Marcus Porcius Cato.

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again under shelter. There should be windows in this barracks on the
side most fitted for ventilation."

"A farm would be more of a farm," said Fundanius, "if the buildings
were constructed with reference to the diligence of our ancestors
rather than the luxury of their descendants. For they built for use,
while we build to gratify an unbridled luxury. Their barns were bigger
than their houses, but the contrary is often the case today. Then a
house was praised if it had a good kitchen, roomy stables and a cellar
for wine and oil fitted, according to the custom of the country, with
a floor draining into a reservoir, into which the wine can flow when,
as often happens after the new wine has been laid by, the fermentation
of the must bursts both Spanish butts and our own Italian tuns. In
like manner our ancestors equipped a country house with whatever other
things were necessary to agriculture, but now on the contrary it is
the effort to make such a house as vast and as elegant as possible,
and we vie with those palaces which men like Metellus and Lucullus
have built, to the detriment of the very state itself: in them the
effort is to contrive summer dining rooms fronting the cool east, and
those designed for use in winter facing the western sun, rather than,
as the ancients did, to adjust their windows with regard chiefly to
the cellars, since wine in casks keeps best when it is cool, while oil
craves warmth. For this reason also it would seem that the best place
to put a house is on a hill, if nothing obstructs it."

_Of the protection of farm boundaries_

_a. Fences_

XIV. "Now," resumed Scrofa, "I will speak of fences, which are
constructed for the protection of the farm or for dividing the fields.
There are four kinds of such barriers: natural, dead wood, military
and masonry. The first is the natural fence of live hedge, consisting
of planted shrubs or thorns, and, as it has roots, runs no risk from
the flaming torch of the passing traveller who may be inclined to
mischief. The second kind is built of the wood of the country, but
is not alive. It is made either of palings placed close together and
wattled with twigs, or posts placed at some distance apart and pierced
to receive the ends of rails, which are generally built two or three
to the panel, or else of trunks of trees laid on the ground and joined
in line. The third, or military fence, consists of a ditch and a
mound: but such a ditch should be so constructed to collect all the
rain water, or it should be graded to drain the surface water off the
farm. The mound is best when constructed close adjoining the ditch, or
else it should be steep so that it will be difficult to scale. It is
customary to construct this kind of fence along the public roads or
along streams. In the district of Crustumeria one can see in many
places along the via Salaria ditches and mounds constructed as dikes
against damage by the river (Tiber).[70] Mounds are some times built
without ditches and are called walls, as in the country around Reate.
The fourth and last kind of fence is of built up masonry. There are
usually four varieties: those of cut stone, as in the country around
Tusculum; those of burned brick, as in Gaul; those of unburned brick
as in the Sabine country; those of gravel concrete,[71] as in Spain and
about Tarentum."

_b. Monuments_

XV. Lacking fences, the more discreet establish the boundaries of
their property, or of their sowings, by blazed trees, and so prevent
neighbourhood quarrels and lawing about corners. Some plant pines
around their boundaries, as my wife did on her Sabine farm, or
cypresses, as I have on my property on Vesuvius.[72] Others plant elms,
as many have done in the district of Crustumeria: indeed, for planting
in plains where it flourishes there is no tree which can be set out
with such satisfaction or with more profit than the elm, for it
supports the vine and so fills many a basket with grapes, yields
its leaves to be a most agreeable forage for flocks and herds, and
supplies rails for fences and wood for hearth and oven.

"And now," said Scrofa, "I have expounded my four points upon the
physical characteristics of a farm, which were, its conformation, the
quality of the soil, its extent and layout, its boundaries and their

_Of the considerations of neighbourhood_

XVI. It remains to discuss the conditions outside the farm itself,
for the character of the neighbourhood is of the utmost importance to
agriculture on account of the necessary relations with it. There
are four considerations in this respect also, namely: whether the
neighbourhood bears a bad reputation; whether it affords a market to
which our products can be taken and whence we can bring back what we
may require at home; whether there is a road or a river leading to
that market, and, if so, whether it is fit for use; and fourth whether
there is in our immediate vicinity any thing which may be to our
advantage or disadvantage. Of these four considerations the most
important is whether the neighbourhood bears a bad reputation: for
there are many farms which are fit for cultivation but not expedient
to undertake on account of the brigandage in the neighbourhood, as in
Sardinia those farms which adjoin Oelium, and in Spain those on the
borders of Lusitania.

