [Note] the ides of April announces rain. On the fourteenth before [Note] the calends of May, the Suculæ set to the people of Egypt in the evening, a stormy constellation, and significant of tempests both by land and sea. This constellation sets on the sixteenth [Note] in Attica, and on the fifteenth, according to Cæsar, announcing four days of bad weather in succession: in Assyria it sets upon the twelfth [Note] before the calends of May. This constellation has ordinarily the name of Parilicium, from the circumstance that the eleventh [Note] before the calends of May is observed as the natal day of the City of Rome; upon this day, too, fine weather generally returns, and gives us a clear sky for our observations. The Greeks call the Suculæ by the name of "Hyades," [Note] in consequence of the rain and clouds which they bring with them; while our people, misled by the resemblance of the Greek name to another word [Note] of theirs, meaning a "pig," have imagined that the constellation receives its name from that word, and have consequently given it, in their ignorance, the name of "Suculæ," or the "Little Pigs."

In the calculations made by Cœsar, the eighth [Note] before the calends of May is a day remarked, and on the seventh [Note] before the calends, the constellation of the Kids rises in Egypt. On the sixth before [Note] the calends, the Dog sets in the evening in Bœotia and Attica, and the Lyre rises in the morning. On the fifth [Note] before the calends of May, Orion has wholly set

-- 4088 --

to the people of Assyria, and on the fourth [Note] before the calends the Dog. On the sixth before [Note] the nones of May, the Suculæ rise in the morning, according to the calculation of Cæsar, and on the eighth before [Note] the ides, the She-goat, which announces rain. In Egypt the Dog sets in the evening of the same day. Such are pretty nearly the movements of the constellations up to the sixth before [Note] the ides of May, the period of the rising of the Vergiliæ.

In this interval of time, during the first fifteen days, the agriculturist must make haste and do all the work for which he has not been able to find time before the vernal equinox; and he should bear in mind that those who are late in pruning their vines are exposed to jibes and taunts, in imitation of the note of the bird of passage known to us as the cuckoo. [Note] For it is looked upon as a disgrace, and one that subjects him to well-merited censure, for that bird, upon its arrival, to find him only then pruning his vines. Hence it is, too, that we find those cutting jokes, [Note] of which our peasantry are the object, at the beginning of spring. Still, however, all such jokes are to be looked upon as most abominable, from the ill omens [Note] they convey.

In this way, then, we see that, in agricultural operations, the most trifling things are construed as so many hints supplied us by Nature. The latter part of this period is the proper time for sowing panic and millet; the precise moment, however, is just after the barley has ripened. In the case of the very same land, too, there is one sign that points in common both to the ripening of the barley and the sowing of panic and millet—the appearance of the glow-worm, shining in the fields at night. "Cicindelæ" [Note] is the name given by the country people to these flying stars, while the Greeks call them "lampyrides,"—another manifestation of the incredible bounteousness of Nature.


Nature had already formed the Vergiliæ, a noble group of

-- 4089 --

stars, in the heavens; but not content with these, she has made others as well for the face of the earth, crying aloud, as it were [Note] "Why contemplate the heavens, husbandman? Why, rustic, look up at the stars? Do not the nights already afford you a sleep too brief for your fatigues? Behold now! I scatter stars amid the grass for your service, and I reveal them to you in the evening, as you return from your work; and that you may not disregard them, I call your attention to this marvel. Do you not see how the wings of this insect cover a body bright and shining like fire, and how that body gives out light in the hours of the night even? I have given you plants to point out to you the hours, and, that you may not have to turn your eyes from the earth, even to view the sun, the heliotropium and the lupine have been made by me to move with his movements. Why then still look upwards, and scan the face of heaven? Behold, here before your very feet are your Vergiliæ; upon a certain day do they make their appearance, and for a certain time do they stay. Equally certain, too, it is that of that constellation they are the offspring. Whoever, then, shall put in his summer seeds before they have made their appearance, will infallibly find himself in the wrong."

It is in this interval, too, that the little bee comes forth, and announces that the bean is about to blossom; for it is the bean in flower that summons it forth. We will here give another sign, which tells us when the cold is gone; as soon as ever you see the mulberry [Note] in bud, you have no occasion to fear any injury from the rigour of the weather.

It is the time, now, to put in cuttings of the olive, to clear away between the olive-trees, and, in the earlier days of the equinox, to irrigate the meadows. As soon, however, as the grass puts forth a stem, you must shut off the water from the fields. [Note] You must now lop the leafy branches of the vine, it being the rule that this should be done as soon as the branches have attained four fingers in length; one labourer will be sufficient for a jugerun. The crops of corn, too, should be hoed over again, an operation which lasts twenty days. It is generally thought, however, that it is injurious to both vine and corn to begin hoeing directly after the equinox. This is the proper time, too, for washing sheep.

-- 4090 --

After the rising of the Vergiliæ the more remarkable signs are, according to Cæsar, the morning rising of Arcturus, which takes place on the following day; [Note] and the rising of the Lyre on the third [Note] before the ides of May. The She-goat sets in the evening of the twelfth before [Note] the calends of June, and in Attica the Dog. On the eleventh [Note] before the calends of June, according to Cæsar, Orion's Sword begins to appear; and, according to the same writer, on the fourth [Note] before the nones of June the Eagle rises in the evening, and in Assyria as well. On the seventh [Note] before the ides of June Arcturus sets in the morning to the people of Italy, and on the fourth [Note] before the ides the Dolphin rises in the evening. On the seventeenth [Note] before the calends of July Orion's Sword rises in Italy, and, four days later, in Egypt. On the eleventh [Note] before the calends of July, according to Cæsar's reckoning, Orion's Sword begins to set; and the eighth [Note] before the calends of July, the longest day in the year, with the shortest night, brings us to the summer solstice.

In this interval of time the vine should be cleared of its superfluous branches, and care taken to give an old vine one turning up at the roots, a young tree two. Sheep, too, are sheared at this period, lupines turned up for manuring the land, the ground dug, vetches cut for fodder, and beans gathered in and threshed.

(28.) About the calends of June [Note] the meadows are mown; the cultivation of which, the one which is the easiest of all, and requires the smallest outlay, leads me to enter into some further details relative to it. Meadow lands should be selected in a rich, or else a moist or well-watered, soil, and care should be taken to drain the rain-water upon them from the high- road. The best method of ensurïng a good crop of grass, is first to plough the land, and then to harrow it: but, before passing the harrow over it, the ground should be sprinkled with such seed as may have fallen from the hay in the haylofts and mangers. The land should not be watered, however, the first year, [Note] nor should cattle be put to graze upon it before

-- 4091 --

the second hay-harvest, for fear lest the blade should be torn up by the roots, or be trodden down and stunted in its growth. Meadow land will grow old in time, and it requires to be renovated every now and then, by sowing upon it a crop of beans, or else rape or millet, after which it should be sown the next year with corn, and then left for hay the third. Care, too, should be taken, every time the grass is cut, to pass the sickle over the ground, and so cut the aftermath which the mowers have left behind; for it is a very bad plan to leave any of the grass and let it shed its seed there. The best crop for meadow land is trefoil, [Note] and the next best is grass; [Note] nummulus [Note] is the very worst of all, as it bears a pod which is particularly injurious; equisætis, [Note] too, which derives its name from its resemblance to horse-hair, is of a noxions character. The proper time for mowing grass is when the ear begins to shed its blossom and to grow strong: care must be taken to cut it before it becomes dry and parched. "Don't mow your hay too late," says Cato; [Note] "but cut it before the seed is ripe." Some persons turn the water upon it the day before mowing, where it is practicable to do so. It is the best plan to cut hay in the night while the dews are falling. [Note] In some parts of Italy the mowing is not done till after harvest.

