Andrew Dalby, is an English linguist and historian who has written articles and several books on a wide range of topics including food history and Classical texts. Dalby studied Latin and Greek at the Bristol Grammar School and University of Cambridge. Here he studied Romance languages and linguistics, earning a bachelor's degree in 1970. Dalby worked for fifteen years at Cambridge University Library specialising in Southern Asia, he gained familiarity with some other languages because of his work there, where he had to work with foreign serials and afterwards with South Asia and Southeast Asian materials. He wrote articles on multilingual topics linked with the library and its collections. In 1982 and 1983, he collaborated with Sao Saimong in cataloguing the Scott Collection of manuscripts and documents from Burma and Indochina. Dalby published a short biography of the colonial civil servant and explorer J. G. Scott, who formed the collection. To help him with this task, he took classes in Cambridge again in Sanskrit and Pali and in London in Burmese and Thai.
After his time at Cambridge, Dalby worked in London helping to start the library at Regent's College and on renovating another library at London House. He served as Honorary Librarian of the Institute of Linguists, for whose journal The Linguist he writes a regular column, he did a part-time PhD at Birkbeck College, London in ancient history, which improved his Latin and Greek. His Dictionary of Languages was published in 1998. Language in Danger, on the extinction of languages and the threatened monolingual future, followed in 2002. Meanwhile, he began to work on food history and contributed to Alan Davidson's journal Petits Propos Culinaires. Dalby's first food history book, Siren Feasts, won a Runciman Award. At the same time he was working with Sally Grainger on The Classical Cookbook, the first historical cookbook to look beyond Apicius to other ancient Greek and Roman sources in which recipes are found. Dangerous Tastes, on the history of spices, was the Guild of Food Writers Food Book of the Year for 2001.
Work on this led to Dalby's first article for Gastronomica magazine, in which he traced the disastrous exploration of Gonzalo Pizarro in search of La Canela in eastern Ecuador, showing how the myth of the "Valley of Cinnamon" first arose and identifying the real tree species, at the root of the legend. Dalby's light-hearted biography of Bacchus includes a retelling, rare in English, of the story of Prosymnus and the price he demanded for guiding Dionysus to Hades. In an unfavorable review of Bacchus in The Guardian, Ranjit Bolt argues that Dalby's "formidable learning" overwhelmed his ability to off the reader an appealing narrative, his epilogue to Petronius' Satyrica combines a gastronomic commentary on the "Feast of Trimalchio" with a fictional dénouement inspired by the fate of Petronius himself. Dalby's Rediscovering Homer developed out of two academic papers from the 1990s in which he argued that the Iliad and Odyssey must be seen as belonging to the same world as that of the early Greek lyric poets but to a less aristocratic genre.
Returning to these themes, he spotlit the unknown poet who, long after the time of the traditional Homer, at last saw the Iliad and Odyssey recorded in writing. As he teasingly suggested, based on what we can judge of this poet's interests and on the circumstances in which oral poetry has been recorded elsewhere, "it is possible, probable, that this poet was a woman." Dalby's book Language in Danger: The Loss of Linguistic Diversity and the Threat to Our Future, focuses on the decline and extinction of languages from ancient times to the modern era. Dalby attributes the loss to the emergence of large centralised political groupings, the spread of communications technologies, the hegemony of the English language. According to Mario Basini, Dalby argues that the loss of a language is a loss to all of humanity, because each language embodies a unique view of the world and contains unique information about the manner in, speakers interact with a unique place and perspectives that are lost when a language goes extinct.
Dalby profiles endangered languages and discusses the significance of their disappearance, which he estimates occurs at a rate of one every two weeks. He states that the world is diminished by each language lost because they encapsulate "local knowledge and ways of looking at the human condition that die with the last speaker." He discusses the way stronger languages "squeeze out" others, using the rise of Latin and the extinctions that occurred around the Mediterranean in classical times as an example, notes a similar pattern that Irish and various Native American languages and indigenous Australian languages have faced in the English-speaking world, where they "were banned in school to force minority groups to speak the language of the majority". Dalby writes that preferences have shifted toward encouraging minority languages and that many can be saved, his account was described as engrossing by The Wall Street Journal. The book disputes advocacy of a single common language as a means to a happier, more peaceful, improved world.