On the second point those farms are the most profitable which have
opportunities in the vicinity for marketing what they raise and buying
what they must consume: for there are many farms which must buy corn
or wine or what ever else they lack, and not a few which have a
surplus of these commodities for sale. So in the suburbs of a city it
is fitting to cultivate gardens on a large scale, and to grow violets
and roses and many other such things which a city consumes, while it
would be folly to undertake this on a distant farm with no facilities
for reaching the market. So, again, if there is nearby a town or a
village or even the well furnished estate of a rich man where you can
buy cheap what you require on the farm, and where you can trade your
surplus of such things as props and poles and reeds, your farm will
be more profitable than if you had to buy at a distance; nay, more
profitable even than if you were able to produce all you require at
home: because in this situation you can make annual arrangements with
your neighbours to furnish on hire the services of physicians, fullers
and blacksmiths to better advantage than if they were your own: for
the death of a single such skilled slave wipes out the entire profit
of a farm. In carrying on the operation of a vast estate, the rich can
afford to provide such servants for every department of the work:
for if towns and villages are far distant from the farm, they supply
blacksmiths and all other necessary craftsmen and keep them on the
place, in order to prevent the hands from leaving the farm and
spending working days in going leisurely to and from the shop when
they might more profitably be engaged on what should be done in the
fields. So Saserna's book lays down the rule that "No one may leave
the farm except the overseer, the butler, or such a one as the
overseer sends on an errand. If any one disobeys this rule, he shall
be punished for it, but if he disobeys a second time the overseer
shall be punished." This rule may be better stated that no one should
leave the farm without the approval of the overseer, and, without the
consent of the master, not even the overseer, for more than a day at
a time, but in no event more frequently than the business of the farm

On the third point, conveniences of transportation make a farm more
profitable, and these are whether the roads are in such condition that
wagons can use them smoothly, or whether there are rivers nearby which
can be navigated. We know that each of these means of transportation
is available to many farms.

The fourth point, which is concerned with how your neighbour has
planted his land, also relates to your profits: because if he has an
oak forest near your boundary, you cannot profitably plant olives in
that vicinity, for the oak is so perverse in its effect upon the olive
that not only will your trees bear less but they will even avoid the
oaks and bend away from them until they are prostrate on the ground,
as the vine is wont to do when planted near vegetables. Like the oak,
a grove of thickly planted full grown walnut trees renders sterile all
the surrounding land.


XVII. I have spoken of the four points of husbandry which relate to
the land to be cultivated and also of those other four points which
have to do with the outside relations of that land: now I will speak
of those things which pertain to the cultivation of the land. Some
divide this subject into two parts, men and those assistants to men
without which agriculture cannot be carried on. Others divide it into
three parts, the instruments of agriculture which are articulate,
inarticulate and mute: the articulate being the servants,[73] the
inarticulate the draught animals, and the mute being the wagons and
other such implements.

