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As we have now spoken at sufficient length of the several varieties of grain and soil, we shall proceed to treat of the methods adopted in tilling the ground, taking care, in the very first place, to make mention of the peculiar facilities enjoyed by Egypt in this respect. In that country, performing the duties of the husbandman, the Nile begins to overflow, as already stated,1 immediately after the summer solstice or the new moon, gradually at first, but afterwards with increased impetuosity, as long as the sun remains in the sign of Leo, When the sun has passed into Virgo, the impetuosity of the overflow begins to slacken, and when he has entered Libra the river subsides. Should it not have exceeded twelve cubits in its overflow, famine is the sure result; and this is equally the case if it should chance to exceed sixteen; for the higher it has risen, the more slowly it subsides, and, of course, the seedtime is impeded in proportion. It was formerly a very general belief that immediately upon the subsiding of the waters the Egyptians were in the habit of driving herds of swine over the ground, for the purpose of treading the seed into the moist soil—and it is my own impression that this was done in ancient times. At the present day even, the operation is not attended with much greater labour. It is well known, however, that the seed is first laid upon the slime that has been left by the river on its subsidence, and then ploughed in; this being done at the beginning of November. After this is done, a few persons are employed in stubbing, an operation known there as "botanismos." The rest of the labourers, however, have no occasion to visit the land again till a little before the calends of April,2 and then it is with the reaping-hook. The harvest is completed in the month of May. The stem is never so much as a cubit in length, as there is a stratum of sand beneath the slime, from which last alone the grain receives its support. The best wheat of all is that of the region of Thebais, Egypt3 being of a marshy character.

The method adopted at Seleucia in Babylonia is very similar to this, but the fertility there is still greater, owing to the overflow of the Euphrates and Tigris,4 the degree of irrigation being artificially modified in those parts. In Syria, too, the furrows are made extremely light, while in many parts of Italy, again, it takes as many as eight oxen to pant and blow at a single plough. All the operations of agriculture, but this in particular, should be regulated by the oracular precept— "Remember that every locality has its own tendencies."

1 In B. v. c. 10.

2 First of April.

3 I. e. Egypt Proper, the Delta, or Lower Egypt, Thebais being in Upper Egypt.

4 The overflow of these rivers is by no means to be compared with that of the Nile.

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