1993: South East Asia: a guide to reference material 1995: Siren Feasts: a history of food and gastronomy in Greece 1996: The Classical Cookbook 1998: Cato: On Farming 1998: Dictionary of Languages 1998: Guide to World Language Dictionaries 2000: Empire of Pleasures: Luxury and Indulgence in the Roman World 20
The Bay leaf is an aromatic leaf used in cooking. It can be used as dried and ground, it comes from several plants such as: Bay laurel. Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive fragrance; the leaves should be removed from the cooked food before eating. The leaves are used to flavour soups, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean and Latin American cuisine; the fresh leaves are mild and do not develop their full flavour until several weeks after picking and drying. California bay leaf – the leaf of the California bay tree known as California laurel, Oregon myrtle, pepperwood, is similar to the Mediterranean bay laurel, but has a stronger flavour. Indian bay leaf or malabathrum differs in that bay laurel leaves are shorter and light to medium green in colour, with one large vein down the length of the leaf, while tejpat leaves are about twice as long and wider olive green in colour, with three veins down the length of the leaf and is culinarily quite different, having a fragrance and taste similar to cinnamon bark, but milder.
Indonesian bay leaf or Indonesian laurel is not found outside Indonesia. West Indian bay leaf, the leaf of the West Indian bay tree, used culinarily and to produce the cologne called bay rum. Mexican bay leaf; the leaves contain about 1.3% essential oils, consisting of 45% eucalyptol, 12% other terpenes, 8-12% terpinyl acetate, 3–4% sesquiterpenes, 3% methyleugenol, other α- and β-pinenes, linalool, geraniol and contain lauric acid also. If eaten whole, bay leaves have a sharp, bitter taste; as with many spices and flavourings, the fragrance of the bay leaf is more noticeable than its taste. When dried, the fragrance is herbal floral, somewhat similar to oregano and thyme. Myrcene, a component of many essential oils used in perfumery, can be extracted from the bay leaf, they contain eugenol. In Indian and Pakistani cuisine, bay laurel leaves are sometimes used in place of Indian bay leaf, although they have a different flavour, they are most used in rice dishes like biryani and as an ingredient in garam masala.
Bay leaves are packaged as tejpatta, creating confusion between the two herbs. In the Philippines, dried bay laurel leaves are used in several Filipino dishes such as menudo, beef pares, adobo. Bay leaves were used for flavouring by the ancient Greeks, they are a fixture in the cooking of many European cuisines, as well as in the Americas. They are used in soups, meat, vegetable dishes, sauces; the leaves flavour many classic French dishes. The leaves are most used whole and removed before serving. Thai and Laotian cuisine employs bay leaf in a few Arab-influenced dishes, notably massaman curry. Bay leaves can be crushed or ground before cooking. Crushed bay leaves impart more fragrance than whole leaves, but are more difficult to remove, thus they are used in a muslin bag or tea infuser. Ground bay laurel may be substituted for whole leaves, does not need to be removed, but it is much stronger. Bay leaves are used in the making of jerk chicken in the Caribbean Islands; the bay leaves are placed on the cool side of the grill.
Pimento sticks are placed on top of the leaves and the chicken is placed on top and smoked. Bay leaves can be used scattered in a pantry to repel meal moths, cockroaches and silverfish. Bay leaves have been used in entomology as the active ingredient in killing jars; the crushed, young leaves are put into the jar under a layer of paper. The vapors they release kill insects but and keep the specimens relaxed and easy to mount; the leaves discourage the growth of molds. They are not effective for killing large beetles and similar specimens, but insects that have been killed in a cyanide killing jar can be transferred to a laurel jar to await mounting. There is confusion in the literature about whether Laurus nobilis is a source of cyanide to any practical extent, but there is no evidence that cyanide is relevant to its value in killing jars, it is rich in various essential oil components that could incapacitate insects in high concentrations. It is unclear to what extent the alleged effect of cyanide released by the crushed leaves has been mis-attributed to Laurus nobilis in confusion with the unrelated Prunus laurocerasus, the so-called cherry laurel, which does contain dangerous concentrations of cyanogenic glycocides together with the enzymes to generate the hydrogen cyanide from the glycocides if the leaf is physically damaged.