This operation, too, was a very expensive one in ancient times. In those days the only whetstones [Note] known were those of Crete and other places beyond sea, and they only used oil to sharpen the scythe with. For this purpose the mower moved along, with a horn, to hold the oil, fastened to his thigh. Italy has since furnished us with whetstones which are used with water, and give an edge to the iron quite equal to that imparted by the file; these water-whetstones, however, turn green very quickly. Of the scythe [Note] there are two va-

-- 4092 --

rieties; the Italian, [Note] which is considerably shorter than the other, and can be handled among underwood even; and the Gallic, which makes quicker work [Note] of it, when employed on extensive domains, for there they cut the grass in the middle only, and pass over the shorter blades. The Italian mowers cut with one hand only. It is a fair day's work for one man to cut a jugerum of grass, and for another to bind twelve hundred sheaves of four pounds each. When the grass is cut it should be turned towards the sun, and must never be stacked until it is quite dry. If this last precaution is not carefully taken, a kind of vapour will be seen arising from the rick in the morning, and as soon as the sun is up it will ignite to a certainty, and so be consumed. When the grass has been cut, the meadow must be irrigated again, for the purpose of ensuring a crop in the autumn, known to us as the "cordum," or aftermath. At Interamna in Umbria the grass is cut four times [Note] a-year, and this although the meadows there are not irrigated,—in most places, three. After all this has been done, too, the pasturage of the land is found no less lucrative than the hay it has produced. This, however, is a matter of consideration for those more particularly who rear large herds of cattle, and every one whose occupation it is to breed beasts of burden, will have his own opinions upon the subject: it is found, however, the most lucrative of all by those whose business it is to train chariot-horses.


We have already stated [Note] that the summer solstice arrives at the eighth degree of Cancer, and upon the eighth day before [Note] the calends of July: this is an important crisis in the year, and of great interest to the whole earth. Up to this period from the time of the winter solstice the days have gone on increasing, and the sun has continued for six months making his ascension towards the north; having now surmounted the heights of the heavens, at this point he reaches the goal, and

-- 4093 --

after doing so, commences his return towards the south; the consequence of which is, that for the next six months he increases the nights and subtracts from the length of the days. From this period, then, it is the proper time to gather in and store away the various crops in succession, and so make all due preparations for the rigour and severity of the winter.

It was only to be expected that Nature should point out to us the moment of this change by certain signs of an indubitable character; and she has accordingly placed them beneath the very hands of the agriculturist, bidding the leaves turn round [Note] upon that day, and so denote that the luminary has now run its course. And it is not the leaves of trees only that are wild and far remote that do this, nor have those persons who are on the look-out for these signs to go into devious forests and mountain tracts to seek them. Nor yet, on the other hand, are they to be seen in the leaves of trees only that are grown in the vicinity of cities or reared by the hand of the ornamental gardener, although in them they are to be seen as well. Nature upon this occasion turns the leaf of the olive which meets us at every step; she turns the leaf of the linden, sought by us, as it is, for a thousand purposes; she turns the leaf of the white poplar, too, wedded to the vine that grows upon its trunk. And still, for her, all this is not enough. "You have the elm," she says, "reared for the support of the vine, and the leaf of that I will make to turn as well. The leaves of this tree you have to gather for fodder, the leaves of the vine you prune away. Only look upon them, and there you behold the solstice; [Note] they are now pointing towards a quarter of the heavens the reverse of that towards which they looked the day before. The twigs of the withy, that most lowly of trees, you employ for tying things without number. You are a head taller than it—I will make its leaves to turn round as well. Why complain, then, that you are but a rustic peasant? It shall be no fault of mine if you do not understand the heavens and become acquainted with the movements of the celestial bodies. I will give another sign, too, that shall address itself to your ear—only listen for the cooing of the ring-doves; and beware of sup-

-- 4094 --

posing that the summer solstice is past, until you see the wood-pigeon sitting on her eggs."

Between the summer solstice and the setting of the Lyre, on the sixth day before the calends of July, [Note] according to Cæsar's reckoning, Orion rises, and upon the fourth [Note] before the nones of July, his Belt rises to the people of Assyria. Upon-the morning of the same day, also, the scorching constellation of Procyon rises. This last constellation has no name with the Romans, unless, indeed, we would consider it as identical with Canicula, [Note] or Lesser Dog, which we find depicted among the stars; this last is productive of excessive heat, as we shall shortly have further occasion to state. On the fourth [Note] before the nones of July, the Crown sets in the morning to the people of Chaldæa, and in Attica, the whole of Orion has risen by that day. On the day before [Note] the ides of July, the rising of Orion ends to the Egyptians also; on the sixteenth [Note] before the calends of August, Procyon rises to the people of Assyria, and, the day but one after, of nearly all other countries as well, indicating a crisis that is universally known among all nations, and which by us is called the rising of the Dog-star; the sun at this period entering the first degree of Leo. The Dog-star rises on the twenty-third day after the summer solstice; the influence of it is felt by both ocean, and earth, and even by many of the animals as well, as stated by us elsewhere on the appropriate occasions. [Note] No less veneration, in fact, is paid to this star, than to those that are consecrated to certain gods; it kindles the flames of the sun, and is one great source of the heats of summer.

On the thirteenth [Note] day before the calends of August, the Eagle sets in the morning to the people of Egypt, and the breezes that are the precursors of the Etesian winds, begin to blow; these, according to Cæsar, are first perceived in Italy, on the tenth before [Note] the calends of August. The Eagle sets in the morning of that day to the people of Attica, and on tile

-- 4095 --

third before [Note] the calends of August, the Royal Star in the breast of Leo rises in the morning, according to Cæsar. On the eighth before [Note] the ides of August, one half of Arcturus has ceased to be visible, and on the third before [Note] the ides the Lyre, by its setting, opens the autumn,—according to Cæsar at least; though a more exact calculation has since shown, that this takes place on the sixth day before [Note] the ides of that month.

The time that intervenes between these periods is one that is of primary importance in the cultivation of the vine; as the constellation of which we have spoken, under the name of Canicula, has now to decide upon the fate of the grape. It is at this period that the grapes are said to be charred, [Note] a blight falling upon them which burns them away, as though red-hot coals had been applied to them. There is no hail that can be compared with this destructive malady, nor yet any of those tempests, which have been productive of such scarcity and dearth. For the evil effects of these, at the very utmost, are only felt in isolated districts, while the coal blight, [Note] on the other hand, extends over whole countries, far and wide. Still, however, the remedy would not be very difficult, were it not that men would much rather calumniate Nature, than help themselves. It is said that Democritus, [Note] who was the first to comprehend and demonstrate that close affinity which exists between the heavens and the earth, finding his laborious researches upon that subject slighted by the more opulent of his fellow-citizens, and presaging the high price of oil, which was about to result upon the rising of the Vergiliæ, (as we have already mentioned, [Note] and shall have to explain more fully hereafter), bought up all the oil in the country, which was then at a very low figure, from the universal expectation of a fine crop of olives; a proceeding which greatly surprised all who knew tlat a life of poverty and learned repose was so entirely the object of his aspirations. When, however, his motives had been fully justified by the result, and vast riches had flowed in upon him apace, he returned all his profits to the disappointed

-- 4096 --

proprietors, whose avarice had now taught them to repent, thinking it quite sufficient to have thus proved how easy it was for him to acquire riches whenever he pleased. At a more recent period, again, Sextius, [Note] a Roman philosopher residing at Athens, made a similar application of his knowledge. Such, then, is the utility of science, the instruction provided by which it shall be my aim, as clearly and as perspicuously as possible, to apply to the various occupations of a country life.

