Natural History (Rackham, Jones, & Eichholz)/Book 18
I. OUR next subject is the nature of the various kinds of grain and of gardens and flowers and the other products of Earth's bounty beside trees or shrubs, the study of herbaceous plants being itself of boundless scope, if one considers the variety and number, the blossoms, scents and colours, and the juices and properties of the plants that she engenders for the health or the gratification of men. And in this section it is our pleasant duty first of all to champion Earth's cause and to support her as the parent of all things, although we have already pleaded her defence in the opening part of this treatise. Nevertheless, now that our subject itself brings us to consider her also as the producer of noxious objects, they are our own crimes with which we charge her and our own faults which we impute to her. She has engendered poisonsbut who discovered them except man? Birds and beasts are content merely to avoid them and keep away from them. And although the elephant and the ure-ox sharpen and whet their horns on a tree and the rhinoceros on a rock, and boars point the poniards of their tusks upon both trees and rocks, and even animals know how to prepare themselves for inflicting injury, yet which of them excepting man also dips its weapons in poison? As for us, we even poison our arrows and add to the destructive properties of iron itself; we dye even the rivers and the elemental substances of Nature, and turn the very means a of life into a bane. Nor is it possible for us to suppose that animals do not know of these things; for we have indicated the preparations that they make to guard against encounters with serpents and the remedies that they have devised to employ after the battle. Nor does any creature save man fight with poison borrowed from another. Let us therefore confess our guilt, we who are not content even with natural products, inasmuch as how far more numerous are the varieties of them made by the human hand! Why, are not even poisons actually the product of man's violence? Their livid tongue flickers like the serpent's, and the corruption of their mind scorches the things it touches, maligning all things as they do and like birds of evil omen violating even the darkness that is their own element and the quiet of the night itself with their groaning, the only sound they utter, so that like animals of evil omen when they even cross our path they forbid us to act or to be of service to life. And they know no other reward for their abhorred vitality than to hate all things. But in this matter also Nature's grandeur is the same: how many more good men has she engendered as her harvest! flow much more fertile is she in products that give aid and nourishment! We too then will continue to enrich life with the value we set on these things and the delight they give us, leaving those brambles of the human race to the consuming fire that is theirs, and all the more resolutely because we achieve greater gratification from industry than we do from renown. The subject of our discourse is indeed the countryside and rustic practices, but it is on these that life depends and that the highest honour was bestowed in early days.
II. Romulus at the outset instituted the Priests of the Fields, and nominated himself as the twelfth brother among them, the others being the sons of his foster-mother Acca Larentia; it was to this priesthood that was assigned as a most sacred emblem the first crown ever worn at Rome, a wreath of ears of corn tied together with a white fillet; and this dignity only ends with life, and accompanies its holders even into exile or captivity. In those days two acres of land each was enough for the Roman people, who assigned to no one a larger amountwhich of the persons who but a little time before were the slaves of the Emperor Nero would have been satisfied with an ornamental garden of that extent? They like to have fishponds larger than that, and it is a thing to be thankful for if someone does not insist on kitchens covering a greater area. Numa established worship of the gods with an offering of corn and winning their favour with a salted cake, and, according to Hemina, of roasting emmer wheat because it was more wholesome for food when roastedthough he could attain this only in one way, by establishing that emmer was not in a pure condition for a religious offering unless it had been roasted.
It was also Numa who established the Feast of Ovens, the holiday when emmer is roasted, and the equally solemn holiday dedicated to the boundary-marks of estates, these bounds being in those days particularly recognized as gods, with the goddesses Seia named from sowing the seed and Segesta from reaping the harvest, whose statues we see in the Circusthe third a of these divinities it is irreverent even to mention by name indoorsand people used not even to taste the produce of a new harvest or vintage before the priests had offered a libation of the first-fruits.
III. An area of land that one yoke of oxen could plough in a day used to be called an acre, and a distance which oxen could be driven with a plough in a single spell of reasonable length was called a furlong; this was 40 yards, and doubled longways this made an acre. The most lavish gifts bestowed on generals and valorous citizens were the largest area of land that a person could plough round in one day, and also a contribution from the whole people of one or two quarterns of emmer wheat a head. Moreover the earliest surnames were derived from agriculture: the name 'Pilumnus' belonged to the inventor of the 'pestle' for corn-mills, 'Piso' came from 'pounding' corn, and again families were named Fabius or Lentulus or Cicero according as someone was the best grower of some particular crop. One of the Junius family received the name of Bubulcus because he was very good at managing oxen. Moreover among religious rites none was invested with more sanctity than that of Communion in Wheat, and newly married brides used to carry in their hands an offering of wheat. Bad husbandry was judged an offence within the jurisdiction of the censors, and, as Cato tells us, to praise a man by saying he was a good farmer and a good hush and man was thought to be the highest form of commendation. That is the source of the word locyples, meaning 'wealthy', 'full of room', i.e. of land. Our word for money itself was derived from pecus, 'cattle', and even now in the censor's accounts all the sources of national revenue are termed 'pastures', because rent of pasture-land was for a long time the only source of public income. Moreover flues were only specified in terms of payment of sheep and oxen; nor must we omit the benevolent spirit of the law of early times, in that a judge imposing a fine was prohibited from specifying an ox before he had previously fined the offender a sheep. There were public games in honour of oxen, those conducting them being called the Bubetii. King Servius stamped first the bronze coinage with the likeness of sheep and oxen. Indeed the Twelve Tables made pasturing animals by stealth at night on crops grown under the plough, or cutting it, a capital offence for an adult, and enacted that a person found guilty of it should be executed by hanging, in reparation to Ceres, a heavier punishment than in a conviction for homicide; while a minor was to be flogged at the discretion of the praetor or sentenced to pay the amount of the damage or twice that amount. In fact the system of class and office in the state itself was derived from no other source. The rural tribes were the most esteemed, consisting of those who owned farms, whereas the city tribes were tribes into which it was a disgrace to be transferred, this stigmatizing lack of activity. Consequently the city tribes were only four, named from the parts of the city in which their members resided, the Suburan, Palatine, Colline and Esquiline. They used to resort to the city on market-days and consequently elections were not allowed to be held on market-days, so that the common people of the country might not be called away from their homes. Beds of straw were used for a siesta and for sleeping on. Finally the actual word 'glory' used to be 'adory', owing to the honour in which emmer was held. For my own part I admire even actual words used in their old signification; for the following sentence occurs in the Memoranda of the Priesthood: 'Let a day be fixed for taking augury by the sacrifice of a dog before the corn comes out of the sheath and before it penetrates through into the sheath.'
IV. Accordingly these being the customs not only were the harvests sufficient for them without any of the provinces providing food for Italy, but even the market price of corn was unbelievably low. Manius Marcius when aedile of the plebs for the first time [456 B.C.] provided the people with corn at the price of an as a peck. Lucius Minucius Augurinus, who had procured the conviction of Spurius Maelius, when he was tribune of the people reduced the price of emmer to an as for a fortnight, and consequently had his statue erected outside the Triplets' Gate, the cost being met by public subscription. Titus Seius during his aedileship supplied the public with corn at an as a peck, on account of which he too had statues erected to him on the Capitol and the Palatine, and he himself at the end of his life was carried to his cremation on the shoulders of the populace. Then it is recorded that in the summer of the year in which the Mother of the Gods was carried to Rome there was a larger harvest than in the preceding ten years. Marcus Varro states that at the date when Lucius Metellus gave a procession of a very large number of elephants in his triumph, the price of a peck of emmer wheat was one as, as also was that of a gallon of wine, 30 pounds of dried figs, 10 pounds of oil and 12 pounds of meat. Nor was this the result of the large estates of individuals who ousted their neighbours, inasmuch as by the law of Licinins Stolo the limit was restricted to 500 acres, and Stolo himself was convicted under his own law because he owned a larger amount of land, held under his son's name instead of his own. Such was the scale of prices when the state had already some luxury. At any rate there is a famous utterance of Manius Curius, who after celebrating triumphs and making a vast addition of territory to 290 B.C. the empire, said that a man not satisfied with seven acres must be deemed a dangerous citizen; for that was the acreage assigned for commoners after the expulsion of the kings. What therefore was the cause of such great fertility? The fields were tilled in those days by the hands of generals themselves, and we may well believe that the earth rejoiced in a laurel-decked ploughshare and a ploughman who had celebrated a triumph, whether it was that those farmers treated the seed with the same care as they managed their wars and marked out their fields with the same diligence as they arranged a camp, or whether everything prospers better under honourable hands because the work is done with greater attention. The honours bestowed on Serranus found [297 B.C.] him sowing seed, which was actually the origin of his surname. An apparitor brought to Cincinnatus his commission as dictator when he was ploughing his four-acre property on the Vatican, the land now called the Quintian Meadows, and indeed it is said that he had stripped for the work, and the messenger as he continued to linger said, 'Put on your clothes, so that I may deliver the mandates of the Senate and People of Rome'. That was what apparitors were like even at that time, and their name itself a was given to them as summoning the senate and the leaders to put in an immediate appearance from their farms. But nowadays those agricultural operations are performed by slaves with fettered ankles and by the hands of malefactors with branded faces! although the Earth who is addressed as our mother and whose cultivation is spoken of as worship is not so dull that when we obtain even our farm-work from these persons one can believe that this is not done against her will and to her indignation. And we forsooth are surprised that we do not get the same profits from the labour of slave-gangs as used to be obtained from that of generals!
V. Consequently to give instructions for agriculture was an occupation of the highest dignity even with foreign nations, inasmuch as it was actually performed by kings such as Hiero, Attalus Philometor and Archelaus, and by generals such as Xenophon and also the Carthaginian Mago, on whom indeed our senate bestowed such great honour, after the taking of Carthage, that when it gave away the city's libraries to the petty kings of Africa it passed a resolution that in his ease alone his twenty-eight volumes should be translated into Latin, in spite of the fact that Marcus Cato had already compiled his book of precepts, and that the task should be given to persons acquainted with the Carthaginian language, an accomplishment in which Decimus Silanus, a man of most distinguished family, surpassed everybody. But we have given at the beginning a list of the philosophers of originality and the eminent poets and other distinguished authors whom we shall follow in this volume, although special mention must be made of Marcus Varro, who felt moved to publish a treatise on this subject in the eighty-first year of his life.
Vine-growing began among the Romans much later, and at the beginning, as of necessity, they only practised agriculture, the theory of which we will now deal with, not in the common method but, as we have done hitherto, by making an exhaustive research into both ancient practices and subsequent discoveries, and at the same time delving into causes and principles. We shall also treat of astronomy, and shall give the indubitable signs which the stars themselves afford as regards the earth, inasmuch as authors who have hitherto handled these subjects with some degree of thoroughness may be thought to have been writing for any class of people rather than farmers.
VI. And first of all we will proceed for the most part by the guidance of oracular precepts, which in no other department of life are more numerous or more trustworthyfor why not assign oracular value to precepts originating from the infallible test of time and the supremely truthful verdict of experience?
We will borrow a commencement from Cato: 'The agricultural class produces the bravest men, the most gallant soldiers and the citizens least given to evil designs.' `In buying a farm do not be too eager. In rural affairs do not be sparing of trouble, least of all in buying land'; a bad purchase is always repented. Those about to buy land should before all things give an eye to 'the water supply, the road, and the neighbour'. Each of these rules admits of an important and unquestionable interpretation. Cato advises that in regard to the neighbouring farmers further consideration should be given to the question how prosperous they look; 'for in a good district', he says, 'the people look in good condition'. Atilius Regulus who was twice consul during the Punic war a used to say that it is a mistake to buy unhealthy land in the most fertile districts or the most healthy land in districts that have been worked out. The healthy quality of the district is not always disclosed by the complexion of the inhabitants, because people can carry on even in very unhealthy localities when they are used to them. Moreover some districts are healthy during portions of the year, but no place is really salubrious unless it is healthy all the year round. 'Land with which the owner has a continual struggle is bad land.' Cato bids us as one of the first points to see that the land, if in the position stated above has a good quality of its own, that there is a supply of labour near, and a thriving town, routes for carrying produce away by water or by road, and that the farm is furnished with good buildings and has been well farmedit is in this that I notice most people make a mistake, as they think that the purchaser scores from slack farming on the part of the previous landlord, whereas nothing is a greater source of loss than a farm that has been neglected. For this reason Cato says that it is better to purchase from a good landlord, and that the lessons to be learnt from others should not be despised, and that it is the same with land as with a human beingit may make large profits, yet if it also involves large expenses, not much balance is left over. In Cato's opinion the most profitable in part of a farm is a vineyard--and not without reason, since above everything he has been cautious as to the matter of outlay of moneyand next he puts kitchen-gardens well supplied with water; and this is true, if they are near a townand the old word for 'meadows' means 'land ready to hand'. Cato moreover when asked what was the most reliable source of profit said, 'Good pasture', and when asked what was the next best, said, 'Fairly good pasture the most important point in considering profit being that the crop that was going to cost the smallest outlay in expenses was the crop most to be recommended. This is a question decided differently in different places, in accordance with the suitability of the various localities; and the same applies to Cato's dictum that a farmer ought to be a good seller; and that he should begin to plant his farm without delay, in his youth, but only build when the land is fully under cultivation, and even then go slowly (and the best course is, as the common saying was, to profit by the folly of other people provided however that keeping up houses is not allowed to be a burden on your estate); but that the owner who is well housed should nevertheless keep visiting his farm rather frequentlyand it is a true saying that 'the master's face does more good than the back of his head'.
VII. The satisfactory plan is that the house shall not be inadequate to the farm nor the farm to the house, not as was done on adjacent estates by Lucius Lucullus and Quintus Scaevola, acting on opposite principles though at the same period, when Scaevola's farmhouse would not hold the produce of his farm and Lucullus's farm was not big enough for his housea sort of extravagance that occasioned the censor's rebuke that there was less ground to plough than floor-space to sweep. The proper arrangement requires a certain amount of technical skill. Quite recently Gaius Marius, who was seven times consul, built a country house in the district of Miseno, but he relied on the skill he had acquired in planning the layout of a camp, so that even Sulla the Fortunate declared that all the others had been blind men in comparison with Marius. It is agreed that a country house ought not to be put near a marsh nor with a river in front of italthough Homer has stated with the greatest truth that in any case there are always unhealthy currents of air rising from a river before dawn. In hot localities the house should look north, in cold ones south and in temperate situations due east.
As to proofs by which the quality of the land itself can be judged, we may possibly be thought to have spoken of these with sufficient fullness when discussing the best kind of soil, but nevertheless we will still supplement the indications we have given by some words of Cato more particularly: 'The danewort or the wild plum or the bramble, the small-bulb, trefoil, meadow grass, oak, wild pears and wild apple are indications of a soil fit for corn, as also is black or ash-coloured earth. All chalk land will scorch the crop unless it is an extremely thin soil, and so will sand unless it also is extremely fine; and the same soils answer much better for plantations on level ground than for those on a slope.'
In old times it was thought that to observe moderation in the size of a farm was of primary importance, inasmuch as the view was held that it was more satisfactory to sow less land and plough it better; and I observe that Virgil was of this opinion. And if the truth be confessed, large estates have been the ruin of Italy, and are now proving the ruin of the provinces toohalf of Africa was owned by six landlords, when the Emperor Nero put them to death; though Gnaeus Pompeius must not be cheated out of this mark of his greatness also: he never bought land belonging to a neighbouring estate. Mago's opinion that a landlord after buying a farm ought to sell his town housethat being the opening with which he begins the exposition of his instructionswas too rigorous, and not to the advantage of public affairs, though nevertheless it has the effect of showing that he laid stress on the need for constant oversight.
The next point requiring attention is the efficiency of bailiffs, and Cato has given many instructions with regard to these. Let it be enough for us to say that the bailiff ought to be as near as possible to his master in intelligence, and nevertheless not think so himself. Farming done by slave-gangs hired from houses of correction is utterly bad, as is everything else done by desperate men. It may appear rash to quote one dictum of the old writers, and perhaps it may be judged impossible to credit unless its value is closely examinedit is that nothing pays less than really good farming. Lucius Tarius Rufus, who, though of extremely humble birth, by his soldierly efficiency won a consulship, though in other respects a man of old-fashioned economy, spent the whole of the money he had accumulated through the generosity of his late Majesty Augustus, about 100 million sesterces, in buying up farms in Picenum and farming them with the purpose of making a name for himself, so that his heir refused to take over the estate. Is it our opinion then that this policy means ruin and starvation? Nay rather, I vow, it is that moderation is the most valuable criterion of all things. Good farming is essential, but superlatively good farming spells ruin, except when the farmer runs the farm with his own family or with persons whom he is in any case bound to maintain. There are some crops which it does not pay the landlord to harvest if the cost of the labour is reckoned, and olives are not easily made to pay; and some lands do not repay very careful farmingthis is said to be the case in Sicily, and consequently newcomers there find themselves deceived.
VIII. What then will be the most profitable of farming land? Presumably to follow the oracular dictum: By making good from bad. But it is only fair to justify our forefathers who laid down rules for conduct by their teachings; for the term 'bad lands' they meant to be understood to mean the cheapest lands, and the chief point in their economy was to keep down expenses to the minimum. For the sort of instructions in question were given by men who though they had headed triumphal processions deemed ten pounds of silver as part of one's furniture a criminal extravagance, who when their bailiff died insisted on leaving their victories and returning to their farms, and the cultivation of whose estates was taken over by the government and who commanded armies while the senate acted as their bailiff. Then come all those other oracular utterances: Whoever buys what his farm could supply him with is a worthless farmer; whoever does by day work that he could do by night, except during bad weather, is a bad head of a family, and he who does on working days things that he ought to do on holidays is a worse; and one who works indoors on a fine day rather than in the field is the worst farmer of all.' I cannot refrain from adducing one instance from old times which will show that it was customary to bring before the Commons even questions of agriculture, and will exhibit the kind of plea that men of those days used to rely on to defend their conduct. Gaius Furius Chresimus, a liberated slave, was extremely unpopular because he got much larger returns from a rather small farm than the neighbourhood obtained from very large estates, and he was supposed to be using magic spells to entice away other people's crops. He was consequently indicted by the curule aedile Spurius Albinus; and as he was afraid he would be found guilty, when the time came for the tribes to vote their verdict, he brought all his agricultural implements into court and produced his farm servants, sturdy people and also according to Piso's description well looked after and well clad, his iron tools of excellent make, heavy mattoeks, ponderous ploughshares, and well-fed oxen. Then he said: 'These are my magic spells, citizens, and I am not able to exhibit to you or to produce in court my midnight labours and early risings and my sweat and toil.' This procured his acquittal by a unanimous verdict. The fact is that husbandry depends on expenditure of labour, and this is the reason for the saying of our forefathers that on a farm the best fertilizer is the master's eye.
