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1 1 There is an ancient belief, handed down to us even from mythical times and firmly established by the general agreement of the Roman people and of all nations, that divination of some kind exists among men; this the Greeks call μαντική — that is, the foresight and knowledge of future events. A really splendid and helpful thing it is — if only such a faculty exists — since by its means men may approach very near to the power of gods. And, just as we Romans have done many other things better than the Greeks, so have we excelled them in giving to this most extraordinary gift a name, which we have derived from divi, a word meaning "gods," whereas, according to Plato's interpretation, they have derived it from furor, a word meaning "frenzy."1
2 Now I am aware of no people, however refined and learned or however savage and ignorant, which does not think that signs are given of future events, and that certain persons can recognize those signs and foretell events before they occur. First of all — to seek authority from the most distant sources — the Assyrians, on account of the vast plains inhabited by them, and because of the open and unobstructed view of the heavens presented to them on every p225 side, took observations of the paths and movements of the stars, and, having made note of them, transmitted to posterity what significance they had for each person. And in that same nation the Chaldeans — a name which they derived not from their art but their race2 — have, it is thought, by means of long-continued observation of the constellations, perfected a science which enables them to foretell what any man's lot will be and for what fate he was born.
The same art is believed to have been acquired also by the Egyptians through a remote past extending over almost countless ages. Moreover, the Cilicians, Pisidians, and their neighbours, the Pamphylians — nations which I once governed — think that the future is declared by the songs and flights of birds, which they regard as most infallible signs. 3 And, indeed, what colony did Greece ever send into Aeolia, Ionia, Asia, Sicily, or Italy without consulting the Pythian or Dodonian oracle, or that of Jupiter Hammon? Or what war did she ever undertake without first seeking the counsel of the gods?
2 Nor is it only one single mode of divination that has been employed in public and in private. For, to say nothing of other nations, how many our own people have embraced! In the first place, according to tradition, Romulus, the father of this City, not only founded it in obedience to the auspices, but was himself a most skilful augur. Next, the other Roman kings employed augurs; and, again, after the expulsion of the kings, no public business was ever transacted at home or abroad without first taking the auspices. Furthermore, since our forefathers p227 believed that the soothsayers'3 art had great efficacy in seeking for omens and advice,4 as well as in cases where prodigies were to be interpreted and their effects averted, they gradually introduced that art in its entirety from Etruria, lest it should appear that any kind of divination had been disregarded by them.
4 And since they thought that the human mind, when in an irrational and unconscious state, and moving by its own free and untrammelled impulse, was inspired in two ways, the one by frenzy and the other by dreams, and since they believed that the divination of frenzy was contained chiefly in the Sibylline verses, they decreed that ten5 men should be chosen from the State to interpret those verses. In this same category also were the frenzied prophecies of soothsayers and seers, which our ancestors frequently thought worthy of belief — like the prophecies of Cornelius Culleolus, during the Octavian War.6 Nor, indeed, were the more significant dreams, if they seemed to concern the administration of public affairs, disregarded by our Supreme Council. Why, even within my own memory, Lucius Julius, who was consul with Publius Rutilius, by a vote of the Senate rebuilt the temple of Juno, the Saviour,7 in accordance with a dream of Caecilia, daughter of Balearicus.8
3 5 Now my opinion is that, in sanctioning such usages, the ancients were influenced more by actual results than convinced by reason.9 However certain very subtle arguments to prove the trustworthiness of divination have been gathered by philosophers. Of these — to mention the most ancient — Xenophanes of Colophon, while asserting p229 the existence of gods, was the only one who repudiated divination in its entirety; but all the others, with the exception of Epicurus, who babbled about the nature of the gods, approved of divination, though not in the same degree. For example, Socrates and all of the Socratic School, and Zeno and his followers, continued in the faith of the ancient philosophers and in agreement with the Old Academy and with the Peripatetics. Their predecessor, Pythagoras, who even wished to be considered an augur himself, gave the weight of his great name to the same practice; and that eminent author, Democritus, in many passages, strongly affirmed his belief in a presentiment of things to come. Moreover, Dicaearchus, the Peripatetic, though he accepted divination by dreams and frenzy, cast away all other kinds; and my intimate friend, Cratippus, whom I consider the peer of the greatest of the Peripatetics, also gave credence to the same kinds of divination but rejected the rest.
6 The Stoics, on the other hand (for Zeno in his writings had, as it were, scattered certain seed which Cleanthes had fertilized somewhat), defended nearly every sort of divination. Then came Chrysippus, a man of the keenest intellect, who exhaustively discussed the whole theory of divination in two books, and, besides, wrote one book on oracles and another on dreams. And following him, his pupil, Diogenes of Babylon, published one book, Antipater two, and my friend, Posidonius, five. But Panaetius, the teacher of Posidonius, a pupil, too, of Antipater, and, even a pillar of the Stoic school, wandered off from the Stoics, and, though he dared not say that there was no efficacy in divination, yet he did say that he p231 was in doubt. Then, since the Stoics — much against their will I grant you — permitted this famous Stoic to doubt on one point will they not grant to us Academicians the right to do the same on all other points, especially since that about which Panaetius is not clear is clearer than the light of day to the other members of the Stoic school? 7 At any rate, this praiseworthy tendency of the Academy to doubt has been approved by the solemn judgement of a most eminent philosopher.10
4 Accordingly, since I, too, am in doubt as to the proper judgement to be rendered in regard to divination because of the many pointed and exhaustive arguments urged by Carneades against the Stoic view, and since I am afraid of giving a too hasty assent to a proposition which may turn out either false or insufficiently established, I have determined carefully and persistently to compare argument with argument just as I did in my three books On the Nature of the Gods. For a hasty acceptance of an erroneous opinion is discreditable in any case, and especially so in an inquiry as to how much weight should be given to auspices, to sacred rites, and to religious observances; for we run the risk of committing a crime against the gods if we disregard them, or of becoming involved in old women's superstition if we approve them.
5 8 This subject has been discussed by me frequently on other occasions, but with somewhat more than ordinary care when my brother Quintus and I were together recently at my Tusculan villa. For the sake of a stroll we had gone to the Lyceum11 which is the name of my upper gymnasium, when Quintus remarked:
p233 "I have just finished a careful reading of the third book of your treatise, On the Nature of the Gods, containing Cotta's discussion, which, though it has shaken my views of religion, has not overthrown them entirely."
"Very good," said I; "for Cotta's argument is intended rather to refute the arguments of the Stoics than to destroy man's faith in religion."