_Of agricultural labourers_

All men carry on agriculture by means of slaves or freemen or both.
The freemen who cultivate the land do so either on their own account,
as do many poor people with the aid of their own children, or for
wages,[74] as when the heaviest farm operations, like the vintage and
the harvest, are accomplished with the aid of hired freemen: in which
class may be included those bond servants whom our ancestors called
_obaerati_, a class which may still be found in Asia, in Egypt and in
Illyricum. With respect to the use of freemen in agriculture, my own
opinion is that it is more profitable to use hired hands than one's
own slaves in cultivating unhealthy lands, and, even where the country
is salubrious, they are to be preferred for the heaviest kind of farm
work, such as harvesting and storing grapes and corn. Cassius has this
to say on the subject: 'Select for farm hands those who are fitted for
heavy labour, who are not less than twenty-two years of age and have
some aptitude for agriculture, which can be ascertained by trying them
on several tasks and by enquiring as to what they did for their former
master.' Slaves should be neither timid nor overconfident. The foreman
should have some little education, a good disposition and economical
habits, and it is better that they should be some what older than the
hands, for then they will be listened to with more respect than if
they were boys. It is most important to choose as foremen those who
are experienced in agricultural work, for they should not merely give
orders but lend a hand at the work, so that the labourers may learn
by imitation and may also appreciate that it is greater knowledge and
skill which entitles the foreman to command. The foreman should never
be authorized to enforce his discipline with the whip if he can
accomplish his result with words.

Avoid having many slaves of the same nation, for this gives rise to
domestic rows.

The foremen will work more cheerfully if rewards are offered them, and
particularly pains must be taken to see that they have some property
of their own, and that they marry wives among their fellow servants,
who may bear them children, some thing which will make them
more steady and attach them to the place.[75] On account of such
relationships families of Epirote slaves are esteemed the best and
command the highest prices.

Marks of consideration by the master will go far in giving happiness
to your hands: as, for instance, by asking the opinion of those of
them who have done good work, as to how the work ought to be done,
which has the effect of making them think less that they are looked
down upon, and encourages them to believe that they are held in some
estimation by the master.

Those slaves who are most attentive to their work should be treated
more liberally either in respect of food or clothes, or in holidays,
or by giving them permission to graze some cattle of their own on the
place, or some thing of that kind. Such liberality tempers the effect
of a harsh order or a heavy punishment, and restores the slaves' good
will and kindly feeling towards their master.

XVIII. On the subject of the number of slaves one will require for
operating a farm, Cato lays down the two measures of the extent of
the farm and the kind of farming to be carried on. Writing about the
cultivation of olives and vines he gives these formulas, viz.:

For carrying on an olive farm of two hundred and forty jugera,
thirteen slaves are necessary, to-wit: an overseer, a housekeeper,
five labourers, three teamsters, an ass driver, a swineherd and a
shepherd: for carrying on a vineyard of one hundred jugera, fifteen
slaves are necessary, to-wit: an overseer, a housekeeper, ten
labourers, a teamster, an ass driver and a swineherd.

On the other hand Saserna says that one man is enough for every eight
jugera,[76] as a man should cultivate that much land in forty-five
days: for while one man can cultivate a jugerum in four days, yet he
allows thirteen days extra for the entire eight jugera to provide
against the chance of bad weather, the illness or idleness of the
labourer and the indulgence of the master.[77]

At this Licinius Stolo put in.

