I. Siderum quidem1 tempestatumque ratio vel imperitis facilis2 atque indubitata3 modo demonstrata est; vereque intellegentibus non minus conferunt rura deprehendendo caelo quam sideralis scientia agro colendo. proximam multi hortorum curam fecere; 2nobis non protinus transire ad ista tempestivum videtur, miramurque aliquos scientiae gratiam eruditionisve gloriam ex his petentes tam multa praeterisse nulla mentione habita tot rerum sponte curave provenientium, praesertim cum plerisque earum pretio usuque vitae maior etiam quam frugibus perhibeatur auctoritas. atque, ut a confessis ordiamur utilitatibus quaeque non solum terras omnes verum etiam maria replevere, seritur ac dici neque inter fruges neque 3inter hortensia potest linum; sed in qua non occurret vitae parte, quodve miraculum maius, herbam esse quae admoveat Aegyptum Italiae in tantum ut Galerius a freto Siciliae Alexandriam septimo die pervenerit, Balbillus sexto, ambo praefecti, aestate
I. An account of the constellations, seasons andBetween agriculture and horticulture comes flax-growing. weather has now been given that is easy even for non-experts to understand does not leave any room for doubt; and for those who really understand the matter the countryside contributes to our knowledge of the heavens no less than astronomy contributes to agriculture. Many writers have made horticulturea the next subject; we however do not think the time has come to pass straight to those topics, and we are surprised that some persons seeking from these subjects the satisfaction of knowledge, or a reputation for learning, have passed over so many matters without making any mention of all the plants that grow of their own accord or from cultivation, especially in view of the fact that even greater importance attaches to very many of these, in point of price and of practical utility, than to the cereals. And to begin withImportance of flax for navigation, as linking the empire. admitted utilities and with commodities distributed not only throughout all lands but also over the seas: flax is a plant that is grown from seed and that cannot be included either among cereals or among garden plants; but in what department of life shall we not meet with it, or what is more marvellous than the fact that there is a plant which bringsb Egypt so close to Italy that of two governors of Egypt Galerius reached Alexandria from the Straits of Messina in seven days and Balbillus in six, and that in the summera.d. 55.