Most writers have said that it is the dew, scorched by a burning sun, that is the cause of mildew [Note] in corn, and of coal-blight in the vine; this, however, seems to me in a great measure incorrect, and it is my opinion that all blights result entirely from cold, and that the sun is productive of no injurious effects whatever. This, in fact, will be quite evident, if only a little attention is paid to the subject; for we find that the blight makes its appearance at first in the night time only, and before the sun has shone with any vigour. The natural inference is, that it depends entirely upon the moon, and more particularly as such a calamity as this is never known to happen except at the moon's conjunction, or else at the full moon, periods at which the influence of that heavenly body is at its greatest height. For at both of these periods, as already [Note] stated by us more than once, the moon is in reality at the full; though during her conjunction she throws back to the heavens all the light which she has received from the sun. The difference in the effects produced by the moon at these two periods is very great, though at the same time equally apparent; for at the conjunction, that body is extremely hot in summer, but cold in winter; while, on the other hand, at the full moon, the nights are cold in summer, but warm in winter. The reason of this. although Fabianus and the Greek writers adopt another method of explaining it, is quite evident. During the moon's conjunction in summer, she must of necessity move along with the sun in an orbit nearer to the earth, and so become warmed

-- 4097 --

by the heat which she receives by reason of her closer vicinity to the sun. In winter, again, at the time of the conjunction, she is farther off from us, the sun being also removed to a greater distance. On the other hand, again, when the moon is at the full in summer, she is more remote from the earth, and in opposition with the sun; while, in winter, she approaches nearer to us at that period, by adopting the same orbit as at her conjunction in summer. Naturally humid herself, as often as from her position she is cold, she congeals to an unlimited extent the dews which fall at that period of the year.


But we ought always to bear in mind, more particularly, that there are two varieties of evils that are inflicted upon the earth by the heavens. The first of these, known by us under the name of "tempests," comprehends hail-storms, hurricanes and other calamities of a similar nature; when these take place at the full moon, they come upon us with additional intensity. These tempests take their rise in certain noxious constellations, as already stated by us on several occasions, Arcturus, for instance, Orion, and the Kids.

The other evils that are thus inflicted upon us, supervene with a bright, clear sky, and amid the silence of the night, no one being sensible of them until we have perceived their effects. These dispensations are universal and of a totally different character from those previously mentioned, and have various names given to them, sometimes mildew, sometimes blast, and sometimes coal blight; but in all cases sterility is the infallible result. It is of these last that we have now to speak, entering into details which have not hitherto been treated of by any writer; and first of all we will explain the causes of them.

(29.) Independently of the moon, there are two principal causes of these calamities, which emanate more particularly from two quarters of the heavens of but limited extent. On the one hand, the Vergiliæ exercise an especial influence on our harvests, as it is with their rising that the summer begins, and with their setting, the winter; thus embracing, in the space of six months, the harvest, the vintage, and the ripening of all the vegetable productions. In addition to this, there is a circular tract in the heavens, quite visible to the human eye even, known

-- 4098 --

as the Milky Way. It is the emanations from this, flowing as it were from the breast, that supply their milky [Note] nutriment to all branches of the vegetable world. Two constellations more particularly mark this circular tract, the Eargle in the north, and Canicula in the south; of this last, we have already made mention [Note] in its appropriate place. This circle traverses also Sagittarius and Gemini, and passing through the centre of the sun, cuts the equinoctial line below, the constellation of the Eagle making its appearance at the point of intersection on the one side, and Canicula on the other. Hence it is that the influences of both these constellations develope themselves upon all cultivated lands; it being at these points only that the centre of the sun is brought to correspond with that of the earth. If, then, at the moments of the rising and the setting of these constellations, the air, soft and pure, transmits these genial and milky emanations to the earth, the crops will thrive and ripen apace; but if on the other hand, the moon, as already [Note] mentioned, sheds her chilling dews, the bitterness thereof infuses itself into these milky secretions, and so kills the vegetation in its birth. The measure of the injury so inflicted on the earth depends, in each climate, upon the combination of the one or other of these causes; and hence it is that it is not felt in equal intensity throughout the whole earth, nor even precisely at the same moment of time. We have already [Note] said that the Eagle rises in Italy on the thirteenth day [Note] before the calends of January, and the ordinary course of Nature does not permit us before that period to reckon with any degree of certainty upon the fruits of the earth; for if the moon should happen to be in conjunction at that time, it will be a necessary consequence, that all the winter fruits, as well as the early ones, will receive injury more or less.

The life led by the ancients was rude and illiterate; still, as will be readily seen, the observations they made were not less remarkable for ingenuity than are the theories of the present day. With them there were three set periods for gathering in the produce of the earth, and it was in honour of these periods that they instituted the festive days, known as the

-- 4099 --

Robigalia, [Note] the Floralia, and the Vinalia. The Robigalia were established by Numa in the fortieth year of his reign, and are still celebrated on the seventh day before the calends of May, as it is at this period that mildew [Note] mostly makes its first attacks upon the growing corn. Varro fixes this crisis at the moment at which the sun enters the tenth degree of Taurus, in accordance with the notions that prevailed in his day: but the real cause is the fact, that thirty-one [Note] days after the vernal equinox, according to the observations of various nations, the Dog-star sets between the seventh and fourth before the calends of May, a constellation baneful in itself, and to appease which a young dog should first be sacrificed. [Note] The same people also, in the year of the City 513, instituted the Floralia, a festival held upon the fourth before [Note] the calends of May, in accordance with the oracular injunctions of the Sibyl, to secure a favourable season for the blossoms and flowers. Varro fixes this day as the time at which the sun enters the fourteenth degree of Taurus. If there should happen to be a full moon during the four days at this period, injury to the corn and all the plants that are in blossom, will be the necessary result. The First Vinalia, which in ancient times were established on the ninth before [Note] the calends of May, for the purpose of tasting [Note] the wines, have no signification whatever in reference to the fruits of the earth, any more than the festivals already mentioned have in reference to the vine and the olive; the germination of these last not commencing, in fact, till the rising of the Vergiliæ, on the Sixth day before [Note] the ides of

-- 4100 --

May, as already mentioned on previous occasions. [Note] This, again, is another period of four days, which should never be blemished by dews, as the chilling constellation of Arcturus, which sets on the following day, will be sure to nip the vegetation; stili less ought there to be a full moon at this period.

On the fourth before [Note] the nones of June, the Eagle rises again in the evening, a critical day for the olives and vines in blossom, if there should happen to be a full moon. For my part, I am of opinion that the eighth [Note] before the calends of July, the day of the summer solstice, must be a critical day, for a similar reason; and that the rising of the Dog-star, twenty-three days after the summer solstice, must be so too, in case the moon is then in conjunction; for the excessive heat is productive of injurious effects, and the grape becomes prematurely ripened, shrivelled, and tough. Again, if there is a full noon on the fourth before [Note] the nones of July, when Canicula rises to the people of Egypt, or at least on the sixteenth before [Note] the calends of August, when it rises in Italy, it is productive of injurious results. The same is the case, too, from the thirteenth day before [Note] the calends of August, when the Eagle sets, to the tenth before [Note] the calends of that month. The Second Vinalia, which are celebrated on the fourteenth [Note] before the calends of September, bear no reference to these influences. Varro fixes them at; the period at which the Lyre begins its morning setting, and says that this indicates the beginning of autumn, the day having been set apart for the purpose of propitiating the weather: at the present day, however, it is observed that the Lyre sets on the sixth before [Note] the ides of August.

Within these periods there are exerted the sterilizing influences of the heavens, though I am far from denying that they may be considerably modified by the nature of the locality according as it is cold or hot. Still, however, it is sufficient for me to have demonstrated the theory; the modifications of its results depending, in a great degree, upon attentive observation. It is beyond all question too, that either one of these two causes

-- 4101 --

will be always productive of its own peculiar effects, the full moon, I mean, or else the moon's conjunction. And here it suggests itself how greatly we ought to admire the bounteous provisions made for us by Nature; for, in the first place, these calamitous results cannot by any possibility befall us every year, in consequence of the fixed revolutions of the stars; nor indeed, when they do happen, beyond a few nights in the year, and it may be easily known beforehand which nights those are likely to be. In order, too, that we might not have to apprehend these injuries to vegetation in all the months, Nature has so ordained that the times of the moon's conjunction in summer, and of the full moon in winter, with the exception of two days only at those respective periods, are well ascertained, and that there is no danger to be apprehended on any but the nights of summer, and those nights the shortest of all; in the day-time, on the other hand, there is nothing to fear. And then, besides, these phænomena may be so easily understood, that the ant even, that most diminutive of insects, takes its rest during the moon's conjunction, but toils on, and that during the night as well, when the moon is at the full; the bird, too, called the "parra" [Note] disappears upon the day on which Sirius rises, and never reappears until that star has set; while the witwall, [Note] on the other hand, makes its appearance on the day of the summer solstice. The moon, however, is productive of no noxious effects at either of these periods, except when the nights are clear, and every movement of the air is lulled; for so long as clouds prevail, or the wind is blowing, the night dews never fall. And then, besides, there are certain remedies to counteract these noxious influences.