"Neither of these writers has given us an adequate rule," he said.
"For if Cato intended, as he doubtless did, that we should add to
or subtract from what he prescribes in proportion as our farm is of
greater or less extent than that he describes, he should have excluded
the overseer and the housekeeper from his enumeration. If you
cultivate less than two hundred and forty jugera of olives you cannot
get along with less than one overseer, while if you cultivate twice or
more as much land you will not require two or three overseers. It is
the number of labourers and teamsters only which must be added to or
diminished in proportion to the size of the farm: and this applies
only if the land is all of the same character, for if part of it is of
a kind which cannot be ploughed, as for example very rocky, or on
a steep hillside, there is that much less necessity for teams and
teamsters. I pass over the fact that Cato's example of a farm of two
hundred and forty jugera is neither a fair nor a comparable unit.[78]
The true unit for comparison of farms is a centuria, which contains
two hundred jugera, but if one deducts forty jugera, or one-sixth,
from Cato's two hundred and forty jugera, I do not see how in applying
this rule one can deduct also one-sixth of his thirteen slaves; or,
even if we leave out the overseer and the housekeeper, how one can
deduct one-sixth of eleven slaves. Again, Cato says that one should
have fifteen slaves for one hundred jugera of vineyard, but suppose
one had a _centuria_ half in vines and half in olives, then, according
to Cato's rule, one would require two overseers and two housekeepers,
which is absurd. Wherefore it is necessary to find another measure
than Cato's for determining the number of slaves, and I myself think
better of Saserna's rule, which is that for each jugerum it suffices
to provide four days work of one hand. Yet, if this was a good rule
on Saserna's farm in Gaul, it might not apply on a mountain farm in
Liguria. In fine you will best determine what number of slaves and
what other equipment you will require if you diligently consider
three things, that is to say, what kind of farms are there in your
neighbourhood, how large are they, and how many hands are engaged in
cultivating them, and you should add to or subtract from that number
in proportion as you take up more or less work. For nature gave us two
schools of agriculture, which are experience and imitation. The most
ancient farmers established many principles by experiment and their
descendants for the most part have simply imitated them. We should
do both these things: imitate others and on our own account make
experiments, following always some principle, not chance:[79] thus we
might work our trees deeper or not so deep as others do to see what
the effect would be. It was with such intelligent curiosity that some
farmers first cultivated their vines a second and a third time, and
deferred grafting the figs from spring to summer."

_Of draught animals_

XIX. In respect of those instruments of agriculture which are called
inarticulate, Saserna says that two yokes of oxen will be enough for
two hundred jugera of arable land, while Cato prescribes three yokes
for two hundred and forty jugera in olives: thus if Saserna is
correct, one yoke of oxen is required for every hundred jugera, but if
Cato is correct a yoke is needed for every eighty jugera. My opinion
is that neither of these standards is appropriate for all kinds of
land, but each for some kind: for some land is easy and some difficult
to plough, and oxen are unable to break up some land except by great
effort and often they leave the ploughshare in the furrow broken from
the beam: wherefore in this respect we should observe a triple rule on
every farm, when we are new to it, namely: find out the practice of
the last owner; that of the neighbours, and make some experiments of
our own.

"Cato adds," resumed Scrofa, "that on his olive farm there are
required three asses to haul out the manure and one to turn the mill,
and on his hundred jugera vineyard a yoke of oxen and a pair of asses
for the manure, and an ass for the wine press."

In respect of cattle kept for all these purposes, which it is
customary to feed in the barn yard, it should be added that you should
keep as many and only as many as you need for carrying on the work of
the farm, so that more easily you can secure diligent care of
them from the servants whose chief care is of themselves. In this
connection the keeping of sheep is preferable to hogs not only by
those who have pastures but also by those who have none, for you
should keep them not merely because you have pasture, but for the sake
of the manure.

Watch dogs should be kept in any event for the safety of the farm.

XX. The most important consideration with respect to barn yard cattle
is that the draft oxen should be fit for their work: when bought
unbroken they should not be less than three years old nor more than
four, strong, but well matched, lest the stronger wear out the weaker:
with large horns, black rather than any other color, broad foreheads,
flat noses, deep chests and heavy quarters. Old steers which have
worked in the plains cannot be trained to service in rough and
mountain land; a rule as applicable when reversed. In breaking young
steers it is best to begin by fastening a fork shaped yoke on their
necks and leaving it there even when they are fed; in a few days they
will become used to it and disposed to be docile. Then they should be
broken to work gradually until they are accustomed to it, as may be
done by yoking a young ox with an old one, so that he may learn what
is expected of him by imitation. It is best to work them first on
level ground without a plough, then with a light plough, so that their
first lessons may be easy and in sand and mellow soil.

Oxen intended for the wagon should be broken in the same way, at first
by drawing an empty cart, if possible through the streets of a village
or a town, where they may become quickly inured to sudden noises and
strange sights. You should not work an ox always on the same side of
the team, for an occasional change from right to left relieves the
strain of the work.

