The Ancient Library

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emblem of industry and peace. While it yields a large supply of palatable and highly nutritious food, it requires less outlay and less attention than .almost any other fruit tree, is subject to few casu­alties, and, even if altogether neglected, does not suffer serious injury, but may "be quickly restored to fertility by moderate care. Hence, the honour paid to it at Athens, and hence the title of " prima omnium arborum " bestowed upon it by Columella. varieties. The OleaEuropea is the only spe­cies of the natural family of Oleaceae, which yields the highly valued olive oil, "but many varieties are produced by different modes of culture, and by pecu­liarities of soil and climate. Columella enumerates ten, and this number may be considerably increased from the works of other ancient writers. The fol­lowing seem to have been the most important: — ]. Pausia s. Posea ; 2. Regia; 3. Orchis s. Or-chitis s. Orcliita s. Orchas; 4. Radius; B.Lwinia s. Liciniana ; 6. Sergia s. Sergiana. Of these the Pausia, according to Columella, was the most pleasant in flavour (jucundissimus), although upon this point he is apparently contradicted by Virgil (amara Pausia hacca]; the Regia was the hand­somest in appearance ; while both of these together

•with the Orchis and the Radius, and in general, all the larger varieties, were better suited for eating than for oil. The Licinia, on the other hand, yielded the finest oil, the Sergia, the greatest quan­tity. (Cat. R. R. 7 ; Varr. R. R. 7 ; Columell. v. Sjde Arbor. 17 ; Plin. H. N. xv. 6.)

soil and climate. The soil considered most congenial was a rich tenacious clay, or a mixture of clay and sand, a gravelly subsoil being essential in either case to carry off the water. Deep fat mould was found to be not unsuitable, but any land which retained moisture was avoided, and also light,-stony ground, for, although the trees did not die in the latter, they never became vigorous. Here again, however, Columella and Virgil are at variance, for while the former observes " inimicus est ager sabulo macer et nuda glarea," the poet declares

Difficiles primum terrae collesque inaligni, Tenuis ubi argilla et dumosis calculus arvis Palladia gaudent silva vivacis olivae.

The olive is very impatient of frost, and scarcely any of the varieties known to the ancients would flourish in very hot or very cold situations. In hot localities, it was expedient to form the plantations on the side of a hill facing the north, in cold localities upon a southern slope. Neither a very lofty nor a very low position was appropriate, but gentle rolling eminences such as characterised the country of the Sabines in Italy, and the district of Baetica in Spain. Under ordinary circumstances, a western exposure lying well open to the sun was preferred. It is asserted by several classical authors that the olive will not live, or, at least, not prove fruitful at a distance from the sea coast greater than from thirty to fifty miles, and although ex­ceptions did and do exist to this rule it will be found to accord with general experience. (Cat.

•R.R. 7; Varr. i. 24 ; Columella, v. 8 ; Plin. H.N. xvii. 3 ; Pallad. in. 18 j Theophr. tt. (£. a. ii. 5 ; Geopon. ix. 4.)

propagation and culture. Previous to the formation of an olive yard (oletum, olivetuin) it was necessary to lay out a nursery (seminariuni)

•for the reception of the young plants. A piece of


ground was selected for this purpose, freely ex­posed to the sun and air, and in which the soil was a rich black mould. It was the practice to trench (pastinare) this to the depth of three feet, and then to leave it to crumble down under the influence of the atmosphere.

The propagation of the olive was effected in various ways.

1. The method generally adopted was to fix upon the most productive trees, and to select from these long, young, healthy branches (ramos no-vellos} of such a thickness as to be easily embraced by the hand. The branches immediately after being detached from the parent stem, were sawed into lengths of a foot and a half each, great care being taken not to injure the bark ; these seg­ments, which were called taleae or clavolae oT.trunci, were then tapered to a point at each end with a knife, the two extremities were smeared with dung and ashes, they were buried upright in the ground, so that the tops were a few fingers' breadth below the surface, and each talea was placed as nearly as possible in the same position, both ver­tically and laterally, as the branch had occupied upon the tree. During the first year, the ground was frequently loosened by the sarculum ; when the young roots (radiculae seminum} had taken a firm hold, heavy hand-rakes (rastra) were em­ployed for the same purpose, and in the heat of summer water was regularly supplied. For two years no pruning was resorted to, but in the third year the whole of the shoots (ramuli), with the exception of two, were lopped off; in the fourth year, the weaker of the remaining two was de­tached, and in the fifth year the young trees (arbu-sculae) were fit for being transplanted Qiabiles translation^). This latter operation was best per­formed in autumn where the ground to which they were conveyed was dry, but if it was moist and rich, in spring, a short time before the buds were formed. In the field which they were to occupy permanently, pits (scrobes) four feet every way were prepared, if practicable, a year beforehand, so that the earth might be thoroughly pulverised ; small stones and gravel mixed with mould were placed at the bottom to the depth of a few inches, and some grains of barley were scattered over all. The young tree was lifted with as large a ball of earth as possible attached to the roots, placed in the pit surrounded with a little manure, and planted so as to occupy precisely the same position, in relation to the cardinal points, as in the nursery. In rich corn land, the space left between each row was at least sixty feet, and between each tree in the row forty feet, in order that the branches and roots might have full space to spread, but in poorer soil twenty-five fe.'t, each way, were con­sidered sufficient. The rows were arranged so as to run from east to west, in order that the cool breezes might sweep freely down the open spaces in summer. After the trees had become firmly fixed, and had been pruned up into a proper shape, that is, into a single stem kept without branches to the height of the tallest ox, the labour attending upon an olive yard was comparatively trifling. Every year, the soil around the roots was loosened with hoes (bidens}, or with the plough, the roots themselves laid bare (ablaqueare, ablaqueatio), the young suckers cut away, and the lichens scrapeq. from the bark..;. ever)? third.year, in autumn, manure was thrown in ; every eighth year the trees were

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