Mago (agricultural writer)

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Mago (Punic: 𐤌𐤂‬𐤍‬, MGN)[1] was a Carthaginian writer, author of an agricultural manual in Punic which was a record of the farming knowledge of North Africans, namely Berbers. The Punic text has been lost, but some fragments of Greek and Latin translations survive.

Work[edit]

Mago's long work was divided into 28 books. It incorporated local Berber and Punic traditional practices. Carthage being a Phoenician colony and North Africa the granary of the central Mediterranean, Berber knowledge of agriculture and veterinary was extensive. It began with general advice which is thus summarized by Columella:

After Rome's destruction of Carthage in 146 BC, the Carthaginian libraries were given to the kings of Numidia. Uniquely, Mago's book was retrieved and brought to Rome.[3] It was adapted into Greek by Cassius Dionysius and translated in full into Latin by D. Junius Silanus, the latter at the expense of the Roman Senate.[4] The Greek translation was later abridged by Diophanes of Nicaea, whose version was divided into six books.[5]

Extracts from these translations survive in quotations by Roman writers on agriculture, including Varro, Columella, Pliny the Elder, and Gargilius Martialis. This is a partial list of surviving fragments:

  • If buying a farm, sell your town house.[6]
  • The most productive vineyards face north.[7]
  • How to plant vines.[8]
  • How to prune vines.[9]
  • How to plant olives.[10]
  • How to plant fruit trees.[11]
  • How to harvest marsh plants.[12]
  • Preparing various grains and pulses for grinding.[13]
  • How to select bullocks.[14]
  • Notes on the health of cattle.[15]
  • Mules sometimes foal in Africa. Mules and mares foal in the twelfth month after conception.[16]
  • Notes on farmyard animals.[17]
  • Getting bees from the carcass of a bullock or ox.[18]
  • The beekeeper should not kill drones.[19]
  • How to preserve pomegranates.[20]
  • How to make the best passum (raisin wine).[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ Huss (1985), p. 570.
  2. ^ Translation by Harrison Boyd Ash.
  3. ^ Miles, Richard (2010). Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Civilization. United States: Penguin Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-14-312129-9.
  4. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia 18.22 [1], cf. 1.18; Cicero, De Oratore 1.249; Varro, De Re Rustica 1.1.10; Columella, De Agricultura 1.1.13, 12.4.2.
  5. ^ Columella, De Agricultura 1.1.10.
  6. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia 18.35; Columella, De Agricultura 1.1.18.
  7. ^ Columella, De Agricultura 3.12.5.
  8. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia 17.80, 128; Columella, De Agricultura 3.15.3-5 and 5.5.4, cf. Virgil, Georgics 2.348-353.
  9. ^ Columella, De Agricultura 4.10.1.
  10. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia 17.93; Columella, De Arboribus 4.10.1.
  11. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia 17.63-64, 131.
  12. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia 21.110-112.
  13. ^ Pliny, Naturalis Historia 18.97-98.
  14. ^ Columella, De Agricultura 6.1.3.
  15. ^ Varro, De Re Rustica 2.5.18.
  16. ^ Varro, De Re Rustica 2.1.27; Columella, De Agricultura 6.37.3.
  17. ^ Varro, De Re Rustica 3.2.13.
  18. ^ Columella, De Agricultura 9.14.6.
  19. ^ Columella, De Agricultura 9.15.3.
  20. ^ Columella, De Agricultura 12.46.5.
  21. ^ Columella, De Agricultura 12.39.1.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Dalby, Andrew (2003), Food in the ancient world from A to Z, London, New York: Routledge, pp. 75–76, 206, & 250, ISBN 0-415-23259-7.
  • Huss, Werner (1985), Geschichte der Karthager, Munich: C.H. Beck. (in German)
  • Johnson, Hugh (1989), Vintage: The Story of Wine, New York: Simon and Schuster, p. 61.
  • Lundström, V., "Magostudien", Eranos, Vol. II, pp. 60–67.
  • Mahaffy, J.P., "The Work of Mago on Agriculture", Hermathena, Vol. 7, pp. 29–35.

External links[edit]