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  • 1 Università di Milano and Istituto di Virologia Vegetale, Dipartimento Agroalimentare Istituto di Patologia Vegetale CNR, via Celoria 2 20133 Milano Italy
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A historical approach to plant pathology has been provided on the basis of textual evidence. Roman writers on agriculture, i. e. Cato, Varro, Virgil, Pliny the Elder and Columella, have been revised, with the aim of identifying some of the plant diseases spread in the Roman Age. Rust disease of cereals was the most frequently reported, besides grape rot, root rot of fig trees and rue plants, wood decay of holly oak and, probably, Esca disease of grapevine. Insects and weeds were occasionally cited. The recorded data have been briefly discussed and compared to Greek and Biblical textual sources, while archaeological evidence has been presented to support them, although pertaining to a prehistoric context.

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