Some six years after his narrow escape from proscription in 43 bce, Marcus Terentius Varro, the most learned of the Romans, wrote a technical treatise on farming in the form of a satirico-philosophical dialogue. Grant A. Nelsestuen argues that far from simply being just another encyclopedic entry of a seemingly aloof antiquarian or offering an escapist s retreat into rustication, Varro s "e;De Re Rustica"e; uses the model of the farm to craft an implicitly political treatise that grapples with multifarious challenges facing the contemporary Roman world.
On one level, Varro s treatise presents an innovative account of the Roman farm, which rationalizes new agricultural and pastoral opportunities for contemporary elite owners of large-scale estates. But on another level, this bold agronomical vision associates the farm s different spheres with distinct areas under Roman control, thereby allegorizing Rome s empire on the model of a farm. Nelsestuen argues that Varro s treatise thus provides his contemporaries with a model for governing the Roman state, anticipates Augustus subsequent transformation of Roman dominion into a coherent territorial state, and offers an ancient theory of imperialism.
Shedding new light on the only completely extant work of a much-celebrated but ill-understood figure, "e;Varro the Agronomist"e; has much to offer to those interested in Latin literature especially, Cicero and Vergil as well as on the political dimensions of intellectual life in first-century bce Rome, ancient imperialism, and Roman political philosophy."e;
Varro the Agronomist
Ohio State University Press
Political Philosophy, Satire, and Agriculture in the Late Republic
Non Fiction /