The Ancient Library

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straction of Carthage, it was translated into Latin by orders of the senate ; a Greek version, with ad­ditions and probably omissions, was executed by IHonysius of Utica, and published in twenty books during the century before the commencement of our era ; and this, again, was a few years after­wards condensed into six books by Diophanes of Nicaea, and presented to King Deiotarus. In what follows, Cato, Varro, and Columella will be our chief supports, although references will be made to and illustrations drawn from the other sources indicated above. (Varr. R. R. i. 1; Col. R. R. i. 1; Plin. H. N. xviii. 3 ; Proleg. ad Geopon. in ed. Niclas.)

Division of the Subject.

Rural Economy may be treated of under two distinct heads —

A. Agriculture proper (Agricultura), or the art of tilling the soil.

B. The management of stock (Pastio).


Agriculture proper teaches the art of raising the various crops necessary for the sustenance and com­fort of man and of the domestic animals, in such a manner that the productive energies of the soil may be fully developed but not exhausted nor enfeebled, and teaches, farther, how this may be accomplished with the least possible expenditure of capital. The crops to which the Greeks and Romans chiefly directed their attention were — I. Different kinds of grain, such as wheat and barley; leguminous vegetables cultivated for their seeds, such as beans, peas, and lupines ; herbs cut green for forage, such as grass, tares, and lucerne ; and plants which furnished the raw material for the textile fabrics, such as hemp and flax. 2. Fruit trees, especially the vine, the olive, and the fig. 3. Garden stuffs. — For the second of these divi­sions we refer to the articles oletum and vinea ; and we shall not touch at all upon gardening, since the minute details connected with this topic are of little or no service in illustrating the classics generally.

Agriculture in its restricted sense comprehends a knowledge

I. Of the subject of our operations, that is, the faxm(fundus,praediuiri), which must be considered. a. with reference to its situation and soil (quo loco et quails), and b. with reference to the dwell­ing-house and steading (villa et stabula).

II. Of the instruments (instrumental) required to perform the various operations (quae in fundo opus sint ac debeant esse culturae causa), these in­struments being twofold, a. men (homines') ; and 6. the assistants of men (adminicula hominwn), viz. domestic animals (boves, equi, canes, &c.) together with tools (instrumental, properly so called, such as ploughs and harrows.

III. Of the operations themselves, such as ploughing, harrowing, and sowing (quae in fundo colendi causa sint facienda}, and of the time when they are to be performed (quo quidquid tempore fieri conveniaf).

IV. Of the object of these operations, viz. the different plants considered with reference to their species, varieties, and habits. Under this head we may also conveniently include what is termed the rotation of crops, that is, the order in which they ought to succeed each other upon the same ground,


I. a. cognitio fundi

(Knowledge of the Farm}. In selecting a farm, the two points which first demanded attention were, 1. The healthiness of the situation (salu-britas}, a matter of the greatest anxiety in Italy, where the ravages of malaria appear to have been not less fatal in ancient than they have proved in modern times; and, 2. The general fertility of the soil. It was essential to be fully satisfied upon both of these particulars ; for to settle in a pestilential spot was to gamble with the lives and property of all concerned (non aliud est atque alea domini vitae et rei familiaris), and no man in his senses would undertake to till land which was not likely to yield a fair return for his outlay of money and labour (fructus pro impensa ac Lahore). The next object of solicitude was a good aspect. The property was, if possible, to have a southerly exposure, to be sheltered by a wooded hill from the sweep of boisterous and cut­ting winds, and not to be liable to sudden mis­fortunes (ne calamitosum sict), such as inundations or violent hail storms. It was highly important that it should be in the vicinity of a populous town (oppidum validum), or if not, that it should be readily accessible either by sea, or by a navigable stream (amnis qua naves ambulant}, or by a good well frequented road (via bona cehbrisque} ; that there should be an abundant supply of water (bo~ num aquarium); that it should be so situated that the proprietor, if he did not live upon the estate, might be able to give active and constant personal superintendence ; and, finally, that it should be moderate in size, so that every portion might be brought into full cultivation (laudato ingentia rura — Exiguum colito)*

These preliminary matters being ascertained, the soil might be considered in reference «. to its general external features (forma}, J3. to its internal qualities (qualis sit terra}.

a. In so far as its external features were con­cerned it might be flat (solum campestre), or upland rolling ground (collinum}, or high lying (monta* num), or might comprise \vithin its limits all three, which was most desirable, or any two of them. These variations would necessarily exer­cise important influence on the climate, on the description of crops which might be cultivated with advantage, and on the time chosen for per­forming the various operations, the general rule being that as we ascend the temperature falls, that corn and sown crops in general (segetes} succeed best on plains, vineyards (vineae} on gentle slopes, and timber trees (silvae) upon elevated sites, and that the different labours of the rustic may be commenced earlier upon low than upon high ground. When flat it was better that it should incline gently and uniformly in one direction (aequabiliter in unam partem vergens) than be a dead level (ad libellam aequmn), for in the latter case the drainage being necessarily imperfect, it would have a tendency to become swampy; but the worst form was when there were converging slopes, for there the water collected into pools (lacunas).

& In so far as its internal qualities were con­cerned, soil might be classed under six heads form­ing three antagonistic pairs.: —

1. The deep and fat (pingue}, 2. The shallow and lean (macrum, jejunum}, 3. The loose (solu~

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