Cato the Elder on Human and Animal Diseases and Medicines for Them – According to the Treatise on "Agriculture"

  • Dominika Budzanowska-Weglenda Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University, Warsaw, Poland
Keywords: Cato the Elder, disease, medicine, On Agriculture (De agri cultura)


Cato the Elder on Human and Animal Diseases and Medicines for Them – According to the Treatise on "Agriculture"

Cato the Elder was a great speaker, respected politician, military commander and writer. His treatise De agri cultura (On Agriculture) contains not only numerous passages on farm management, but also cooking recipes, religious principles, advice on how to obtain supplies, and very specific medical advice and medicinal recipes. Cato heals many different diseases of humans and quadrupeds (especially oxen). He knows how these medicines, various types of wines and cabbage dishes, should be concocted. His recipes are detailed and appear to indicate that the author knows them well. Cato does not neglect the religious and magical elements in his medical advice. Therefore, his treatise is an interesting source of Roman spells. First of all Cato’s manual on agriculture is a significant testimony of Roman medicinal and veterinary knowledge of the time, but also of the importance of these issues for the elite of the Roman Republic.


Primary sources:

Cato (Marcus Porcius Cato, Cato the Elder), 1922, De agri cultura (On Agriculture), G. Goetz (ed.), Lipsiae, transl. W.D. Hooper, H.B. Ash (Loeb Classical Library edition, 1934). DOI:

Columella (Lucius Junius Moderatus Columella), 1902–1917, De re rustica (Agriculture), V. Lundström (ed.), Uppsala.

Plinius Maior (Gaius Plinius Secundus, Pliny the Elder), 1906, Naturalis historia (Natural History), K.F.T. Mayhoff (ed.), Lipsiae.

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How to Cite
Budzanowska-Weglenda, D. “Cato the Elder on Human and Animal Diseases and Medicines for Them – According to the Treatise on "Agriculture"”. Classica Cracoviensia, Vol. 21, Dec. 2018, pp. 31-54, doi:10.12797/CC.21.2018.21.02.