Some members of the laurel family, as well as the unrelated but visually similar mountain laurel and cherry laurel, have leaves that are poisonous to humans and livestock. While these plants are not sold anywhere for culinary use, their visual similarity to bay leaves has led to the oft-repeated belief that bay leaves should be removed from food after cooking because they are poisonous; this is not true. However, they remain unpleasantly stiff after thorough cooking, if swallowed whole or in large pieces, they may pos
Lesbos is an island located in the northeastern Aegean Sea. It has an area of 1,633 km2 with 320 kilometres of coastline, making it the third largest island in Greece, it is separated from Turkey by the narrow Mytilini Strait and in late Palaeolithic/Mesolithic times was joined to the Anatolian mainland before the end of the last glacial period. Lesbos is the name of a regional unit of the North Aegean region, within which Lesbos island is one of five governing islands; the others are Chios, Ikaria and Samos. The North Aegean region governs nine inhabited islands: Lesbos, Psara, Ikaria, Fournoi Korseon, Agios Efstratios and Samos; the capital of the North Aegean Region is Mytilene. The population of Lesbos is 86,000, a third of whom live in its capital, Mytilene, in the southeastern part of the island; the remaining population is distributed in small villages. The largest are Plomari, the Gera Villages, Agiassos and Molyvos. According to Greek writers, Mytilene was founded in the 11th century BC by the family Penthilidae, who arrived from Thessaly and ruled the city-state until a popular revolt led by Pittacus of Mytilene ended their rule.
In fact the archaeological and linguistic record may indicate a late Iron Age arrival of Greek settlers although references in Late Bronze Age Hittite archives indicate a Greek presence then. The name Mytilene. According to Homer's Iliad, Lesbos was part of the kingdom of Priam, based in Anatolia. Much work remains to be done to determine just when. In the Middle Ages, it was under Byzantine and Genoese rule. Lesbos was conquered by the Ottoman Empire in 1462; the Ottomans ruled the island until the First Balkan War in 1912, when it became part of the Kingdom of Greece. The name is from Ancient Greek: Λέσβος Lésbos "forested" or "woody" a Hittite borrowing, as the original Hittite name for the island was Lazpa. An older name for the island, maintained in Aeolic Greek was Ἴσσα Íssa. Lesbos lies in the far east of the Aegean sea, facing the Turkish coast from the east; the shape of the island is triangular, but it is intruded by the gulfs of Kalloni, with an entry on the southern coast, of Gera, in the southeast.
The island is forested and mountainous with two large peaks, Mt. Lepetymnos at 968 m and Mt. Olympus at 967 m, dominating its northern and central sections; the island's volcanic origin is manifested in the two gulfs. Lesbos is verdant, aptly named Emerald Island, with a greater variety of flora than expected for the island's size. Eleven million olive trees cover 40% of the island together with other fruit trees. Forests of mediterranean pines, chestnut trees and some oaks occupy 20%, the remainder is scrub, grassland or urban; the island has a hot-summer Mediterranean climate. The mean annual temperature is 18 °C, the mean annual rainfall is 750 mm, its exceptional sunshine makes it one of the sunniest islands in the Aegean Sea. Snow and low temperatures are rare; the entire territory of Lesbos is "Lesvos Geopark", a member of the European Geoparks Network and Global Geoparks Network on account of its outstanding geological heritage, educational programs and projects, promotion of geotourism.