Quintus then replied: "Cotta12 says the very same thing, and says it repeatedly, in order, as I think, not to appear to violate the commonly accepted canons of belief; yet it seems to me that, in his zeal to confute the Stoics, he utterly demolishes the gods. 9 However, I am really at no loss for a reply to his reasoning; for in the second book Lucilius has made an adequate defence of religion and his argument, as you yourself state at the end of the third book,13 seemed to you nearer to the truth than Cotta's. But there is a question14 which you passed over in those books because, no doubt, you thought it more expedient to inquire into it in a separate discussion: I refer to divination, which is the foreseeing and foretelling of events considered as happening by chance. Now let us see, if you will, what efficacy it has and what its nature is. My own opinion is that, if the kinds of divination which we have inherited from our forefathers and now practise are trustworthy, then there are gods and, conversely, if there are gods then there are men who have the power of divination."
6 10 "Why, my dear Quintus," said I, "you are defending the very citadel of the Stoics in asserting the interdependence of these two propositions: 'if there is divination there are gods,' and, 'if there are p235 gods there is divination.'15 But neither is granted as readily as you think. For it is possible that nature gives signs of future events without the intervention of a god, and it may be that there are gods without their having conferred any power of divination upon men."
To this he replied, "I, at any rate, find sufficient proof to satisfy me of the existence of the gods and of their concern in human affairs in my conviction that there are some kinds of divination which are clear and manifest. With your permission I will set forth my views on this subject, provided you are at leisure and have nothing else which you think should be preferred to such a discussion."
11 "Really, my dear Quintus," said I, "I always have time for philosophy. Moreover, since there is nothing else at this time that I can do with pleasure,16 I am all the more eager to hear what you think about divination."
"There is, I assure you," said he, "nothing new or original in my views; for those which I adopt are not only very old, but they are endorsed by the consent of all peoples and nations. There are two kinds of divination: the first is dependent on art, the other on nature. 12 Now — to mention those almost entirely dependent on art — what nation or what state disregards the prophecies of soothsayers, or of interpreters of prodigies and lightnings, or of augurs, or of astrologers, or of oracles, or — to mention the two kinds which are classed as natural means of divination — the forewarnings of dreams, or of frenzy?17 Of these methods of divining it behoves us, I think, to examine the results rather than the causes. For p237 there is a certain natural power, which now, through long-continued observation of signs and now, through some divine excitement and inspiration, makes prophetic announcement of the future.
7 "Therefore let Carneades cease to press the question, which Panaetius also used to urge, whether Jove had ordered the crow to croak on the left side and the raven on the right. Such signs as these have been observed for an unlimited time, and the results have been checked and recorded. Moreover, there is nothing which length of time cannot accomplish and attain when aided by memory to receive and records to preserve. 13 We may wonder at the variety of herbs that have been observed by physicians, of roots that are good for the bites of wild beasts, for eye affections, and for wounds, and though reason has never explained their force and nature, yet through their usefulness you have won approval for the medical art and for their discoverer.
"But come, let us consider instances, which although outside the category of divination, yet resemble it very closely:18
The heaving sea oft warns of coming storms,
When suddenly its depths begin to swell;
And hoary rocks, o'erspread with snowy brine,
To the sea, in boding tones, attempt reply;
Or when from lofty mountain-peak upsprings
A shrilly whistling wind, which stronger grows
With each repulse by hedge of circling cliffs.
8 "Your book, Prognostics, is full of such warning signs, but who can fathom their causes? And yet I see that the Stoic Boëthus has attempted to do so and has succeeded to the extent of explaining p239 the phenomena of sea and sky. 14 But who can give a satisfactory reason why the following things occur?
Blue-grey herons,19 in fleeing the raging abyss of the ocean,
Utter their warnings, discordant and wild, from tremulous gullets,
Shrilly proclaiming that storms are impending and laden with terrors.
Often at dawn, when Aurora releases the frost in the dew-drops,
Does the nightingale20 pour from its breast predictions of evil;
Then does it threaten and hurl from its throat its incessant complaining.
Often the dark-hued crow, while restlessly roaming the seashore,
Plunges its crest in the flood, as its neck encounters the billows.
9 15 "Hardly ever do we see such signs deceive us and yet we do not see why it is so.
Ye, too, distinguish the signs, ye dwellers in waters delightful,
When, with a clamour, you utter your cries that are empty of meaning,
Stirring the fountains and ponds with absurd and ridiculous croaking.21
Who could suppose that frogs had this foresight? And yet they do have by nature some faculty of premonition, clear enough of itself, but too dark for human comprehension.
Slow, clumsy oxen, their glances upturned to the light of the heavens,
Sniff at the air with their nostrils and know it is freighted with moisture.
I do not ask why, since I know what happens.
p241 Now 'tis a fact that the evergreen mastic, e'er burdened with leafage,
Thrice is expanding and budding and thrice producing its berries;
Triple its signs for the purpose of showing three seasons for ploughing.
16 Nor do I ever inquire why this tree alone blooms three times, or why it makes the appearance of its blossoms accord with the proper time for ploughing. I am content with my knowledge that it does, although I may not know why. Therefore, as regards all kinds of divination I will give the same answer that I gave in the cases just mentioned.
10 "I see the purgative effect of the scammony root22 and I see an antidote for snake-bite in the aristolochia plant23 — which, by the way, derives its name from its discoverer who learned of it in a dream — I see their power and that is enough; why they have it I do not know. Thus as to the cause of those premonitory signs of winds and rains already mentioned I am not quite clear, but their force and effect I recognize, understand, and vouch for. Likewise as to the cleft or thread in the entrails: I accept their meaning; I do not know their cause. And life is full of individuals in just the same situation that I am in, for nearly everybody employs entrails in divining. Again: is it possible for us to doubt the prophetic value of lightning? Have we not many instances of its marvels? and is not the following one especially remarkable? When the statue of Summanus which stood on the top of the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus — his statue was then made of clay — was struck by a thunderbolt and its head could not be found anywhere, the soothsayers declared that it had been hurled into the Tiber; p243 and it was discovered in the very spot which they had pointed out.
11 17 "But what authority or what witness can I better employ than yourself? I have even learned by heart and with great pleasure the following lines uttered by the Muse, Urania, in the second book of your poem entitled, My Consulship:
First of all, Jupiter, glowing with fire from regions celestial,
Turns, and the whole of creation is filled with the light of his glory;
And, though the vaults of aether eternal begird and confine him,
Yet he, with spirit divine, ever searching the earth and the heavens,
Sounds to their innermost depths the thoughts and the actions of mortals.