The remaining rules will be given in their proper places, according as they belong to the various kinds of agriculture. In the meantime we will not omit the principles of general application which occur to us, and particularly that most humane and most profitable advice of Cato to do your best to win the esteem of your neighbours. Cato gives reasons for this advice, but for our part we imagine that nobody can doubt what the reasons are. Also one of Cato's first pieces of advice is a warning to keep your farm hands in good condition. That in agriculture nothing must be done too late is a rule universally held, as is a second rule that each thing must be done at its own time, and a third that it is no use calling back lost opportunities. The malediction uttered by Cato against rotten land has been pointed out at sufficient length; though he is never tired of declaring that whatever can be done by means of an ass costs the least money. Bracken dies in two years if you do not let it make leaf, the best way to kill it is to knock off the stalk with a stick when it is budding, as the juice trickling down out of the fern itself kills the roots. It is also said that ferns plucked up about midsummer do not spring up again, nor do those cut with a reed or ploughed up with a reed placed on the ploughshare. Similarly they also advise ploughing up reed with bracken placed on the ploughshare. A field grown over with rushes should be turned up with the spade after having been first broken with two-pronged forks. Brushwood is best removed by setting fire to it. When land is too damp it is very useful to cut ditches through it and drain it; and in clayey places to leave the ditches open, but in looser soil to strengthen them with hedges or let them have theft sides sloping and on a slant; and to block up some and make them run into other larger and wider ones, and, if opportunity offers, to pave them with flint or gravel; and to stay their mouths with two stones, one on each side, and roof them over with another stone on top.Democritus has put forward a method of clearing away forest by soaking lupin-flower for one day in hemlock juice and sprinkling it on the roots of the trees.
IX. And now that the ground has been prepared, we shall proceed to describe the nature of the various kinds of grain. There are two primary varieties, the cereals, such as wheat and barley, and the legumina, such as the bean and chick-pea. The difference between them is too well known to need description.
X. There are also two varieties of corn itself distinguished by the different seasons at which they are sown: winter grains, which are sown about the setting of the Pleiades and get their nourishment through the winter from the earth, for instance wheat and barley, and summer grains, which are sown in summer before the rising of the Pleiades, for instance common and Italian millet, gingelly, clary and winter cress: at all events this is the method of Italy. In Greece and Asia however all grains are sown after the setting of the Pleiades, while in Italy some are sown at both dates, and some of these have a third sowing, in spring. Some persons give the name of spring grain to common millet, Italian millet, lentils, chick-pea and groatswheat, but term bread-wheat, barley, beans and turnip autumn-sowing grains. In the class of wheat one division consists of fodder sown for animals, such as mixed feed, and the same also in the leguminous plants, such as vetch; but lupine is grown for the use of animals and men in common.
All the leguminous plants except the bean have a single root, which has a woody substance because it is not divided into many branches; the chick-pea has the deepest root. Corn has a number of fibrous roots without ramifications. Barley bursts out of the ground seven days after it is first sown, leguminous plants on the fourth day, or at latest the seventh, beans from fifteen to twenty days; in Egypt leguminous plants emerge on the third day. In barley one end of the grain sends out a root and the other a blade, which flowers before the other corn; and the root shoots out from the thicker end of the grain and the flower from the thinner, whereas with all other seeds both root and flower come from the same end.
Corn is in the blade during winter; in the spring time corn of the winter variety shoots up into a stalk, but common and Italian millets into a knotted hollow straw, and sesame into a stalk like fennel. The fruit of all kinds of sown grain is either contained in ears, as in the case of wheat and barley, and is protected against birds and small animals by a fence of beard, or is enclosed in pods, as with leguminous plants, or in capsules, as with gingelly and poppy. Both millets are accessible also to small birds, in what can only be called joint ownership with the grower, inasmuch as they are contained in thin skins, leaving them unprotected. Panic, named from its panicles or tufts, has a head that droops languidly and a stalk that tapers gradually almost into a twig; it is heaped with very closely packed grains, with a corymb that is at its longest a foot in length. In millet the hairs embracing the seed curve over with a fringed tuft. There are also varieties of panic, for instance the full-breasted kind, clustered with small tufts growing out of the ear, and with a double point; moreover these grasses are of various colours, white, black, red and even purple. Bread of several kinds is made even from millet, but very little from panic; but there is no grain heavier in weight or that swells more in baking: they get sixty pounds of bread out of a peck, and a peck of porridge out of three-sixteenths of a peck soaked in water. A millet has been introduced into Italy from India within the last ten years that is of a black colour, with a large grain and a stalk like that of a reed. It grows to seven feet in height, with very large hairsthey are called the maneand is the most prolific of all kinds of corn, one grain producing three-sixteenths of a peck. It should be sown in damp ground.
Some kinds of grain begin to form the ear at the third joint of the stalk and some at the fourth, but it still remains concealed. Wheat a has four articulations in each stalk, emmer six and barley eight; but the ear does not begin to form before the above-mentioned number of articulations is complete; when this has given signs of occurring, in four or at latest five days they begin to blossom, and after the same number of days or a few more they finish flowering; but with barley this happens in seven days at latest. Varro states that the grains are fully formed in thirty-six days and are ready for reaping after eight months.
Beans shoot out into leaves and then throw out a stalk which is divided by no joints. The rest of the leguminous plants are tough and woody. Some of them are branchingthe chick-pea, the bitter vetch and the lentil. In some the stems spread along the ground if they are not propped up, but peas climb if given a prop, or else they deteriorate. The bean is the only one of the leguminous plants that has a single stem; the lupine also has only one but it does not stand up straight, all the others having branches with a very thin woody stalk, but all of them hollow. Some send out a leaf from the root, some from the top, for instance wheat and barley. Each of these and all the plants that make straw have one leaf at the topthough barley leaves are rough and those of the rest smoothwhereas the bean, the chick-pea and the pea are many-leaved. In corn the leaf is like that of a reed; those of the bean and a large part of the leguminous plants are round; those of the fitch and the pea rather long, that of calavance veined, that of sesame and winter cress the colour of blood. Only the lapin and the poppy shed their leaves. Leguminous plants remain longer in flower, and among them more particularly the fitch and the chick-pea, but longest of all the bean, which flowers for forty days, though the single stalks do not keep their flowers so long, since when one goes off another begins, nor does the whole crop flower at the same time, as with corn, but all the pods form on different days, the blossom starting first at the bottom and rising gradually.
When cereals have finished flowering, they gradually swell and ripen in 40 days at most, and the same is the case with the bean, but the chick-pea ripens in the fewest days, as it is completely ready in 40 days from sowing. Millet (common and Italian) and gingelly and all the summer grains ripen within 40 days of blossoming, although with considerable differences due to soil and weather; for in Egypt barley is reaped in the sixth month after sowing and wheat in the seventh, while in Greece barley is cut in the seventh month and in the Peloponnese in the eighth, and wheat even later. Grains growing on a stalk form ears with a texture like a tuft of hairs; in beans and leguminous plants the grains are in pods shooting on each side alternately. Cereals are stronger to withstand winter, but the leguminous plants provide a more substantial article of food.
In wheat the grain has several coats, but barley and good emmer wheat are largely naked, and the oat is especially so. Wheat has a taller stalk than barley, but barley has a more prickly ear. Hard wheat, common wheat and barley are threshed on a threshing floor; thus they are also sown without the husk, just as they are milled, because they are not dried first. On the other hand emmer wheat, and common and Italian millet cannot be freed of husk until they have been dried, and consequently these grains are sown unthreshed, with their husks on. People also keep emmer in its little husks for sowing, and do not dry it by heat.
XI. Of these grains the lightest is barley, which rarely exceeds fifteen pounds to the peck, and beans twenty-two pounds. Emmer is heavier and wheat heavier still. In Egypt they make flour out of olyra, a third kind of corn that grows there. The Gallic provinces have also produced a special kind of emmer, the local name for which is brac, while with us it is called scandala; it has a very glossy grain. There is also another difference in that it gives about four corn used by the Roman nation for 300 years.
XII. There are several kinds of wheat that have been produced by various races. For my own part I should not rank any of them with Italian wheat for whiteness and for weight, for which it is particularly distinguished. Foreign wheat can only be compared with that of the mountain regions of Italy; among foreign kinds Boeotia has obtained the first rank, then Sicily, and after that Africa. The third place for weight used to belong to Thracian and Syrian wheat and later also to Egyptian, by the vote of athletes in those days, whose capacity for cereals, resembling that of cattle, had established the order of merit that we have stated. Greece also gave praise to wheat from Pontus, which did not get through to Italy; but of all the varieties of grain Greece gave the preference to dracontias, strangias and the wheat of Scinnnte, recognized by the thickness of the straw, because of which it used to count these kinds as appropriate for a rich soil. For sowing in damp soils Greece prescribed spendias, a very light and extremely scanty-growing grain with a very thin stalk, because it required a great deal of nourishment. These were the opinions held in the reign of Alexander the Great, when Greece was most famous and the most powerful state in the whole world, although nevertheless about 145 years before his death the poet Sophocles in his play Triptolemus praised Italian corn before all other kinds, in the phrase of which a literal translation is 'And that happy Italy glows white with bright white wheat'; and also today the Italian wheat is especially distinguished for whiteness, which makes it more surprising to me that the later Greeks have made no mention of this corn.
At the present the lightest in weight among the kinds of wheat imported to Rome is the wheat Gaul, and that brought from the Chersonese, as they do not exceed twenty pounds a peck, if one weighs the grain by itself. Sardinian grain adds half a pound to this figure, and Alexandrian a third of a pound morethis is also the weight of Sicilian wheatwhile that of Southern Spain scores a whole pound more and that of Africa a pound and three-quarters. In Italy north of the Po the peck of emmer to my knowledge weighs 25 pounds, and in the Chiusi neighbourhood even 26 pounds. It is a fixed law of nature that in any kind of commissariat bread a third part is added in the making to the weight of the grain, just as that the best wheat is that which absorbs three quarts of water into the peck of grain kneaded. Some kinds of grain used by themselves give their full weight, for instance a peck of Balearic wheat produces 35 pounds of bread, but some only do so when blendedfor example, Cyprian wheat and Alexandrian, which used by themselves do not go beyond 20 pounds a peck. Cyprus wheat is of a dusky colour and makes black bread, and consequently the white Alexandrian is mixed with it, and that gives 25 pounds of bread to the peck. The wheat of the Thebaid in Egypt makes a pound more. To knead the flour with sea water, which they frequently do in seaside places for the sake of economizing salt, is extremely inexpedient, as there is nothing else that renders the body more liable to disease. When the corn of Gaul and Spain of the kinds we have stated is steeped to make beer the foam that forms on the surface in the process is used for leaven, in consequence of which those races have a lighter kind of bread than others. There is also a difference in the stalk, that of the better sort of grain being thicker. Thracian wheat is clothed with a great many husks, which is necessary for that region because of the excessive frosts. The same reason has also led to the discovery of a three-month wheat, because the snow holds back the ground; it is reaped about three months after sowing, at the same time as wheat is harvested in the rest of the world. This wheat is known all over the Alps, and in the provinces with cold climates no corn flourishes better than this; moreover it has a single stem and in no region holds much grain, and it is never sown except in a thin soil. There is actually a two-month variety in the neighbourhood of Aenus in Thrace, which begins to ripen six weeks after it is sown; and it is surprising that no corn weighs heavier, and that it produces no bran. It is also used in Sicily and Achaia, in both cases in mountain districts, and in Euboea in the neighbourhood of Garystus. So greatly is Columella mistaken in his opinion that even three-month wheat is not a distinct variety, although it is of extreme antiquity. The Greeks call it setanion. It is said that in Bactria the grains of wheat grow so large that a single grain is as big as our ears of corn.
XIII. The one sown first of all the cereals is barley. After explaining the nature of each variety we will also give the date for sowing. India has both cultivated and wild barley, and from it the natives make their best bread, and also porridge. Their favourite grain is however rice, of which they make a drink like the barley-water made by the rest of mankind. Rice leaves are fleshy, resembling leek but broader; the plant is 18 inches high, with a purple blossom and a root of a round shape like a precious stone.
XIV. Barley is the oldest among human foods, as is proved by the Athenian ceremony recorded by Menander, and by the name given to gladiators, who used to be called 'barley-men'. Also the Greeks prefer it to any other grain for porridge. There are several ways of making barley porridge: the Greeks soak some barley in water and then leave it for a night to dry, and next day dry it by the fire and then grind it in a mill. Some after roasting it more thoroughly sprinkle it again with a small amount of water and dry it before milling; others however shake the young barley out of the ears while green, clean it and while it is wet pound it in a mortar, and wash it of husk in baskets and then dry it in the sun and again pound it, clean it and grind it. But whatever kind of barley is used, when it has been got ready, in the mill they mix in three pounds of flax seed, half a pound of coriander seed, and an eighth of a pint of salt, previously roasting them all. Those who want to keep it for some time in store put it away in new earthenware jars with fine flour and its own bran. Italians bake it without steeping it in water and grind it into fine meal, with the addition of the same ingredients and millet as well.
XV. Barley bread was much used in earlier days, but has been condemned by experience, and barley is now mostly fed to animals, although the consumption of barley-water is proved so conclusively to be very conducive to strength and health: Hippocrates, one of the most famous authorities on medical science, has devoted one whole book to its praises. Utica barley-water is of outstanding quality. There is a kind in Egypt made of the double-pointed grain. The kind of barley used for making this drink in Andalusia and Africa is called by Turranius smooth barley. The same authority is of opinion that alpaca and oryza (rice) are the same plant. The recipe for making barley-water is universally known.
XVI. Hulled-wheat grain is used in a similar way for making pap, at all events in Campania and in Egypt;
XVII. and starch is made from, every kind of wheat and common wheat, but the best from three-month wheat. For its discovery we are indebted to the island of Chios, and that is where the best kind comes from today. Its name is Greek, and means 'made without milling'. Next to the starch made from three-month wheat is the kind made of the lightest sort of wheat. This is soaked with fresh water in wooden tubs, with the grain completely covered, the water being changed five times in the course of a day, and preferably in the night time as well, so as to get it mixed up evenly with the grain. When it is quite soft but before it goes sour it is strained through linen or wicker baskets and poured out on a tiled surface that has been smeared with leaven, and left to thicken in the sun. Next to the starch of Chios that from Crete is most highly spoken of; and then comes the Egyptian kind. The test of its quality is smooth consistency and light weight, and the condition of being flesh. It has moreover been mentioned already by Cato among ourselves.
XVIII. Barley meal is used as a medicine, and it is remarkable how in treating cattle pills made of it after it has been hardened by roasting at the fire and afterwards ground, sent down into the animal's stomach by the human hand, serve to increase the strength and enlarge the muscles of the body. Some ears of barley have two rows of grains and some more, up to as many as six. In the grain itself there are some varieties: it is longer and smoother or shorter and rounder, lighter or darker in colour, the kind with a purple shade being of a rich consistency for porridge; the light-coloured grain offers the weakest resistance to storms. Barley is the softest of all the grains. It likes to be sown only in a dry, loose soil, which must also be of rich quality. Its chaff is one of the best, indeed for straw there is none that compares with it. Barley is the least liable to damage of all corn, because it is harvested before the wheat is attacked by mildew (and so wise farmers only sow wheat for the larder, whereas barley is sown by the sack, as the saying is), and consequently it brings in a return very quickly; and the most prolific kind is the barley harvested at Carthage in Spain in the month of April. In Celtiberia this barley is sown in the same month, and there are two crops in the same year. All barley is cut sooner than any other grain, as soon as it first ripens, because the grain is carried on a brittle straw and contained in a very thin chaff. Moreover we are told that it makes better pearl-barley if it is lifted before its ripening has been completed.
XIX. Varieties of wheat are not the same everywhere, and where they are the same they do not always bear the same names. The most widely known of them and the most prevalent are emmer (the old name for which was adoreum), common wheat and hard wheatthese are common to most countries. Ariaca wheat which is indigenous in the Gallic provinces is also frequent in Italy; while zea, olyra, and 'rice' or tiphe are only found in Egypt, Syria, Cilicia and Asia and Greece. Egypt makes a prime flour out of its own wheat, but it by no means matches that of Italy. The places that use sea have not got our emmer. Zea also is found in Italy, particularly in Campania, and is called 'seed'; it has that name as being a remarkable thing, as we shall soon explain, which is the reason for Homer's expression zeidoros aroura, 'the tilth that gives us sea'it is not on account of its 'bestowing life', as some people think. Starch of a coarser quality than the kind mentioned before but otherwise identical is made from it. Emmer is the most hardy of every kind and the one that resists winter best. It stands the coldest localities and those that are under-cultivated or extremely hot and dry. It was the first food of the Latium of old times, a strong proof of this being found in the offerings of adoria, as we have said. It is clear however that for a long time the Romans lived on pottage, not on bread, since even today foodstuffs are also called 'pulmentaria', and Ennius, the oldest of our bards, describing a famine during a siege, recalls how fathers snatched away a morsel from their crying children. Even nowadays primitive rituals and birthday sacrifices are performed with gruel-pottage; and it appears that pottage was as much unknown to Greece as pearl-barley was to Rome.
XX. No grain is greedier than wheat or draws more nourishment out of the soil. Common wheat may properly designate the choicest variety, whether in whiteness or goodness or weight. It is suitable for moist districts like those in Italy and Gallia Comata, but across the Alps it only keeps its character in the territory of Savoy and Reims, while in the other parts of that country it changes in two years into ordinary wheat. The cure for this is to select its heaviest grains for sowing. Common wheat flour makes bread of the highest quality and the most famous pastry. The top place in Italy is taken by a mixture of Campanian common wheat flour with that grown at Pisa, the former being reddish but the chalk-like Pisa variety whiter and heavier. A fair yield from the Campanian grain called 'bolted' is to give four sixteenths of fine flour to the peck, or from what is called common grain, not bolted, five sixteenths, as well as half a peck of fine flour and four sixteenths of the coarse meal called 'seconds', and the same amount of bran; whereas Pisa wheat should give four sixteenths of prime flour, while of the other kinds the yield is the same. The wheats of Chiusi and Arezzo give an additional sixteenth of prime flour, but in the remaining qualities they are on a level. If however it is wished to make special flour, the return is sixteen pounds of bread and three pecks of seconds and half a peck of bran. This depends on different methods of milling; for grain. ground when dry gives more flour, but if sprinkled with salt water it makes a whiter meal, but keeps more back in the bran. The name for flour, farina, is obviously derived from far, emmer. A peck of flour made of Gaulle conmion wheat gives 20 pounds of bread, that of the Italian kind two or three pounds more, in the case of bread baked in a tinfor loaves baked in the oven they add two pounds in either kind of wheat.
