Varro, On Agriculture

LCL 283: 394-395

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Marcus Terentius Varro

equas per origas curamus. Cum peperit equa mulum 5aut mulam, nutricantes educamus. Hi si in palustribus locis atque uliginosis nati, habent ungulas molles; idem si exacti sunt aestivo tempore in montes, quod fit in agro Reatino, durissimis ungulis fiunt. In grege mulorum parando spectanda aetas et forma, alterum, ut in vecturis sufferre labores possint; alterum, ut oculos aspectu delectare queant. Hisce enim binis coniunctis omnia vehicula in viis 6ducuntur. Haec me Reatino auctore probares, mihi inquit, nisi tu ipse domi equarum greges haberes ac mulorum greges vendidisses. Hinnus qui appellatur, est ex equo et asina, minor quam mulus corpore, plerumque rubicundior, auribus ut equinis, iubam et caudam habet1 similem asini. Item in ventre est, ut equus, menses duodecim. Hosce item ut eculos et educant et alunt et aetatem eorum ex dentibus cognoscunt.

IX. Relinquitur, inquit Atticus, de quadripedibus quod ad canes attinet, quod pertinet2 maxime ad nos, qui pecus pascimus lanare. Canes enim ita custos pecoris eius quod eo comite indiget ad se defendendum. In quo genere sunt maxime oves, deinde caprae. Has enim lupus captare solet, cui opponimus canes defensores. In suillo pecore tamen sunt quae se vindicent, verres, maiales, scrofae. Prope enim haec apris, qui in silvis saepe dentibus 2 canes occiderunt. Quid dicam de pecore maiore?


On Agriculture, II

When a mare drops a horse-mule or a mare-mule we rear it at the teat. If these are born in swampy or damp ground they have soft hoofs; but if they are driven into the mountains in summer, as is done in the district of Reate, their hoofs grow quite hard. In assembling a herd of mules both age and build must be watched—the former that they may be strong enough to bear the labour of hauling, and the latter that they may please the eyes with their appearance; for it is by pairs of these animals that all vehicles are drawn on the roads. You would take my word for this as being an expert from Reate,” he remarked to me, “if you did not keep herds of mares at home yourself, and had not sold herds of mules. The so-called hinny is the offspring of a horse and a jenny; smaller than the mule, usually rather redder, with ears like a horse’s, but with mane and tail like those of the ass. It also, like the horse, is carried for twelve months. These are reared and fed just as young horses are, and their age is determined by the teeth.”

IX. “There is left,” said Atticus, “of the discussion of quadrupeds only the topic of dogs; but it is of great interest to those of us who keep fleece-bearing flocks, the dog being the guardian of the flock, which needs such a champion to defend it. Under this head come especially sheep but also goats, as these are the common prey of the wolf, and we use dogs to protect them. In a herd of swine, however, there are some members which can defend themselves, namely, boars, barrows, and sows; for they are very much like wild boars, which have often killed dogs in the forest with their tusks. And why speak about the larger animals? For I know that while

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.varro-agriculture.1934