When one has learned the motions and variant paths of the planets,
Stars that abide in the seat of the signs, in the Zodiac's girdle,
(Spoken of falsely as vagrants or rovers in Greek nomenclature,
Whereas in truth their distance is fixed and their speed is determined,)
Then will he know that all are controlled by an Infinite Wisdom.
18 You, being consul, at once did observe the swift constellations,
Noting the glare of luminous stars in direful conjunction:
Then you beheld the tremulous sheen of the Northern aurora,24
When, on ascending the mountainous heights of snowy Albanus,
You offered joyful libations of milk at the Feast of the Latins;25
Ominous surely the time wherein fell that Feast of the Latins;
Many a warning was given, it seemed, of slaughter nocturnal;
p245 Then, of a sudden, the moon at her full26 was blotted from heaven —
Hidden her features resplendent, though night was bejewelled with planets;a
Then did that dolorous herald of War, the torch of Apollo,27
Mount all aflame to the dome of the sky, where the sun has its setting;
Then did a Roman depart from these radiant abodes of the living,
Stricken by terrible lightning from heavens serene and unclouded.b
Then through the fruit-laden body of earth ran the shock of an earthquake;
Spectres at night were observed, appalling and changeful of figure,
Giving their warning that war was at hand, and internal commotion;
Over all lands there outpoured, from the frenzied bosoms of prophets,
Dreadful predictions, gloomy forecasts of impending disaster.
19 And the misfortunes which happened at last and were long in their passing —
These were foretold by the Father of Gods, in earth and in heaven,
Through unmistakable signs that he gave and often repeated.
12 Now, of those prophecies made when Torquatus and Cotta28 were consuls, —
Made by a Lydian diviner,29 by one of Etruscan extraction —
All, in the round of your crowded twelve months, were brought to fulfilment.
For high-thundering Jove, as he stood on starry Olympus,
Hurled forth his blows at the temples and monuments raised in his honour,
And on the Capitol's site he unloosed the bolts of his lightning.
Then fell the brazen image of Natta, ancient and honoured:
Vanished the tablets of laws long ago divinely enacted;
Wholly destroyed were the statues of gods by the heat of the lightning.
p247 20 Here was the Martian beast, the nurse of Roman dominion,
Suckling with life-giving dew, that issued from udders distended,
Children divinely begotten, who sprang from the loins of the War God;
Stricken by lightning she toppled to earth, bearing with her the children;
Torn from her station, she left the prints of her feet in descending.
Then what diviner, in turning the records and tomes of the augurs,
Failed to relate the mournful forecasts the Etruscans had written?
Seers all advised to beware the monstrous destruction and slaughter,
Plotted by Romans who traced their descent from a noble ancestry;
Or they proclaimed the law's overthrow with voices insistent,
Bidding rescue the city from flames, and the deities' temples;
Fearful they bade us become of horrible chaos and carnage;
These, by a rigorous Fate, would be certainly fixed and determined,
Were not a sacred statue of Jove, one comely of figure,
High on a column erected beforehand, with eyes to the eastward;
Then would the people and venerable senate be able to fathom
Hidden designs, when that statue — its face to the sun at its rising —
Should behold from its station the seats of the people and Senate.
21 Long was the statue delayed and much was it hindered in making.
Finally, you being consul, it stood in its lofty position.
Just at the moment of time, which the gods had set and predicted,
When on column exalted the sceptre of Jove was illumined,
Did Allobrogian voices proclaim to Senate and people
What destruction by dagger and torch was prepared for our country.30
p249 13 Rightly, therefore, the ancients whose monuments you have in keeping,
Romans whose rule over peoples and cities was just and courageous,
Rightly your kindred, foremost in honour and pious devotion,
Far surpassing the rest of their fellows in shrewdness and wisdom,
Held it a duty supreme to honour the Infinite Godhead.
Such were the truths they beheld who painfully searching for wisdom
Gladly devoted their leisure to study of all that was noble,
22 Who, in Academy's shade and Lyceum's31 dazzling effulgence,
Uttered the brilliant reflections of minds abounding in culture.
Torn from these studies, in youth's early dawn, your country recalled you,
Giving you place in the thick of the struggle for public preferment;
Yet, in seeking surcease from the worries and cares that oppress you,
Time, that the State leaves free, you devote to us and to learning.
"In view, therefore, of your acts, and in view too of your own verses which I have quoted and which were composed with the utmost care, could you be persuaded to controvert the position which I maintain in regard to divination?
23 "But what? You ask, Carneades, do you, why these things so happen, or by what rules they may be understood? I confess that I do not know, but that they do so fall out I assert that you yourself see. 'Mere accidents,' you say. Now, really, is that so? Can anything be an 'accident' which bears upon itself every mark of truth? Four dice are cast and a Venus throw32 results — that is chance; p251 but do you think it would be chance, too, if in one hundred casts you made one hundred Venus throws? It is possible for paints flung at random on a canvasc to form the outlines of a face; but do you imagine that an accidental scattering of pigments could produce the beautiful portrait of Venus of Cos?33 Suppose that a hog should form the letter 'A' on the ground with its snout; is that a reason for believing that it would write out Ennius's poem The Andromache?d
"Carneades used to have a story that once in the Chian quarries when a stone was split open there appeared the head of the infant god Pan; I grant that the figure may have borne some resemblance to the god, but assuredly the resemblance was not such that you could ascribe the work to a Scopas. For it is undeniably true that no perfect imitation of a thing was ever made by chance.
14 24 " 'But,' it is objected, 'sometimes predictions are made which do not come true.' And pray what art — and by art I mean the kind that is dependent on conjecture and deduction — what art, I say, does not have the same fault? Surely the practice of medicine is an art, yet how many mistakes it makes! And pilots — do they not make mistakes at times? For example, when the armies of the Greeks and the captains of their mighty fleet set sail from Troy, they, as Pacuvius says,34
Glad at leaving Troy behind them, gazed upon the fish at play,
Nor could get their fill of gazing — thus they whiled the time away.
