The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 2: Roman Gardens (500BC-500AD)

Gods in Roman Garden Design

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V. Roman Gardening, as a Science, and as to the Authors it produced 77. The gardening of the Romans was entirely empirical, and was carried on with all the superstitious observances dictated by a religion founded on polytheism. Almost every operation had its god, who was to be invoked or propitiated on all occasions. �I will write for your instruction,� says Varro to Fundasius, �three books on husbandry, first invoking the twelve dii consentes.� After enumerating the gods which preside over household matters and the common field operations, he adds, �adoring Venus as the patroness of the garden, and offering my entreaties to Lympha, because culture is drought and misery without water.� The elements of agriculture, he says, are the same as those of the world� water, earth, air, and the sun. Agriculture is a necessary and great art, and it is a science which teaches what is to be planted and done in every soil, and what lands yield the greatest profit. It should aim at utility and pleasure, by producing things profitable and agreeable, &c.