Columella, On Agriculture

LCL 407: 416-417

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Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella

14quoniam odorata sunt. Omnis enim iacens piscis magis naribus escam, quam oculis vestigat. Nam dum supinus semper cubat, sublimiora1 aspectat, et ea quae in plano sunt dextra laevaque non facile pervidet. Itaque cum salsamenta obiecta sunt, eorum sequens odorem, pervenit ad cibos. Ceteri autem saxatiles aut pelagici2 satis ex his, sed recentibus melius pascuntur. Nam et alecula modo capta, et cammarus exiguusque gobio, quisquis denique est incrementi minuti piscis, maiorem alit. 15Siquando tamen hiemis saevitia non patitur eius generis escam dari, vel sordidi panis offae, vel siqua sunt temporis poma concisa praebentur. Ficus quidem arida semper obicitur, eximie si sit, ut Baeticae Numidiaeque regionibus, larga. Ceterum illud committi non debet, quod multi faciunt, ut nihil praebeant, quia semetipsos etiam clausi diu tolerare possint. Nam nisi piscis domini cibariis saginatur, cum ad piscatorium3 forum perlatus est, macies indicat eum non esse libero mari captum, sed de custodia elatum, propter quod plurimum pretio detrahitur.

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Atque haec villatica pastio finem praesenti disputationi4 faciat, ne immodico volumine lector5 fatigetur. Redibimus autem sequenti exordio ad curam silvestrium pecorum, cultumque apium.

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Book VIII

strong odour; for every flat fish tracks down its food14 rather by scent than by sight. For lying constantly flat out it looks towards what is above it and does not easily see things which are on a level with itself on the right or left. When, therefore, salted fish is put in its way, it follows the scent of it and so reaches its food.

The other kinds of fish, namely those which live among the rocks and in the open sea, can quite well be fed on this diet, but still better on fresh food. For newly caught shad, shrimp or prawn, or small goby, in a word any fish of minute growth serves as food for a larger fish. If, however, the violence of the15 winter does not allow this kind of food to be given, bits of coarse bread or any fruits that are in season are cut up and given. Dried figs indeed are always offered to them, an excellent thing to do if they are abundant as they are in the regions of Baetica and Numidia. But the mistake ought not to be made, which many people make, of providing no food at all on the ground that the fish can maintain themselves for a long time even when they are shut up; for unless a fish is fattened with food provided by its owner, when it is brought to the fish-market, its leanness shows that it has not been caught in the open sea but brought out of a place of confinement, and on this account a large sum is knocked off the price.

Let this account of the method of feeding fish on16 the farm-estate bring our present discourse to a close, lest the reader be wearied with the immoderate length of this volume. In the next book we will return to the management of wild stock and the culture of bees.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.columella-agriculture.1941