Meantime, as the sun was setting, high uprose the angry main:
Thick and thicker fell the shadows; night grew black with blinding rain.
p253 Then, did the fact that so many illustrious captains and kings suffered shipwreck deprive navigation of its right to be called an art? And is military science of no effect because a general of the highest renown recently lost his army and took to flight?35 Again, is statecraft devoid of method or skill because political mistakes were made many times by Gnaeus Pompey, occasionally by Marcus Cato, and once or twice even by yourself? So it is with the responses of soothsayers, and, indeed, with every sort of divination whose deductions are merely probable; for divination of that kind depends on inference and beyond inference it cannot go. 25 It sometimes misleads perhaps, but none the less in most cases it guides us to the truth. For this same conjectural divination is the product of boundless eternity and within that period it has grown into an art through the repeated observation and record of almost countless instances in which the same results have been preceded by the same signs.
15 "Indeed how trustworthy were the auspices taken when you were augur!36 At the present time — pray pardon me for saying so — Roman augurs neglect auspices, although the Cilicians, Pamphylians, Pisidians, and Lycians hold them in high esteem. 26 I need not remind you of that most famous and worthy man, our guest-friend, King Deiotarus, who never undertook any enterprise without first taking the auspices. On one occasion after he had set out on a journey for which he had made careful plans beforehand, he returned home because of the warning given him by the flight of an eagle. The room in which he would have been staying, had he continued on his road, collapsed the very next p255 night. 27 This is why, as he told me himself, he had time and again abandoned a journey even though he might have been travelling for many days. By the way, that was a very noble utterance of his which he made after Caesar had deprived him of his tetrarchy and kingdom,37 and had forced him to pay an indemnity too. 'Notwithstanding what has happened,' said he, 'I do not regret that the auspices favoured my joining Pompey. By so doing I enlisted my military power in defence of senatorial authority, Roman liberty, and the supremacy of the empire. The birds, at whose instance I followed the course of duty and of honour, counselled well, for I value my good name more than riches.' His conception of augury, it seems to me, is the correct one.
"For with us magistrates make use of auspices, but they are 'forced auspices,'38 since the sacred chickens in eating the dough pellets thrown must let some fall from their beaks. 28 But, according to the writings of you augurs, a tripudium results if any of the food should fall to the ground, and what I spoke of as a 'forced augur' your fraternity calls as tripudium solistimum.39 And so through the indifference of the college, as Cato the Wise laments, many auguries and auspices have been entirely abandoned and lost.
16 "In ancient times scarcely any matter out of the ordinary was undertaken, even in private life, without first consulting the auspices, clear proof of which is given even at the present time by our custom of having 'nuptial auspices,'40 though they have lost their former religious significance and only p257 preserve the name. For just as to‑day on important occasions we make use of entrails in divining — though even they are employed to a less extent than formerly — so in the past resort was usually had to divination by means of birds. And thus it is that by failing to seek out the unpropitious signs we run into awful disasters. 29 For example, Publius Claudius, son of Appius Caecus,41 and his colleague Lucius Junius, lost very large fleets by going to sea when the auguries were adverse. The same fate befell Agamemnon; for, after the Greeks had begun to
Raise aloft their frequent clamours, showing scorn of augur's art,
Noise prevailed and not the omen: he then bade the ships depart.42
"But why cite such ancient instances? We see what happened to Marcus Crassus43 when he ignored the announcement of unfavourable omens. It was on the charge of having on this occasion falsified the auspices that Gaius Ateius, an honourable man and a distinguished citizen, was, on insufficient evidence, stigmatized by the then censor Appius, who was your associate in the augural college, and an able one too, as I have often heard you say. I grant you that in pursuing the course he did Appius was within his rights as a censor, if, in his judgement, Ateius had announced a fraudulent augury. But he showed no capacity whatever as an augur in holding Ateius responsible for that awful disaster which befell the Roman people. Had this been the cause then the fault would not have been in Ateius, who made the announcement that the augury was unfavourable, but in Crassus, who disobeyed it; for the issue proved that the announcement p259 was true, as this same augur and censor admits. But even if the augury had been false it could not have been the cause of the disaster; for unfavourable auguries — and the same may be said of auspices, omens, and all other signs — are not the causes of what follows: they merely foretell what will occur unless precautions are taken. 30 Therefore Ateius, by his announcement, did not create the cause of the disaster; but having observed the sign he simply advised Crassus what the result would be if the warning was ignored. It follows, then, that the announcement by Ateius of the unfavourable augury had no effect; or if it did, as Appius thinks, then the sin is not in him who gave the warning, but in him who disregarded it.
17 "And whence, pray, did you augurs derive that staff, which is the most conspicuous mark of your priestly office? It is the very one, indeed with which Romulus marked out44 the quarter for taking observations when he founded the city. Now this staffe is a crooked wand, slightly curved at the top, and, because of its resemblance to a trumpet, derives its name from the Latin word meaning 'the trumpet with which the battle-charge is sounded.' It was placed in the temple of the Salii on the Palatine hill and, though the temple was burned, the staff was found uninjured.45 31 What ancient chronicler fails to mention the fact that in the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, long after the time of Romulus, a quartering of the heavens was made with this staff by Attus Navius? Because of poverty Attus was a swineherd in his youth. As the story goes, he, having lost one of his hogs, made a vow that if he recovered it he would make an offering to the god p261 of the largest bunch of grapes in his vineyard. Accordingly, after he had found the hog, he took his stand, we are told, in the middle of the vineyard, with his face to the south and divided the vineyard into four parts. When the birds had shown three of these parts to be unfavourable, he subdivided the fourth and last part and then found, as we see it recorded, a bunch of grapes of marvellous size.
"This occurrence having been noised abroad, all his neighbours began to consult him about their own affairs and thus greatly enhanced his name and fame. 32 The consequence was that King Priscus summoned him to his presence. The king, wishing to make trial of his skill as an augur, said to him: 'I am thinking of something; tell me whether it can be done or not.' Attus, having taken the auspices, replied that it could be done. Thereupon Tarquinius said that what he had been thinking of was the possibility of cutting a whetstone in two with a razor, and ordered the trial to be made. So the stone was brought into the comitium, and, while the king and his people looked on, it was cut in two with a razor. The result was that Tarquin employed him as his augur, and the people consulted him about their private concerns. 33 Moreover, according to tradition, the whetstone and razor were buried in the comitium and a stone curbing placed over them.
"Let us declare this story wholly false; let us burn the chronicles that contain it; let us call it a myth and admit almost anything you please rather than the fact that the gods have any concern in human affairs. But look at this: does not the story about Tiberius Gracchus found in your own writings46 acknowledge that augury and soothsaying are arts? p263 He, having placed his tabernaculum,47 unwittingly violated augural law by crossing the pomerium before completing the auspices; nevertheless he held the consular election.48 The fact is well known to you since you have recorded it. Besides, Tiberius Gracchus, who was himself an augur, confirmed the authority of auspices by confessing his error; and the soothsayers, too, greatly enhanced the reputation of their calling, when brought into the Senate immediately after the election, by declaring that the election supervisor had acted without authority.