'Hard' flour is made from hard wheat, the most highly esteemed coming from Africa. A fair return is half a peck from a peck with five sixteenths of special flourthat is the name given in the case of hard wheat to what in common wheat is called the 'flower'; this is used in copper works and paper millsand in addition four sixteenths of second quality flour and the same amount of bran, but from a peek of 'hard' flour 22 pounds of bread and from a peck of flower of wheat 16 pounds. The price for this when the market rate is moderate is 40 asses a peek for flour, 8 asses more for 'hard' flour and twice as much for bolted common wheat. There is also another distinction, that when bolted a single time it gives 17 pounds of bread, when twice 18, when three times 19⅓, and 2 pounds of second quality bread, the same amount of shorts and six sixteenths of bran.
Common wheat never ripens evenly, and yet no corn crop is less able to stand delay as, owing to its delicacy of structure, the ears that have ripened shed their grain at once. But it is less exposed to danger in the straw than other cereals, because it always has the ear on a straight stalk and it does not hold dew to cause rust. Best emmer makes the sweetest bread; the grain itself is of closer fibre than ordinary emmer and the ear is at once larger and heavier: a peck of the grain seldom fails to make 16 pounds. In Greece it is difficult to thresh and consequently Homer speaks of it as being fed to cattlefor his word olyra means this grain; but on the other hand in Egypt it is easy to thresh and gives a good yield. Emmer has no beard, nor has common wheat, excepting the kind called Laconian. With these are also to be classed bromos and tragos, entirely foreign grains, resembling rice imported from the east. Tiphe itself also belongs to the same classthe grain from which a rice is produced in our part of the world. With the Greeks there is also zea, and according to their account that grain and tiphe degenerate and go back to wheat, if they are sown after being ground, though not at once, but two years later.
XXI. Nothing is more prolific than wheatNature having given it this attribute because it used to be her principal means of nourishing maninasmuch as a peck of wheat, given suitable soil like that of the Byzaciam plain in Africa, produces a yield of 150 pecks. The deputy governor of that region sent to his late Majesty Augustusalmost incredible as it seemsa parcel of very nearly 400 shoots obtained from a single grain as seed, and there are still in existence despatches relating to the matter. He likewise sent to Nero also 360 stalks obtained from one grain. At all events the plains of Lentini and other districts in Sicily, and the whole of Andalusia, and particularly Egypt reproduce at the rate of a hundredfold. The most prolific kinds of wheat are branched wheat and what they call hundred-grain wheat. Also a single beanstalk has before now been found laden with a hundred beans.
XXII. We have specified gingelly and common and Italian millets as summer grains. Gingelly comes from India, where it is also used for making oil; the colour of the grain is white. A grain that resembles it in Asia and Greece is erysimum, and the grain called with us irio would be identical with it were it not that it is more filled out, and is to be reckoned as a drug rather than a cereal. Of the same nature is also the irio called in Greece horminum, though it resembles cummin; it is sown with gingelly. No animal will eat either this or irio while green.
XXIII. Not all grains are easy to crush, in fact Etruria pounds the ears of emmer, after it has been roasted, with a pestle shod with iron at the end, in a handmill that is serrated and denticulated inside with grooves radiating from a centre, so that if people put their weight into it while pounding the grains are only splintered up and the iron is broken. The greater part of Italy uses a bare pestle, and also wheels turned by moving water, and a millstone. As to the actual method of pounding corn we will put forward the opinion of Mago: he says that wheat should be steeped in a quantity of water beforehand, and afterwards shelled of husk and then dried in the sun and well pounded in a mortar; and barley should be treated in a similar way; of the latter, he says, 20 sixteenths should be wetted with two sixteenths of water. Lentils must be roasted first and then mixed with bran and lightly pounded, or with a fragment of unbaked brick and half a peck of sand added to each 20 sixteenths. Fitch to be treated in the same ways as lentils. Gingelly to be steeped in warm water and spread out, and then rubbed well and dipped in cold water so that the chaff may float to the top, and again spread out in the sun on a linen sheet; and if this is not done very quickly it turns musty with a livid colour. Also there are various methods of pounding the grains themselves which are cleaned of husk. When only the ear is pounded by itself, to be used by goldsmiths, it is called flakes, but if it is beaten out on a threshing-floor together with the straw it is called chaff; this in the larger part of the world is used as fodder for cattle. The refuse from millet, panic and gingelly is called apluda, and by other names in other places.
XXIV. Millet flourishes particularly well in Campania, where it is used for making a white porridge; it also makes extremely sweet bread. Moreover the Sarmatian tribes live chiefly on millet porridge, and even on the raw meal, mixed with mare's milk or with blood taken from the weins in a horse's leg. Millet and barley are the only grains known to the Ethiopians.
XXV. The provinces of Gaul, and particularly Aquitaine, also use panic, and so also do the parts of Italy on the banks of the Po, though adding to it beans without water. The races of the Black Sea prefer panic to any other food. All the other kinds of summer corn flourish even better in land watered by streams than in rainy districts, but millet and panic are not at all fond of water, as it makes them to leaves. People advise not growing them among vines or fruit trees, as they believe that this crop impoverishes the soil.
XXVI. Millet is specially used for making leaven; if dipped in unfermented wine and kneaded it will keep for a whole year. A similar leaven is obtained by kneading and drying in the sun the best fine bran of the wheat itself, after it has been steeped for three days in unfermented white wine. In making bread cakes made of this are soaked in water and boiled with prime flour of emmer and then mixed with the flour, this process being thought to produce the beat bread. The Greeks have decided that two-thirds of an ounce of leaven is enough for every two half-pecks of flour. Moreover though these kinds of leaven can only be made in the vintage season, it is possible at any time one chooses to make leaven from water and barley, making two-pound cakes and baking them in ashes and charcoal on a hot hearth or an earthenware dish till they turn brown, and afterwards keeping them shut up in vessels till they go sour; then soaked in water they produce leaven. But when barley bread used to be made, the actual barley was leavened with flour of bitter vetch or chickeling; the proper amount was two pounds of leaven to every two and a half pecks of barley. At the present time leaven is made out of the flour itself, which is kneaded before salt is added to it and is then boiled down into a kind of porridge and left till it begins to go sour. Generally however they do not heat it up at all, but only use the dough kept over from the day before; manifestly it is natural for sourness to make the dough ferment, and likewise that people who live on fermented bread have weaker bodies, inasmuch as in old days outstanding wholesomeness was ascribed to wheat the heavier it was.
XXVII. As for bread itself it appears superfluous to give an account of its various kindsin some places bread called after the dishes eaten with it, such as oyster-bread, in others from its special delicacy, as cake-bread, in others from the short time spent in making it, as hasty-bread, and also from the method of baking, as oven bread or tin loaf or baking-pan bread; while not long ago there was even bread imported from Parthia, called water bread because by means of water it is drawn out into a thin spongy consistency full of holes; others call it just Parthian bread. The highest merit depends on the goodness of the wheat and the fineness of the bolter. Some use eggs or milk in kneading the dough, while even butter has been used by races enjoying peace, when attention can be devoted to the varieties of pastry-making. The Ancona country still retains the popularity it won in the invention of bread from using spelt as the material; this bread is steeped for nine days and on the tenth day they knead it up with raisin juice into the shape of a long roll and afterwards put it in earthenware pots and bake it in ovens, the pots breaking in the process. It is not used for food unless it has been soaked, for which chiefly milk or honey-water is employed.
XXVIII. There were no bakers at Rome down to the war with King Perseus, [171-168 BC] over 580 years after the foundation of the city. The citizens used to make bread themselves, and this was especially the task of the women, as it is even now in most nations. Plautus already speaks of bakers, using the Greek word, in his play named Aulularia, which has caused great debate among the learned as to the authenticity of the line, and it is proved by the expression occurring in Ateius Capito that it was in his day usual for bread to be baked for more luxurious people by cooks, and only those who ground spelt were called 'grinders'; nor used people to have cooks on their regular staff of servants, but they hired them from the provision market. The Gallic provinces invented the kind of bolter noade of horse-hair, while Spain made sieves and meal-sifters of flax, and Egypt of papyrus and rush.
XXIX. But among the first things let us give a recipe for alica, a very excellent and healthy food, by means of which Italy has undoubtedly won the palm for cereals. It is no doubt also made in Egypt, but of a rather contemptible quality, whereas in Italy it occurs in a number of places, for instance in the districts of Verona and Pisa, but the most highly recommended variety in Campania. There beneath cloud-capped mountains lies a plain extending in all for about 40 miles on the level. The ground of this plain, to begin by stating the nature of the soil, being dusty on the surface but spongy underneath and also porous like pumice, what is a fault in mountain country turns into an advantage, as the earth allows the frequent rainfall to percolate and passes it through, and so as to facilitate cultivation has refused to become soaked or swampy, while at the same time it does not give back the moisture it receives by any springs, but warms it up inside itself to a moderate temperature and retains it as a kind of juice. The land is in crop all the year round, being sown once with Italian millet and twice with emmer wheat; and yet in spring the fields having had an interval of rest produce a rose with a sweeter scent than the garden rose, so far is the earth never tired of giving birth; hence there is a common saying that the Campanians produce more scent than other people do oil. But as the Campanian plain surpasses all the lands of the world, so in the same degree is Campania itself surpassed by the part of it called Leboriae, and by the Greeks the Phlegraean Plain. This district is bounded on either side by consular roads That run from Pozzuoli and from Cumae to Capua.Alica is made from 'zea' which we have already called by the name of 'seed'. Its grain is pounded in a wooden mortar so as to avoid the hardness of stone grating it up, the motive power for the pestle, as is well known, being supplied by the labour of convicts in chains; on the end of the pestle there is a cap of iron. After the grain has been stripped of its coats, the bared kernel is again broken up with the same implements. The process produces three grades of alicavery small, seconds, and the largest kind which is called in Greek 'select grade'. Still these products have not yet got their whiteness for which they are distinguished, though even at this stage they are preferable to the Alexandrian alica. In a subsequent process, marvellous to relate, an admixture of chalk is added, which passes into the substance of the grain and contributes colour and fineness. The chalk is found at a place called White Earth Hill, between Pozzuoli and Naples, and there is extant a decree of his late Majesty Augustus ordering a yearly payment of 200,000 sesterces from his privy purse to the people of Naples as rent for this hillthe occasion was when he was establishing a colony at Capua; and he added that his reason for importing this material was that the Campanians had stated that alica could not be made without that mineral. (In the same hill sulphur is also found, and the springs of the Araxus which issue from it are efficacious for improving the sight, healing wounds and strengthening the teeth.)
A spurious alica is manufactured chiefly from an inferior kind of sea growing in Africa, the ears of which are larger and blacker and on a short stalk. These are mixed with sand and pounded, and even so there is a difficulty in rubbing off the husks, and only half the quantity of naked grain is produced; and afterwards a quarter the amount of white lime is sprinkled into the grain, and when this has stuck together with it they bolt it through a flour-sieve. The grain that stays behind in the sieve is called residuary and is the largest in size. That which goes though is sifted again in a finer sieve, and is called seconds, and likewise the name of sieve-flour is given to that which in a similar manner stays behind in a third extremely fine sieve that only lets grains like sand through. There is another method of adulteration which is everywhere used: they pick out from wheat the whitest and largest grains, half boil them in pots and afterwards dry them in the sun to half their former size and then again lightly sprinkle them with water and crush them in a mill. A more attractive kind of groats called tragum is made from zea than from other wheat, although it is in fact merely a spurious alica; but it is given whiteness by an admixture of milk boiled in it instead of chalk.
XXX. The next subject is the nature of the leguminous plants, among which the highest place of honour belongs to the beau, inasmuch as the experiment has been made of using it for making bread. Bean meal is called lomentum, and it is used in bread made for sale to increase the weight, as is meal made from all the leguminous plants, and nowadays even cattle fodder. Beans are used in a variety of ways for all kinds of beasts and especially for man. With most nations it is also mixed with corn, and most of all with panic, for this purpose it is either used whole or broken up rather fine. Moreover in ancient ritual bean pottage has a sanctity of its own in sacrifice to the gods. It occupies a high place as a delicacy for the table, but it was thought to have a dulling effect on the senses, and also to cause sleeplessness, and it was under a ban with the Pythagorean system on that accountor, as others have reported, because the souls of the dead are contained in a bean, and at all events it is for that reason that beans are employed in memorial sacrifices to dead relatives. Moreover according to Varro's account it is partly for these reasons that a priest abstains from eating beans, though also because certain letters of gloomy omen are to be found inscribed on a bean-flower. There is also a special religious sanctity attached to the bean; at all events it is the custom to bring home from the harvest a bean by way of an auspice, this being consequently called the harvest-home bean. Also it is supposed to bring luck at auctions if a bean is included in a lot for sale. It is undoubtedly the case that the bean is the only grain that even when it has been grazed down by cattle fills out again when the moon is waxing. It cannot be thoroughly boiled in sea water or other water with salt in it.
The bean is sown first of the leguminous plants, before the setting of the Pleiades, so that it may get ahead of winter. Virgil advises sowing it all through the spring, as is the custom of Italy near the river Po, but the majority of people prefer bean crops of early sowing to the produce of three months' growth, for the pods and stalks of beans sown early make the most acceptable fodder for cattle. When the bean is in flower it particularly wants water, but when it has shed its blossom it only needs little. It serves instead of stable manure to fertilize the ground it is grown in; consequently in the districts of Macedon and Thessaly when it begins to blossom the farmers plough up the fields. It also grows wild in most places, for example the islands of the North Sea, for which our name is consequently the Bean Islands, and it also grows wild all over Mauretania, though this bean is very hard and incapable of being cooked. It also grows in Egypt, where it has a thorny stalk which makes the crocodiles keep away from it for fear of injuring their eyes. The stalk is two yards long at most and the thickness of a finger: if it had knots in it, it would be like a soft reed; it has a head like a poppy, is rose-coloured, and bears not more than thirty beans on each stalk; the leaves are large; the actual fruit is bitter even in smell, but the root is a very popular article of diet with the natives, and is eaten raw and cooked in every sort of way; it resembles the roots of reeds. The Egyptian bean also grows in Syria and Cilicia, and at the Lake of Torone in Chalcidice.
XXXI. Vegetables sown in autumn or spring are the lentil and in Greece the pea. The lentil likes a thin soil better than a rich one, and in any case a dry climate. Egypt has two kinds of lentil, one rounder and blacker, the other the normal shape, which has given the name of lenticle applied to small flasks. I find it stated in writers that a lentil diet conduces to an equable temper. Peas must be sown in sunny places, as they stand cold very badly; consequently in Italy and in severer climates they are only sown in spring, in yielding soil that has been well loosened.
XXXII. It is the nature of the chick-pea to contain an element of saltness, and consequently it scorches the soil, and ought not to be sown without having been soaked the day before. There are several varieties differing in size, colour, shape and flavour. One resembles a ram's head and so is called 'ram's chick-pea'; of this there is a black variety and a white one. There is also the dove-pea, another name for which is Venus's pea, bright white, round, smooth and smaller than the ram's chick-pea; it is used by religious ritual in watch-night services. There is also the chickling vetch, belonging to a diminutive variety of chick-pea, uneven in shape and with corners like a pea. But the chick-pea with the sweetest taste is one that closely resembles the bitter vetch; the black and red varieties of this are firmer than the white.
XXXIII. The chick-pea has round pods, whereas those of other leguminous plants are long, and broad to fit the shape of the seed; the pod of the pea is cylindrical. The pods of calavance are eaten with the seeds themselves. They may be sown in any ground you like from the middle of October to the beginning of November. Leguminous plants ought to be plucked as soon as they begin to ripen, because the seeds quickly jump out and when they have fallen on the ground cannot be found; and the same as regards lupine. Nevertheless it would be proper to speak first about the turnip,
XXXIV. (authors of our nation have only touched on it in passing, but the Greeks have dealt with it rather more carefully, although even they have placed it among kitchen-garden plants), if we are to follow the proper order, as the turnip should be mentioned directly after corn or at all events after the bean, since its utility surpasses that of any other plant. For to begin with it grows as fodder for all animals, nor is it the lowest in rank among herbs to satisfy the needs of the various kinds of birds as well, and the more so if it is well boiled in water. Cattle also are fond of its leaves, even man esteeming turnip tops when in season no less than cabbage sprouts, also liking them when they are yellow and have been left to die in barns even more than when green. But turnip itself keeps if left in the earth where it grows, and also afterwards if left spread out, almost till the next crop comes, and it serves as a precaution against scarcity of food. It ranks third after wine and corn among the products of the country north of the Po. It is not particular in its choice of soil, growing where almost nothing else can be grown. It actually thrives on mist and frost and cold, growing to a marvellous size: I have seen turnips weighing over 40 pounds. Among our own articles of diet it is popularized by several modes of dressing, and it holds the field for salads when subdued by the pungency of mustard, and is actually stained six different colours beside its own, even purple: indeed that is the only suitable colour served at table. The Greeks have produced two primary classes of turnip, the male and the female, and have shown a way of growing both from the same seed, as they turn male when sown more thickly, and also in difficult ground. The smaller the seed is the better its quality. The Greeks distinguish in all three kinds of turnip, as it either spreads out into breadth or makes a round ball, while a third kind they have named wild turnip, with a root running out to a great length like a radish, and an angular leaf with a rough surface and an acid juice which if extracted at harvest time and mixed with a woman's milk makes an eyewash and a cure for dim sight. They are believed to grow sweeter and bigger in cold weather; warm weather makes them run to leaves. The prize goes to turnip grown in the Norcia districtit is priced at a sesterce per pound, and at two sesterces in a time of scarcityand the next to those grown on Monte Compatri:
XXXV. but the prize for navews goes to those grown at San Vettorino. Navews have almost the same nature as turnips: they are equally fond of cold places. They are sown even before the first of March, 4 sixteenths of a peck in an acre. The more careful growers recommend ploughing five times before sowing navew and four times for turnip, and manuring the ground in both cases; and they say that turnip grows a finer crop if the seed is ploughed in with some chaff. They advise that the sower should strip for the work, and should offer a prayer in the words, 'I sow for myself and my neighbours.' For both these kinds sowing is properly done between the holidays of two deities, Neptune and Vulcan, and as a result of careful observation it is said that these seeds give a wonderfully fine crop if they are sown on a day that is as many days after the beginning of the period specified as the moon was old when the first snow fell in the preceding winter. In warm and damp localities turnip and navew are also sown in spring.
XXXVI. The next most extensively used plant is the lupine, as it is shared by men and hoofed quadrupeds in common. To prevent its escaping the reapers by jumping out of the pod the best remedy is to gather it immediately after rain. And of all crops sown none has a more remarkable quality of sensitiveness to the heavenly bodies and the soil. In the first place it turns round every day with the sun, and tells the time to the husbandman even in cloudy weather. Moreover it blossoms three times and buds three times; all the same, it does not like to be covered with earth, and it is the only seed that is sown without the ground being ploughed. It requires most of all a gravelly and dry and even sandy soil, and in any case needs no cultivation. It has such a love for the earth that when it falls on soil however much overgrown with briars it penetrates among leaves and brambles and gets through with its root to the ground.
