Log in Become a Member


The Roman politician Marcius Porcius Cato the Elder (234-149 B.C., to distinguish him from his great-grandson Cato the Younger) is considered an important ancient author on viticulture. Also known as "Cato the Censor", he grew up on his father's estate near Reate near Rome. In a very short time he attained the highest state offices (Quaestor, Aedile, Praetor, Censor and Consul to Spain). Cato vehemently opposed corruption, pompousness and wastefulness and propagated the old Roman customs in contrast to the Greek culture, which he considered dangerous and perishable. Because of his dreaded severity, he was given the nickname Censorius during his tenure as censor. He is probably best known for his saying at the end of each of his senate speeches, "Ceterum censeo carthaginem esse delendam", with which he preached for many years the complete destruction of the city of Carthage (incidentally, I believe that Carthage must be destroyed). In Cato's last year of life, the Third Punic War did indeed break out, in the course of which Carthage was completely destroyed. However, three years later, in 146 B.C., he did not live to see the complete annihilation any more.

Cato - Büste, Ceterum censeo... und De re rustica

Cato wrote numerous writings on many topics. The only one of his works that has survived is "De agri cultura" (also "De re rustica" - On Rural Affairs), written at the age of 80. It contains precise instructions for the purchase and operation of a country estate. He was one of the first Romans to write extensively and competently about viticulture. Cato emphasized that viticulture required high investments and professional, intensive care. He gave recommendations for planting certain grape varieties, taking into account the geological and topographical characteristics of the vineyard, grafting the vines, pruning and soil care by removing weeds. He considered it important to ensure that the grapes ripened well at harvest time and that the winemaking process was carried out with great care to prevent wine from turning into vinegar. He recommended cleaning the wine jugs twice a day after the harvest. Regarding vinification, he mentioned the storage of yeast.

Cato's instructions are extremely practice-oriented and contain numerous facts and figures regarding economic planning. Among other things, they state the required number of workers and explain how many slaves could work without dropping dead. In the first place, the owners of larger goods are addressed. The details for the necessary equipment are given taking into account a vineyard area of 100 Jugerum, which is about 25 hectares. The equipment of the wine press house and the nature of the tree presses(torggel) are derived from this. Among the Roman landowners, viticulture was the first priority as a high source of income and Cato's recommendations were followed to the letter. In the evaluation of the wines popular at that time he ranked the Raeticum from Veneto right after the Falernum from Campania. The later authors Columella (1st century) and Pliny the Elder (23-79) praised his erudition. His writing is partly included in the agricultural collective Geoponika from the 10th century.

Bust: By Unknown author, Public Domain, Link
Saying: Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer
De re rustica: BEIC digital library, Public Domain, Link

The world's largest Lexikon of wine terms.

23.145 Keywords · 48.178 Synonyms · 5.311 Translations · 28.459 Pronunciations · 156.084 Cross-references
made with by our Experts. About the Lexicon


Cookies facilitate the provision of our services. By using our services, you agree that we use cookies.