When you have reason to fear these influences, make bonfires in the fields and vineyards of cuttings or heaps of chaff, or else of the weeds that have been rooted up; the smoke [Note] will act as a good preservative. The smoke, too, of burning chaff will be an effectual protection against the effects of fogs, when likely to be injurious. Some persons recommend that three

-- 4102 --

crabs should be burnt [Note] alive among the trees on which the vines are trained, to prevent these from being attacked by coal blight; while others say that the flesh of the silurus [Note] should be burnt in a slow fire, in such a way that the smoke may be dispersed by the wind throughout the vineyard.

Varro informs us, that if at the setting of the Lyre, which is the beginning of autumn, a painted grape [Note] is consecrated in the midst of the vineyard, the bad weather will not be pro- ductive of such disastrous results as it otherwise would. Archibius [Note] has stated, in a letter to Antiochus, king of Syria, that if a bramble-frog [Note] is burried in a new earthen vessel, in the middle of a corn-field, there will be no storms to cause injury.


The following are the rural occupations for this interval of time-the ground must have another turning up, and the trees must be cleared about the roots and moulded up, where the heat of the locality requires it. Those plants, however, which are in bud must not be spaded at the roots, except where the soil is particularly rich. The seed-plots, too, must be well cleared with the hoe, the barley-harvest got in, and the threshing-floor prepared for the harvest with chalk, as Cato [Note] tells us, slackened with amurca of olives; Virgil [Note] makes mention of a method still more laborious even. In general, however, it is considered sufficient to make it perfectly level, and then to cover it with a solution of cow-dung [Note] and water; this being thought sufficient to prevent the dust from rising.

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18.72 CHAP. 72. (30.)—THE HARVEST.

The mode of getting in the harvest varies considerably. In the vast domains of the provinces of Gaul a large hollow frame, [Note] armed with teeth and supported on two wheels, is driven through the standing corn, the beasts being yoked [Note] behind it; the result being, that the ears are torn off and fall within the frame. In other countries the stalks are cut with the sickle in the middle, and the ears are separated by the aid of paddle-forks. [Note] In some places, again, the corn is torn up by the roots; and it is asserted by those who adopt this plan, that it is as good as a light turning up for the ground, whereas, in reality, they deprive it of its juices. [Note] There are differences in other respects also: in places where they thatch their houses with straw, they keep the longest haulms for that purpose; and where hay is scarce, they employ the straw for litter. The straw of panic is never used for thatching, and that of millet is mostly burnt; barley-straw, however, is always preserved, as being the most agreeable of all as a food for oxen. In the Gallic provinces panic and millet are gathered, ear by ear, with the aid of a comb carried in the hand.

In some places the corn is beaten out by machines [Note] upon the threshing-floor, in others by the feet of mares, and in

-- 4104 --

others with flails. The later wheat is cut, the more prolific [Note] it is; but it is got in early, the grain is finer and stronger. The best rule is to cut it before the grain hardens, and just as it is changing colour: [Note] though the oracles on husbandry say that it is better to begin the harvest two days too soon than two days too late. Winter and other wheat must be treated exactly the same way both on the threshing-floor and in the granary. Spelt, as it is difficult to be threshed, should be stored with the chaff on, being only disengaged of the straw and the beard.

Many countries make use of chaff [Note] for hay: the smoother and thinner it is, and the more nearly resembling dust, the better; hence it is that the chaff [Note] of millet is considered the best, that of barley being the next best, and that of wheat the worst of all, except for beasts that are hard worked. In stony places they break the haulms, when dry, with staves, for the cattle to lie upon: if there is a deficiency of chaff, the straw as well is ground for food. The following is the method employed in preparing it: it is cut early and sprinkled with bay salt, [Note] after which it is dried and rolled up in trusses, and given to the oxen as wanted, instead of hay. Some persons set fire to the stubble in the fields, a plan that has been greatly extolled by Virgil: [Note] the chief merit of it is that the seed of the weeds is effectually destroyed. The diversity of the methods employed in harvesting mainly depends upon the extent of the crops and the price of labour.


Connected with this branch of our subject is the method of storing corn. Some persons recommend that granaries should be built for the purpose at considerable expense, the walls

-- 4105 --

being made of brick, and not less than three [Note] feet thick; the corn, they say, should be let in from above, the air being carefully excluded, and no windows allowed. Others, again, say that the granary should have an aspect in no direction but the north-east or north, and that the walls should be built without lime, that substance being extremely injurious [Note] to corn; as to what we find recommended in reference to amurca of olives, we have already mentioned it on a former [Note] occasion. In some places they build their granaries of wood, and upon pillars, [Note] thinking it the best plan to leave access for the air on every side, and from below even. Some persons think, how- ever, that the grain diminishes in bulk if laid on a floor above the level of the ground, and that it is liable to ferment beneath a roof of tiles. Many persons say, too, that the grain should never be stirred up to air [Note] it, as the weevil is never known to penetrate beyond four fingers in depth; consequently, beyond that depth there is no danger. According to Columella, [Note] the west wind is beneficial to grain, a thing that surprises me, as that wind is generally a very parching [Note] one. Some persons recommend that, before housing the corn, a bramble-frog should be hung up by one of the hind legs at the threshold of the granary. To me it appears that the most important precaution of all is to house the grain at the proper time; for if it is unripe when cut, and not sufficiently firm, or if it is got in a heated state, it follows of necessity that noxious insects will breed in it.

There are several causes which contribute to the preservation of grain; the outer [Note] coats in some kinds are more numerous, as in millet, for instance; the juices are of an oleaginous nature, [Note] and so supply ample moisture, as in sesame, for example; while in other kinds, again, they are naturally

-- 4106 --

bitter, [Note] as in the lupine and the chicheling vetch. It is in wheat more particularly that insects breed, as it is apt to heat from the density of its juices, and the grain is covered with a thick bran. In barley the chaff is thinner, and the same is the case with all the leguminous seeds: it is for this reason that they do not ordinarily breed insects. The bean, however, is covered with a coat of a thicker substance: and hence it is that it ferments. Some persons sprinkle wheat, in order to make it keep the longer, with amurea [Note] of olives, a quadrantal to a thousand modii: others, again, with powdered Chalcidian or Carian chalk, or with worm-wood. [Note] There is a certain earth found at Olynthus, and at Cerinthus, in Eubœa, which prevents grain from spoiling. If garnered in the ear, grain is hardly ever found to suffer any injury.

The best plan, however, of preserving grain, is to lay it up in trenches, called "siri," as they do in Cappadocia, Thracia, Spain, and at * * * in Africa. Particular care is taken to dig these trenches in a dry soil, and a layer of chaff is then placed at the bottom the grain, too, is always stored in the ear. In this case, if no air is allowed to penetrate to the corn, we may rest assured that no noxious insects will ever breed in it. Varro [Note] says, that wheat, if thus stored, will keep as long as fifty years, and millet a hundred; and he assures us that beans and other leguminous grain, if put away in oil jars with a covering of ashes, will keep for a great length of time. He makes a statement, also, to the effect that some beans were preserved in a cavern in Ambracia from the time of King Pyrrhus until the Piratical War of Pompeius Magnus, a period of about two hundred and twenty years.

The chick-pea is the only grain in which no insect will breed while in the granary. Some persons place upon the heaps of the leguminous grains pitchers full of vinegar and coated with pitch, a stratum of ashes being laid beneath; and they fancy that if this is done, no injury will happen. Some, again, store them in vessels which have held salted provisions, with a coating of plaster on the top, while other persons are

-- 4107 --

in the habit of sprinkling lentils with vinegar scented with laser, [Note] and, when dry, giving them a covering of oil. But the most effectual method of all is to get in everything that you would preserve from injury at the time of the moon's conjunction; and hence it is of the greatest importance to know, when getting in the harvest, whether it is for garnering or whether for immediate sale. If cut during the increase of the moon, grain will increase in size.