Where the land is light, as in Campania, they do not plough with heavy
steers but with cows or asses, as they can be driven more easily to
a light plough. For turning the mill and for carrying about the farm
some use asses, some cows and others mules: a choice determined by the
supply of provender. For an ass is cheaper to feed than a cow, though
a cow is more profitable.[80]

In the choice of the kind of draft animals he is to keep, a farmer
should always take into consideration the characteristics of his soil:
thus on rocky and difficult land the prime requirement is doubtless
strength, but his purpose should be to keep that kind of stock which
under his conditions yields the largest measure of profit and still do
all the necessary work.

_Of watch dogs_

XXI. It is more desirable to keep a few dogs and fierce ones than a
pack of curs. They should be trained to watch by night and to sleep by
day chained in the kennel [so that they may be the more alert when set

It remains to speak elsewhere of unyoked cattle, like the flocks, but
if there are meadows on the farm and the owner keeps no live stock, it
is the business of a good farmer after he has sold his hay to graze
and feed another's cattle on his land.

_Of farming implements_

XXII. Concerning the instruments of agriculture which are called mute,
in which are included baskets, wine jars and such things, this may be
said: Those utensils which can be produced on the farm or made by the
servants should never be bought, among which are what ever may be made
out of osiers or other wood of the country, such as hampers, fruit
baskets, threshing sledges, mauls and mattocks, or what ever is made
out of the fibre plants like hemp, flax, rushes, palm leaves and
nettles, namely: rope, twine and mats. Those implements which cannot
be manufactured on the farm should be bought more with reference to
their utility than their appearance that they may not diminish your
profit by useless expense, a result which may be best secured by
buying where the things you need may be found at once of good quality,
near at hand and cheap. The requirement of the kind and number of such
implements is measured by the extent of the farm because the further
your boundaries lie apart the more work there is to do."

"In this connection," put in Stolo, "given the size of the farm, Cato
recommends with respect to implements as follows: he who cultivates
240 jugera in olives should have five sets of oil making implements,
which he enumerates severally, such as the copper utensils, including
kettles, pots, ewers with three spouts, etc.; the implements made out
of wood and iron, including three large wagons, six ploughs with their
shares, four manure carriers, etc. So of the iron tools, what they
are and how many are needed, he speaks in great detail, as eight iron
pitch forks, as many hoes and half as many shovels, etc.

"In like manner he lays down another formula of implements for a
vineyard, viz.: if you cultivate 100 jugera you should have three sets
of implements for the wine press and also covered storage vats of
a capacity of eight hundred _cullei_, as well as twenty harvesting
hampers for grapes and as many for corn, and other things in like

"Other writers advise a smaller quantity of such conveniences, but I
believe Cato prescribed so great a capacity in order that one might
not be compelled to sell his wine every year, for old wine sells
better than new, and the same quality sells better at one time than
another. Cato writes further in great detail of the kind and number
of iron tools which are required for a vineyard, such as the falx or
pruning hook, spades, hoes. So also several of these instruments are
of many varieties, as for instance the falx, of which this author says
that there must be provided forty of the kind suitable for use in a
vineyard, five for cutting rushes, three for pruning trees and ten for
cutting briers."

So far Stolo, when Scrofa began again. "The owner should have an
inventory of all the farm implements and equipment, with a copy on
file both at the house and at the steading, and it should be the
duty of the overseer to see that everything is checked against this
inventory and is assigned its appropriate keeping place in the barn.
What cannot be kept under lock and key should be kept in plain sight,
and this is particularly necessary in respect of the utensils which
are used only at intervals, as at harvest time, like the grape baskets
and such things, for what ever one sees daily is in the least danger
from the thief."


XXIII. "And now," interposed Agrasius, "as we have discussed the
two first parts of the four-fold division of agriculture, namely:
concerning the farm itself and the implements with which it is worked,
proceed with the third part."

_Of planting field crops_

"As I hold," said Scrofa, "that the profit of a farm is that only
which comes from sowing the land, there are two considerations which

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