Marcus Terentius Varro

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Statue of Marcus Terentius Varro in Rieti

Marcus Terentius Varro (116 BC27 BC) was a Roman scholar and philosopher. He is believed to have written more than 600 volumes, but of these only three volumes on agriculture, five on the Latin language, and a few fragments have survived.


  • Postremo nemo aegrotus quidquam somniat tam infandum, quod non aliquis dicat philosophus.
    • No sick man's monstrous dream can be so wild that some philosopher won't say it's true.
    • Eumenides, fragment 6, from Saturae Menippeae; translation from J. Wight Duff Roman Satire: Its Outlook on Social Life (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1964) p. 90.

De Re Rustica[edit]

Res Rusticae (Country Matters) at Wikisource. See also Varro's Rerum Rusticarum Libri Tres, (1913) at ; And The Three Books of M. Terentius Varro Concerning Agriculture (1800)

  • The Greek writers who have treated incidentally of agriculture are more than fifty in number. Those whom you may consult with profit are Hieron of Sicily and Attalus Philometor, among the philosophers; Democritus the physicist; Xenophon the disciple of Socrates; Aristotle and Theophrastus, the peripatetics; Archytas the pythagorean; likewise the Athenian Amphilochus, Anaxipolis of Thasos, Apollodorus of Lemnos, Aristophanes of Mallos, Antigonus of Cyme, Agathocles of Chios, Apollonius of Pergamum, Aristandrus of Athens, Bacchius of Miletus, Bion of Soli, Chaeresteus and Chaereas of Athens, Diodorus of Priene, Dion of Colophon, Diophanes of Nicaea, Epigenes of Rhodes, Evagon of Thasos, Euphronius of Athens, and his name sake of Amphipolis, Hegesias of Maronea, the two Menanders, one of Priene, the other of Heraclaea, Nicesius of Maronea, Pythion of Rhodes. Among the rest whose countries I do not know, are Andiotion, Aeschrion, Aristomenes, Athenagoras, Crates, Dadis, Dionysius, Euphiton, Euphorion, Eubulus, Lysimachus, Mnaseas, Menestratus, Plentiphanes, Persis, and Theophilus.
  • Portam itineri dici longissimam esse.
    • The longest part of the journey is said to be the passing of the gate.
    • W. D. Hooper & H. B. Ash, tr., On Agriculture (Harvard University Press, 1993). Bk. 1, ch. 2
  • Crescunt animalia quaedam minuta, quae non possunt oculi consequi, et per aera intus in corpus per os ac nares perveniunt atque efficiunt difficilis morbos.
    • There are bred certain minute creatures which cannot be seen by the eyes, which float in the air and enter the body through the mouth and nose and there cause serious diseases.
    • W. D. Hooper & H. B. Ash, tr., On Agriculture (Harvard University Press, 1993). Bk. 1, ch. 12
  • Divina Natura dedit agros, ars humana ædificavit urbes.
    • It was divine nature which gave us the country, and man's skill that built the cities.
    • W. D. Hooper & H. B. Ash, tr., On Agriculture (Harvard University Press, 1993). Bk. 3, ch. 1
    • Compare: "God made the country and man made the town." (William Cowper, The Task ("Sofa"), 1, 749)


  • Vir Romanorum eruditissimus.
    • The most learned of all Romans.
    • Quintilian Institutio Oratoria Bk. 10, ch. 1, para. 95; translation by H. E. Butler. [1]

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