Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 276-277

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Pliny: Natural History

post secundum. cretosam tantum limosamque odit 136et in his non provenit. maceratum calida aqua homini quoque in cibo est; nam bovem unum modii singuli satiant validumque praestant, quando etiam inpositum puerorum ventribus pro remedio est. condi in fumo maxime convenit, quoniam in umido vermiculi umbilicum eius in sterilitatem castrant. si depastum sit in fronde, inarari protinus solum opus est.

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XXXVII. Et vicia pinguescunt arva, nec ipsa agricolis operosa: uno sulco sata non saritur, non stercoratur, nec aliud quam deoccatur. sationis eius tria tempora: circa occasum Arcturi, ut Decembri mense pascat—tum optime seritur in semen, aeque namque fert depasta; secunda satio mense Ianuario est, novissima Martio, tum ad frondem utilissima. 138siccitatem ex omnibus quae seruntur maxime amat; non aspernatur etiam umbrosa. ex semine eius, si lecta matura est, palea ceteris praefertur. vitibus praeripit sucum languescuntque, si in arbusto seratur.

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XXXVIII. Nec ervi operosa cura est. hoc amplius quam vicia runcatur, et ipsum medicaminis vim optinens, quippe quo1 divom Augustum curatum epistulis ipsius memoria exstet. sufficiunt singulis

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Book XVIII

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 toovetch. 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 it—about the time of the setting of Arcturus, so that it may provide pasture in December—at 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. Bitter vetch also is not difficult to cultivate.Bitter-Vetch. 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.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938