In accordance with the ordinary divisions of the year, we now come to autumn, a period which extends from the setting of the Lyre to the autumnal equinox, and from that to the setting of the Vergiliæ and the beginning of winter. In these intervals, the more important periods are marked by the rising of the Horse to the people of Attica, in the evening of the day before [Note] the ides of August; upon which day also the Dolphin sets in Egypt, and, according to Cæsar, in Italy. On the eleventh [Note] before the calends of September, the star called the Vintager begins to rise in the morning, according to Cæsar's reckoning, and to the people of Assyria; it announces the ripening of the vintage, a sure sign of which is the change of colour in the grape. On the fifth [Note] before the calends of September, the Arrow sets in Assyria, and the Etesian winds cease to blow: on the nones [Note] of September, the Vintager rises in Egypt, and in the morning of that day, Arcturus rises to the people of Attica: on the same morning, too, the Arrow sets. On the fifth before [Note] the ides of September, according to Cæsar, the She-Goat rises in the evening; and one half of Arcturus becomes visible on the day before [Note] the ides of September, being portentous [Note] of boisterous weather for five days, both by land and sea.

The theory relative to the effects produced by Arcturus, is stated in the following terms: if showers prevail, it is said, at the setting of the Dolphin, they will not cease so long as Arcturus is visible. The departure of the swallows may be

-- 4108 --

looked upon as the sign of the rising of Arcturus; for if overtaken by it, they are sure to perish.

On the sixteenth day before [Note] the calends of October, the Ear of Corn, which Virgo holds, rises to the people of Egypt in the morning, and by this day the Etesian winds have quite ceased to blow. According to Cæsar, this constellation rises on the fourteenth [Note] before the calends, and it affords its prognostics to the Assyrians on the thirteenth. On the eleventh before [Note] the calends of October, the point of junction [Note] in Pisces disappears, and upon the eighth [Note] is the autumnal equinox. It is a remarkable fact, and rarely the case, that Philippus, Callip- pus, Dositheus, Parmeniscus, Conon, [Note] Criton, Democritus, and Eudoxus, all agree that the She-Goat rises in the morning of the fourth before [Note] the calends of October, and on the third [Note] the Kids. On the sixth day before [Note] the nones of October, the Crown rises in the morning to the people of Attica, and upon the morning of the fifth, [Note] the Charioteer sets. On the fourth before [Note] the nones of October, the Crown, according to Cæsar's reckoning, begins to rise, and on the evening of the day after is the setting of the constellation of the Kids. On the eighth before [Note] the ides of October, according to Cæsar, the bright star rises that shines in the Crown, and on the evening of the sixth before [Note] the ides the Vergiliæ, rise. Upon the ides [Note] of October, the Crown has wholly risen. On the seventeenth before [Note] the calends of November, the Suculæ rise in the evening, and on the day before the calends, according to Cæsar's reckoning, Arcturus sets, and the Suculæ [Note] rise with the sun. In the evening of the fourth day before [Note] the nones of November, Arcturus sets. On the fifth before [Note] the ides of November, Orion's Sword begins to set; and on the third [Note] before the ides the Vergiliæ set.

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In this interval of time, the rural operations consist in sowing rape and turnips, upon the days which have been mentioned on a previous occasion. [Note] The people in the country are of opinion, that it is not a good plan to sow rape after the departure of the stork; but for my own part, I am of opinion that it should be sown after the Vulcanalia, and the early kind at the same time as panic. After the setting of the Lyre, vetches should be sown, kidney-beans and hay-grass: it is generally recommended that this should be done while the moon is in conjunction. This, too, is the proper time for gathering in the leaves: it is fair work for one woodman, to fill four baskets [Note] in the day. If the leaves are gathered while the moon is on the wane, they will not decay; they ought not to be dry, however, when gathered.

The ancients were of opinion, that the vintage is never ripe before the equinox; but at the present day I find that it is gathered in before that period; it will be as well, therefore, to give the signs and indications by which the proper moment may be exactly ascertained. The rules for getting in the vintage are to the following effect: Never gather the grape in a heated state, [Note] or in other words, when the weather is dry, and before the rains have fallen; nor ought it to be gathered when covered with dew,—or in other words, when dews have fallen during the night,—nor yet before the dews have been dispelled by the sun. Commence the vintage when the bearing-shoots begin to recline upon the stem, or when, after a grape is removed from the bunch, the space left empty is not filled up; this being a sure proof that the berry has ceased to increase in size. It is of the greatest consequence to the grape, that it should be gathered while the moon is on the increase. Each pressing should fill twenty culei, [Note] that being the fair proportion. To fill twenty culei and vats [Note] from twenty jugera of vineyard, a single press will be enough. In pressing the grape, some persons use a single press-board, but it is a better plan

-- 4110 --

to employ two, however large the single ones may be. It is the length of them that is of the greatest consequence, and not the thickness: if wide, however, they press the fruit all the better. The ancients used to screw down the press-boards with ropes and leather thongs, worked by levers. Within the last hundred years the Greek press has been invented, with thick spiral grooves running down the [Note] stem. To this stem there are spokes attached, which project like the rays of a star, and by means of which the stem is made to lift a box filled with stones —a method that is very highly approved of. It is only within the last two-and-twenty years, that a plan has been discovered of employing smaller press-boards, and a less unwieldy press: to effect this, the height has been reduced, and the stem of the screw placed in the middle, the whole pressure being concentrated upon broad planks [Note] placed over the grapes, which are covered also with heavy weights above.

This is the proper time for gathering fruit; the best moment for doing so is when it has begun to fall through ripeness, and not from the effects of the weather. This is the season, too, for extracting the lees of wine, and for boiling defrutum: [Note] this last must be done on a night when there is no moon, or if it is a full moon, in the day-time. At other times of the year, it must be done either before the moon has risen, or after it has set. The grapes employed for this purpose should never be gathered from a young vine, nor yet from a tree that is grown in a marshy spot, nor should any grapes be used but those that are perfectly ripe: the liquor, too, should never be skimmed with anything but a leaf; [Note] for if the vessel should happen to be touched with wood, the liquor, it is generally thought, will have a burnt and smoky flavour.

The proper time for the vintage is between the equinox and the setting of the Vergiliæ, a period of forty-four days. It is a saying among the growers, that to pitch wine-vessels after that day, in consequence of the coldness of the weather, is only so much time lost. Still, however, I have seen, before now, persons getting in the vintage on the calends of January [Note]

-- 4111 --

even, in consequence of the want of wine-vessels, and putting the must into receivers, [Note] or else pouring the old wine out of its vessels, to make room for new liquor of a very doubtful quality. This, however, happens not so often in consequence of an over-abundant crop, as through carelessness, or else the avarice which leads people to wait for a rise in prices. The method that is adopted by the most economical managers, is to use the produce supplied by each year, [Note] and this, too, is found in the end the most lucrative mode of proceeding. As for the other details relative to wines, they have been discussed at sufficient length already; [Note] and it has been stated on a previous occasion, [Note] that as soon as the vintage is got in, the olives should at once be gathered, with other particulars relative to the olive after the setting of the Vergiliæ.


I shall now proceed to add some necessary information re- lative to the moon, the winds, and certain signs and prognostics, in order that I may complete the observations I have to make with reference to the sidereal system. Virgil [Note] has even gone so far, in imitation of Democritus, as to assign certain operations to certain days [Note] of the moon; but my sole object shall be, as, indeed, it has been throughout this work, to consult that utility which is based upon a knowledge and appreciation of general principles.

