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date: 20 January 2021

Gargilius Martialis, Quintuslocked

, early to mid-3rd cent. ce
  • M. Stephen Spurr


Quintus Gargilius Martialis was famed for his work on *gardens (Serv. on G. 4. 147; Cassiod.Inst. 1. 28. 5). Part of the De hortis is extant, while two other fragments, on the medical properties of fruits and on remedies for oxen (Curae boum), are usually attributed to him. Both *Palladius (1) and the Arab writer Ibʼn-al-Awam cite him extensively. Whether the extant writings belonged to a comprehensive manual or to separate monographs is unknown. That the fragment on gardens concerns *arboriculture is due not to manuscript confusion but to the importance (proven by recent archaeological investigation) of fruit-trees in gardens. Although Gargilius merely lists the views of his sources on controversial points, his occasional criticism of earlier writers (at 4. 1 he accuses *Columella of negligence), his autopsy, and his practical experience help to explain the esteem of antiquity. His discussion of the peach, a tree barely mentioned by Columella, shows that arboriculture had continued to develop. A citation (4. 1) from *Virgil's Eclogues and the attention to prose rhythm throughout place Gargilius among those technical writers who, like *Columella, aimed to delight as well as to instruct their literary readers.

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