We have stated that fields and vineyards are enriched by a crop of lupines; and thus it has so little need for manure that it serves instead of manure of the best quality, and there is no other crop that costs no expenditure at allseeing that it does not require carrying to the spot even for the purpose of sowing: it sows itself directly from the crop, and does not even need to be scattered, falling on the ground of its own accord. And it is the earliest of all crops to be sown and the latest to be carried, both operations generally taking place in September, because if it does not grow ahead of winter it is liable to suffer from frost. Moreover it can be left just lying on the ground with impunity, as it is protected from all animals by its bitter flavour if a fall of rain does not occur immediately so as to cover it up; although nevertheless growers usually cover it up in a light furrow. Among thicker soils it likes red earth best; to enrich this it must be turned up after the plant has blossomed three times, but when planted in gravel the soil must be turned after every second blossoming. The only kinds of soil it positively dislikes are chalky and muddy soils, and in these it comes to nothing. It is used as a food for mankind as well after being steeped in hot water; as for cattle, a peck per head of stock makes ample and strength-giving feed, while it is also used medicinally for children as a poultice on the stomach. It suits the seed best to be stored in a smoky place, as in a damp place maggots attack the germ and reduce it to sterility. If lupine is grazed off by cattle while in leaf, the only thing to be done is to plough it in at once.
XXXVII. Vetch also enriches the soil, and it too vets. entails no labour for the farmer, as it is sown after only one furrowing, and it is not hoed or manured, but only harrowed in. There are three seasons for sowing itabout the time of the setting of Arcturus, so that it may provide pasture in Decemberat that date it is best sown for seed, for it bears seed just as well when grazed down; the second sowing is in January, and the last in March, which is the best crop for providing green fodder. Of all crops sown vetch is the one that is fondest of a dry soil; it does not dislike even shady localities. If it is picked when ripe, its grain supplies chaff that is preferred to all others. If sown in a vineyard planted with trees it takes away the juice from the vines and makes them droop.
XXXVIII. The fitch also is not difficult to cultivate. This needs weeding more than the vetch; and it too has medicinal properties, indeed the fact that his late Majesty Augustus was cured by it stands on record in his own letters. Five pecks of seed are enough for one yoke of oxen in a day. It is said to be injurious to oxen if sown in March and to cause cold in the head if sown in autumn, but sowing it in early spring makes it harmless.
XXXIX. Silicia or fenugreek also is sown after a mere scratching of the ground, in a furrow not more than four inches deep, and the worse it is treated the better it comes ona singular proposition that there is something that is benefited by neglect; however the kinds called black spelt and cattle mash need harrowing, but no more.
XL. The name for secale in the subalpine district of Turin is asia; it is a very poor food and only serves to avert starvation; its stalk carries a large head but is a thin straw; it is of a dark sombre colour, and exceptionally heavy. Wheat is mixed in with this to mitigate its bitter taste, and all the same, it is very unacceptable to the stomach even so. It grows in any sort of soil with a hundred-fold yield, and serves of itself to enrich the land.
XLI. Cattle-mash obtained from the refuse of wheat is sown very thick, occasionally with an admixture of vetch as well. In Africa the same mash is obtained from barley. All of these plants serve as fodder, and so does the throwback of the leguminous class, of plant called wild vetch, which pigeons are so fond of that they are said never to leave a place where they have been fed on it.
XLII. In old times there was a kind of fodder which Cato calls ocinum, used to stop scouring in oxen. This was got from a crop of fodder cut green before it seeded. Mamilius Sura gives another meaning to the name, and records that the old practice was to mix ten pecks of bean, two of vetch and the same of fitch for each acre of land and sow this mixture in autumn, preferably with some Greek oats mixed in as well, as this does not drop its seed; he says that the usual name for this mixture was ocinum, and that it used to be grown for cattle. Varro explains the name as due to its rapid growth, deriving it from the Greek word for 'quickly'.
XLIII. Lucerne is foreign even to Greece, having been imported from Media during the Persian invasions under Darius [492-450 B.C.]; but so great a bounty deserves mention even among the first of the grains, since from a single sowing it will last more than thirty years. In stalk and leaf it resembles trefoil, being jointed, and as the stalk rises higher the leaves become narrower. Amphilochus devoted one volume to lucerne and tree-medick. The land for it to be sown in is broken in autumn after being cleared of stones and weeded, and is afterwards ploughed over and harrowed and then covered with chalk, the process being repeated a second and a third time at intervals of five days, and after the addition of manureit requires a dry and rich soil or else a well-watered oneand after the land has been thus prepared the seed is sown in May, as otherwise it is liable to damage from frost. It is necessary for the whole plot to be occupied with closely sown seed, and for weeds shooting up in between to be debarredthis is secured by sowing three modii to the acreand care must be taken that the sun may not scorch the seed up, and it ought to be covered over with earth immediately. If the soil be damp or weedy, the lucerne is overpowered and goes off into meadow; consequently as soon as it is an inch high it must be freed from all weeds, by hand in preference to hoeing. It is cut when it is beginning to flower and every time it flowers again: this happens six times, or at the least four times, in a year. It must be prevented from running to seed, because till it is three years old it is more useful as fodder. It must be hoed in springtime and rid of all other plants, and till the third year shaved down to the earth with weeding-hoes: this makes the rest of the plants die without damaging the lucerne itself, because of the depth of its roots. If weeds get the upper hand, the sole remedy is in the plough, by repeatedly turning the soil till all the other roots die. It must not be fed to cattle to the point of repletion, lest it should be necessary to let blood. Also it is more useful when green, as it dries into a woody state and finally thins out into a useless dust.
About tree-medick, which itself also is given a very high rank among fodder, we have spoken sufficiently among the shrubs. And now we have to complete our account of the nature of all the cereals, in one part of which we must also speak about diseases.
XLIV. The first of all forms of disease in wheat is the oat. Barley also degenerates into oats, in such a way that the oat itself counts as a kind of corn, inasmuch as the races of Germany grow crops of it and live entirely on oatmeal porridge. The degeneration in question is principally due to dampness of soil and climate, but a subsidiary cause is contained in weakness of the seed, if it is held back too long in the ground before it shoots out. There is also the same explanation if it was rotten when it was sown. But it is recognizable the moment it breaks out of the ground, which shows that the cause is contained in the root. There is also another disease arising in close connection with oats, when after the grain has begun to fill out but its growth is not yet mature, before it makes a strong body it becomes hollow and empty owing to some noxious blast and fades away in the ear by a sort of abortion.
Wind is injurious to wheat and barley at three seasonswhen they are in flower or directly after they have shed their flower or when they are beginning to ripen; at the last stage it shrivels up the grain, while in the preceding eases its influence is to prohibit the seed from forming. Successive gleams of sun appearing out of cloud are also injurious. Also maggots breed in the root when after rains following seed-time a sudden spell of heat has enclosed the moisture in the ground. They also grow in the grain when heat following rain causes the ear to ferment. There is also a small beetle called the cantharis which gnaws away corn crops. When food fails, all these, creatures disappear. Olive oil, pitch and grease are detrimental to seeds, and care must be taken not to let seed come in contact with them before it is sown. Rain is beneficial to crops while in the stalk from the time of germination, but it damages wheat and barley when in blossom; although it does no harm to leguminous plants, excepting chick-pea. Corn crops when beginning to ripen are damaged by rain, and particularly barley. Also there is a white grass like Italian millet that springs up all over the fields, and is also fatal to cattle. As for darnel, caltrops, thistle and burdock, I should not count these any more than brambles among diseases of cereals, but rather among pestilences of the soil itself. One of the most harmful climatic maladies of corn crops and vines is rust. This is most frequent in a district exposed to dew and in shut-in valleys that have no current of air through them, whereas windy places and high ground on the contrary are free from it. Among the vices of corn is also overabundance, when the stalks fall down under the burden of fertility. But a vice common to all cultivated crops is caterpillars, which even attack chick-pea when rain makes it taste sweeter by washing away its saltness.
There is a weed that kills off chick-pea and fitch by binding itself round them, it is called orobanche; and in a similar way wheat is attacked by darnel, barley by a long-stalked plant called acgilops and lentils by an axe-leaved which the Greeks call axe-grass from its resemblance; these also kill the plants by twining round them. In the neighbourhood of Philippi they give the name of ateramum to a weed growing in rich soil that kills the bean plant, and the name teramum to one that has the same effect in thin soil, when a particular wind has been blowing on the beans when damp. Darnel has a very small seed enclosed in a prickly husk. When used in bread it very quickly causes fits of giddiness, and it is said that in Asia and Greece when the managers of baths want to get rid of a crowd they throw darnel seed on to hot coals. Also the phalangium, a little creature of the spider class, breeds in the fitch, if there is a wet winter. Slugs breed amongst vetch, and sometimes small snails which are produced from the ground and eat away the vetch in a surprising manner.These broadly speaking are the diseases of grain.
XLV. Such cures of these diseases as pertain to grain in the blade are to be found in the hoe, and when the seed is being sown, in ashes; but the diseases that occur in the seed and round the root can be guarded against by taking precautions. It is believed that seed steeped in wine before sowing is less liable to disease. Virgil recommends steeping bean in native soda and dregs from oil-presses, and also guarantees this as a method of increasing its size. Others however hold the view that it grows specially well if it is kneaded in a mixture of urine and water three days before sowing; and at all events that if the crop is hoed three times it will yield a peck of crushed beans from a peck of whole beans; and that the other kinds of seeds are not liable to maggots if mixed with crushed cypress leaves, and also if sown just before a new moon. As a cure for diseases of millet many recommend carrying a toad round the field at night before it is hoed and then burying it in the middle of the field, with a pot for a coffin; it is then prevented from being damaged by a sparrow or by worms; but it must be dug up before the field is sown, otherwise the land turns sour. They also say that seed is made more fertile if it is touched by the forequarters of a mole. Democritus advises soaking all seeds before they are sown in the juice of the plant that grows on roof-tiles, called in Greek aeizoon and by other people 'under-the-eaves', and in our language 'squat' or 'little finger'. But if damage is being done by blight and by worms adhering to the roots, a common remedy is to sprinkle the plant with pure olive oil lees, not salted, and then to hoe, and if the crop is beginning to shoot out into knots to weed it, so that weeds may not get the upper hand. I know for a fact that flights of starlings or sparrows, the plague of common and Italian millets, can be driven away from them by burying a plant, the name of which is unknown to me, at the four corners of the field, with the remarkable result that no bird whatever will enter it. Mice are driven away by sprinkling the seed with the ashes of a weasel or a cat dissolved in water or with water in which those animals have been boiled; but their poison makes an odour even in bread, and consequently it is thought more satisfactory to steep the seed in ox-gall. As for the greatest curse of corn, mildew, fixing branches of laurel in the ground makes it pass out of the fields into their foliage. Excessive luxuriance in corn-crops is corrected by grazing cattle on them, provided the corn is still in the blade, and although it is eaten down even several times it suffers no injury in the ear. It is absolutely certain that if the ears are lopped off even once the grain becomes longer in shape and hollow inside and worthless, and if sown does not grow. Nevertheless at Babylon they cut the corn twice and the third time pasture it off with cattle, as otherwise it would make only leaves. Even so the exceptional fertility of the soil returns crops with a fifty-fold increase, and to more industrious farmers even with a hundredfold. Nor is there any difficulty in the method of letting the ground be under water as long as possible, in order that its extremely rich and substantial fertility may be diluted. But the Euphrates and the Tigris do not carry mud on to the land in the same way as the Nile does in Egypt, nor does the soil itself produce vegetation; but nevertheless its fertility is so great that a second crop grows of its own accord in the following year from the seeds trodden in by the reapers. This extreme difference of soil prompts me to distribute my description of the various kinds of land among the different crops.
XLVI. This then is the opinion of Cato: 'In thick and fertile land wheat should be sown; but if the same land is liable to fog, turnip, radishes, common and Italian millets. In cold or damp land sowing should be done earlier, but in warm land later. In a ruddle-soil or in dark or sandy soil, if it is not damp, sow lupine; in chalk and red earth and rather damp land, emmer wheat; in dry land that is free from grass and not overshaded, wheat; beans in strong soil, but vetch in the least damp and weedy soil; common and other bare wheats in an open and elevated locality that gets the warmth of the sun as long as possible; lentils in poor and ruddle-soil that is free from grass; barley in fallow land and also in land that can produce a second crop; three-month wheat where the land could not ripen an ordinary crop and which is rich enough to produce a second crop.
The following also is acute advice: 'In a rather thin soil crops should be sown that do not need much moisture, for instance tree-medick, and such of the leguminous plants, except chick-pea, as are gathered by being pulled up out of the ground and not by being cutwhich is the reason why they are called "crops", because that is how they are "cropped"but in rich land the plants that need greater nutriment, such as greens, wheat, common wheat, flax. Under this method consequently thin soil will be assigned to barley, as its root demands less nourishment, while more easily worked and denser earth will be allotted to wheat. In a rather damp place emmer will be sown in preference to other wheat, but in soil of medium quality this and also barley. Hillsides produce a stronger wheat but a smaller crop of it. Emmer and common wheat can do with both chalky and marshy soil.'
The only portent arising from grain crops that I for my part have come across occurred in the consulship of Publius Aelius and Gnaeus Cornelius, the year in which Hannibal was overcome: it is stated that on that occasion corn grew on trees.
XLVII. And now that we have spoken fully about the kinds of grain and of soil, we will now speak about the method of ploughing, beginning with an account of the easy conditions prevailing in Egypt. In that country the Nile plays the part of farmer, beginning to overflow its banks at the new moon in midsummer, as we have said, at first gently and then more or violently, as long as the sun is in the constellation of the Lion. Then when the sun has passed over into the Virgin it slows down, and when the sun is in the Scales it subsides. If it has not risen more than 18 feet, there is certain to be a famine, and likewise if it has exceeded 24 feet; for it retires more slowly in proportion as it has risen in greater flood, and prevents the sowing of seed. It used to be commonly believed that the custom was to begin sowing after the subsidence of the Nile and then to drive swine over the ground, pressing down the seed in the damp soil with their footprints, and I believe that in former days this was the common practice, and that at the present day also the sowing is done without much heavier labour; but nevertheless it is certain that the seed is first scattered in the mud of the river after it has subsided and then ploughed in. This is done at the beginning of November, and afterwards a few men stub up the weedstheir name for this process is botanismusbut the rest of the labourers only visit the fields a little before the first of April, taking a sickle with them. However the harvest is completed in May, and the straw is never more than an ell long, as the subsoil is sand and the corn only gets its support from the mud. The district of the Thebaid has corn of better quality, because Egypt is marshy. Seleucia in Babylon has a similar method but greater fertility, owing to the overflow of the Euphrates and the Tigris, as there the amount of flooding is controlled by the hand of man. Syria also ploughs with a narrow furrow, whereas in Italy in many parts eight oxen strain panting at one ploughshare. In every department of agriculture but most of all in this one the greatest value attaches to the oracular precept: 'what the particular district will stand.'
XLVIII. Ploughshares are of several kinds. The coulter is the name for the part fixed in front of the share-beam, cutting the earth before it is broken up and marking out the tracks for the future furrows with incisions which the share sloping backward is to bite out in the process of ploughing. Another kind is the ordinary share consisting of a lever with a pointed beak, and a third kind used in easy soil does not present an edge along the whole of the share-beam but only has a small spike at the extremity. In a fourth kind of plough this spike is broader and sharper, ending off in a point, and using the same blade both to cleave the soil and with the sharp edge of the sides to cut the roots of the weeds. An invention was made not long ago in the Grisons fitting a plough of this sort with two small wheelsthe name in the vernacular for this kind of plough is plaumorati; the share has the shape of a spade. This method is only used for sowing in cultivated land and land that is nearly fallow; the breadth of the share turns the turves over; men at once scatter the seed on it and draw toothed harrows over the furrows. Fields that have been sown in this way do not need hoeing, but this method of ploughing requires teams of two or three pairs of oxen. It is a fair estimate for forty acres of easy soil and thirty of difficult to be rated as a year's work for one team of oxen.
XLIX. In ploughing it is extremely important to obey the oracular utterance of Cato: 'What is good farming? Good ploughing. What is second best? Ploughing. What third? Manuring.' 'Do not plough a crooked furrow. Plough in good time.' In comparatively mild places breaking the ground should begin at midwinter, but in colder districts at the spring equinox; and it should begin earlier in a dry region than in a damp one, and earlier in a dense soil than a loose one and in a rich soil than in a poor one. Where the summers are dry and oppressive and the land chalky or thin, it pays better to plough between midsummer and the autumnal equinox, but in the middle of the hot weather in places where summer heat is moderate, rainfalls frequent and the soil rich and grassy. It is the rule to stir a deep heavy soil even in the winter, but a very thin and dry one a little before sowing.
Ploughing also has rules of its own: Do not touch a muddy soil. Plough with all your might. Break the ground before you plough. The value of the last process is that turning the turf kills the roots of the weeds. Some people recommend beginning to break the ground at all events at the spring equinox. Land ploughed once in spring is called 'springworked land', from the fact of the date; spring-working is equally necessary in the case of fallow landfallow is land sown every other year. Oxen when going to plough should be harnessed to the yoke as tightly as possible, to make them hold their heads up when ploughingthat makes them least liable to gall their necks; if the ploughing is in between trees and vines, they must wear basket-work muzzles to prevent their nibbling off the tenderest of the buds; a small billhook should be hung on the plough-tail to cut through roots withthis is better than letting the plough tear them up, which is a strain on the oxen; when ploughing finish the row and do not halt in the middle while taking breath. It is a fair day's work to break an acre with a nine-inch furrow and to plough over again an acre and a half, given an easy soil, but otherwise, to break half an acre and plough over one acre, since Nature has appointed laws even for the labour of animals. Every field must be worked with straight furrows and then with slanting furrows as well. Hilly ground is ploughed only across the slope of the hill, but with the share pointing now up hill and now down; a and man has such capacity for labour that he can actually perform the function of oxenat all events mountain races dispense with this animal and do their ploughing with hoes. Unless a ploughman bends his back to his work he goes crookedthe charge of 'prevarication' is a metaphorical term transferred to public life from ploughing: anyhow it must be avoided in the department of its origin. The share should be cleaned now and then with a stick tipped with a scraper. The ridges between two furrows should not be left untidy, so that clods of earth may not fall off them. A field that needs harrowing after the crop has been sown is badly ploughed: the ground will only have been worked properly where it is impossible to tell in which of two opposite directions the share went. It is also usual to make intermediate runnels by means of a larger furrow, if the place requires this, for these to draw off the water into the ditches.