18 34 "I agree, therefore, with those who have said that there are two kinds of divination: one, which is allied with art; the other, which is devoid of art. Those diviners employ art, who, having learned the known by observation, seek the unknown by deduction. On the other hand those do without art who, unaided by reason or deduction or by signs which have been observed and recorded, forecast the future while under the influence of mental excitement, or of some free and unrestrained emotion. This condition often occurs to men while dreaming and sometimes to persons who prophesy while in a frenzy — like Bacis of Boeotia, Epimenides of Crete and the Sibyl of Erythraea.49 In this latter class must be placed oracles — not oracles given by means of 'equalized lots'50 — but those uttered under the impulse of divine inspiration; although divination by lot is not in itself to be despised, if it has the sanction of antiquity, as in the case of those lots which, according to tradition, sprang out of the p265 earth;51 for in spite of everything, I am inclined to think that they may, under the power of God, be so drawn as to give an appropriate response. Men capable of correctly interpreting all these signs of the future seem to approach very near to the divine spirit of the gods whose wills they interpret, just as scholars52 do when they interpret the poets.
35 "What sort of cleverness is it, then, that would attempt by sophistry to overthrow facts that antiquity has established? I fail — you tell me — to discover their cause. That, perhaps, is one of Nature's hidden secrets. God has not willed me to know the cause, but only that I should use the means which he has given. Therefore, I will use them and I will not allow myself to be persuaded that the whole Etruscan nation has gone stark mad on the subject of entrails, or that these same people are in error about lightnings, or that they are false interpreters of portents; for many a time the rumblings and roarings and quakings of the earth have given to our republic and to other states certain forewarnings of subsequent disaster. 36 Why, then, when here recently a mule (which is an animal ordinarily sterile by nature) brought forth a foal,53 need anyone have scoffed because the soothsayers from that occurrence prophesied a progeny of countless evils to the state?
"What, pray, do you say of that well-known incident of Tiberius Gracchus, the son of Publius? He was censor and consul twice; beside that he was a most competent augur, a wise man and a pre-eminent citizen. Yet he, according to the account left us by his son Gaius, having caught two snakes in his home, called in the soothsayers to consult p267 them. They advised him that if he let the male snake go his wife must die in a short time; and if he released the female snake his own death must soon occur. Thinking it more fitting that a speedy death should overtake him rather than his young wife, who was the daughter of Publius Africanus, he released the female snake and died within a few days. 19 Let us laugh at the soothsayers, brand them as frauds and impostors and scorn their calling, even though a very wise man, Tiberius Gracchus, and the results and circumstances of his death have given proof of its trustworthiness; let us scorn the Babylonians, too, and those astrologers who, from the top of Mount Caucasus, observe the celestial signs and with the aid of mathematics follow the courses of the stars; let us, I say, convict of folly, falsehood, and shamelessness the men whose records, as they themselves assert, cover a period of four hundred and seventy thousand years;54 and let us pronounce them liars, utterly indifferent to the opinion of succeeding generations. 37 Come, let us admit that the barbarians are all base deceivers, but are the Greek historians liars too?
"Speaking now of natural divination, everybody knows the oracular responses which the Pythian Apollo gave to Croesus, to the Athenians, Spartans, Tegeans, Argives, and Corinthians. Chrysippus has collected a vast number of these responses, attested in every instance by abundant proof. But I pass them by as you know them well. I will urge only this much, however, in defence: the oracle at Delphi never would have been so much frequented, so famous, and so crowded with offerings from peoples and kings of every land, if all ages had not tested p269 the truth of its prophecies. For a long time now that has not been the case. 38 Therefore, as at present its glory has waned because it is no longer noted for the truth of its prophecies, so formerly it would not have enjoyed so exalted a reputation if it had not been trustworthy in the highest degree. Possibly, too, those subterraneous exhalations which used to kindle the soul of the Pythian priestess with divine inspiration have gradually vanished in the long lapse of time; just as within our own knowledge some rivers have dried up and disappeared, while others, by winding and twisting, have changed their course into other channels. But explain the decadence of the oracle as you wish, since it offers a wide field for discussion, provided you grant what cannot be denied without distorting the entire record of history, that the oracle at Delphi made true prophecies for many hundreds of years.
20 39 "But let us leave oracles and come to dreams. In his treatise on this subject Chrysippus, just as Antipater does, has assembled a mass of trivial dreams which he explains according to Antiphon'sf rules of interpretation. The work, I admit, displays the acumen of its author, but it would have been better if he had cited illustrations of a more serious type. Now, Philistus, who was a learned and painstaking man and a contemporary of the times of which he writes, gives us the following story of the mother of Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse: while she was with child and was carrying this same Dionysius in her womb, she dreamed that she had been delivered of an infant satyr. When she referred this dream to the interpreters of portents, who in Sicily were called 'Galeotae,' they p271 replied, so Philistus relates, that she should bring forth a son who would be very eminent in Greece and would enjoy a long and prosperous career.
40 "May I not recall to your memory some stories to be found in the works of Roman and of Greek poets? For example, the following dream of the Vestal Virgin55 is from Ennius:
The vestal from her sleep in fright awoke
And to the startled maid, whose trembling hands
A lamp did bear, thus spoke in tearful tones:
'O daughter of Eurydice, though whom
Our father loved, from my whole frame departs
The vital force. For in my dreams I saw
A man56 of beauteous form, who bore me off
Through willows sweet, along the fountain's brink,
To places strange. And then, my sister dear,
Alone, with halting step and longing heart,
I seemed to wander, seeking thee in vain;
There was no path to make my footing sure.
41 And then I thought my father spoke these words:
"Great sorrows, daughter, thou must first endure
Until thy fortune from the Tiber rise."
When this was said he suddenly withdrew;
Nor did his cherished vision come again,
Though oft I raised my hand to heaven's dome
And called aloud in tearful, pleading voice.
Then sleep departing left me sick at heart.'
21 42 "This dream, I admit, is the fiction of a poet's brain, yet it is not contrary to our experience with real dreams. It may well be that the following story of the dream which greatly disturbed Priam's peace of mind is fiction too:57
When mother Hecuba was great with child,
She dreamed that she brought forth a flaming torch.
