Cato's 'De Agricultura': Offering to Jupiter Dapalis

Translated into English by Quinta Claudia Lucentia Aprica

Cato, De Agricultura 132

An offering to Jupiter Dapalis (Jupiter of the feast) before ploughing.

This ritual is recommended by Cato for farmers as a yearly offering for their oxen, to be made when the pear-trees bloom (i.e. in spring) before ploughing begins. The aim is to bring a divine blessing on the oxen as they undertake the ploughing of the fields, in order to ensure a healthy crop and a good yield. However, this ritual could equally be used on the occasion of any important enterprise or undertaking, e.g. opening a new business, buying a house, starting a new job, finalising an important deal, etc.

Latin text:
'Dapem hoc modo fieri oportet. Iovi dapali culignam vini quantum vis polluceto. Eo die feriae bubus et bubulcis et qui dapem facient. Cum pollucere oportebit, sic facies: "Iuppiter dapalis, quod tibi fieri oportet in domo familia mea culignam vini dapi, eius rei ergo macte hac illace dape pollucenda esto." Manus interluito, postea vinum sumito: "Iuppiter dapalis, macte istace dape pollucenda esto, macte vino inferio esto." Vestae, si voles, dato. Daps Iovi assaria pecuina urna vini. Iovi caste profanato sua contagione.'

English translation:
'It is proper for the sacrificial feast to be made in this way. Offer to Jupiter Dapalis a cup of wine as great as you wish. It is a festival that day for the oxen and the ox-men and those who will carry out the sacrifice. When it will be proper to make the offering, speak thus: "Jupiter Dapalis, because it is proper for a cup of wine to be given to you in the house of my family for the sacred feast, for the sake of this thing may you be honoured by this, the feast offering." Wash the hands, afterwards take the wine: "Jupiter Dapalis, may you be honoured by this feast offering, may you be honoured by the wine sacrificed." Give to Vesta, if you wish. The sacred feast for Jupiter is roasted meat and an urn of wine. To Iuppiter you shall piously profane his [offerings] with [your] touch.'

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