This geopark was enlarged from former "Lesvos Petrified Forest Geopark". Lesbos contains one of the few known petrified forests called Petrified forest of Lesbos and it has been declared a Protected Natural Monument. Fossilised plants have been found in many localities on the western part of the island; the fossilised forest was formed during the Late Oligocene to Lower–Middle Miocene, by the intense volcanic activity in the area. Neogene volcanic rocks dominate the central and western part of the island, comprising andesites and rhyolites, pyroclastics and volcanic ash; the products of the volcanic activity covered the vegetation of the area and the fossilization process took place during favourable conditions. The fossilized plants are silicified remnants of a sub-tropical forest that existed on the north-west part of the island 20–15 million years ago. According to Classical Greek mythology, Lesbos was the patron god of the island. Macareus of Rhodes was reputedly the first king whose many daughters bequeathed their names to some of the present larger towns.
In Classical myth his sister, was killed to have him made king. The place names with female origins are claimed by some to be much earlier settlements named after local goddesses, who were replaced by gods. Homer refers to the seat of Macar. Hittite records from the Late Bronze Age name the island Lazpa and must have considered its population significant enough to allow the Hittites to "borrow their gods" to cure their king when the local gods were not forthcoming, it is believed that emigrants from mainland Greece from Thessaly, entered the island in the Late Bronze Age and bequeathed it with the Aeolic dialect of the Greek language, whose written form survives in the poems of Sappho, amongst others. The abundant grey pottery ware found on the island and the worship of Cybele, the great mother-goddess of Anatolia, suggest the cultural continuity of the population from Neolithic times; when the Persian king Cyrus defeated Croesus the Ionic Greek cities of An
Baklava is a rich, sweet dessert pastry made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup or honey. It is characteristic of the cuisines of the Levant, the Caucasus, Maghreb, of Central and West Asia; the word baklava is first attested in English in 1650, a borrowing from Ottoman Turkish بقلاوه /bɑːklɑvɑː/. The name baklava is used in many languages with minor spelling variations. Historian Paul D. Buell argues that the word "baklava" may come from the Mongolian root baγla-'to tie, wrap up, pile up' composed with the Turkic verbal ending -v. Armenian linguist Sevan Nişanyan considers its oldest known forms to be baklağı and baklağu, labels it as being of Proto-Turkic origin. Another form of the word is recorded in Persian, باقلبا. Though the suffix -vā might suggest a Persian origin, the baqla- part does not appear to be Persian and remains of unknown origin; the Arabic name بقلاوة baqlāwa originates from Turkish, though a folk etymology, unsupported by Wehr's dictionary, connects it to Arabic بقلة /baqlah/'bean'.
Although the history of baklava is not well documented, its current form was developed in the imperial kitchens of the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul. The Sultan presented trays of baklava to the Janissaries every 15th of the month of Ramadan in a ceremonial procession called the Baklava Alayı. There are three proposals for the pre-Ottoman roots of baklava: the Roman placenta cake, as developed through Byzantine cuisine, the Central Asian Turkic tradition of layered breads, or the Persian lauzinaq; the oldest recipe that resembles a similar dessert is the honey covered baked layered-dough dessert placenta of Roman times, which Patrick Faas identifies as the origin of baklava: "The Greeks and the Turks still argue over which dishes were Greek and which Turkish. Baklava, for example, is claimed by both countries. Greek and Turkish cuisine both built upon the cookery of the Byzantine Empire, a continuation of the cooking of the Roman Empire. Roman cuisine had borrowed a great deal from the ancient Greeks, but placenta had a Latin, not a Greek, origin—please note that the conservative, anti-Greek Cato left us this recipe."
