Pliny the Elder, Natural History

LCL 371: 280-281

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Pliny: Natural History

autumno misceri et seri solitos, melius et avena Graeca, cui non cadat1 semen, admixta; hoc vocitatum ocinum boumque causa seri solitum. Varro appella-tum a celeritate proveniendi e Graeco quod ὠκέως dicunt.

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XLIII. Medica externa etiam Graeciae est, ut a Medis advecta per bella Persarum quae Darius intulit, sed vel in primis dicenda tanta dos est,2 cum ex uno satu amplius quam tricenis annis duret. similis est trifolio caule foliisque, geniculata; quidquid in caule adsurgit folia contrahuntur. unum de ea et 145cytiso volumen Amphilochus conposuit. solum in quo seratur elapidatum purgatumque subigitur autumno, mox aratum et occatum integitur creta3 iterum ac tertium, quinis diebus interpositis et fimo addito—poscit autem siccum sucosumque vel riguum—et ita praeparato seritur mense Maio, alias pruinis 146obnoxia. opus est densitate seminis omnia occupari internascentesque herbas excludi—id praestant in iugera modi iii4—et cavendum5 ne adurat sol, terraque protinus integi debet. si sit umidum solum herbosumve, vincitur et desciscit in pratum; ideo protinus altitudine unciali herbis omnibus liberanda est, manu potius quam sarculo. secatur incipiens

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Book XVIII

same of chickling for each acre of land and sow this mixture in autumn, preferably with some Greek oats mixed in as well, as this does not drop its seed; he says that the usual name for this mixture was ocinum, and that it used to be grown for cattle. VarroR.R. I. 31. 4. explains the name as due to its rapid growth, deriving it from the Greek word for ‘quickly’.

XLIII. Lucerne is foreign even to Greece, havingLucerne. been imported from Media during the Persian invasions492–490 b.c. under Darius; but so great a bounty deserves mention even among the first of the grains, since from a single sowing it will last more than thirty years. In stalk and leaf it resembles trefoil, being jointed, and as the stalk rises higher the leaves become narrower. Amphilochus devoted one volume to lucerne and tree-medick. The land for it to be sown in is broken in autumn after being cleared of stones and weeded, and is afterwards ploughed over and harrowed and then covered with chalk, the process being repeated a second and a third time at intervals of five days, and after the addition of manure—it requires a dry and rich soil or else a well-watered one—and after the land has been thus prepared the seed is sown in May, as otherwise it is liable to damage from frost. It is necessary for the whole plot to be occupied with closely sown seed, and for weeds shooting up in between to be debarred—this is secured by sowing three modii to the acre—, and care must be taken that the sun may not scorch the seed up, and it ought to be covered over with earth immediately. If the soil be damp or weedy, the lucerne is overpowered and goes off into meadow; consequently as soon as it is an inch high it must be freed from all weeds, by hand in preference to hoeing.

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.pliny_elder-natural_history.1938