Alarmed at this, with sighing cares possessed,
The king and father, Priam, to the gods
Did make a sacrifice of bleating lambs.
He, seeking peace and answer to the dream,
p273 Implored Apollo's aid to understand
What great events the vision did foretell,
Apollo's oracle, with voice divine,
Then gave this explanation of the dream:
"Thy next-born son forbear to rear, for he
Will be the death of Pergamos and Troy."
43 Grant, I repeat, that these dreams are myths and in the same category put Aeneas's dream, related in the Greek annals of our countryman, Fabius Pictor. According to Pictor everything that Aeneas did or suffered turned out just as it had been predicted to him in a dream.
22 "But let us look at examples nearer our own times. Would you dare call that famous dream of Tarquin the Proud a myth? He describes it himself in the following lines from the Brutus of Accius:
44 At night's approach I sought my quiet couch
To soothe my weary limbs with restful sleep.
Then in my dreams a shepherd near me drove
A fleecy herd whose beauty was extreme.
I chose two brother rams from out the flock
And sacrificed the comelier of the twain.
And then, with lowered horns, the other ram
Attacked and bore me headlong to the ground.
While there I lay outstretched and wounded sore,
The sky a wondrous miracle disclosed:
The blazing star of day reversed its course
And glided to the right by pathway new.
45 Now observe how the diviners interpreted this dream:
It is not strange, O king, that dreams reflect
The day's desires and thoughts, its sights and deeds,
And everything we say or do awake.
But in so grave a dream as yours we see
A message clearly sent, and thus it warns:
Beware of him you deem bereft of wit
And rate no higher than a stupid ram,
Lest he, with wisdom armed, should rise to fame
And drive you from your throne. The sun's changed course
p275 Unto the state portends immediate change.
And may that prove benignant to the state;
For since the almighty orb from left to right
Revolved, it was the best of auguries
That Rome would be supreme o'er all the earth.
23 46 "But come now and let us return to foreign instances. Heraclides Ponticus, a man of learning, and both a pupil and a disciple of Plato's, relates a dream of the mother of Phalaris. She fell asleep and dreamed that, while looking at the consecrated images of the gods set up in her house, she saw the statue of Mercury pouring blood from a bowl which it held in its right hand and that the blood, as it touched the ground, welled up and completely filled the house. The truth of the dream was subsequently established by the inhuman cruelty of her son.
"Why need I bring forth from Dinon's Persian annals the dreams of that famous prince, Cyrus, and their interpretations by the magi? But take this instance: Once upon a time Cyrus dreamed that the sun was at his feet. Three times, so Dinon writes, he vainly tried to grasp it and each time it turned away, escaped him, and finally disappeared. He was told by the magi, who are classed as wise and learned men among the Persians, that his grasping for the sun three times portended that he would reign for thirty years.58 And thus it happened; for he lived to his seventieth year, having begun to reign at forty.
47 "It certainly must be true that even barbarians have some power of foreknowledge and of prophecy, if the following story of Callanus of India be true: As he was about to die and was ascending the funeral pyre, he said: 'What a glorious death! p277 The fate of Hercules is mine. For when this mortal frame is burned the soul will find the light.' When Alexander directed him to speak if he wished to say anything to him, he answered: 'Thank you, nothing, except that I shall see you very soon.' So it turned out, for Alexander died in Babylon a few days later. I am getting slightly away from dreams, but I shall return to them in a moment. Everybody knows that on the same night in which Olympias was delivered of Alexander the temple of Diana at Ephesus was burned, and that the magi began to cry out as day was breaking: 'Asia's deadly curse was born last night.' But enough of Indians and magi.
24 48 "Let us go back to dreams. Coelius writes that Hannibal wished to carry off a golden column from Juno's temple at Lacinium, but since he was in doubt whether it was solid or plated, he bored into it. Finding it solid he decided to take it away. But at night Juno came to him in a vision and warned him not to do so, threatening that if he did she would cause the loss of his good eye. That clever man did not neglect the warning. Moreover out of the gold filings he ordered an image of a calf to be made and placed on top of the column. 49 Another story of Hannibal is found in the history written in Greek by Silenus, whom Coelius follows, and who, by the way, was a very painstaking student of Hannibal's career. After his capture of Saguntum Hannibal dreamed that Jupiter summoned him to a council of the gods. When he arrived Jupiter ordered him to carry the war into Italy, and gave him one of the divine council as a guide whom he employed when he began the march with his army. p279 This guide cautioned Hannibal not to look back. But, carried away by curiosity, he could refrain no longer and looked back. Then he saw a horrible beast of enormous size, enveloped with snakes, and wherever it went it overthrew every tree and shrub and every house. In his amazement Hannibal asked what the monster was. The god replied that it was the desolation of Italy and ordered him to press right on and not to worry about what happened behind him and in the rear.
50 "We read in a history by Agathocles that Hamilcar, the Carthaginian, during his siege of Syracuse heard a voice in his sleep telling him that he would dine the next day in Syracuse. At daybreak the following day a serious conflict broke out in his camp between the troops of the Carthaginians and their allies, the Siculi. When the Syracusans saw this they made a sudden assault on the camp and carried Hamilcar off alive. Thus the event verified the dream.
"History is full of such instances, and so is everyday life. 51 And yet let me cite another: the famous Publius Decius, son of Quintus, and the first of that family to become consul, was military tribune in the consulship59 of Marcus Valerius and Aulus Cornelius while our army was being hard pressed by the Samnites. When, because of his rushing too boldly into the dangers of battle, he was advised to be more cautious, he replied, according to the annals, 'I dreamed that by dying in the midst of the enemy I should win immortal fame.' And though he was unharmed at that time and extricated the army from its difficulties, yet three years later, when consul, he devoted himself p281 to death60 and rushed full-armed against the battle-line of the Latins. By this act of his the Latins were overcome and destroyed; and so glorious was his death that his son sought the same fate. 52 But let us come now, if you please, to the dreams of philosophers.
25 "We read in Plato that Socrates, while in prison, said in a conversation with his friend Crito: 'I am to die in three days; for in a dream I saw a woman of rare beauty, who called me by name and quoted this verse from Homer:61
Gladly on Phthia's shore the third day's dawn shall behold thee.'
And history informs us that his death occurred as he had foretold. That disciple of Socrates, Xenophon — and what a man he was! — records62 the dreams he had during his campaign with Cyrus the Younger, and their remarkable fulfilment. Shall we say that Xenophon is either a liar or a madman?
