agricultural writers

M. Stephen Spurr

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics

Published online December 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780199381135 | DOI:

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Agricultural manuals, written by practising landowners, flourished at Rome from M. *Porcius Cato (1) (c.160 bce) to *Palladius (c.Mid 5th cent. ce), enjoying higher status than other technical literature. Greece had produced notable works (*Varro knew more than 50, Rust. 1. 1. 8–11), but written mostly from a philosophical or scientific viewpoint; and an influential (non-extant) Punic work by Mago had been translated into both Greek and Latin (Varro ibid.; Columella Rust. 1. 1. 13). Agriculture, as gradually defined and systematized (earlier Greek, Punic, and Roman writers had wandered off the topic: Varro Rust. 1. 2. 13), embraced, in Varro's work (c.37 bce), arable cultivation, livestock, arboriculture, market gardens, luxury foods, slave management, and villa construction. A century later, *Columella doubted whether one man could know it all (Rust. 1. praef. 21; 5. 1. 1), and, from the early empire onwards, specialized works appeared, such as *Iulius Atticus' monograph on vines (Columella Rust.

Article.  381 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature ; History of Science and Technology

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