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In accordance with the ordinary divisions of the year, we now come to autumn, a period which extends from the setting of the Lyre to the autumnal equinox, and from that to the setting of the Vergiliæ and the beginning of winter. In these intervals, the more important periods are marked by the rising of the Horse to the people of Attica, in the evening of the day before1 the ides of August; upon which day also the Dolphin sets in Egypt, and, according to Cæsar, in Italy. On the eleventh2 before the calends of September, the star called the Vintager begins to rise in the morning, according to Cæsar's reckoning, and to the people of Assyria; it announces the ripening of the vintage, a sure sign of which is the change of colour in the grape. On the fifth3 before the calends of September, the Arrow sets in Assyria, and the Etesian winds cease to blow: on the nones4 of September, the Vintager rises in Egypt, and in the morning of that day, Arcturus rises to the people of Attica: on the same morning, too, the Arrow sets. On the fifth before5 the ides of September, according to Cæsar, the She-Goat rises in the evening; and one half of Arcturus becomes visible on the day before6 the ides of September, being portentous7 of boisterous weather for five days, both by land and sea.

The theory relative to the effects produced by Arcturus, is stated in the following terms: if showers prevail, it is said, at the setting of the Dolphin, they will not cease so long as Arcturus is visible. The departure of the swallows may be looked upon as the sign of the rising of Arcturus; for if overtaken by it, they are sure to perish.

On the sixteenth day before8 the calends of October, the Ear of Corn, which Virgo holds, rises to the people of Egypt in the morning, and by this day the Etesian winds have quite ceased to blow. According to Cæsar, this constellation rises on the fourteenth9 before the calends, and it affords its prognostics to the Assyrians on the thirteenth. On the eleventh before10 the calends of October, the point of junction11 in Pisces disappears, and upon the eighth12 is the autumnal equinox. It is a remarkable fact, and rarely the case, that Philippus, Callip- pus, Dositheus, Parmeniscus, Conon,13 Criton, Democritus, and Eudoxus, all agree that the She-Goat rises in the morning of the fourth before14 the calends of October, and on the third15 the Kids. On the sixth day before16 the nones of October, the Crown rises in the morning to the people of Attica, and upon the morning of the fifth,17 the Charioteer sets. On the fourth before18 the nones of October, the Crown, according to Cæsar's reckoning, begins to rise, and on the evening of the day after is the setting of the constellation of the Kids. On the eighth before19 the ides of October, according to Cæsar, the bright star rises that shines in the Crown, and on the evening of the sixth before20 the ides the Vergiliæ, rise. Upon the ides21 of October, the Crown has wholly risen. On the seventeenth before22 the calends of November, the Suculæ rise in the evening, and on the day before the calends, according to Cæsar's reckoning, Arcturus sets, and the Suculæ23 rise with the sun. In the evening of the fourth day before24 the nones of November, Arcturus sets. On the fifth before25 the ides of November, Orion's Sword begins to set; and on the third26 before the ides the Vergiliæ set.

In this interval of time, the rural operations consist in sowing rape and turnips, upon the days which have been mentioned on a previous occasion.27 The people in the country are of opinion, that it is not a good plan to sow rape after the departure of the stork; but for my own part, I am of opinion that it should be sown after the Vulcanalia, and the early kind at the same time as panic. After the setting of the Lyre, vetches should be sown, kidney-beans and hay-grass: it is generally recommended that this should be done while the moon is in conjunction. This, too, is the proper time for gathering in the leaves: it is fair work for one woodman, to fill four baskets28 in the day. If the leaves are gathered while the moon is on the wane, they will not decay; they ought not to be dry, however, when gathered.