All vegetable productions are cut, gathered, and housed to more advantage while the moon is on the wane than while it is on the increase. Manure must never be touched except when the moon is on the wane; and land must be manured more particularly while the moon is in conjunction, or else at the first quarter. Take care to geld your boars, bulls, rams, and kids, while the moon is on the wane. Put eggs under the hen at a new moon. Make your ditches in the night-time, when the moon is at full. Cover up the roots of trees, while the moon is at full. Where the soil is humid, put in seed

-- 4112 --

at the moon's conjunction, and during the four days about that period. It is generally recommended, too, to give an airing to corn and the leguminous grains, and to garner them, towards the end of the moon; to make seed-plots when the moon is above the horizon; and to tread out the grape, to fell timber, and to do many other things that have been mentioned in their respective places, when the moon is below it.

The observation of the moon, in general, as already observed in the Second Book, [Note] is not so very easy, but what I am about here to state even rustics will be able to comprehend: so long as the moon is seen in the west, and during the earlier hours of the night, she will be on the increase, and one half of her disk will be perceived; but when the moon is seen to rise at sun-set and opposite to the sun, so that they are both perceptible at the same moment, she will be at fall. Again, as often as the moon rises in the east, and does not give her light in the earlier hours of the night, but shows herself during a portion of the day, she will be on the wane, and one half of her only will again be perceptible: when the moon has ceased to be visible, she is in conjunction, a period known to us as "interlunium." [Note] During the conjunction, the moon will he above the horizon the same time as the sun, for the whole of the first day: on the second, she will advance upon the night ten-twelfths of an hour and one-fourth of a twelfth; [Note] on the third day, the same as on the second, and * * * so on in succession up to the fifteenth day, the same proportional parts of an hour being added each day. On the fifteenth day she will be above the horizon all night, and below it all day. On the sixteenth, she will remain below the horizon ten-twelfths of an hour, and one-fourth of a twelfth, at the first hour of the night, and so on in the same proportion day after day, up to the period of her conjunction; and thus, the same time which by remaining under the horizon, she withdraws from the first part of the night, she will add to the end of the night by remaining above the horizon. Her revolutions, too, will occupy thirty days one month, and twenty-nine the next, and so on alternately. Such is the theory of the revolutions of the moon.

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18.76 CHAP. 76. (33.)—THE THEORY OF THE WINDS.

The theory of the winds [Note] is of a somewhat more intricate nature. After observing the quarter in which the sun rises on any given day, at the sixth [Note] hour of the day take your position in such a manner as to have the point of the sun's rising on your left; you will then have the south directly facing you, and the north at your back: a line drawn through a field in this direction [Note] is called the "cardinal" [Note] line. The observer must then turn round, so as to look upon his shadow, for it will be behind him. Having thus changed his position, so as to bring the point of the sun's rising on that day to the right, and that of his setting to the left, it will be the sixth hour of the day, at the moment when the shadow straight before him is the shortest. Through the middle of this shadow, taken lengthwise, a furrow must be traced in the ground with a hoe, or else a line drawn with ashes, some twenty feet in length, say; in the middle of this line, or, in other words, at the tenth foot in it, a small circle must then be described: to this circle we may give the name of the "umbilicus," or "navel." That point in the line which lies on the side of the head of the shadow will be the point from which the north wind blows. You who are engaged in pruning trees, be it your care that the incisions made in the wood do not face this point; nor should the vine-trees [Note] or the vines have this aspect, except in the climates of Africa, [Note] Cyrenæ, or Egypt. When the wind blows, too, from this point, you must never plough, nor, in fact, attempt any other of the operations of which we shall have to make mention. [Note]

That part of the line which lies between the umbilicus and the feet of the shadow will look towards the south, and indicate the point from which the south wind [Note] blows, to which, as already mentioned, [Note] the Greeks have given the name of Notus. When the wind comes from this quarter, you, hasbandman, must never fell wood or touch the vine. In Italy

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this wind is either humid or else of a burning heat, and in Africa it is accompanied with intense heat [Note] and fine clear weather. In Italy the bearing branches should be trained to face this quarter, but the incisions made in the trees or vines when pruned must never face it. Let those be on their guard against this wind upon the four [Note] days at the rising of the Vergiliæ, who are engaged in planting the olive, as well as those who are employed in the operations of grafting or inoculating.

It will be as well, too, here to give some advice, in reference to the climate of Italy, as to certain precautions to be observed at certain hours of the day. You, woodman, must never lop the branches in the middle of the day; and you, shepherd, when you see midday approaching in summer, and the shadow gradually decreasing, drive your flocks from out of the sun into some well-shaded spot. When you lead the flocks to pasture in summer, let them face the west before midday, [Note] and after that time, the east: if this precaution is not adopted, calamitous results will ensue; the same, too, if the flocks are led in winter or spring to pastures covered with dew. Nor must you let them feed with their faces to the north, as already mentioned; [Note] for the wind will either close their eyes or else make them bleared, and they will (lie of looseness. If you wish to have females, [Note] you should let the dams have their faces towards the north while being covered.


We have already stated [Note] that the umbilicus should be described in the middle of the line. Let another line be drawn transversely through the middle of it, and it will be found to run from due east to due west; a trench cut through the land in accordance with this line is known by the name of "decumanus." Two other lines must then be traced obliquely across them in the form of the letter X, in such a way as to

-- 4115 --

run exactly from right and left of the northern point to left and right of the southern one. All these lines must pass through the centre of the umbilicus, and all must be of corresponding length, and at equal distances. This method should always be adopted in laying out land; or if it should be found necessary to employ it frequently, a plan [Note] of it may be made in wood, sticks of equal length being fixed upon the surface of a small tambour, [Note] but perfectly round. In the method which I am here explaining, it is necessary to point out one precaution that must always be observed by those who are unacquainted with the subject. The point that must he verified first of all is the south, as that is always the same; but the sun, it must be remembered, rises every day at a point in the heavens different to that of his rising on the day before, so that the east must never be taken as the basis for tracing the lines.

Having now ascertained the various points of the heavens, the extremity of the line that is nearest to the north, but lying to the east of it, will indicate the solstitial rising, or, in other words, the rising of the sun on the longest day, as also the point from which the wind Aquilo [Note] blows, known to the Greeks by the name of Boreas. You should plant all trees and vines facing this point, but take care never to plough, or sow corn, or plant in seed plots, while this wind is blowing, for it has the effect of drying up and blasting the roots of the trees while being transplanted. Be taught in time—one thing is good for grown trees, another for them while they are but young. Nor have I forgotten the fact, that it is at this point of the heavens that the Greeks place the wind, to which they give the name of Cæcias; Aristotle, a man of most extensive learning, who has assigned to Cæcias this position, explains that it is in consequence of the convexity of the earth, that Aquilo blows in an opposite direction to the wind called Africus.

The agriculturist, however, has nothing to fear from Aquilo, in respect to the operations before mentioned, all the year through; for this wind is softened by the sun in the middle of

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the summer, and, changing its name, is known by that of Etesias. [Note] When you feel the cold, then, be on your guard; for, whatever the noxious effects that are attributed to Aquilo, the more sensibly will they be felt when the wind blows from due north. In Asia, Greece, Spain, the coasts of Italy, Campania, and Apulia, the trees that support the vines, as well as the vines themselves, should have an aspect towards the north-east. If you wish to have male produce, let the flock feed in such a way, that this wind may have the opportunity of fecundating the male, whose office it is to fecundate the females. The wind Africus, known to the Greeks by the name of Libs, blows from the south-west, the opposite point to Aquilo; when animals, after coupling, turn their heads towards this quarter, [Note] you may be sure that female produce has been conceived.

The third [Note]: line from the north, which we have drawn transversely through the shadow, and called by the name of "decumanus," will point due east, and from this quarter the wind Subsolanus blows, by the Greeks called Apeliotes. It is to this point that, in healthy localities, farm-houses and vineyards are made to look. This wind is accompanied with soft, gentle showers; Favonius, however, the wind that blows from due west, the opposite quarter to it, is of a drier nature; by the Greeks it is known as Zephyrus. Cato has recommended that olive-yards should look due west. It is this wind that begins the spring, and opens the earth; it is moderately cool, but healthy. As soon as it begins to prevail, it indicates that the time has arrived for pruning the vine, weeding the corn, planting trees, grafting fruit-trees, and trimming the olive; for its breezes are productive of the most nutritious effects.

