Columella, On Agriculture

LCL 361: 4-5

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Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella

omnium parens dicta sit, quia et cuncta peperit semper et deinceps paritura sit, velut hominem 3consenuisse. Nec post haec reor violentia1 caeli nobis ista, sed nostro potius accidere vitio, qui rem rusticam pessimo cuique servorum velut carnifici noxae dedimus, quam maiorum nostrorum optimus quisque et optime tractaverat.2

Atque ego satis mirari non possum, quid ita dicendi cupidi seligant oratorem, cuius imitentur eloquentiam; mensurarum et numerorum modum rimantes placitae disciplinae consectentur magistrum; vocis et cantus modulatorem nec minus corporis gesticulatorem scrupulosissime requirant saltationis ac musicae 4rationis studiosi; iam qui aedificare velint, fabros et architectos advocent; qui navigia mari concredere, gubernandi peritos; qui bella moliri, armorum et militiae gnaros; et ne singula persequar, ei studio, quod quis agere velit, consultissimum rectorem adhibeat; denique animi sibi quisque formatorem praeceptoremque virtutis e coetu sapientium arcessat: sola res rustica, quae sine dubitatione proxima et quasi consanguinea sapientiae est, tam discentibus 5egeat quam magistris. Adhuc enim scholas rhetorum et, ut dixi, geometrarum musicorumque


Book I, Preface

of all things—because she has always brought forth all things and is destined to bring them forth continuously—has grown old in mortal fashion.a And,3 furthermore, I do not believe that such misfortunes come upon us as a result of the fury of the elements, but rather because of our own fault; for the matter of husbandry, which all the best of our ancestors had treated with the best of care, we have delivered over to all the worst of our slaves, as if to a hangman for punishment.b

As for me, I cannot cease to wonder why those who wish to become speakers are so careful in the choosing of an orator whose eloquence they may imitate; those who investigate the science of surveying and mathematics emulate a master of the art of their choice; those who devote themselves to the study of dancing and music are most scrupulous in their search for one to teach modulation of the speaking and singing voice, and no less for an instructor in graceful movement of the body; even4 those who wish to build call in joiners and master-builders; those who would entrust ships to the sea send for skilful pilots; those who make preparations for war call for men practised in arms and in campaigning; and, not to go through the list one by one, for any study which one wishes to pursue he employs the most expert director; in short, everyone summons from the company of the wise a man to mould his intellect and instruct him in the precepts of virtue; but agriculture alone, which is without doubt most closely related and, as it were, own sister to wisdom, is as destitute of learners as of teachers. For5 that there are to this day schools for rhetoricians and, as I have said, for mathematicians and musicians,

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.columella-agriculture.1941