Varro, On Agriculture

LCL 283: 392-393

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Marcus Terentius Varro

antequam mihi reddideritis tertium actum de mulis,de canibus, de pastoribus. Brevis oratio de istis, inquit Murrius. Nam muli et item hinni1 bigeneri atque insiticii, non suopte genere ab radicibus. Ex equa enim et 2asino fit mulus, contra ex equo et asina hinnus. Uterque eorum ad usum utilis, partu fructus neuter. Pullum asininum a partu recentem subiciunt equae, cuius lacte ampliores fiunt, quod id lacte quam asininum ad alimonia dicunt esse melius. Praeterea educant eum paleis, faeno, hordeo. Matri suppositiciae quoque inserviunt, quo equa ministerium lactis cibum pullo praebere possit. Hic ita eductus a trimo potest admitti; neque enim aspernatur propter consuetudinem 3equinam. Hunc minorem si admiseris, et ipse citius senescit, et quae ex eo concipiuntur fiunt deteriora. Qui non habent eum asinum, quem supposuerunt equae, et asinum admissarium habere volunt, de asinis quem amplissimum formosissimumque possunt eligunt, quique seminio natus sit bono, Arcadico, ut antiqui dicebant, ut nos experti sumus, Reatino, ubi tricenis ac quadragenis milibus admissarii aliquot venierunt. Quos emimus item ut equos stipulamurque in emendo ac facimus in accipiendo idem, quod 4dictum est in equis. Hos pascimus praecipue faeno atque hordeo, et id ante admissuram et largius facimus, ut cibo suffundamus vires ad feturam, eodem tempore quo equos adducentes, itemque ut ineat

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On Agriculture, II

mules, dogs, and herdsmen.” “It will take only a short time to discuss them,” said Murrius; “for mules and hinnies are hybrids and grafts, not from roots after their own kind; for the mule is the offspring of a mare and an ass, while the hinny is the offspring of a horse and a jenny; each is useful for work, but neither brings any return from young. When an ass colt is newly born it is placed under a mare and becomes fatter on her milk, as they claim that such nourishment is more nutritious than the ass’s milk. They are reared, in addition, on straw, hay, or barley. Special care is also taken of the foster-mother, so that the mare may furnish the colt with an abundant supply of milk. A jack so reared may be used for breeding after three years, and because it is accustomed to horses it will not refuse to mate.1 If you use him at an earlier age, he himself tires sooner, and his offspring will be of poorer quality. Those who do not have such a jack, reared on mare’s milk, but want a breeding jack, pick one as heavy and handsome as they can find and of good breed—of the Arcadian breed, our ancestors used to say, but of Reatine breed, as we have found by experience; in that district several breeding asses have sold for three hundred and even four hundred thousand sesterces. In purchasing we observe the same rules as in the case of horses, and make the same stipulations in the matter of purchase and acceptance as were named in the case of horses.2 We feed these chiefly on hay and barley and increase the amount before breeding, so that we may furnish strength from the food for begetting; and we mate them at the same season in which we mate horses, and we are careful also to have them cover the mares with the help of a groom.

  • 1i.e. with a mare.
  • 2Cf. II, 7, 6.
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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.varro-agriculture.1934