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Columella, L. Iunius Moderātus

A Roman writer, born at Gades, in the reign of Augustus or Tiberius, and a contemporary, according to his own account, of Seneca and Celsus. The elder Pliny also frequently makes mention of him. His father, Marcus Columella, had possessions in the province of Baetica. The son betook himself at an early period to Rome, where he passed his life, with the exception of a few journeys to Syria and Cilicia. Two works of his remain: one, entitled De Re Rustica, in twelve books; the other, De Arboribus. This last made, very probably, part of a work on agriculture, in four books, which Columella had published as the first edition of that which we now have in twelve books. On this supposition, Cassiodorus was correct in saying that Columella had written a work in sixteen books on rural economy. This author appears to have been but little read. Among the ancients, Pliny , Servius, Cassiodorus, and Isidorus are the only ones who cite him. He fell into almost complete neglect after Palladius had made an abridgment of his work. (See Palladius.) The style of Columella is pure and elegant; if any reproach can be made against him, it is that of being too studied in his language for the subject of which he treats.

The tenth book, which he originally intended to be the conclusion, is in verse (dactylic hexameters), and is a sort of supplement to the Georgics of Vergil, whose style Columella imitates with considerable success. It treats of gardening. The eleventh and twelfth books were subsequently added by the author, as not having exhausted his subject. The best MS. of Columella is the Codex Sangermanensis of the ninth century, now in St. Petersburg. The Res Rustica is contained in the collections of the Scriptores Rei Rusticae, and has been separately edited by Ress (Fleusburg, 1795), and bk. x. in Wernsdorf's Poetae Latini Minores. (See Barberet, De Columellae Vita et Scriptis (Nancy, 1888).

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