Studying the Poetic Function and Scientific Accuracy of Ancient Agricultural Treatises




Bush, Natalie

Access rights

Worldwide access

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Roman agricultural treatises, written from 160 BCE to 60 CE, describe Roman agriculture and the structural organization of the Latin farm. Vergil’s Georgics¸ Columella’s Res Rustica, and Varro’s De Re Rustica are all nontraditional examples of agricultural treatises, calling into question their scientific accuracy. Variance from such accuracy may prove their political or poetic intentions. Experimental and literary analysis was conducted on these treatises to test their scientific merit and poetic intentions. Studies tested the efficacy of ancient farming techniques, such as rolling, tarping, crop burning, organic fertilizing, and mulching. All were proven effective modern forms of agricultural techniques that successfully prevented weed growth, maximized nutrients, and promoted plant growth in scientific studies. A farming management handout was produced in the style of Varro’s treatise and compared to modern best management practices. Despite their varied intentions and vagueness, these works contain astounding scientific truth that is far beyond their time.