Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 278-279

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Pliny: Natural History

boum iugis modi quini. Martio mense satum noxium esse bobus aiunt, item autumno gravedinosum, innoxium autem fieri primo vere satum.


XXXIX. Et silicia, hoc est fenum Graecum, scariphatione seritur, non altiore quattuor digitorum sulco, quantoque peius tractatur tanto provenit melius—rarum dictu esse aliquid cui prosit neglegentia; id autem quod secale ac farrago appellatur occari tantum desiderat.


XL. Secale Taurini sub Alpibus asiam vocant, deterrimum et1 tantum ad arcendam famem, fecunda sed gracili stipula, nigritia triste, pondere praecipuum. admiscetur huic far ut mitiget amaritudinem eius, et tamen sic quoque ingratissimum ventri est. nascitur qualicumque solo cum centesimo grano, ipsumque pro laetamine est.


XLI. Farrago ex recrementis farris praedensa seritur, admixta aliquando et vicia. eadem in Africa fit ex hordeo. omnia haec pabularia, degeneransque ex leguminibus quae vocatur cracca, in tantum columbis grata ut pastas ea negent fugitivas illius loci fieri.


XLII. Apud antiquos erat pabuli genus quod Cato ocinum vocat, quo sistebant alvom bubus. id erat e pabuli segete viride desectum antequam generaret.2 Sura Mamilius aliter id interpretatur et tradit fabae modios x, viciae n, tantundem erviliae in iugero

  • 1Mayhoff: sed.
  • 2Strack: gelaret (genicularet vel siliquaret Ursinus).


It is said to be injurious to oxen if sown in March and to cause cold in the head if sown in autumn, but sowing it in early spring makes it harmless.

XXXIX. Silicia or fenugreek also is sown after aFenugreek. mere scratching of the ground, in a furrow not more than four inches deep, and the worse it is treated the better it comes on—a singular proposition that there is something that is benefited by neglect; however the kinds called black spelt and cattle mash need harrowing, but no more.

XL. The name for secale in the subalpine districtSecale. of Turin is asia; it is a very poor food and only serves to avert starvation; its stalk carries a large head but is a thin straw; it is of a dark sombre colour, and exceptionally heavy. Wheat is mixed in with this to mitigate its bitter taste, and all the same it is very unacceptable to the stomach even so. It grows in any sort of soil with a hundred-fold yield, and serves of itself to enrich the land.

XLI. Cattle-mash obtained from the refuse ofGrains for fodder. wheat is sown very thick, occasionally with an admixture of vetch as well. In Africa the same mash is obtained from barley. All of these plants serve as fodder, and so does the throw-back of the leguminous class of plant called wild vetch, which pigeons are so fond of that they are said never to leave a place where they have been fed on it.

XLII. In old times there was a kind of fodderR.R. XXVII. sqq. Ocinum. which Cato calls ocinum, used to stop scouring in oxen. This was got from a crop of fodder cut green before it seeded. Mamilius Sura gives another meaning to the name, and records that the old practice was to mix ten pecks of bean, two of vetch and the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938