After the cross-ploughing has been done there follows the harrowing of clods with a framework or a rake where circumstances require it, and, where local custom allows, this second breaking is also repeated after the seed has been sown, by means of a harrow-framework or with a board attached to the plough covering up the seedsthis process is called ridging; if they are not covered, this is 'unridging'the original use of the word that means 'raving'. Virgil when he said that the best crop is one that 'twice hath felt the sun and twice the cold', is understood to have desired a fourth ploughing before sowing. Where the soil is rather dense, as it usually is in Italy, it is better to plough five times before sowing, but in Tuscany nine times. With beans and vetch however it is a labour-saving plan involving no loss to dispense with preliminary breaking before sowing.
We will not omit one additional method of ploughing that has been devised in Italy north of the Po owing to damage caused by war. When the Salassi were devastating the farms lying below the Alps they made an attempt to destroy the crops of panic and millet that were just appearing above the ground: but after Nature proved contemptuous of their efforts, they ploughed in the crops; these however came up in multiplied abundance, and thus taught us the practice of ploughing inartrare as it is now called, that as I believe being the form at that time in use of the word aratrare. This is done either when the stem is beginning to grow or when it has already shot up as far as the second or third set of leaves. Nor will we withhold a recent instance that was ascertained two years ago in the Trier country: the crops having been nipped by an extremely cold winter, in March they actually sowed the fields again, and had a very bounteous harvest.
We will now give the remaining methods of cultivation corresponding to the various kinds of corn.
L. Common, emmer, hard naked and other emmer wheats and barley should be harrowed, hoed and stubbed on the days that will be stated; a single hand per acre will be enough for each of these kinds of grain. Hoeing loosens in the spring season the harshness of the soil that has been hardened by the rigour of winter, and lets in the fresh sunshine. One who is going to hoe must beware of digging underneath the roots of the corn. Naked and emmer wheats, barley and beans are better for two hoeings. Stubbing, when the crop has begun to make a joint, liberates the roots of the corn by pulling up useless weeds and disengages the crop from clods of turf. Of the legnminous plants chick-pea needs the same treatment as emmer; beans do not want much stubbing, as they overpower weeds; lupine is only harrowed; common and Italian millets are harrowed and hoed, but not hoed a second time and not stubbed; fenugreek and calavances are harrowed only. There are some kinds of ground the fertility of which necessitates combing the crop while in the bladethe comb is another kind of harrow fitted with pointed iron teethand even then they also afford pasture for cattle; and the crops that have been eaten down as pasture have to be resuscitated with the hoe. But in Bactria and Africa and at Cyrene all these operations are rendered superfluous by the indulgence of the climate, and after sowing they only go back into the fields at harvest, because the dry atmosphere prevents weeds, the crops depending for nourishment on the dew-fall at night. Virgil advises letting the fields 'lie fallow turn and turn about', and if the extent of the farm allows it, this is undoubtedly extremely useful; but if conditions forbid it, emmer wheat should be sown in ground which has borne a crop of lupines or vetch or beans, and plants that enrich the land. And another point to be noticed as of first importance is this, that some interim crops are sown for the sake of other crops if these have made an unsatisfactory return, as we have said in the preceding volumenot to repeat the same things too often; for the quality of each particular soil is of the greatest importance.
LI. There is a city-state of Africa called Tacape, in the middle of the desert on the route to the Syrtes and Great Leptis, which has the exceptionally marvellous blessing of a well-watered soil. There is a spring that distributes water over a space of about three miles in every direction, giving a generous supply, but nevertheless it is distributed among the population only at special fixed periods of the day.
Here underneath palms of exceptional size there are olives, under the olives figs, under the figs pomegranates, and under those vines; and underneath the vines is sown corn, and later leguminous plants, and then garden vegetables, all in the same year, and all nourished in the shade of something else. A plot of soil there measuring four cubits either way, a cubit being measured not from the elbow to the fingertips but to the closed fist, is sold for four denarii. But the unique point is that there are two vintages a year, the vines bearing twice over; and if fertility were not exhausted by multiplied production, each crop would be killed by its own exuberance, but as it is, something is being gathered all the year round, and yet it is an absolute fact that this fertility receives no assistance from human beings.
There is also a great difference of quality in the water supplied to watered places. In the province of Narbonne there is a celebrated spring with the name of Orga, in which plants grow that are so much sought after by oxen that they put their whole heads under water in trying to get them; but it is a well-known fact that those plants though growing in water only get their nutriment from showers of rain. Consequently it is necessary for everybody to know the nature of the soil and of the water in his own district.
LII. If the land is of the kind which we designated 'tender', after harvesting the barley it will be possible to sow millet, and when that has been got in turnip-seed, and when the millet and turnip have been harvested barley again, or else wheat, as is done in Campania; and land of that nature is sufficiently ploughed by being hoed. Another order of rotation is for ground where there has been a crop of emmer wheat to lie fallow during the four winter months and to be given spring beans; but it should not lie fallow before being sown with winter-beans. With a soil that is too rich it is possible to employ rotation, sowing a leguminous crop at a third sowing after the wheat has been carried; but a thin soil had better be left fallow till the year after next. Some people forbid sowing wheat except in land that has lain fallow the year before.
LIII. A very important part of this topic is occupied by the proper way of using dung, about which we have also spoken in the preceding volume. The one thing known to everybody is that the land must not be sown unless it has been manured, although even this matter has special rules applying to it. You must not sow millet, panic, turnip or navew except in ground that has been manured, but if the ground has not been manured, you should sow wheat in it rather than barley. Similarly also in the case of fallows, although it is held that in these beans should be sowed, in every case you must sow that crop after the soil has been manured as recently as possible. A person intending to sow something in the autumn should pile dung on the land in September, at all events after rain has fallen; but if intending to sow in the springtime, he should spread dung during the wintereighteen loads of dung is the proper amount to be given to an acre; but be careful not to spread it before ploughing. But after the seed has been sown, if this manuring has been neglected, the following stage is, before you weed, first to scatter like seed some dust of droppings obtained from hen-coops. But to fix a precise limit for this treatment also, the right amount is to get one load of manure per head of smaller animals and ten loads per head of oxen. If that be not forthcoming, it would look as if the farmer had been slack in providing litter for his stock. Some people think that manuring is best done by keeping the flocks and herds permanently out of doors penned up with netting. If the land is not manured it gets chilled, and if it is given too much manure it becomes burnt up; and it pays better to do the manuring frequently than to manure to excess. It stands to reason that the warmer the soil is the less manure it should be given.
LIV. The best seed is last year's; two-year old of seed is inferior, three-year old very poor, and beyond that it is barren; in fact all things have a limited period of fertility. The seed that falls to the bottom on the threshing-floor should be kept for sowing, as it is the best because the heaviest, and there is no other more efficient way of distinguishing it. An ear having its seeds separated by gaps will be discarded. The best grain is that which is reddish in colour and which when crushed by the teeth shows the same colour inside, and one that has more white inside is inferior. It is a well-known fact that some lands take more seed and others less, and this supplies farmers with a binding and primary augury: when the earth receives the seed more greedily, it is believed to be hungry and to devour the seed. The plan is for sowing to be done more quickly in damp places, to prevent the seed from being rotted by moisture, but later in dry places, so that the rainfalls may come afterwards to prevent the seed from lying for a long time without germinating and so withering away; and similarly when sowing is hurried on it pays to scatter the seed thickly, because it conceives slowly, but when sowing is late, to scatter it thin, because excessive closeness kills it. Also there is a certain science in scattering the seed evenly; at all events the hand must keep in time with the pace of walking, and always go with the right foot. Also it comes about by some not obvious method used by certain people that luck is kind to them and brings a good return. Seed should not be transferred from cold places to warm ones nor from early ripening districts to late ones, and nothing should be transferred in the contrary directions either, as some people out of mistaken ingenuity have advised.
LV. The right amounts of seed per acre to sow in soil of medium quality are: bare or common wheat 5 pecks, emmer or seed (the kind of grain to which we give that name) 10; barley 6, beans a fifth more than in the ease of wheat, vetch 12, chick-pea, chickling vetch and peas 3, lupine 10, lentil 3 (but it is considered desirable to sow lentils mixed with dry dung), fitch 6, fenugreek 6, calavances 4, hay-grass 20, common and Italian millets a quarter of a peck, or more in a rich soil and less in a thin one. There is also another distinction to make: in thick or chalky or moist soil 6 pecks of bare or common wheat, but in loose and dry and fertile soil 4; for a meagre soil makes a small and empty ear unless it has the corn stalks far apart, whereas fields with a rich soil produce a number of stalks from a single seed and yield a thick crop from thinly scattered seed. Consequently the rule given is to sow between four and six pecks, adding or subtracting a fifth in accordance with the nature of the soil, and the same in a densely planted place or on sloping land as in thin soil. To this applies that oracular utterance, which it is so important to observe: 'Do not grudge the cornfield its seed.' To this Attius in his Praxidike added the advice to sow when the moon is in the constellations of the Ram, the Twins, the Lion, the Scales and Aquarius, but Zoroaster advised sowing when the sun has crossed 12 degrees of the Scorpion and the moon is in the Bull.
LVI. There follows the question postponed to this place, a question that needs very careful considerationthat of the proper date for sowing the crops; it is in a large degree connected with astronomy, and consequently we will begin by setting out the views of all authors in regard to it. Hesiod, the leader of mankind in imparting agricultural instruction, gave only one date for sowing, to begin at the setting of the Pleiades; for he wrote in the Greek country of Boeotia where, as we have said, that is the custom for sowing. It is agreed among the most careful observers that, as in the propagation of birds and animals, so with the earth, there exist certain impulses leading to conception; and the Greeks define this as the period when the earth is warm and moist. Virgil prescribes sowing bare and emmer wheats after the setting of the Pleiades, barley between the autumnal equinox and mid-winter, but vetch and calavances and lentils at the setting of Bootes; with the consequence that it is important to ascertain the exact dates of the rising and setting of these and other stars. There are some who advise sowing before the setting of the Pleiades, at all events in dry land and in the provinces with a warm climate, because the seed keeps safely, there being no damp to make them rot, and within a day after the next fall of rain they break out; while others recommend sowing immediately after the setting of the Pleiades, because about a week later rains follow; and some advise beginning to sow at the autumnal equinox in cold places, but later in warm districts, so that the crops may not be too far forward before winter. But it is universally agreed that sowing must not be done in the period of midwinter, for the convincing reason that winter seeds when sown before midwinter break out in a week, but if sown after it scarcely begin to appear in four weeks. There are some who hasten matters on and put forward the dictum that, while sowing in haste often proves deceptive, sowing late always does. Others on the opposite side think that sowing even in spring is preferable to sowing in a bad autumn, and that if this is necessary it should be done between the arrival of the west wind a and the spring equinox. Some people ignore nice points of meteorology and fix limits by the calendar: flax, oats and poppy in spring and up to the Feast of the Five Days, a practice even now observed in the districts north of the Po, beans and common wheat in November, emmer wheat at the end of September on to October 15, and others after that date on to November 1. Thus these latter writers pay no attention to Nature, while the previous set pay too much, and consequently their elaborate theorizing is all in the dark, as the issue lies between countrymen and literary, not merely astronomical, pundits! And it must be confessed that these matters do chiefly depend on the weatheras in fact Virgil enjoins first before all else to learn the winds and the habits of the stars, and to observe them just in the same way as they are observed for navigation. It is an arduous and a vast aspirationto succeed in introducing the divine science of the heavens to the ignorance of the rustic, but it must be attempted, owing to the vast benefit it confers on life. Nevertheless we must first submit to contemplation the difficulties of astronomy, which even experts have been conscious of, in order that subsequently our minds may more happily pass on from the study of the heavens and discern the actual events of the past whose future occurrence cannot be known in advance.
LVII. First of all it is almost impossible to explain the system of the actual days of the year and that of the movement of the sun, because to the 365 days an intercalary year adds a quarter of a day and of a night, and consequently definite periods of the stars cannot be stated. In addition to this there is the admitted obscurity of the facts, as sometimes the specification of the seasons runs in advance, and by a considerable number of days (the Greek term for this is προχειμάζειν), whereas at other times it comes behind (in Greek έπιχειμάζειν), and in general the influence of the heavens falls down to the earth in one place more quickly and in another place more slowly; this is the cause of the remark we commonly hear on the return of fine weather, that a constellation has been completed. Moreover although all these things depend on stars that are stationary and fixed in the sky, there intervene movements of stars and hailstorms and rain, these also having no inconsiderable effect, as we have shown, and they disturb the regularity of the expectation that has been conceived. And we must not think that this occurs only to ourselvesit also deceives the rest of the animals, which have greater sagacity about this matter, inasmuch as it is a thing on which their life depends; and the birds of summer are killed by exceptionally late or exceptionally early frosts, and those of winter by untimely spells of heat. This is why Virgil teaches the necessity of acquiring a thorough knowledge of the system of the planets also, warning us to watch the transit of the cold star Saturn. Some people think that butterflies are the most reliable sign of spring, on account of the extremely delicate structure of that insect; but in the very year in which I am writing this treatise it has been noticed that their supply has been three times annihilated by a return of cold weather, and that migratory birds arriving on January 27 brought a hope of spring that was soon dashed to the ground by a spell of very severe winter. The procedure is twofold: first of all it consists in trying to obtain a general principle from celestial phenomena, and then this principle has to be investigated by special signs. Above all there is the variation due to the convexity of the world and the terrestrial globe, the same star revealing itself to different nations at a different time, with the consequence that its influence is not operative everywhere on the same days. Additional difficulty has also been caused by authors through their observations having been taken in different regions, and because in the next place they actually publish different results of observations made in the same regions. But there were three main schools, the Chaldean, the Egyptian and the Greek; and to these a fourth system was added in our own country [46 BC] by Caesar during his dictatorship, who with the assistance of the learned astronomer Sosigenes brought the separate years back into conformity with the course of the sunand this theory itself was afterwards corrected (when an error had been found), so as to dispense with an intercalary day for a period of twelve successive years, for the reason that the year which had previously been getting in advance of the constellations had begun to lag behind in relation to them. Both Sosigenes himself in his three treatisesthough more careful in research than the other writers he nevertheless did not hesitate to introduce an element of doubt by correcting his own statementsand also other authors whose names we prefixed to this volume a have published these theories, although it is seldom that the opinions of any two of them agree. This is less surprising in the case of the rest, as they had the excuse of difference of localities; but as for those who have differed in their views in the same country, we will give one case of disagreement as an example: the morning setting of the Pleiades is given by Hesiodfor there is extant an astronomical work that bears his name alsoas taking place at the close of the autumnal equinox, whereas Thales puts it on the 25th day after the equinox, Anaximander on the 30th, Euctemon on the 44th, and Eudoxus on the 48th. We follow the observation of Caesar specially: this will be the formula for Italy; but we will also state the views of others, since we are not treating of a single country but of the whole of nature, though we shall not arrange them under the head of their authors, for that would be a lengthy matter, but of the regions concerned. Only readers should remember that, for the sake of brevity, when Attica is mentioned they must understand the Cyclades islands to be included; when Macedonia, Magnesia and Thrace; when Egypt, Phoenicia, Cyprus and Cilicia; when Boeotia, Locris and Phocis and the adjoining regions always as well; when the Dardanelles, the Galhpoli peninsula as far as Monte Santo; when Ionia, Asia and the islands belonging to it; when the Morea, Achaia and the lands lying to the west of it; and the term Chaldeans will indicate Assyria and Babylonia. That the names of Africa and the provinces of Spain and Gaul are not mentioned will cause no surprise, because none of those who have published accounts of the risings of the constellations have made observations in respect of those countries. Still it will not involve a difficult calculation to ascertain them in those countries as well, by means of the explanation of parallels which we have set out in Book Six, which indicates the astronomical relationship not only of nations but of individual cities as well. Therefore by taking the circular parallel belonging to the countries we have specified and applying it to those that the particular student is seeking, the risings of the constellations will be the same throughout the parts of all the parallels where shadows are of equal length. It is also necessary to point out that the seasons themselves have their own periods every four years, and that they too return without great variation under the system of the sun, but that they are also lengthened every eight years at the hundredth revolution of the moon.
LVIII. The whole system however is based on three lines of observationthe rising and the setting of the constellations and the periods of the seasons themselves: there are two modes of observing the risings and settings, as the stars are either hidden by the arrival of the sun and cease to be visible, or they present themselves to the view on the sun's departure (so that custom would have done better to designate the latter as the stars' 'emergence' rather than 'rising', and the former as their 'occultation' rather than 'setting'); or by means of the following mode by the day on which the risings and settings of the stars begin or cease to be visible at the rising or setting of the sun, these being designated their morning or evening risings and settings according as each of them occurs at dawn or at dusk. They require intervals of at least three-quarters of an hour before sunrise or after sunset in order to be visible. Moreover there are some stars that rise and set twice; and all that is said here refers to the stars which we have stated to be fixed stars.
LIX. The divisions of the seasons are fixed by the fourfold distribution of the year corresponding with the increases and decreases of daylight. From midwinter onward this increases in length, and in 90 days 3 hours at the spring equinox the day becomes equal to the night. From then to the summer solstice, a period of 94 days 12 hours, the day is longer than the night ... until the autumn equinox, and then the night having become equal to the day goes on increasing from that point until midwinter, a period of 88 days 3 hours (in the present passage the term `hours' in each addition and subtraction denotes equinoctial hours and not the hours of any day in particular) and all these changes occur at the eighth degree of the signs of the zodiac, midwinter at the eighth degree of Capricorn, about December 26, the equinox at the eighth of the Ram, the summer solstice at the eighth of the Crab and the other equinox at the eighth of the Scaleswhich days themselves also usually give some indications of changes of weather. Again these periods are also divided by particular moments of time, all of them at middaysince between the solstice and the autumnal equinox the setting of the Lyre on the 46th day marks the beginning of autumn, and from that equinox to midwinter the morning setting of the Pleiades on the 44th day marks that of winter, and between midwinter and the equinox the prevalence of a west wind on the 45th day marks the period of spring, and the morning rising of the Pleiades on the 47th day from the spring equinox marks the beginning of summer. We will start from sowing-time of wheat, that is from the morning setting of the Pleiades; and we need not interrupt our explanation and increase the difficulty of the subject by mentioning the minor stars, inasmuch as it is at the same date that the stormy constellation of Orion sets after its extensive course.