Shape the placenta as follows: place a single row of tracta along the whole length of the base dough. This is covered with the mixture from the mortar. Place another row of tracta on top and go on doing so until all the cheese and honey have been used up. Finish with a layer of tracta.... Place the placenta in the oven and put a preheated lid on top of it... When ready, honey is poured over the placenta. Andrew Dalby identifies this, surrounding dessert recipes in Cato, as coming from a "Greek tradition" and cites Antiphanes as quoted by Athenaeus. Several sources state that this Roman dessert continued to evolve during the Byzantine Empire into modern baklava. In antiquity the Greek word plakous was used for Latin placenta, the American scholar Speros Vryonis describes one type of plakous, koptoplakous, as a "Byzantine favorite" and "the same as the Turkish baklava", as do other writers. Indeed, the Roman word placenta is used today on the island of Lesbos in Greece to describe a baklava-type dessert of layered pastry leaves containing crushed nuts, baked and covered in honey.
Muhammad bin Hasan al-Baghdadi was a compiler from the Abbasid period who described lauzinaq, a dessert said by some to have been similar to baklava, though others say it was not like baklava. Lauzinaq, which derives from the Aramaic word for almond, refers to small pieces of almond paste wrapped in thin pastry and drenched in syrup. Al-Baghdadi's cookbook, Kitab al-Tabikh, was written in 1226 and was based on a collection of 9th century Persian-inspired recipes. According to Gil Marks, Middle Eastern pastry makers developed the process of layering the ingredients; the only original manuscript of al-Baghdadi's book survives at the Süleymaniye Library in Istanbul and according to Charles Perry, "for centuries, it had been the favorite cookbook of the Turks," though Perry notes that the manuscript has no recipe for baklava. A further 260 recipes had been added to the original by Turkish compilers at an unknown date retitling it as Kitâbü’l-Vasfi’l-Et‘ime el-Mu‘tâde, two of its known three copies can be found now at the Topkapı Palace Library in Istanbul.
Muhammad ibn Mahmud al-Shirwani, the physician of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II prepared a Turkish translation of the book, adding around 70 contemporary recipes. Another recipe for a similar dessert is güllaç, a dessert found in the Turkish cuisine and considered by some as the origin of baklava, it consists of layers of filo dough. It is served with walnut and fresh pomegranate and eaten during Ramadan; the first known documentation of güllaç is attested in a food and health manual, written in 1330 that documents Mongol foods called Yinshan Zhengyao, written by Hu Sihui, an ethnic Mongol court dietitian of the Yuan dynasty. Uzbek cuisine has pakhlava, puskal or yupka or in Tatar yoka, which are sweet and salty savories prepared with 10–12 layers of dough. There are some similarities between baklava and the Ancient Greek desserts gastris, kopte sesamis, kopton found in book XIV of the Deipnosophistae. However, the recipe there is f
Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia
The Armenian Kingdom of Cilicia known as the Cilician Armenia, Lesser Armenia, or New Armenia, was an independent principality formed during the High Middle Ages by Armenian refugees fleeing the Seljuq invasion of Armenia. Located outside the Armenian Highland and distinct from the Armenian Kingdom of antiquity, it was centered in the Cilicia region northwest of the Gulf of Alexandretta; the kingdom had its origins in the principality founded c. 1080 by the Rubenid dynasty, an alleged offshoot of the larger Bagratid family, which at various times had held the thrones of Armenia and Georgia. Their capital was at Tarsus, became Sis. Cilicia was a strong ally of the European Crusaders, saw itself as a bastion of Christendom in the East, it served as a focus for Armenian nationalism and culture, since Armenia proper was under foreign occupation at the time. Cilicia's significance in Armenian history and statehood is attested by the transfer of the seat of the Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church, spiritual leader of the Armenian people, to the region.
In 1198, with the crowning of Leo the Magnificent of the Rubenid dynasty, Cilician Armenia became a kingdom. In 1226, the crown was passed to rival Hethumids through Leo's daughter Isabella's second husband, Hethum I; as the Mongols conquered vast regions of Central Asia and the Middle East and succeeding Hethumid rulers sought to create an Armeno-Mongol alliance against common Muslim foes, most notably the Mamluks. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Crusader states and the Mongol Ilkhanate disintegrated, leaving the Armenian Kingdom without any regional allies. After relentless attacks by the Mamluks in Egypt in the fourteenth century, the Cilician Armenia of the Lusignan dynasty, mired in an internal religious conflict fell in 1375. Commercial and military interactions with Europeans brought new Western influences to the Cilician Armenian society. Many aspects of Western European life were adopted by the nobility including chivalry, fashions in clothing, the use of French titles and language.