The fourth [Note] line from the north, and the one that lies nearest the south on the eastern side, will indicate the point of the sun's rising at the winter solstice, and the wind Volturnus, known by the name of Eurus to the Greeks. This wind is warm and dry, and beehives and vineyards, in the climates of Italy and the Gallic provinces, should face this quarter. Directly opposite to Volturnus, the wind Corus blows; it indicates the point of the sun's setting at the summer solstice,

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and lies on the western side next to the north. By the Greeks it is called Argestes, and is one of the very coldest of the winds, which, in fact, is the case with all the winds that blow from the north; this wind, too, brings hailstorms with it, for which reason it is necessary to be on our guard against it no less than the north. If Volturnus begins to blow from a clear quarter of the heavens, it will not last till night; but if it is Subsolanus, it will prevail for the greater part of the night. Whatever the wind that may happen to be blowing, if it is accompanied by heat, it will be sure to last for several days. The earth announces the approach of Aquilo, by drying on a sudden, while on the approach of Auster, the surface becomes moist without any apparent cause.


Having now explained the theory of the winds, it seems to me the best plan, in order to avoid any repetition, to pass on to the other signs and prognostics that are indicative of a change of weather. I find, too, that this is a kind of knowledge that greatly interested Virgil, [Note] for he mentions the fact, that during the harvest even, he has often seen the winds engage in a combat that was absolutely ruinous to the improvident agriculturist. There is a tradition, too, to the effect that Democritus, already mentioned, when his brother Damasus was getting in his harvest in extremely hot weather, entreated him to leave the rest of the crop, and house with all haste that which had been cut; and it was only within a very few hours that his prediction was verified by a most violent storm. On the other hand, it is particularly recommended never to plant reeds except when rain is impending, and only to sow corn just before a shower; we shall therefore briefly touch upon the prognostics of this description, making enquiry more particularly into those among them that have been found the most useful.

In the first place, then, we will consider those prognostics of the weather which are derived from the sun. [Note] If the sun is bright at its rising, and not burning hot, it is indicative of fine

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weather, but if pale, it announces wintry weather accompanied with hail. If the sun is bright and clear when it sets, and it' it rises with a similar appearance, the more assured of fine weather may we feel ourselves. If it is hidden in clouds at its rising, it is indicative of rain, and of wind, when the clouds are of a reddish colour just before sunrise; if black clouds are intermingled with the red ones, they betoken rain as well. When the sun's rays at its rising or setting appear to unite, rainy weather may be looked for. When the clouds are red at sunset, they give promise [Note] of a fine day on the morrow; but if, at the sun's rising, the clouds are dispersed in various quarters, some to the south, and some to the north-east, even though the heavens in the vicinity of the sun may be bright, they are significant of rain and wind. If at the sun's rising or setting, its rays appear contracted, they announce the approach of a shower. If it rains at sunset, or if the sun's rays attract the clouds towards them, it is portentous of stormy weather on the following day. When the sun, at its rising, does not emit vivid rays, although there are no clouds surrounding it, rain may be expected. If before sunrise the clouds collect into dense masses, they are portentous of a violent storm; but if they are repelled from the east and travel westward, they indicate fine weather. When clouds are seen surrounding the face of the sun, the less the light they leave, the more violent the tempest will be: but if they form a double circle round the sun, the storm will be a dreadful one. If this takes place at sunrise or sunset, and the clouds assume a red hue, the approach of a most violent storm is announced: and if the clouds hang over the face of the sun without surrounding it, they presage wind from the quarter from which they are drifting, and rain as well, if they come from the south.

If, at its rising, the sun is surrounded with a circle, wind may be looked for in the quarter in which the circle breaks; but if it disappears equally throughout, it is indicative of fine weather. If the sun at its rising throws out its rays afar through the clouds, and the middle of its disk is clear, there will be rain; and if its rays are seen before it rises, both rain and wind as well. If a white circle is seen round the sun at its setting, there will be a slight storm in the night; but if there

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is a mist around it, the storm will be more violent. If the sun is pale at sunset, there will be wind, and if there is a dark circle round it, high winds will arise in the quarter in which the circle breaks.


The prognostics derived from the moon, assert their right to occupy our notice in the second place. In Egypt, attention is paid, more particularly, to the fourth day of the moon. If, when the moon rises, she shines with a pure bright light, it is generally supposed that we shall have fine weather; but if she is red, there will be wind, and if of a swarthy [Note] hue, rain. If upon the fifth day of the moon her horns are obtuse, they are always indicative of rain, but if sharp and erect, of wind, and this on the fourth day of the moon more particularly. If her northern horn is pointed and erect, it portends wind; and if it is the lower horn that presents this appearance, the wind will be from the south; if both of them are erect, there will be high winds in the night. If upon the fourth day of the moon she is surrounded by a red circle, it is portentous of wind and rain.

In Varro we find it stated to the following effect:—"If, at the fourth day of the moon, her horns are erect, there will be great storms at sea, unless, indeed, she has a circlet [Note] around her, and that circlet unblemished; for by that sign we are informed that there will be no stormy weather before full moon. If, at the full moon, one half of her disk is clear, it is indicative of fine weather, but if it is red, of wind, and if black, of rain. If a darkness comes over the face of the moon, covered with clouds, in whatever quarter it breaks, from that quarter wind may be expected. If a twofold circle surrounds the moon, the storm will be more violent, and even more so still, if there are three circles, or if they are black, broken, and disjointed. If the new moon at her rising has the upper horn obscured, there will be a prevalence of rainy weather, when she is on the wane; but if it is the lower horn that is obscured, there will be rain before full moon; if, again, the moon is darkened in the middle of her disk, there will be rain when she is at full. If the moon, when full, has a circle round her, it indicates wind from the quarter in the circle which is the brightest; but if at her rising the

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horns are obtuse, they are portentous of a frightful tempest. If, when the west wind prevails, the moon does not make her appearancè before her fourth day, there will be a prevalence of stormy weather throughout the month. If on the sixteenth day the moon has a bright, flaming appearance, it is a presage of violent tempests."

There are eight different epochs of the moon, or periods at which she makes certain angles of incidence with the sun, and most persons only notice the prognostics derived from the moon, according to the places which they occupy between these angles. The periods of these angles are the third day, the seventh, the eleventh, the fifteenth, the nineteenth, the twenty-third, the twenty-seventh, and that of the conjunction.


In the third rank must be placed the prognostics derived from the stars. These bodies are sometimes to be seen shooting to and fro; [Note] when this happens, winds immediately ensue, in that part of the heavens in which the presage has been afforded. When the heavens are equally bright throughout their whole expanse, at the periods previously mentioned, [Note] the ensuing autumn will be fine and cool. If the spring and summer have passed not without some rain, the autumn will be fine and settled, [Note] and there will be but little wind: when the autumn is fine, it makes a windy winter. When the brightness of the stars is suddenly obscured, though without [Note] clouds or fog, violent tempests may be expected. If numerous stars are seen to shoot, [Note] leaving a white track behind them, they presage wind from that quarter. [Note] If they follow in quick succession from the same quarter, the wind will blow steadily, but if from various quarters of the heavens, the wind will shift in sudden gusts and squalls. If circles are seen to surround any of the planets, there will be rain. [Note] In the constellation

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of Cancer, there are two small stars to be seen, known as the Aselli, [Note] the small space that lies between them being occupied by a cloudy appearance, which is known as the Manger; [Note] when this cloud is not visible in a clear sky, it is a presage of a violent storm. If a fog conceals from our view the one of these stars which lies to the north-east, there will be high winds from the south; but if it is the star which lies to the south that is so obscured, then the wind will be from the north-east. The rainbow, when double, indicates the approach [Note] of rain; but if seen after rain, it gives promise, though by no means a certain one, of fine weather. Circular clouds around some of the stars are indicative of rain.