LX. Most people anticipate the times for sowing, and begin to sow corn at the eleventh day of the autumnal equinox, as for nine days after the rising of the Crown there is an almost certain expectation of rain. But Xenophon tells us not to begin before the Deity has given the signalthis our Roman author Cicero understood as being done by a fall of rain; although the true method is not to sow before the leaves have begun to fall. Some think that this occurs exactly at the setting of the Pleiades on November 10, as we have said, and even clothes-dealers go by that constellation, and it is very easy to identify in the sky; consequently dealers out to make money, who are careful to watch for chances, make forecasts as to the winter from its setting: thus by a cloudy setting it foretells a wet winter, and they at once raise their prices for cloaks, whereas by a fine weather setting it foretells a hard winter, and they screw up the prices of all other clothes. But our friend the farmer, not learned in astronomy, may find this sign of the weather among his hedgerows and merely by looking at his own land, when he has seen the leaves fall: in that way the year's weather can be estimated, as they fall later in some cases and earlier in others, for the weather is perceived as it is affected by the nature of the climate and the locality, and this method contains the advantage that while it is universal and worldwide it is also at the same time peculiar to each particular locality. This may surprise anyone who does not remember that the pennyroyal hung up in our larders blossoms exactly on midwinter day: so fully has Nature willed that nothing shall be hidden; consequently she has also given us this signal for sowing. This is the true account of the situation, bringing with it Nature's own proofs, inasmuch as she actually advises this mode of approaching the land and promises it will serve as a substitute for manure, and tells us that the land and the crops are shielded by herself against the rigours of frost, and warns us to make haste.
LXI. Varro has advised keeping this rule at all events in sowing beans. Others say that beans should be sown at a full moon, but lentils between the 25th and 30th day of the lunar month, and also vetch on the same days, that being the only way to keep them free from slugs. Some people advise that date for sowing for fodder, but recommend sowing in the spring to obtain seed.
There is also another more obvious method due to still more remarkable foresight on the part of Nature, under the head of which we will register the opinion of Cicero in his own words:
The lentisk, ever green and ever teeming,
Is wont to swell with thrice-repeated produce:
Thrice bearing fruit, she marks three ploughing seasons.
One of these seasons, this last one, is the same also for sowing flax and poppy. For poppy Cato gives the following rule: 'On land used for corn burn any twigs and brushwood left over from your utilization of them. Sow poppy in the place where you have burnt them'. Wild poppy boiled in honey is wonderfully serviceable for making throat-cures, and also cultivated poppy is a powerful soporific. So far as to winter sowing.
LXII. But correspondingly to complete a sort of summary of the whole subject of cultivation, it will be suitable at the same time to manure the trees, also to bank up the vinesone hand is enough to do an acreand where the nature of the locality will allow, to prune the trees and the vines, to prepare the ground with a double mattock for seed-plots, to open up the ditches, to drain water off the land, and to wash out and put away the wine-press. Do not put under the hens to hatch after November 1 until midwinter is past; all through the summer till that date give thirteen eggs to each hen, but fewer in winter, though not less than nine. Democritus thinks that the weather through the winter will be the same as it was on the shortest day and the three days round it, and he thinks so too in regard to the summer and the weather at the summer solstice.
In most cases the fourteen days round midwinter bring mild weather with calm winds for the sitting of the kingfishers. But in these and all other matters we shall have to conjecture the influence of the stars from the outcome of their indications, and at all events not expect changes of weather to answer to bail on dates fixed in advance.
LXIII. Avoid attending to the vine at midwinter. Hyginus recommends straining the wine then, or even racking it off a week after the shortest day has passed, provided a week-old moon coincides with it; and planting cherries about midwinter. It is proper at that date to put acorns in soak as fodder for oxen, a peck per yokea larger quantity is injurious to their health; and it is said that whenever they are given this feed, if it is not fed to them for at least 30 days in succession, an outbreak of mange in the spring will cause you to repent. We have given this as the time for cutting timber; and the other kinds of work may be arranged chiefly in the night time, as the nights are so much longerweaving wicker baskets, hampers and rush baskets, cutting torches, preparing squared vine-props at the rate of thirty and rounded poles at the rate of sixty a day in daytime, and by artificial light five props and ten poles in an evening and the same number in the early morning.
LXIV. From midwinter till the west wind blows the important stars that mark the dates, according to Caesar's observations, are the Dog-star setting at dawn on December 30, the day on which the Eagle is reported to set in the evening for Attica and the neighbouring regions; on January 4 according to Caesar's observations the Dolphin rises at dawn and the next day the Lyre, the Arrow setting in the evening on the same day for Egypt; likewise on January 8 the Dolphin before mentioned sets in the evening and there are some days of continuous wintry weather for Italy; and so also when the sun is seen to pass into Aquarius, which happens about January 17. On January 25 the star in the breast of the Lion called according to Tubero the Royal Star sets in the morning and the Lyre sets in the evening of February 4. In the concluding days of this period, whenever the weather conditions allow, the ground should be turned up with a double mattock for planting roses and vinesseventy hands ate enough for an acreand ditches should be cleaned or new ones made, and the time before daybreak should be used for sharpening iron tools, fitting handles, repairing broken vats, doing up the shelters used for sheep and cleaning the sheeps' fleeces by scraping them.
LXV. Between the period of west wind and the spring equinox, February 16 for Caesar marks three days of changeable weather, as also does February 22 by the appearance of the swallow and on the next day the rising of Arcturus in the evening, and the same on March 5Caesar noticed that this bad weather took place at the rising of the Crab, but the majority of the authorities put it at the setting of the Vintageron March 8 at the rising of the northern part of the Fish, and on the next day at the rising of Orion; in Attica it is noticed that the constellation Kite appears. Caesar also noted March 15the day that was fatal to himas marked by the setting of the Scorpion, but stated that on March 18 the Kite becomes visible in Italy and on March 21 the Horse sets in the morning.
This space of time is an extremely busy period for farmers and specially toilsome, and it is one as to which they are particularly liable to go wrongthe fact being that they are not summoned to their tasks on the day on which the west wind ought to blow but on which it actually does begin to blow. This must be watched for with sharp attention, and is a signal possessed by a day in that month that is observable without any deception or doubt whatever, if one gives close attention. We have stated in Volume Two the quarter in which that wind blows and the exact point from which it comes, and we shall speak about it rather more fully a little later. In the meantime, starting from the day, whichever it is, on which it begins to blownot however necessarily February 8, but whether before that date, when the spring is early, or afterwards, when winter goes on after that day, countrymen should find themselves torn between innumerable anxieties and should finish off all the primary tasks which cannot be postponed. Three-month wheat must be sown, vines pruned by the method we have stated, olives attended to, fruit-trees planted and grafted, vineyards dug over, seed-plots arranged and others restored, reeds, willows and brooms planted and cut, and elms, poplars and ash trees planted in the manner stated above. Then it is also suitable to weed the cornfields and hoe the winter crops, and especially emmer wheat; for the latter there is a definite rule, to hoe when it has begun to have four blades showing, but in the case of beans not before they have three leaves out, and even then they should be cleaned with a light hoe rather than dug over, and anyway when they flower they must not be touched during the first fortnight. You should only hoe barley in dry weather. You should have your pruning finished by the equinox. An acre of vineyard takes four hands to prune, and tying up the vines on a tree takes one hand for each fifteen trees. This is the time moreover for kitchen-gardens and rose-beds to be attended to, a subject which will be dealt with separately in the following Books, and it is also the time for landscape gardening; and then is the best occasion for making ditches. The ground is now opened for future operations, as Virgil in particular advises, to allow the sun thoroughly to dry the clods. The more useful opinion recommends ploughing only ground of medium quality in the middle of spring, because in a rich soil the furrows are at once seized on by weeds and in a thin soil the spells of heat that follow dry them up and take away all moisture from the seeds that are to come; there is no question that it is best to plough land of these sorts in the autumn.
The following are the rules given by Cato for operations in spring: 'to make ditches for the seed-plots, layer vine-nurseries, plant elms, figs, fruit-trees and olives in thick and damp soils, under a dry moon to manure meadows that are not going to be irrigated, and to protect them from westerly winds, and to clean them and root up noxious weeds; to prune fig-trees lightly, make new seed-beds and repair old onesthese operations to be done before you begin to dig over the vineyard.' Cato also says: 'You should begin to plough thin and sandy soils when the pear-tree blossoms, and afterwards plough the successively heaviest and wettest lands last of all.' Consequently there will be two signs for this ploughing, the sign of the mastich showing its first fruit and that of the pear blossoming. There will also be a third sign, that of the squill in the growing bulbs and that of the narcissus among the plants used for wreaths; for these also flower three times, marking the first ploughing by their first flowering, the second by the middle one and the last by the thirdinasmuch as things afford hints for other things different from them. And one of the first precautions to be taken is to prevent beans when in flower from coming in contact with ivy; for that season is a baneful and deadly one with ivy. Some plants however also have special signs of their own, for instance the fig: when a few leaves are sprouting from the top, like a vinegar-cup, that indicates that it is the best time for planting fig-trees.
LXVI. The vernal equinox appears to end on March 25. Between that day and the morning rising of the Pleiades the first of April according to Caesar indicates bad weather. The Pleiades set on the evening of April 3 in Attica and on the day after in Boeotia, but for Caesar and the Chaldeans on April 5, when for Egypt Orion and his sword begin to set. The setting of the Scales on April 8 according to Caesar announces rain. In the evening The Little Pigs, a stormy constellation bringing boisterous weather on land and sea, sets for Egypt on April 18; it sets on April 16 for Attica and April 17 for Caesar, indicating four successive days of bad weather, but on the 20th for Assyria. This constellation is commonly called Parilicium, because April 21, the birthday of the city of Rome, on which fine weather usually returns, has given a clear sky for observing the heavens, although because of the clouds that it brings with it the Greek name for the constellation is Hyades, which our countrymen, owing to the similarity of the Greek name supposed in their ignorance to have been given it with reference to the word for 'pigs', and so have called the stars the Little Pigs. In Caesar's calendar April 24 is also a marked day. On April 25 the Kids rise for Egypt, and on April 26 the Dog sets in the evening and the Lyre rises in the morning for Boeotia and Attica. On April 27 Orion entirely disappears for Assyria, and on the 28th the Dog. On May 2 the Little Pigs rise in the morning for Caesar, and on May 8 the She-goat, portending rain, while the Dog sets for Egypt in the evening of the same day. That is a fairly precise account of the movements of the constellations down to May 10, which is the date of the rising of the Pleiades.
In this space of time the farmer must hurry on during the first fortnight with work which he has not had time to finish before the equinox, while realising that this is the origin of the rude habit of jeering at people pruning their vines by imitating the note of the visiting bird called the cuckoo, as it is considered disgraceful and deserving of reproach for that bird to find the pruning-hook being used on the vine; and consequently wanton jokes, though men are merely being made sport of in early spring, are thought to be objectionable as bringing bad luck. To such an extent on the land is every trifle set down as a hint given by Nature.
In the latter part of this period Italian and common millets are sown, the proper time for sowing them being when the barley has ripened. And the sign alike of the barley being ripe and for sowing these crops consists in the fields in the evening shining with glow-worms (that is what the country-people call those starlike flights of insects, the Greek name for which is lampyrides) thanks to Nature's unbelievable kindness.
LXVII. She had already formed the remarkable group of the Pleiades in the sky; yet not content with these she has made other stars on the earth, as though crying aloud: 'Why gaze at the heavens, husbandman? Why, rustic, search for the stars? Already the slumber laid on you by the nights in your fatigue is shorter. Lo and behold, I scatter special stars for you among your plants, and I display them to you in the evening and as you unyoke to leave off work, and I stimulate your attention by a marvel so that you may not be able to pass them by: do you see how their fire-like brilliance is screened by their folded wings, and how they carry daylight with them even in the night? I have given you plants that mark the hours, and in order that you may not even have to avert your eyes from the earth to look at the sun, the heliotrope and the lupine revolve keeping time with him. Why then do you still look higher and scan the heavens themselves? Lo! you have Pleiades at your very feet.' Glow-worms do not make their appearance on fixed days or last a definite period, but certain it is that they are the offspring of this particular constellation. Consequently anybody who does his summer sowing before they appear 'will have himself to thank for labour wasted.' In this interval also the little bee comes forth and announces that the bean is flowering, and the bean begins to flower to tempt her out. We will also give another sign of cold weather being ended: when you see the mulberry budding, after that you need not fear damage from cold.
Well then, a list of things to be done: to plant olive-cuttings and rake over between the olive trees themselves; in the first days of the equinox to irrigate the meadows; when the grass has grown to a stalk, to shut off the water; to trim the vine (the vine too has a rule of its own: it must be trimmed when the shoots have made four inches in lengthone hand can trim an acre); to stir over the corn crops again (hoeing takes 20 days). It is thought that to start hoeing at the equinox injures both vines and corn. This is also the time for washing sheep.
After the rise of the Pleiades the weather is indicated for Caesar by the morning setting of Arcturus on the following day, the rise of the Lyre on May 13, the setting of the She-goat, and in Attica of the Dog, in the evening of May 21. On May 22, as observed by Caesar, Orion's Sword begins to set; in the evening of June 2, according to Caesar, and for Assyria also, the Eagle rises; on the morning of June 7 Arcturus sets for Italy, and on the evening of June 10 the Dolphin rises. On June 15 Orion's Sword rises, but in Egypt this takes place four days later. Moreover on June 21 Orion's Sword, as observed by Caesar, begins to set; while on June 24 the longest day and shortest night of the whole year make the summer solstice. In this interval of time the vines are pruned and care is taken to give an old vine one digging round and a new one two; sheep are sheared, lupins are ploughed in to manure the land, the ground is dug over, vetches are cut for fodder, beans are gathered and then threshed.
Meadows are mown about June 1. The cultivation of these is extremely easy for the farmer and involves very little outlay; it requires the following remarks to be made about it. Land should be left in grass where the soil is rich or damp or watered by streams, and the meadows should be watered by the rainfall or by a public aqueduct. If there are weeds, the best plan is to plough up the land and then harrow and hoe it, and sprinkle it with seed fallen out of the hay from haylofts and from mangers before the weeds are harrowed; and it is best not to irrigate the land in the first year, nor to use it for grazing before the second cutting of the hay, so that the grass may not be torn up by the roots or trodden down and weakened. Meadows go off with age, and need to be revived by sowing in them a crop of beans or turnip or millet, and afterwards in the following year corn, and in the third year they should again be left fallow; and moreover every time they are cut they should be gone over with the sickle, for the purpose of cutting all the growth that the mowers have passed over; for it is very detrimental indeed for any weeds to spring up that will scatter seeds. The best crop in meadow land is clover, the next best grass; money-wort is the worst, and it also bears a terrible pod; horse-hair, named from its resemblance to horses' hair, is also a hateful weed. The time for mowing is when the stalk has begun to shed its blossom and to grow strong; the grass must be cut before it begins to dry up. 'Do not mow your hay too late,' says Cato; 'cut it before the seed is ripe.' Some farmers irrigate the fields the day before mowing, but where there is no means of doing this it is better to mow when there are heavy falls of dew at night. Some parts of Italy mow after harvest. Mowing was also a more expensive operation in former days, when only Cretan and other imported whetstones were known, and these would only liven up the blade of a scythe with the help of olive oil; and consequently a man mowing hay used to walk along with a horn to hold the oil tied to his leg. Italy gave us whetstones used with water, which keep the iron in order instead of a file, though the water very soon makes them go green with rust. Of scythes themselves there are two kinds: the Italian kind is shorter, and handy to use even among brambles, whereas the scythe used on the large farms of the Gallic provinces are bigger, in fact they economize labour by cutting through the stalks of the grass in the middle and missing the shorter ones. An Italian mower holds the sickle with only his right hand. It is a fair day's work for one labourer to cut an acre of grass, or to bind 200 sheaves weighing four pounds each. After the grass is cut it must be turned towards the sun, and it must not be piled in shocks till it is dry; unless this rule is carefully kept, the shocks are certain to give off a sort of vapour in the morning and then to be set alight by the sun and to burn up. A hayfield should be irrigated again after it has been mown, so as to provide a crop of autumn hay called the aftermath. At Terni in Umbria even hayfields not irrigated are mown four times a year, but those with irrigation are in most places mown three times, and afterwards as much profit is made out of the pasture as from the hay. Accordingly keeping herds and breeding draft-animals will supply each farmer with his own policy, a most lucrative trade being breeding horses for chariot-racing.
LXVIII. We have said that the summer solstice comes round on June 24, in the eighth degree of the Crab. This is an important turning-point of the year, an important matter in the world. From midwinter to this point the days continually grow longer. The sun itself climbing northward for six months and having scaled the heights of heaven, from that goal begins to slope and to descend towards the south, proceeding for another six months to increase the length of the nights and to subtract from the measurement of the day. From this point onward is the time for plucking and collecting the various successive crops and for preparing against the fierce cruelty of winter, and to have this change marked with unmistakable signs was only Nature's duty; consequently she has placed such signs in the very hands of the farmers, and has bidden the foliage to turn round on that very day and to indicate that the heavenly body has completed its courseand not the leaves of the forests and of trees distant from human habitation, so compelling those seeking the signs to have to go into remote valleys and mountains, nor yet again the foliage of the trees of the city and those that are only grown by the ornamental gardener, albeit these may be seen at a country house as well; but Nature turns round the foliage of the olive that confronts us at every step, of the lime-tree which we employ for a thousand practical purposes, and even of the white poplar that is married to the vines. Nor is that yet sufficient. 'You have the elm,' she says, 'that is enriched with the vine; I will turn the foliage of this tree also. You strip its leaves for fodder, or prune them off: look at these, and you have a sign of the heavens, for they look towards another quarter of the sky than that towards which they faced yesterday. You use the willow to make withes for binding all thingsthe lowliest of trees, you yourself are a whole head taller: its leaves also I will turn round. Why complain that you are a mere peasant? It is not owing to me that you do not understand the heavens and know the things thereof. I will bestow a sign upon your ears also: only listen to the cooing of the ring-doves, and beware of thinking that midsummer is past until you have seen the dove sitting on her nest.'
Between the solstice and the setting of the Lyre, on June 26 by Caesar's reckoning, Orion rises, and Orion's Belt on July 4, in the region of Assyria, while in that of Egypt in the morning rises the scorching constellation of Procyon, which has no name with the Romans, unless we take it to be the same as the Little Dog; it has a great effect in producing hot weather as we shall show a little later. On July 4 the Crown sets in the morning for the people of Chaldea and for Attica the whole of Orion rises on that day. On July 14 Orion ceases rising for the Egyptians, on July 17 Procyon rises for Assyria, and then three days later the great constellation recognized almost everywhere among all people, which. we call the rising of the Dog-star, when the sun has entered the first quarter of the Lion: this occurs on the 23rd day after midsummer. Its rising influences both the seas and the lands, and indeed many wild animals, as we have said in the proper places; nor is this constellation less reverenced than the stars that are assigned to various gods; and it kindles the fire of the sun, and constitutes an important cause of the summer heat. On July 20 the Eagle sets in the morning for Egypt, and the breezes that herald the seasonal winds begin to blow, which in Caesar's opinion is perceived in Italy on July 23. The Eagle sets for Attica on the morning of that day, and the Royal Star in the breast of the Lion rises, according to Caesar, on the morning of July 30. On August 6 one-half of Arcturus disappears; and on August 11 the setting of the Lyre brings the beginning of autumn, according to Caesar's note, but a true calculation has discovered that the date of this is really August 8.
