Columella's Georgics: Form, Method, Intertextuality, Ideology
Requejo, Alberto A.
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This dissertation consists of a study of Columella’s georgic poem in the context of the technical treatise on agriculture of which it is an integral part. I consider four aspects in order to arrive at an interpretation of this work: form, method, intertextuality, and ideology. The form both of the technical books and of the poem is taken into consideration in this analysis. The same principle applies to the other aspects under scrutiny. These aspects are also considered in relation to each other. With respect to form we have concluded that the poem follows a ring–composition scheme around the farming calendar. The form of the technical books follows the dictates of the subjects under consideration, with the exception of horticulture which is left to be presented almost at the end and framed between the book on apiculture (9) and the two complementary books on the duties of the vilicus and vilica (11 & 12). With respect to method we argue that the principle of usus et experientia (trial and error) constitutes the foundation of the discipline of agriculture and animal farming according to Columella; and that the aim of any agricultural activity or animal husbandry task is invariably the acquisition of profit. I study the intertextual relationships of the poem with respect to other authors and consider the technical books, as well as other books on agriculture or kindred subjects, as part of the bank not only of words or expressions, but of themes through which different texts connect with each other. Last, I consider the ideological content of Columella’s treatise as it pertains to the traditional Roman ethics associated with agriculture, especially in what it concerns the continuity of the class division maintained by the equestrian order. I invite an analysis of Columella’s ideological assumptions in contrast to those of his Neronian literary contemporaries. I state that reading Columella’s work is necessary in order to have a better understanding of the literary, cultural, political and scientific developments of the Neronian period.