53 "And Aristotle, who was endowed with a matchless and almost godlike intellect, — is he in error, or is he trying to lead others into error in the following account of his friend, Eudemus63 the Cyprian? Eudemus, while on his way to Macedonia, reached Pherae, then a very famous city of Thessaly, but groaning under the cruel sway of the tyrant, Alexander.64 There he became so violently ill that the physicians despaired of his recovery. While sick he had a dream in which a youth of striking beauty told him that he would speedily get well; that the p283 despot Alexander would die in a few days, and that he himself would return home five years later. And so, indeed, the first two prophecies, as Aristotle writes, were immediately fulfilled by the recovery of Eudemus and by the death of the tyrant at the hands of his wife's brothers. But at the end of five years, when, in reliance upon the dream, he hoped to return to Cyprus from Sicily, he was killed in battle before Syracuse. Accordingly the dream was interpreted to mean that when his soul left the body it then had returned home.
54 "To the testimony of philosophers let us add that of a most learned man and truly divine poet, Sophocles. A heavy gold dish having been stolen from the temple of Hercules, the god himself appeared to Sophocles in a dream and told who had committed the theft. But Sophocles ignored the dream a first and second time. When it came again and again, he went up to the Areopagus and laid the matter before the judges who ordered the man named by Sophocles to be arrested. The defendant after examination confessed his crime and brought back the dish. This is the reason why that temple is called 'the temple of Hercules the Informer.'
26 55 "But why am I dwelling on illustrations from Greek sources when — though I can't explain it — those from our own history please me more? Now here is a dream which is mentioned by all our historians, by the Fabii and the Gellii and, most recently, by Coelius: During the Latin War when the Great Votive Games were being celebrated for the first time the city was suddenly called to arms and the games were interrupted. Later it was determined to repeat them, but before they began, p285 and while the people were taking their seats, a slave bearing a yoke was led about the circus and beaten with rods. After that a Roman rustic had a dream in which someone appeared to him and said that he disapproved of the leader65 of the games and ordered this statement to be reported to the Senate. But the rustic dared not do as he was bid. The order was repeated by the spectre with a warning not to put his power to the test. Not even then did the rustic dare obey. After that his son died and the same vision was repeated the third time. Thereupon he became ill and told his friends of his dream. On their advice he was carried to the Senate-house on a litter and, having related his dream to the Senate, his health was restored and he walked home unaided. And so, the tradition is, the Senate gave credence to the dream and had the games repeated.
56 "According to this same Coelius, Gaius Gracchus told many persons that his brother Tiberius came to him in a dream when he was a candidate for the quaestorship and said: 'However much you may try to defer your fate, nevertheless you must die the same death that I did.' This happened before Gaius was tribune of the people, and Coelius writes that he himself heard it from Gaius who had repeated it to many others. Can you find anything better authenticated than this dream?
27 "And who, pray, can make light of the two following dreams which are so often recounted by Stoic writers? The first one is about Simonides, who once saw the dead body of some unknown man lying exposed and buried it. Later, when he had it in mind to go on board a ship he was warned p287 in a vision by the person to whom he had given burial not to do so and that if he did he would perish in a shipwreck. Therefore he turned back and all the others who sailed were lost.
57 "The second dream is very well known and is to this effect: Two friends from Arcadia who were taking a journey together came to Megara, and one traveller put up at an inn and the second went to the home of a friend. After they had eaten supper and retired, the second traveller, in the dead of the night, dreamed that his companion was imploring him to come to his aid, as the innkeeper was planning to kill him. Greatly frightened at first by the dream he arose, and later, regaining his composure, decided that there was nothing to worry about and went back to bed. When he had gone to sleep the same person appeared to him and said: 'Since you would not help me when I was alive, I beg that you will not allow my dead body to remain unburied. I have been killed by the innkeeper, who has thrown my body into a cart and covered it with dung. I pray you to be at the city gate in the morning before the cart leaves the town,' Thoroughly convinced by the second dream he met the cart-driver at the gate in the morning, and, when he asked what he had in the cart, the driver fled in terror. The Arcadian then removed his friend's dead body from the cart, made complaint of the crime to the authorities, and the innkeeper was punished. 28 What stronger proof of a divinely inspired dream than this can be given?
58 "But why go on seeking illustrations from ancient history? I had a dream which I have often related to you, and you one which you have p289 often told to me. When I was governor of Asia66 I dreamed that I saw you on horseback riding toward the bank of some large river, when you suddenly plunged forward, fell into the stream, and wholly disappeared from sight. I was greatly alarmed and trembled with fear. But in a moment you reappeared mounted on the same horse, and with a cheerful countenance ascended the opposite bank where we met and embraced each other. The meaning of the dream was readily explained to me by experts in Asia who from it predicted those events which subsequently occurred.67
59 "I come now to your dream. I heard it, of course, from you, but more frequently from our Sallustius.68 In the course of your banishment, which was glorious for us but disastrous to the State, you stopped for the night at a certain country-house in the plain of Atina. After lying awake most of the night, finally, about daybreak, you fell into a very profound sleep. And though your journey was pressing, yet Sallustius gave instructions to maintain quiet and would not permit you to be disturbed. But you awoke about the second hour and related your dream to him. In it you seemed to be wandering sadly about in solitary places when Gaius Marius, with his fasces wreathed in laurel,69 asked you why you were sad, and you replied that you had been driven from your country by violence. He then bade you be of good cheer, took you by the right hand, and delivered you to the nearest lictor to be conducted to his memorial temple,70 saying that there you should find safety. Sallustius thereupon, as he p291 relates, cried out, 'a speedy and a glorious return awaits you.' He further states that you too seemed delighted at the dream. Immediately thereafter it was reported to me that as soon as you heard that it was in Marius' temple that the glorious decree of the Senate for your recall had been enacted on motion of the consul, a most worthy and most eminent man,71 and that the decree had been greeted by unprecedented shouts of approval in a densely crowded theatre, you said that no stronger proof could be given of a divinely inspired dream than this.