In this interval of time the crisis for the vines occurs, the constellation which we have called the Little Dog deciding the fate of the grapes, as it is the date at which they begin to be 'charred', as it is called, as though they had been scorched up by a blighting red-hot coal. Hail and stormy weather do not compare with this disaster, nor any of the disasters which have ever caused high market prices, inasmuch as these are misfortunes affecting single farms, whereas charring affects a wide expanse of country although the remedy would not be difficult if mankind did not prefer slandering Nature to benefiting themselves. The story goes that Democritus, who was the first person to realise and point out the alliance that unites the heavens with the earth, when the wealthiest of his fellow-citizens despised his devotion to these studies, foresaw, on the principle which we have stated and shall now explain more fully, that the rising of the Pleiades would be followed by an increase in the price of oil, which at the time was very cheap because of the crop of olives expected; and he bought up all the oil in the whole of the country, to the surprise of those who knew that the things he most valued were poverty and learned repose; and when his motive had been made manifest and they had seen vast wealth accrue to him, he gave back the money paid him for the olives to the anxious and covetous landlords, now repentant, being content to have given this proof that riches would be easily within his reach when he chose. A similar demonstration was later given by Sextius, a Roman student of philosophy at Athens. Such is the opportunity afforded by learning, which it is my intention to introduce, in treating of the operations of agriculture, as clearly and convincingly as I am able.
Most people have stated that rust in corn and glowing-coal blight in vines are caused by dew burnt into them by very hot sunshine, but I think. This is partly erroneous, and that all blight is caused by frost only, the sun being guiltless. Close attention to the facts will make this clear; for first of all blight is never found to occur except at night and before the sun gives any heat, and it depends entirely on the phases of the moon, since damage of this sort only takes place at the moon's conjunction or at full moon, that is, when the moon's influence is powerfulfor the moon is at the full at both phases, as we have often said, but at the point of its conjunction it reflects back to the sky all the light it has received from the sun. The difference between the two phases is great, but it is obvious: the moon is hottest in summer and cold in winter at the conjunction, whereas on the contrary when full it makes the nights cold in summer and warm in winter. The reason is clear, but it is not the one given by Fabianus and the Greek authors. During the moon's conjunction in summer she must necessarily run with the sun in an orbit very near to our earth, glowing with the heat that she receives from his fire close at hand, whereas in winter she must be further away at her conjunction, because the sun also withdraws, and likewise when at the full in summer she must retire a long way from the earth, being in opposition to the sun, whereas in winter the full moon comes towards us following the same orbit as in summer. Consequently, being herself naturally humid, whenever she is cold she freezes up the hoar-frosts falling at that season to an unlimited extent.
LXIX. But before all things we ought to remember that there are two kinds of damage done by the heavens. One we entitle tempests, a term understood to include hailstorms, hurricanes and the other things of a similar nature, the occurrence of which is termed exceptionally violent weather; these take their origin from certain noxious constellations, as we have said more than once, for instance Arcturus, Orion, the Kids. The other are those that occur when the sky is quiet and the nights fine, nobody perceiving them except after they have taken place; these are universal, and widely different from the former ones, being termed by some people rust, by others burning and by others coal-blight, though sterility is a term universally applied to them. Of these last we will now speak, as they have never been treated by any writer before us; and we will begin by stating their causes.
These are two in number, in addition to that depending on the moon, and they are situated in only a few quarters of the heavens. For the Pleiades specially concern farm produce, inasmuch as their rising marks the beginning of summer and their setting that of winter, embracing in the six months' space between them the harvest and vintage and ripening of all vegetation. And the sky also contains the constellation called the Milky Way, which is also easily recognized a by observing two others, the Eagle in the northern region and in the southern the Little Dog, which we have mentioned in its proper place. The Milky Way itself passes through the Archer and the Twins, cutting the equinoctial orbit twice at the sun's centre-point, the intersections being marked by the Eagle on .one side and the Little Dog on the other. Consequently the influences of each of these constellations reach to all cultivated lands, inasmuch as these are the only points at which the centres of the sun and earth correspond. Consequently if on the dates of these constellations the atmosphere is clear and mild and transmits this genial milky juice to the lands of the earth, the crops grow luxuriantly; but if the moon scatters a dewy cold after the manner previously described, the admixture of bitterness, like sourness in milk, kills off the infant offspring. The measure of this injury in various countries is that occasioned in each part of earth's convex surface by the combination of each of these two causes, and so it is not perceived simultaneously in the whole of the world, as daybreak is not either. We have said that the Eagle rises in Italy on December 20, and Nature's system does not permit any of the crops sown to be of certain promise before that day; but if the moon happens then to be in conjunction, all the winter and early spring produce is bound to suffer damage.
The life of men in early times was rude and illiterate; but nevertheless it will be found that mere observation was not less ingenious among them than theory is now. There were three seasons which they had to fear for their crops, and on this account they instituted the holidays and festivals of Robigalia, Floralia and Vinaha. Numa in the eleventh year of his reign established the Feast of Robigalia, which is 710-672 B.C. now kept on April 25, because that is about the time when the crops are liable to be attacked by mildew. Varro has given this date as fixed by the sun occupying the tenth degree of the Bull, as theory then stated; but the true explanation is that on one or other (according to the latitude of the various observers) of the four days from the twenty-ninth day after the spring equinox to April 28 the Dog sets, a constellation of violent influence in itself and the setting of which is also of necessity preceded by the setting of the Little Dog. So the same people in 238 BC in obedience to the Sibyl's oracles, instituted the Floralia on April 23, in order that all vegetation might shed its blossom favourably. This day is dated by Varro at the sun's entering the 14th degree of the Bull; consequently if full moon falls within these four days, the crops and all the vegetation then in flower will inevitably suffer injury. The First Vinaliaf established in former days on April 23 for tasting the wines, has no reference to the fruits of the earth, nor yet have the festivals so far mentioned to the vines and olives, because their sprouting begins at the rise of the Pleiades, on May 10, as we have explained. This is another four-day period in which it is desirable that the fields may not be fouled by dewfor the cold constellation of Arcturus, setting the next day, nips themand much more is it desirable that a full moon may not come at this period. On June 2 the Eagle for a second time rises in the evening, and this is a critical day for olives and vines in blossom if a full moon coincides with it. For my own part I am also inclined to consider that June 24, the solstice, is in a similar case, and also the rising of the Dog 23 days after the solstice, though only if the moon's conjunction falls then, as harm is done by the extreme heat and the young grapes are ripened prematurely into a hard knob. Again, harm is done by a full moon on July 4, when the Little Dog rises for Egypt, or at all events on July 17 when it rises for Italy, and similarly between July 20, when the Eagle sets, and July 23. The festival of the Second Vinalia, kept on August 19, has no connexion with these influences. Varro fixes it at the time when the Lyre is beginning to set in the morning, which he holds to be the beginning of autumn and a holiday established for propitiating the weather; but at the present day observation shows that the Lyre sets on August 8.
Within these periods falls the sterilizing influence of the heavens, though I would not deny the possibility that it is liable to alteration by local climatic conditions, whether cold or hot. But it is enough for us to have demonstrated the principle, leaving the details to be ascertained by individual observation; at all events it will not be doubted that one or other of two things, full moon or the moon's conjunction, is responsible. And in this matter admiration for Nature's benevolence suggests itself, as to the fact that, in the first place, because of the fixed courses of the stars this disaster cannot possibly happen every year, and only on a few nights in the year, and that its occurrence is easy to forecast, and that, in order to prevent its being apprehended through all the months, it has also been foreseen by the law that governs the stars; that the moon's conjunctions are safe in summer except for a period of two days, and a. full moon safe in winter and only formidable in summer and when the nights are shortest, but they have not the same potency by day; moreover that this is so easily understood that that tiny creature the ant, at the moon's conjunction keeps quite quiet, but at full moon works busily even in the nights; that the bird called the parra disappears on the very day when Sirius rises, and remains concealed till it sets, while the oriole, on the contrary, comes out exactly on midsummer day; but that neither phase of the moon is harmful even at night except in fine weather and when there is not a breath of wind, because dews do not fall when it is cloudy or a wind is blowing, and even so there are remedies available.
LXX. When you have occasion for alarm, make bonfires about the vineyards and fields of trimmings or heaps of chaff and weeds and bushes that have been rooted up, and the smoke will act as a cure for them; smoke from chaff is also helpful against fogs, in places where fogs do damage. Some people advise burning three crabs alive among the trees to prevent the vines being injured by coalblight, others roasting the flesh of a sheat-fish in a slow fire to windward, so that the smoke may spread all through the vineyard. Varro gives the information that a vineyard suffers less damage from storms if, at the setting of the Lyre, which marks the beginning of autumn, a picture of a bunch of grapes is placed among the vines as a votive offering. Archibius in his letter to Antiochus, king of Syria, says that if a toad is buried in a new earthenware jar in the middle of a cornfield, the crop will not be damaged by storms.
LXXI. The following arc the rural operations belonging to this interval: to turn up the ground again, to dig round the trees, or to bank them up where a hot locality calls for itexcept in a very rich soil crops just budding must not be dugto clean seed-plots with the hoe, to harvest barley, to prepare the threshing-floor for the harvest, in Cato's opinion by dressing it with olive-lees, and in Virgil's with chalk, a more laborious method. But for the most part people only level it and smear it with a rather weak solution of cow-dung; this appears to be enough to prevent dust.
LXXII. There are various methods of actually getting in the harvest. On the vast estates in the provinces of Gaul very large frames fitted with teeth at the edge and carried on two wheels are driven through the corn by a team of oxen pushing from behind; the ears thus torn off fall into the frame. Elsewhere the stalks are cut through with a sickle and the ear is stripped off between two pitchforks. In some places the stalks are cut off at the root, in others they are plucked up with the root; and those who use the latter method explain that in the course of it they get the land broken, although really they are drawing the goodness out of it. There are also these differences: where they thatch the houses with straw, they keep it as long as possible, but where there is a shortage of hay, they require chaff for litter. Straw of Italian millet is not used for thatch; common millet stalks are usually burnt on the ground; barley stalks are kept as extremely acceptable to oxen. The Gallic provinces gather both millets ear by ear, with a comb held in the hand.
The ear itself when reaped in some places is beaten out with threshing-sledges on a threshing-floor, in others by being trodden on by mares, and in other places it is thrashed out with flails. Wheat is found to give a larger yield the later it is reaped, but to be of finer quality and stronger the earlier it is reaped. The most obvious rule is to reap it 'before the grain hardens and when it has begun to gain colour', but there is an oracular utterance, 'Better to do your reaping two days too soon than two days too late.' Common and bare wheats require the same method on the threshing-floor and in the granary. Emmer being difficult to thresh is best stored with its chaff, and only has the straw and the beard removed. The majority of countries use chaff for hay; the thinner and finer it is and the nearer to dust, the better, and consequently the best chaff is obtained from millet, the next best from barley, and the worst from wheat, except for beasts that are being worked hard. In rocky places they leave straw to dry and then break it up with a flail, to use it as litter for cattle, but if there is a shortage of chaff the straw also is ground for fodder. The method is as follows: it is cut rather early, and sprinkled with strong brine and then dried and rolled up into trusses, and so fed to oxen instead of hay. Some people also set fire to the stubble in the field, a process advertised by the high authority of Virgil; their chief reason however for this plan is to burn up the seed of weeds. The size of the crops and scarcity of labour cause various procedures to be adopted.
LXXIII. A connected subject is the method of storing corn. Some people recommend building elaborate granaries with brick walls a yard thick, and moreover filling them from above and not letting them admit draughts of air or have any windows; others say they should only have windows facing north-east or north, and that they should be built without lime, as lime is very injurious to corn: the recommendations made with regard to the dregs of olive-oil have been pointed out above. In other places, on the contrary, they build their granaries of wood and supported on pillars, preferring to let the air blow through them from all sides, and even from below. Others think the grain shrinks in bulk if laid on a floor entirely off the ground, and that if it lies under a tile roof it gets hot. Many moreover forbid turning over the grain to air it, as the weevil does not penetrate more than four inches down, and beyond that the grain is in no danger. Columella also advises a west wind when corn is harvested, at which I for my part am surprised, as generally it is a very dry wind. Some people tell us to hang up a toad by one of its longer legs at the threshold of the barn before carrying the corn into it. To us storing the corn at the proper time will seem most important, as if it is got in when insufficiently ripened and firm, or stored while hot, pests are certain to breed in it.
There are several causes that make grain keep: they are found either in the husk of the grain when this forms several coats, as with millet, or in the richness of the juice, which may be enough to supply moisture, as with gingelly, or in bitter flavour, as with lupine and chickling vetch. It is specially in wheat that grubs breed, because its density makes it get hot and the grain becomes covered with thick bran. Barley chaff is thinner, and also that of the leguminous plants is scanty, and consequently these do not breed grubs. A bean is covered with thicker coats, and this makes it ferment. Some people sprinkle the wheat itself with dregs of olive oil to make it keep better, eight gallons to a thousand pecks; others use chalk from Chalcis or Caria for this purpose, or even wormwood. There is also an earth found at Olynthus and at Cerinthus in Euboea which prevents grain from rotting; also if stored in the ear corn hardly ever suffers injury. The most paying method however of keeping grain is in holes, called ciri, as is done in Cappadocia and Thrace, and in Spain and Africa; and before all things care is taken to make them in dry soil and then to floor them with chaff; moreover the corn is stored in this way in the ear. If no air is allowed to penetrate, it is certain that no pests will breed in the grain. Varro states that wheat so stored lasts fifty years, but millet a hundred, and that beans and leguminous grain, if put away in oil jars with a covering of ashes, keep a long time. He also records that beans stored in a cavern in Ambracia lasted from the period of King Pyrrhus to Pompey the Great's war with the pirates, a period of about 220 years. Chick-pea is the only grain which does not breed any grubs when kept in barns. Some people pile leguminous seed in heaps on to jars containing vinegar, placed on a bed of ashes and coated with pitch, believing that this prevents pests from breeding in them, or else they put them in casks that have held salted fish and coat them over with plaster; and there are others who sprinkle lentils with vinegar mixed with silphium, and when they are dry give them a dressing of oil. But the speediest precaution is to gather anything you want to save from pests at the moon's conjunction. So it makes a very great difference who wants to store the crop or who to put it on the market, because grain increases in bulk when the moon is waxing.
LXXIV. Next in accordance with the division of the seasons comes autumn, from the setting of the Lyre to the equinox and then the setting of the Pleiades and the beginning of winter. In these periods important stages are marked by the Horse rising in the region of Attica and the Dolphin setting for Egypt and by Caesar's reckoning on the evening of August 12. On August 22 the constellation called the Vintager begins to rise at dawn for Caesar and for Assyria., announcing the proper time for the vintage; an indication of this will be the change of colour in the grapes. On August 28 the Arrow sets for Assyria and also the seasonal winds cease to blow. On September 5 the Vintager rises for Egypt, and in the morning Arcturus for Attica, and the Arrow sets at dawn. On September 9, according to Caesar, the She-goat rises in the evening, while half of Arcturus becomes visible on September 12, indicating very unsettled weather on land and at sea for five days. The account given of this is that if there has been rain while the Dolphin was setting it will not rain while Arcturus is visible. The departure of the swallows may be noted as the sign of the rise of that constellation, since if they are overtaken by it they are killed off. On September 16 the Ear of Corn held by the Virgin rises for Egypt in the morning and the seasonal winds cease; this also appears for Caesar on September 15 and for Assyria on September 19; and on September 21 for Caesar the knot in the Fishes setting and the Eqninoctial Constellation itself on September 24. Then there is general agreement, which is a rare occurrence, between Philippus, Callippus, Dositheus, Parmeniscus, Conon, Crito, Democritus and Eudoxus, that the She-goat rises in the morning of September 28 and the Kids on September 29. On October 2 the Crown rises for Attica at dawn, and the Charioteer sets for Asia and for Caesar in the morning of October 3. On October 4 the Crown begins to rise for Caesar, and in the evening of the next day the Kids set. On October 8 for Caesar the bright star in the Crown rises, and in the evening of October 10 the Pleiades; and on October 15 the whole of the Crown. In the evening of October 16 the Little Pigs rise. At daybreak on October 31 for Caesar Arcturus sets and the Little Pigs rise. In the evening of November 2 Arcturus sets. On November 9 Orion's Sword begins to set; and then on November 11 the Pleiades set.
The agricultural operations that come in these periods of time include sowing turnip and navew, on the days that we have stated. It is commonly thought by country people that it is a mistake to sow turnip after the departure of the stork; our own view however is that it should be sown in any case after the Feast of Vulcan, and the early kind when Italian millet is sown, but that the time for vetch and calavance and plants for fodder is after the setting of the Lyre; it is recommended that this should take place when the moon is silent. This is also the time for getting ready a store of leaves; to collect four leaf-baskets full is a fair day's work for one woodman. If they are stored when the moon is on the wane they do not decay; but they ought not to be dry when collected.
In old days the vines were never thought to be ripe for the vintage before the equinox, but nowadays I notice they are commonly pulled at any time; consequently we must also specify the times for this by their signs and indications. The rules are as follows: 'Do not pick a bunch of grapes when they are warm'that is during unbroken dry weather, with no rain in between; 'Do not pick a bunch of grapes if wet with dew', that is if there has been dew in the night, and not before it has been dispelled by the sun. 'Begin the vintage when the grape-shoot begins to droop down to the stem, or when after a grape has been removed from a cluster it has been clearly noticed that the gap does not fill up and that the grapes are no longer getting bigger.' It is a very great advantage for the vintage to coincide with a crescent moon. One pressing ought to fill twenty wine-skins: that is a fair basis. A single wine press is enough for twenty wine-skins and vats to serve twenty acres of vineyard. Some press the grapes with a single press-beam, but it pays better to use a pair, however large the single beams may be. It is length that matters in the case of the beams, not thickness; but those of ample width press better. In old days people used to drag down the press-beams with ropes and leather straps, and by means of levers: but within the last hundred years the Greek pattern of press has been invented, with the grooves of the upright beam running spirally, some makers fitting the tree with a star, but with others the tree raises with it boxes of stones, an arrangement which is very highly approved. Within the last twenty years a plan has been invented to use small presses and a smaller pressing-shed, with a shorter upright beam running straight down into the middle, and to press down the drums placed on top of the grape-skins with the whole weight and to pile a heap of stones above the presses. This is also the time for gathering fruit; one should watch when any falls off owing to ripeness and not because of windy weather. This is also the season for pressing out the lees of wine and for boiling down grape-juice, on a night when there is no moon, or, if done in the daytime, it should be at full moon, or on any other days either before the moon rises or after it sets; and the grapes should not be obtained from a young vine nor from one growing on marshy ground; and only a ripe bunch should be used. It is thought that if wood is brought in contact with the vessel, the liquor gets a burnt and smoky flavour. The proper time for the vintage is the period of 41 days from the equinox to the setting of the Pleiades; we meet with a wise saying of growers who hold that from that day onward it is no good at all to tar a cold wine-butt. Still, before now I have seen vintagers at work even on the first of January owing to shortage of vats, and must being stored in tanks, or last year's wine being poured out of the casks to make room for new wine of doubtful quality. This is not so often due to an overabundant crop as to slackness, or else to avarice lying in wait for a rise in prices. The public-spirited method of an honest head of a household is to use the output of each year as it comes; and this is also quite equally the most profitable plan. As for the other matters relating to wines enough has been said already, and also it has been stated that as soon as the vintage is done the olives must at once be picked; and we have given the facts concerning olive-growing and the operations that must be done after the setting of the Pleiades.