Moreover, the organization of the Cilician society shifted from its traditional system to become closer to Western feudalism. The European Crusaders themselves borrowed know-how, such as elements of Armenian castle-building and church architecture. Cilician Armenia thrived economically, with the port of Ayas serving as a center for East-West trade. Armenian presence in Cilicia dates back to the first century BC, when under Tigranes the Great, the Kingdom of Armenia expanded and conquered a vast region in the Levant. In 83 BC, the Greek aristocracy of Seleucid Syria, weakened by a bloody civil war, offered their allegiance to the ambitious Armenian king. Tigranes conquered Phoenicia and Cilicia ending the Seleucid Empire; the southern border of his domain reached as far as Ptolemais. Many of the inhabitants of conquered cities were sent to the new metropolis of Tigranakert. At its height, Tigranes' Armenian Empire extended from the Pontic Alps to Mesopotamia, from the Caspian to the Mediterranean.
Tigranes invaded as far southeast as the Parthian capital of Ecbatana, located in modern-day western Iran. In 27 BC, the Roman Empire transformed it into one of its eastern provinces. After the 395 AD partition of the Roman Empire into halves, Cilicia became incorporated into the Eastern Roman Empire called the Byzantine Empire. In the sixth century AD, Armenian families relocated to Byzantine territories. Many served in the Byzantine army as soldiers or as generals, rose to prominent imperial positions. Cilicia fell to Arab invasions in the seventh century and was incorporated into the Rashidun Caliphate. However, the Caliphate failed to gain a permanent foothold in Anatolia, as Cilicia was reconquered in the year 965 by Byzantine Emperor Nicephorus II Phocas; the Caliphate's occupation of Cilicia and of other areas in Asia Minor led many Armenians to seek refuge and protection further west in the Byzantine Empire, which created demographic imbalances in the region. In order to better protect their eastern territories after their reconquest, the Byzantines resorted to a policy of mass transfer and relocation of native populations within the Empire's borders.
Nicephorus thus expelled the Muslims living in Cilicia, encouraged Christians from Syria and Armenia to settle in the region. Emperor Basil II tried to expand into Armenian Vaspurakan in the east and Arab-held Syria towards the south; as a result of the Byzantine military campaigns, the Armenians spread into Cappadocia, eastward from Cilicia into the mountainous areas of northern Syria and Mesopotamia. The formal annexation of Greater Armenia to the Byzantine Empire in 1045 and its conquest by the Seljuk Turks 19 years caused two new waves of Armenian migration to Cilicia; the Armenians could not re-establish an independent state in their native highland after the fall of Bagratid Armenia as it remained under foreign occupation. Following its conquest in 1045, in the midst of Byzantine efforts to further repopulate the Empire's east, the Armenian immigration into Cilicia intensified and turned into a major socio-political movement; the Armenians came to serve the Byzantines as military officers or governors, were given control of important cities on the Byzantine Empire's eastern frontier.
The Seljuks played a significant role in the Armenian population movement into Cilicia. In 1064, the Seljuk Turks led by Alp Arslan made their advance towards Anatolia by capturing Ani in Byzantine-held Armenia. Seven years they earned a decisive victory against
Bougatsa is a Greek breakfast pastry consisting of either semolina custard, cheese, or minced meat filling between layers of phyllo. Bougatsa is said to originate in the city of Serres, an art of pastry brought with the immigrants from Constantinople and is most popular in Thessaloniki, in the Central Macedonia region of Northern Greece. Bougatsa is popular in Veria and Halkidiki and Chania and Iraklion in the island of Crete. In Chania, it is called "bougatsa Chanion" and is made by special pastry shops open from early morning until noon; the most common filling is a sweet semolina custard. Common savory fillings include minced meat. In Iraklion, the most famous is made by shops on Morosini Square, by the descendants of Armenian refugees from Asia Minor; the taste of bougatsa varies between regions of Greece. For example, bougatsa in Veria is sweet and full of cream, while in Thessaloniki it is crunchy and not that sweet; the name comes from the ancient Roman panis focacius. Italian focaccia, Turkish poğaça, etc.
