14. A Carthaginian of uncertain date, who wrote a work upon agriculture in the Punic language, which is frequently mentioned by Roman authors in terms of the highest commendation.
He is even styled by Columella the father of agriculture-- rusticationis parents
(De R. R.
1.1.13). Nothing is known of the period at which he flourished, or of the events of his life, except that he was a man of distinction in his native country, and had held important military commands. (Col. 12.4.2
; Plin. Nat. 18.5
.) Heeren's conjecture that he was the same as No. 1, is wholly without foundation: the name of Mago was evidently too common at Carthage to afford any reasonable ground for identifying him with any of the persons known to us from history. His work was a voluminous one, extending to twenty-eight books, and comprising all branches of the subject. So great was its reputation even at Rome, that after the destruction of Carthage, when the libraries which had fallen into the hands of the Romans were distributed among the princes of Africa, an exception was made in favour of the work of Mago, and it was ordered by the senate that it should be translated into Latin by competent persons, at the head of whom was D. Silanus. (Plin. Nat. 18.5
; Colunm. 1.1.13.)
It was subsequently translated into Greek, though with some abridgment and alteration, by Cassius Dionysius of Utica, and an epitome of it in the same language, brought into the compass of six books, was drawn up by Diophanes of Bithynia, and dedicated to king Deiotarus. (Varro, de R. R.
1.1.10; Col. 1.1.10
.) His precepts on agricultural matters are continually cited by the Roman writers on those subjects, Varro, Columella, and Palladius, as well as by Pliny: his work is also alluded to by Cicero (De Orat.
1.58) in terms that imply its high reputation as the standard authority upon the subject on which it treated.
It is said to have opened with the very sound piece of advice that if a man meant to settle in the country, he should begin by selling his town house. (Col. 1.1.18
; Plin. Nat. 18.7
.) All the passages in Roman authors in which the work of Mago is cited or referred to are collected by Heeren. (Ideen,
vol. iv. p. 527, &c.)