LXXV. To these statements we will add what is necessary about the moon and winds and about weather forecasts, so as to complete our account of astronomic considerations. Virgil following the statement paraded by Democritus has even thought proper to assign particular operations to numbered days of the moon, but our own motive, in this section also of our work as in the whole of it, is the practical value of general rules.
All cutting, gathering and trimming is done with less injury to the trees and plants when the moon is waning than when it is waxing. Manure must not be touched except when the moon is waning, but manuring should chiefly be done at new moon or at half moon. Geld hogs, steers, rams and kids when the moon is waning. Put eggs under the hen at the new moon. Make ditches at full moon, in the night-time. Bank up the roots of trees at full moon. In damp land sow seed at the new moon and in the four. days round that time. They also recommend giving corn and leguminous grains an airing and storing them away towards the end of the moon, making seed-plots when the moon is above the horizon, and treading out grapes when it is below it, as well as felling timber and the other operations which we have specified in their proper places. Nor is the observation of the moon specially easy, and we have already spoken of it in Volume II; but to give what even countrymen may be able to understand: whenever the moon is seen at sunset and in the earlier hours of the night, she will be waxing and will appear to be cut in half, but when she rises at sunset opposite the sun, so that sun and moon are visible at the same time, then it will be full moon. When she rises with the sunrise and withholds her light in the earlier hours of the night and prolongs it into daytime, she will be waning and will again show only half; but when she has ceased to be visible she is in conjunction, the period designated 'between moons'. During the conjunction she will be above the horizon as long as the sun is and during the whole of the first day, on the second day ten and a quarter twelfths of an hour of the night, and then on the third day and on to the 15th with the same fractions of an hour added in progression. On the 15th day she will be above the horizon all night and also below it all day. On the 16th she will remain below the horizon ten and a quarter twelfths of the first hour of the night, and she will go on adding the same fraction of an hour every day in succession until the period of conjunction, and will add from the daytime to the last parts of the night above the horizon as much as she subtracts from its first parts when below the earth. She will complete thirty revolutions in alternate months but subtract one from that number every alternate month. This will be the theory of the course of the moon; that of the winds is somewhat more intricate.
LXXVI. After observing the position of sunrise on any given day, let people stand at midday so as to have the point of sunrise at their left shoulder: then they will have the south directly in front of them and the north directly behind them; a path running through a field in this way will be called a cardinal line. It is better then to turn round, so as to be able to see your own shadow, which will otherwise be behind you. So, having interchanged your flanks, so as to have the sunrise of that day at your right shoulder and the sunset at your left, it will be midday when your shadow directly in front of you becomes smallest. Through the middle of the length of this shadow you will have to draw a furrow with a hoe or make a line with ashes let us say 20 ft. long, and at the centre of this line, that is 10 ft. from each end, to draw a small circle, which may be called the umbilicus or navel. The part of the line towards the head of the shadow will be in the direction of the north wind. You who prune trees, do not let the cut ends of them face in that direction, nor should trees carrying vines or vines themselves do so except in the province of Africa, in the Cyrenaica and in Egypt; when the wind is in that quarter, do not plough or perform any of the other operations we shall mention. The part of the line towards the feet of the shadow, facing south, will indicate the south wind, the Greek name of which is as we said Notus: when the wind comes from that quarter, husbandman, do not deal with timber or the vine. For Italy this is a damp wind or else extremely hot,indeed for Africa it brings fiery heat together with fine weather. In Italy bearing branches should face in this direction, but not the pruned branches of trees or vines; and this wind in the four days of the Pleiades is to be dreaded for the olive, and avoided for their slips by the grafter or for their buds by those engaged in budding. It may be suitable to give some warnings as to the times of day in this region. Woodman, do not prune foliage at midday. Shepherd, when you perceive noon to be approaching as the shadow contracts, drive your flocks out of the sun into a shady place. When you are pasturing your flocks in summer, let them face west in the forenoon and east in the afternoon; otherwise it is harmful, as it is in winter and spring to lead them out into pasture wet with dew [and it has been said above that you must not let them feed facing north], as they go lame, and get blear-eyed from the wind, and die of looseness of the bowels. You must make the ewes face this wind when they are being covered, if you want them to have ewe lambs.
LXXVII. We have said that the umbilicus must be drawn at the middle of the line. Let another line run transversely through the middle of the umbilicus; this line will run due east and west, and a path that cuts across the land on this line will be called the 'decuman'. Then two other lines must be drawn obliquely to form an X, so as to run down from the right and left of the northern point to the left and right of the southern point. All these lines must run through the same umbilicus, and they must all be equal and the spaces between all of them must be equal. This system will have to be worked out once in each plot of land, or, if you mean to employ it frequently, a wooden model of it may be made consisting of rods of equal length fitted into a small but circular drum. Under the method I am explaining help must be afforded to the understanding even of persons unacquainted with the subject: the rule is to examine the position of the sun at noon, as that is always the same, whereas the sunrise is at a different point in the sky every day from where it was yesterday, so nobody must suppose that the right plan is to take a line on sunrise.
Having thus worked out a part of the heavens, the end of the line next to north on the east side of it will give the point of sunrise at the summer solstice, that is on the longest day, and the position of the north-east wind, the Greek name for which is Boreas. You should plant trees and vines facing this point; but beware of ploughing or sowing corn or scattering seed when this wind is blowing, for it nips and chills the roots of trees that yon will bring to plant. Be taught in advance: some conditions are good for strong full-grown trees and others for saplings. (Nor have I forgotten that the Greeks place in this quarter the wind they call Caecias; but Aristotle, a man of immense acuteness, who took that very view, also gives the earth's convexity as the reason why the north-east wind blows in the opposite direction to the African wind.) And nevertheless the farmer need not fear a north-east wind all the year round in the operations mentioned above; at midsummer it is softened by the sun, and changes its nameit is called Etesias. Consequently be on your guard when you feel the wind cold, and when a north easter is forecast, as it does so much more damage than a wind due north. North-east is the direction in which the trees and vines should face in Asia, Greece, Spain, the coastal parts of Italy, Campania and Apulia. Breeders who desire to get male stock should pasture their flocks exposed to this wind, so that it may thus fecundate the sire when coupling. The African wind, the Greek name for which is Libs, will blow from the south-west, directly opposite to Aquilo; when animals after coupling turn towards this quarter, you may be sure that they have got females.
The third line from the north, which we have drawn transversely to the shadow and have called the decuman, will have the sunrise at the equinoxes and the Subsolanus wind, called by the Greeks Apheliotes. This is the proper aspect for farm-houses and vineyards in healthy localities. This wind itself brings gentle rains; still Favonius, the wind in the opposite quarter, blowing from the equinoctial sunset, the Greek name for which is Zephyrus, is gentler and drier. This is the direction in which Cato recommended that olive-yards should face; this wind inaugurates the spring, and opens up the land, having a healthy touch of cold, and it will give the right time for pruning vines, tending crops, planting trees. grafting fruit-trees and treating olives; and its breeze will have a nutritive effect. The fourth line from the north, lying nearest the south on the eastern side, will have the sunrise at midwinter and the wind Volturnus, the Greek name for which is Eurus, which itself also is rather dry and warm; this is the proper aspect for beehives and for vineyards in Italy, and the provinces of Gaul. Directly opposite to Volturnus will blow Corus, from the point of sunset at midsummer, on the sunset side of north, its Greek name being Argestes; it also is one of the coldest winds, as are all those blowing from the north; it also brings hailstorms, and is quite as much to be avoided as the north wind. If Volturnus begins to blow from a clear part of the sky, it will not last till night, whereas Subsolanus goes on for the greater part of the night. Whatever the wind is, if it is felt to be hot it will last for several days. The earth suddenly drying up foretells a north-east wind, and if it becomes damp from no visible fall of moisture, a south wind.
LXXVIII. The theory of the winds having now in fact been set out, in order to avoid repetition it is the best plan to pass on to the remaining means of forecasting the weather, since I see that this subject also appealed greatly to Virgil, inasmuch as he records that even in harvest time the winds often engage in battles that are ruinous to inexpert farmers. It is recorded that Democritus above mentioned when his brother Damasus was reaping his harvest, in extremely hot weather besought him to leave the rest of the crop and make haste to get what he had already cut under cover, his prophecy being confirmed a few hours later by a fierce storm of rain. Moreover it is also recommended only to plant reeds when rain is impending and to sow corn when a shower is about to follow. We therefore briefly touch on these subjects also, examining the most relevant facts, and we will take first weather forecasts derived from the sun.
A clear sunrise without burning heat announces a fine day, but a pale sunrise promises a wintry day with hail. If there was also a fine sunset the day before, the promise of fine weather is all the more reliable. If the sun rises in a vault of clouds it foretells rain, and likewise when the clouds are red before it rises it foretells wind, or if black clouds also mingle with the red, rain as well; when the rays of the rising or setting sun seem to coalesce, that means rain. If the setting sun is surrounded by red clouds, these guarantee fine weather the next day; but if at sunrise the clouds are scattered some to the south and some to the north, although the sky round the sun may be fine and clear, they will nevertheless indicate rain and winds, while if when the sun is rising or setting its rays appear shortened, that will be a sign of rain. If at sunset it rains or the sun's rays attract cloud towards them, they will denote stormy weather for the following day. When at sunrise the rays do not shoot out with great brilliance, although the sun is not surrounded by clouds, they will portend rain. If before sunrise clouds form in masses, they will foretell rough stormy weather, but if they are driven away from the east and go away westward, fine weather. If clouds form a ring round the sun, the less light they leave the more stormy will be the weather, but if even a double ring of cloud is formed, the storm will be all the more violent; and if this occurs at sunrise or sunset, so that the clouds turn red, that will be a sign of a very bad storm indeed. If the clouds do not surround the sun but hang over it they will presage wind in the quarter they come from, and if they arc from the south, rain as well. If the rising sun is surrounded with a ring, wind is to be expected in any quarter in which the ring breaks; but if the whole of it slips away equally, it will give flue weather. If the sun when rising stretches out its rays a long way through the clouds and the middle of its disk is free of cloud, it will be a sign of rain; if the sun's rays become visible before it rises this will mean rain and wind; if the setting sun has a white ring round it, it means a slight storm in the night; if mist, a more violent storm; if the sun when so surrounded is bright, wind; if the ring is very dark, there will be a strong wind in the quarter in which the ring breaks.
LXXIX. The prognostics of the moon must rightfully come next. Egypt pays most attention to the moon's fourth day. It is believed that if she rises bright and shines with clear brilliance, she portends fine weather, if red, wind, if dark, rain, for the next fortnight. The moon's horns being blunted are always a sign of rain, and when they shoot up threateningly, of wind, but particularly on the fourth day of the moon. If the upper horn points stiffly north it presages a north wind, if the lower horn a south wind; if both horns are upright, a windy night. If the moon on her fourth night is surrounded by a bright ring, this will be a warning of both wind and rain. Varro writes as follows: If on the fourth day of the moon her horns are upright, this will presage a great storm at sea, unless she has a circlet round her, and that circlet unblemished, since that is the way in which she shows that there will not be stormy weather before full moon. If the moon at full has half of her disk clear, this will be a sign of fine weather, but if it is red, that will mean wind, and if darkish, rain. If the moon is enclosed in mist or in a circle of clouds, it will signify wind in the quarter in which the circle breaks; if she is surrounded by two rings, it will mean stormier weather, and the more so if there are three rings or if the rings are dark, broken and torn apart. If the new moon at her birth rises with her upper horn blacked out, she will bring rain when she wanes, but if it is the lower horn, before she is full, and if the blackness is at her centre, she will bring rain at full moon. If when full she has a circle round her, it will denote wind in the quarter where the circle shines brightest, and if at her rising the horns are thicker, it will denote a terrible storm. If when there is a west wind blowing the moon does not make an appearance before her fourth day, she will be accompanied by wintry weather for the whole month. If on her sixteenth day she has a more violently flaming appearance, this will presage violent storms.
There are also eight periodic points of the moon herself, corresponding to her angles of incidence with the sun, and most observers only notice the moon's prognostics between those points; they are the 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, 19th, 23rd and 27th days of the moon, and the day of her conjunction.
LXXX. In the third place must come the observation of the stars. These are sometimes seen to move to and fro, and this is immediately followed by wind in the quarter in which they have given this presage. When at the periodic points that we have set out the whole sky is equally brilliant, it will afford a fine and cold autumn. If spring and summer do not pass without a chilly period, they will cause a fine and misty autumn, with less wind. Fine weather in autumn makes a windy winter. When the brightness of the stars becomes suddenly obscured, and that not by cloud or mist, rain or heavy storms are threatened. If several shooting stars are seen, they will announce winds from the quarters in the direction of which they travel, making a white track, steady winds if the stars twinkle, but if this occurs in several parts of the sky, shifting winds and blowing from all quarters. If one of the planets is enclosed by a circle, it means rain. In the constellation of the Crab there are two small stars called the Little Asses, with a small gap between them containing a little nebula called the Manger; when this nebula ceases to be visible in fine weather, a fierce storm follows; but if the northern one of the two stars is obscured by mist, there is a southerly gale, and if the southern one, a gale from the north. A double rainbow foretells rain, or coming after rain, fine weather, but this is not so certain; a ring of clouds round certain stars is a sign of rain.
LXXXI. A thunderstorm in summer with more violent thunder than lightning foretells wind in that quarter, but one with less thunder than lightning is a sign of rain. If there are flickers of lightning and claps of thunder in a clear sky, there will be stormy weather, but this will be extremely severe when it lightens from all four quarters of the sky; lightning in the north-east only will portend rain for the next day, and lightning in the north a north wind. Lightning on a fine night in the south, west or north-west will indicate wind and rain from the same quarters. Thunder in the morning signifies wind, and thunder at midday rain.
LXXXII. When clouds sweep over the sky in fine weather, wind is to be expected in whichever quarter the clouds come from. If they mass together in the same place and when the sun approaches are scattered, and if this takes place from a northern direction, they will portend winds, but if from a southern, rain. If when the sun is setting clouds rise into the sky on either side of the sun, they will signify stormy weather; if they are more lowering in the east they threaten rain for the night, but if in the west, rain the next day. If a number of clouds spread like fleeces of wool in the east, they will presage rain lasting three days. When clouds settle down on the tops of the mountains, the weather will be stormy; but if the tops become clear, it will turn fine. When there is heavy white cloud, a hailstorm, a `white storm' as it is called, will be imminent. A patch of cloud however small seen in a fine sky will give a storm of wind.
LXXXIII. Mists coming down from the mountains or falling from the sky or settling in the valleys will promise fine weather.
LXXXIV. Next after these, signs are given by fires on the earth. When they are pallid and crackling they are perceived as messengers of storms; also it is a sign of rain if fungus forms in lamps, and if the flame is spiral and flickering. When the lights go out of themselves or are hard to light, they announce wind; and so do sparks piling up on the top of a copper pot hanging over the fire, or live coal sticking to saucepans when you take them off the fire, or if when the fire is banked up it sends out a scattering of ashes or emits a spark, or if cinders on the hearth cake together and if a coal fire glows with extreme brilliance.
LXXXV. Water also gives signs. If when the sea is calm the water in a harbour sways about or makes a splashing noise of its own, it foretells wind, and if it does so in winter, rain as well; if the coasts and shores re-echo during a calm, they foretell a severe storm, as also do noises from the sea itself in a calm, or scattered flakes of foam, or bubbles on the water. Jellyfish on the surface of the sea portend several days' storm. Often also the sea swells in silence, and blown up in unusually high waves confesses that the winds are now inside it.
LXXXVI. And predictions are also given by in certain sounds occurring in the mountains and by moanings of the forests and leaves rustling without any breeze being perceptible; and by the down off poplars and thorns fluttering, and feathers floating on the surface of water, and also in bells a peculiar ringing sound foretelling a storm about to come.
LXXXVII. Presages are also given by animals: for instance dolphins sporting in a calm sea prophesy wind from the quarter from which they come, and likewise when splashing the water in a billowy sea they also presage calm weather. A cuttlefish fluttering out of the water, shell-fish adhering to objects, and sea-urchins making themselves fast or ballasting themselves with sand are signs of a storm; so also frogs croaking more than usual, and coots making a chattering in the morning, and likewise divers and ducks cleaning their feathers with their beak are a sign of wind, and the other water-birds flocking together, cranes hastening inland, and divers and seagulls forsaking the sea or the marshes. Cranes flying high aloft in silence foretell fine weather, and so also does the night-owl when it screeches during a shower, but it prophesies a storm if it screeches in fine weather, and so do crows croaking with a sort of gurgle and shaking themselves, if the sound is continuous, but if they swallow it down in gulps, this foretells gusty rain. Jays returning late from feeding foretell stormy weather, and so do the white birds when they collect in flocks, and land birds when they clamour while facing a piece of water and sprinkle themselves, but especially a rook; a swallow skimming along so close to the water that she repeatedly strikes it with her wing; and birds that live in trees going to cover in their nests; and geese when they make a continuous clamouring at an unusual time; and a heron moping in the middle of the sands.
LXXXVIII. Nor is it surprising that aquatic birds or birds in general perceive signs of coming changes of atmosphere; sheep skipping and sporting with unseemly gambols have the same prognostications, and oxen sniffing the sky and licking themselves against the way of the hair, and nasty swine tearing up bundles of hay that are not meant for them, and bees keeping in hiding idly and against their usual habit of industry, or ants hurrying to and fro or carrying forward their eggs, and likewise earthworms emerging from their holes.
LXXXIX. It is also a well-ascertained fact that trefoil bristles and raises its leaves against an approaching storm.
XC. Moreover when we are at table during our meals vessels into which food is put foretell dreadful storms by leaving a smudge on the sideboard.