Geoponica

The Geoponica is a twenty-book collection of agricultural lore, compiled during the 10th century in Constantinople for the Byzantine emperor Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus. The Greek word Geoponica signifies "agricultural pursuits" in its widest sense.

The 10th century collection is sometimes (wrongly) ascribed to the 7th century author Cassianus Bassus, whose collection, also titled Geoponica, was integrated into the extant work. Bassus drew heavily on the work on another agricultural compiler, Vindonius Anatolius (4th century). The ultimate sources of the Geoponica include Pliny, various lost Hellenistic and Roman-period Greek agriculture and veterinary authors, the Carthaginian agronomist Mago, and even works passing under the name of the Persian prophet Zoroaster. (The name of the principal sources for each section are attached to the text, although the age and correctness of these attributions remains in doubt.) The Greek manuscript tradition is extremely complex and not fully understood. Syriac, Pahlavi, Arabic and Armenian translations attest to its worldwide popularity and complicate the manuscript tradition still further.

Contents

The Geoponica embraces all manner of "agricultural" information, including celestial and terrestrial omina, viticulture, oleoculture, apiculture, veterinary medicine, the construction of fish-ponds and much more.

Taken from Charles Anthon's Manual of Greek Literature (1853).

1. Of the atmosphere, and of the rising and setting of the stars

2. Of general matters appertaining to agriculture, and of the different kinds of corn

3. Of the various agricultural duties suitable to each month

4–5. Of the cultivation of the vine

6–8. Of the making of wine

9. Of the cultivation of the olive and the making of oil

10–12. Of horticulture

13. Of the animals and insects injurious to plants

14. Of pigeons and other birds

15. Of natural sympathies and antipathies, and of the management of bees

16. Of horses, asses, and camels

17. Of the breeding of cattle

18. Of the breeding of sheep

19. Of dogs, hares, deer, pigs, and of salting meat

20. Of fishes

Bibliography

Teubner edition of the Greek text (ed. Heinrich Beckh): ISBN 3-598-71387-8

Links

PDF: "Kêpopoiïa: Garden-Making and Garden Culture in the Greek Geoponica," in Byzantine Garden Culture, ed. A. Littlewood et al. (Washington, 2002), 159-175.

Discussion of the Geoponica by John N. Lupia, III, from the LT-ANTIQ listserve, with bibliography

Translation by Thomas Owen (1805-06)

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