When, in summer, there is more thunder than lightning, wind may be expected from that quarter; but if, on the other hand, there is not so much thunder as lightning, there will be a fall of rain. When it lightens in a clear sky, there will be rain, and if there is thunder as well, stormy weather; but if it lightens from all four quarters of the heavens, there will be a dreadful tempest. When it lightens from the north-east only, it portends rain on the following day; but when from the north, wind may be expected from that quarter. When it lightens on a clear night from the south, the west, or the north-west, there will be wind and rain from those quarters. Thunder [Note] in the morning is indicative of wind, and at midday of rain.


When clouds are seen moving in a clear sky, wind may be expected in the quarter from which they proceed; but if they accumulate in one spot, as they approach the sun they will disperse. If the clouds are dispersed by a north-east wind, it is a presage of high winds, but if by a wind from the south, of rain. If at sunset the clouds cover the heavens on either side of the sun, they are indicative of tempest; if they are black and lowering in the east, they threaten rain in the night, but if in the west, on the following day. If the clouds spread in

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large numbers from the east, like fleeces of wool in appearance, they indicate a continuance of rain for the next three days. When the clouds settle on the summits of the mountains, [Note] there will be stormy weather; but if the clouds clear away, it will be fine. When the clouds are white and lowering, a hailstorm, generally known as a "white" [Note] tempest, is close at hand. An isolated cloud, however small, [Note] though seen in a clear sky, announces wind and storm.


Mists descending from the summits of mountains, or from the heavens, or settling in the vallies, [Note] give promise of fine weather.


Next to these are the prognostics that are derived from fire kindled upon the earth. [Note] If the flames are pallid, and emit a murmuring noise, they are considered to presage stormy weather; and fungi upon the burning wick of the lamp are a sign of rain. [Note] If the flame is spiral and flickering, it is an indication of wind, and the same is the case when the lamp goes out of itself, or is lighted with difficulty. So, too, if the snuff hangs down, and sparks gather upon it, or if the burning coals adhere [Note] to vessels taken from off the fire, or if the fire, when covered up, sends out hot embers or emits sparks, or if the cinders gather into a mass upon the hearth, or the coals burn bright and glowing.


There are certain prognostics, too, that may be derived from

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water. If, when the sea is calm, the water ripples in the harbour, with a hollow, murmuring noise, it is a sign of wind, and if in winter, of rain as well. If the coasts and shores reecho while the sea is calm, a violent tempest may be expected; and the same when the sea, though calm, is heard to roar, or throws up foam and bubbling spray. If sea pulmones [Note] are to be seen floating on the surface, they are portentous of stormy weather for many days to come. Very frequently, too, the sea is seen to swell in silence, and more so than when ruffled by an ordinary breeze; this is an indication that the winds are at work within its bosom already.


The reverberations, too, of the mountains, and the roaring of the forests, are indicative of certain phænomena; and the same is the case when the leaves are seen to quiver, [Note] without a breath of wind, the downy filaments of the poplar or thorn to float in the air, and feathers to skim along the surface of the water. [Note] In champaign countries, the storm gives notice of its approach by that peculiar muttering [Note] which precedes it; while the murmuring that is heard in the heavens affords us no doubtful presage of what is to come.


The animals, too, afford us certain presages; dolphins, for instance, sporting in a calm sea, announce wind in the quarter from which they make their appearance. [Note] When they throw up the water in a billowy sea, they announce the approach of a calm. The loligo, [Note] springing out of the water, shell-fish adhering to various objects, sea-urchins fastening by their stickles upon the sand, or else burrowing in it, are so many in-

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dications of stormy weather: the same, too, when frogs [Note] croak more than usual, or coots [Note] make a chattering in the morning. Divers, too, and ducks, when they clean their feathers with the bill, announce high winds; which is the case also when the aquatic birds unite in flocks, cranes make for the interior, and divers [Note] and sea-mews forsake the sea or the creeks. Cranes when they fly aloft in silence announce fine weather, and so does the owlet, [Note] when it screeches during a shower; but it is heard in fine weather, it presages a storm. Ravens, too, when they croak with a sort of gurgling noise and shake their feathers, give warning of the approach of wind, if their note is continuous: but if, on the other hand, it is smothered, and only heard at broken intervals, we may expect rain, accompanied with high winds. Jackdaws, when they return late from feeding, give notice of stormy weather, and the same with the white birds, [Note] when they unite in flocks, and the land birds, when they descend with cries to the water and besprinkle themselves, the crow more particularly. The swallow, [Note] too, when it skims along the surface of the water, so near as to ripple it every now and then with its wings, and the birds that dwell in the trees, when they hide themselves in their nests, afford similar indications; geese, too, when they set up a continuous gabbling, [Note] at an unusual time, and the heron, [Note] when it stands moping in the middle of the sands.


Nor, indeed, is it surprising that the aquatic birds, or any birds, in fact, should have a perception of the impending

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changes of the atmosphere. Sheep, however, when they skip and frisk with their clumsy gambols, [Note] afford us similar prognostics; oxen, when they snuff upwards towards the sky, and lick [Note] themselves against the hair; unclean swine, when they tear to pieces the trusses of hay that are put for other animals; [Note] bees, when, contrary to their natural habits of industry, they keep close within the hive; ants, when they hurry to and fro, or are seen carrying forth their eggs; and earthworms, [Note] emerging from their holes—all these indicate approaching changes in the weather.


It is a well-known fact, that trefoil bristles up, and its leaves stand erect, upon the approach of a tempest.


At our repasts, too, and upon our tables, when we see the vessels sweat in which the viands are served, and leave marks upon the side-board, [Note] it is an indication that a dreadful storm is impending.

SUMMARY.—Remarkable facts, narratives, and observations, two thousand and sixty.

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Massurius Sabinus, [Note] Cassius Hemina, [Note] Verrius Flaccus, [Note] L. Piso, [Note] Cornelius Celsus, [Note] Turranius Gracilis, [Note] D. Silanus, [Note] M. Varro, [Note] Cato the Censor, [Note] Scrofa, [Note] the Sasernœ, [Note] father and son, Domitius Calvinus, [Note]

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Hyginus, [Note] Virgil, [Note] Trogus, [Note] Ovid, [Note] Græcinus, [Note] Columella, [Note] Tubero, [Note] L. Tarutius, [Note] who wrote in Greek on the Stars, Cæsar [Note] the Dictator, who wrote upon the Stars, Sergins Paulus, [Note] Sabinus Fabianus, [Note] M. Cicero, [Note] Calpurnius Bassus, [Note] Ateius Capito, [Note] Mamilius Sura, [Note] Attius, [Note] who wrote the Praxidica.

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Hesiod, [Note] Theophrastus, [Note] Aristotle, [Note] Democritus, [Note] King Hiero, [Note] King Attalus Philometor, [Note] King Archelaüs, [Note] Archytas, [Note] Xenophon, [Note] Amphilochus [Note] of

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Athens, Anaxipolis [Note] of Thasos, Aristophanes [Note] of Miletus, Apollodorus [Note] of Lemnos, Antigonus [Note] of Cymæ, Agathocles [Note] of Chios, Apollonius [Note] of Pergamus, Aristander [Note] of Athens, Bacchius [Note] of Miletus, Bion [Note] of Soli, Chæreas [Note] of Athens, Chæristus [Note] of Athens, Diodorus [Note] of Priene, Dion [Note] of Colophon, Epigenes [Note] of Rhodes, Euagon [Note] of Thasos, Euphronius [Note] of Athens, Androtion [Note] who wrote on Agriculture, Æschrion [Note] who wrote on Agriculture, Lysimachus [Note] who wrote on Agriculture, Dionysius [Note] who translated Mago, Diophanes [Note] who made an Epitome from Dionysius, Thales, [Note] Eudoxus, [Note] Philippus, [Note] Calippus, [Note] Dositheus, [Note] Parmeniscus, [Note] Meton, [Note] Criton, [Note]

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Œnopides, [Note] Zenon, [Note] Euctemon, [Note] Harpalus, [Note] Hecatæus, [Note] Anaximander, [Note] Sosigenes, [Note] Hipparchus, [Note] Aratus, [Note] Zoroaster, [Note] Archibius. [Note]

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Pliny the Elder, Natural History (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Plin. Nat.].
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