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[405] First of all, get a house, and a woman and an ox for the plough—a slave woman and not a wife, to follow the oxen as well—and make everything ready at home, so that you may not have to ask of another, and he refuse you, and so, because you are in lack, the season pass by and your work come to nothing. [410] Do not put your work off till to-morrow and the day after; for a sluggish worker does not fill his barn, nor one who puts off his work: industry makes work go well, but a man who puts off work is always at hand-grips with ruin. When the piercing power and sultry heat of the sun abate, [415] and almighty Zeus sends the autumn rains,1 and men's flesh comes to feel far easier,—for then the star Sirius passes over the heads of men, who are born to misery, only a little while by day and takes greater share of night— [420] then, when it showers its leaves to the ground and stops sprouting, the wood you cut with your axe is least liable to worm. Then remember to hew your timber: it is the season for that work. Cut a mortar2 three feet wide and a pestle three cubits long, and an axle of seven feet, for it will do very well so; [425] but if you make it eight feet long, you can cut a beetle3 from it as well. Cut a felloe three spans across for a wagon of ten palms' width. Hew also many bent timbers, and bring home a plough-tree when you have found it, and look out on the mountain or in the field for one of holm-oak; [430] for this is the strongest for oxen to plough with when one of Athena's handmen has fixed in the share-beam and fastened it to the pole with dowels. Get two ploughs ready and work on them at home, one all of a piece, and the other jointed. It is far better to do this, for if you should break one of them, you can put the oxen to the other. [435] Poles of laurel or elm are most free from worms, and a share-beam of oak and a plough-tree of holm-oak. Get two oxen, bulls of nine years; for their strength is unspent and they are in the prime of their age: they are best for work. They will not fight in the furrow and break the plough [440] and then leave the work undone. Let a brisk fellow of forty years follow them, with a loaf of four quarters4 and eight slices5 for his dinner, one who will attend to his work and drive a straight furrow and is past the age for gaping after his fellows, [445] but will keep his mind on his work. No younger man will be better than he at scattering the seed and avoiding double-sowing; for a man less staid gets disturbed, hankering after his fellows.

1 In October.

2 For pounding corn.

3 A mallet for breaking clods after ploughing.

4 The loaf is a flattish cake with two intersecting lines scored on its upper surface which divide it into four equal parts.

5 The meaning is obscure. A scholiast renders “giving eight mouthfuls”; but the elder Philostratus uses the word in contrast to “leavened.”

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