The ancients were of opinion, that the vintage is never ripe before the equinox; but at the present day I find that it is gathered in before that period; it will be as well, therefore, to give the signs and indications by which the proper moment may be exactly ascertained. The rules for getting in the vintage are to the following effect: Never gather the grape in a heated state,29 or in other words, when the weather is dry, and before the rains have fallen; nor ought it to be gathered when covered with dew,—or in other words, when dews have fallen during the night,—nor yet before the dews have been dispelled by the sun. Commence the vintage when the bearing-shoots begin to recline upon the stem, or when, after a grape is removed from the bunch, the space left empty is not filled up; this being a sure proof that the berry has ceased to increase in size. It is of the greatest consequence to the grape, that it should be gathered while the moon is on the increase. Each pressing should fill twenty culei,30 that being the fair proportion. To fill twenty culei and vats31 from twenty jugera of vineyard, a single press will be enough. In pressing the grape, some persons use a single press-board, but it is a better plan to employ two, however large the single ones may be. It is the length of them that is of the greatest consequence, and not the thickness: if wide, however, they press the fruit all the better. The ancients used to screw down the press-boards with ropes and leather thongs, worked by levers. Within the last hundred years the Greek press has been invented, with thick spiral grooves running down the32 stem. To this stem there are spokes attached, which project like the rays of a star, and by means of which the stem is made to lift a box filled with stones —a method that is very highly approved of. It is only within the last two-and-twenty years, that a plan has been discovered of employing smaller press-boards, and a less unwieldy press: to effect this, the height has been reduced, and the stem of the screw placed in the middle, the whole pressure being concentrated upon broad planks33 placed over the grapes, which are covered also with heavy weights above.

This is the proper time for gathering fruit; the best moment for doing so is when it has begun to fall through ripeness, and not from the effects of the weather. This is the season, too, for extracting the lees of wine, and for boiling defrutum:34 this last must be done on a night when there is no moon, or if it is a full moon, in the day-time. At other times of the year, it must be done either before the moon has risen, or after it has set. The grapes employed for this purpose should never be gathered from a young vine, nor yet from a tree that is grown in a marshy spot, nor should any grapes be used but those that are perfectly ripe: the liquor, too, should never be skimmed with anything but a leaf;35 for if the vessel should happen to be touched with wood, the liquor, it is generally thought, will have a burnt and smoky flavour.

The proper time for the vintage is between the equinox and the setting of the Vergiliæ, a period of forty-four days. It is a saying among the growers, that to pitch wine-vessels after that day, in consequence of the coldness of the weather, is only so much time lost. Still, however, I have seen, before now, persons getting in the vintage on the calends of January36 even, in consequence of the want of wine-vessels, and putting the must into receivers,37 or else pouring the old wine out of its vessels, to make room for new liquor of a very doubtful quality. This, however, happens not so often in consequence of an over-abundant crop, as through carelessness, or else the avarice which leads people to wait for a rise in prices. The method that is adopted by the most economical managers, is to use the produce supplied by each year,38 and this, too, is found in the end the most lucrative mode of proceeding. As for the other details relative to wines, they have been discussed at sufficient length already;39 and it has been stated on a previous occasion,40 that as soon as the vintage is got in, the olives should at once be gathered, with other particulars relative to the olive after the setting of the Vergiliæ.

1 Twelfth of August.

2 Twenty-second of August.

3 Twenty-eighth of August.

4 Fifth of September.

5 Ninth of September.

6 Twelfth of September.

7 See the Rudens of Plautus, Prol. 1. 69.

8 Sixteenth of September.

9 Eighteenth of September.

10 Twenty-first of September.

11 Commissura.

12 Twenty-fourth of September.

13 Mentioned by Virgil, Eccl. iii. 1. 38, and by Propertius, Eleg. iv. 1.

14 Twenty-eighth of September.

15 Twenty-ninth of September.

16 Second of October.

17 Third of October.

18 Fourth of October.

19 Eighth of October.

20 Tenth of October.

21 Fifteenth of October.

22 Sixteenth of October.

23 Or Hyades, see C. 66.

24 Second of November.

25 Ninth of November.

26 Eleventh of November.

27 In c. 35 of this Book.

28 "Frondarias fiscinas." These must have been baskets of a very large size. The leaves were used for fodder.

29 This, Fée says. is diametrically opposite to the modern practice.

30 The "culeus," it is supposed, was of the same measure of capacity as the "dolium," and held twenty amphoræ. The "pressura," or "pressing." was probably the utmost quantity that the pressing vat would hold at one time.

31 "Lacus."

32 "Mali rugis per cocleas bullantibus." The whole of this passage is full of difficulties.

33 "Tympana;" literally, "drums."

34 Grape juice boiled down to one half; see B. xiv. c. 9.

35 Virgil mentions this in the Georgics, B i. 295. Of course, it is nothing but an absurd superstition.

36 First of Jaunary.

37 Piscinis.

38 I. c. before getting in the next year's crop. Of course, he alludes only to wines of an inferior class, used for domestic consumption.

39 In B. xiv.

40 In B. xv. c. 3.

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