Greek bougatsa is prepared from phyllo dough wrapped around a filling. After it is baked, it is served hot. If the filling is semolina custard the pastry may be dusted with powdered sugar and/or cinnamon. Most modern bougatsa is made with machine-made phyllo, but some cafes and bakeries selling hand-made bougatsa still exist in smaller towns and villages of Greece; the city of Serres achieved the record for the largest puff pastry on 1 June 2008. It weighed 182.2kg, was 20 metres long, was made by more than 40 bakers. The process of making bougatsa by hand was featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations filmed in Greece. Galaktoboureko Pogača Tyropita, a pie made with cheese Focaccia Banitsa, a similar pie from Bulgaria
De Agri Cultura
De Agri Cultura, written by Cato the Elder, is the oldest surviving work of Latin prose. Alexander Hugh McDonald, in his article for the Oxford Classical Dictionary, dated this essay's composition to about 160 BC and noted that "for all of its lack of form, its details of old custom and superstition, its archaic tone, it was an up-to-date directed from his own knowledge and experience to the new capitalistic farming." Cato was revered by many authors for his practical attitudes, his natural stoicism and his tight, lucid prose. He is much quoted by Pliny the Elder, for example, in his Naturalis Historia; the work of Cato is characterized as a "farmer's notebook" written in a "random fashion". The book seems to be no more than a manual of husbandry intended for neighbours, its direct style, was noted by other ancient authors like Aulus Gellius as "forceful and vigorous", in a context of extreme simplicity. The main achievement of De Agri Cultura is its depiction of rural life during the Roman Republic.
Cato's introduction compares farming with other common activities of that time commerce and usury. He criticizes both, the former on the basis of the dangers and uncertainty which it bears, the second because according to the Twelve Tables, the usurer is judged a worse criminal than a thief. Cato makes a strong contrast with farming, which he praises as the source of good citizens and soldiers, of both wealth and high moral values. De Agri Cultura contains much information on the creation and caring of vineyards, including information on the slaves who helped maintain them. After numerous landowners in Rome read Cato's prose during this time, Rome began to produce wine on a large scale. Many of the new vineyards were sixty acres, because of their large size more slaves were necessary to keep the production of wine running smoothly. One section consists of recipes for farm products; these include: an imitation of Coan wine. Recipes for savillum and placenta, pastries similar to Cheesecake. There is a short section of religious rituals to be performed by farmers.
The language of these is traditional, somewhat more archaic than that of the remainder of the text, has been studied by Calvert Watkins. All of the manuscripts of Cato's treatise include a copy of Varro's essay of the same name. J. G. Schneider and Heinrich Keil showed that the existing manuscripts directly or indirectly descend from a long-lost manuscript called the Marcianus, once in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice and described by Petrus Victorinus as liber antiquissimus et fidelissimus; the oldest existing manuscript is the Codex Parisinus 6842, written in Italy at some point before the end of the 12th century. The editio princeps was printed at Venice in 1472. Brehaut, E. 1933. Cato the Censor, on Farming. New York: Columbia University Press. Dalby, Cato: On Farming, Totnes: Prospect Books, ISBN 0-907325-80-7 Goujard, R. Caton: De l'agriculture, Paris: Collection Budé, Les Belles Lettres William Davis Hooper, translator. Marcus Porcius Cato, "On Agriculture". Harvard: Loeb Classical Library, 1934.
Placenta Watkins, How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-514413-9 K. D. White, "Roman agricultural writers I: Varro and his predecessors" in Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt ed. H. Temporini. Part 1 vol. 4 pp. 439–497. Latin text and translation