29 60 " 'Ah,' it is objected, 'but many dreams are untrustworthy.' Rather, perhaps, their meaning is hidden from us. But grant that some are untrustworthy, why do we declaim against those that are trustworthy? The fact is the latter would be much more frequent if we went to our rest in proper condition. But when we are burdened with food and drink our dreams are troubled and confused. Observe what Socrates says in Plato's Republic:72
" 'When a man goes to sleep, having the thinking and reasoning portion of his soul languid and inert, but having that other portion, which has in it a certain brutishness and wild savagery, immoderately gorged with drink and food, then does that latter portion leap up and hurl itself about in sleep without check. In such a case every vision presented to the mind is so devoid of thought and reason that the sleeper dreams that he is committing incest with his mother, or that he is having unlawful commerce indiscriminately with gods and men, and frequently too, with beasts; or even that he is killing someone and staining his hands with impious bloodshed; and that he is doing many vile and p293 hideous things recklessly and without shame. 61 But, on the other hand, when the man, whose habits of living and of eating are wholesome and temperate, surrenders himself to sleep, having the thinking and reasoning portion of his soul eager and erect, and satisfied by a feast of noble thoughts, and having that portion which feeds on carnal pleasures neither utterly exhausted by abstinence nor cloyed by over-indulgence — for, as a rule, the edge of thought is dulled whether nature is starved or overfed — and, when such a man, in addition, has that third portion of the soul, in which the fire of anger burns, quieted and subdued — thus having the two irrational portions under complete control — then will the thinking and reasoning portion of his soul shine forth and show itself keen and strong for dreaming and then will his dreams be peaceful and worthy of trust.' I have reproduced Plato's very words.
30 62 "Then shall we listen to Epicurus rather than to Plato? As for Carneades, in his ardour for controversy he asserts this and now that. 'But,' you retort, 'Epicurus says what he thinks.' But he thinks nothing that is ever well reasoned, or worthy of a philosopher.73 Will you, then, put this man before Plato or Socrates, who though they gave no reason, would yet prevail over these petty philosophers by the mere weight of their name? Now Plato's advice to us is to set out for the land of dreams with bodies so prepared that no error or confusion may assail the soul. For this reason, it is thought, the Pythagoreans were forbidden to indulge in beans;74 for that food produces great flatulence and induces a condition at war p295 with a soul in search for truth. 63 When, therefore, the soul has been withdrawn by sleep from contact with sensual ties, then does it recall the past, comprehend the present, and foresee the future. For though the sleeping body then lies as if it were dead, yet the soul is alive and strong, and will be much more so after death when it is wholly free of the body. Hence its power to divine is much enhanced by the approach of death. For example, those in the grasp of a serious and fatal sickness realize the fact that death impends; and so, visions of dead men generally appear to them and then their desire for fame is strongest; while those who have lived otherwise than as they should, feel, at such a time, the keenest sorrow for their sins.
64 "Moreover, proof of the power of dying men to prophesy is also given by Posidonius in his well-known account of a certain Rhodian, who, when on his death-bed, named six men of equal age and foretold which of them would die first, which second, and so on. Now Posidonius holds the view that there are three ways in which men dream as the result of divine impulse: first, the soul is clairvoyant of itself because of its kinship with the gods; second, the air is full of immortal souls, already clearly stamped, as it were, with the marks of truth; and third, the gods in person converse with men when they are asleep. And, as I said just now, it is when death is at hand that men most readily discern signs of the future. 65 This is illustrated by the story which I related about Callanus and by Homer's account of Hector, who, as he was dying, prophesied the early death of Achilles.75
p297 31 "It is clear that, in our ordinary speech, we should not have made such frequent use of the word praesagire, meaning 'to sense in advance, or to presage,' if the power of presaging had been wholly non-existent. An illustration of its use is seen in the following well-known line from Plautus:76
My soul presaged as I left home that my leaving was in vain.
Now sagire means 'to have a keen perception.' Accordingly certain old women are called sagae,77 because they are assumed to know a great deal, and dogs are said to be 'sagacious.' And so one who has knowledge of a thing before it happens is said to 'presage,' that is, to perceive the future in advance.
66 "Therefore the human soul has an inherent power of presaging or of foreknowing infused into it from without, and made a part of it by the will of God. If that power is abnormally developed, it is called 'frenzy' or 'inspiration,' which occurs when the soul withdraws itself from the body and is violently stimulated by a divine impulse, as in the following instance, where Hecuba says to Cassandra:78
But why those flaming eyes, that sudden rage?
And whither fled that sober modesty,
Till now so maidenly and yet so wise?'
and Cassandra answers:
O mother, noblest of thy noble sex!
I have been sent to utter prophecies:
Against my will Apollo drives me mad
To revelation make of future ills.
O virgins! comrades of my youthful hours,
My mission shames my father, best of men.
p299 O mother dear! great loathing for myself
And grief for thee I feel. For thou hast borne
To Priam goodly issue — saving me,
'Tis sad that unto thee the rest bring weal,
I woe; that they obey, but I oppose.
What a tender and pathetic poem, and how suitable to her character! though it is not altogether relevant, I admit. 67 However, the point which I wish to press, that true prophecies are made during frenzy, has found expression in the following lines:
It comes! it comes! that bloody torch,79 in fire
Enwrapped, though hid from sight these many years!
Bring aid, my countrymen, and quench its flames!
It is not Cassandra who next speaks, but a god in human form:
32 68 "I seem to be relying for illustrations on myths drawn from tragic poets. But you yourself are my authority for an instance of the same nature, and yet it is not fiction but a real occurrence. Gaius Coponius, a man of unusual capacity and learning, came to you at Dyrrachium81 while he, as praetor, was in command of the Rhodian fleet, and told you of a prediction made by a certain oarsman from one of the Rhodian quinqueremes. The prediction was that in less than thirty days Greece would be bathed in blood; Dyrrachium would be pillaged; its defenders would flee to their ships and, as they fled, would see behind them the unhappy spectacle of a great conflagration; but the Rhodian p301 fleet would have a quick passage home. This story gave you some concern, and it caused very great alarm to those cultured men, Marcus Varro and Marcus Cato, who were at Dyrrachium at the time. In fact, a few days later Labienus reached Dyrrachium in flight from Pharsalus, with the news of the loss of the army. The rest of the prophecy was soon fulfilled. 69 For the granaries were pillaged and their contents scattered and strewn all about the streets and alleys. You and your companions, in great alarm, suddenly embarked, and as you looked back at night towards town you saw the flames of the merchant ships, which the soldiers (not wishing to follow) had set on fire. Finally, when your party had been deserted by the Rhodian fleet you realized that the prophecy had been fulfilled.
70 "As briefly as I could, I have discussed divination by means of dreams and frenzy, which, as I said,82 are devoid of art. Both depend on the same reasoning, which is that habitually employed by our friend Cratippus: 'The human soul is in some degree derived and drawn from a source exterior to itself. Hence we understand that outside the human soul there is a divine soul from which the human soul is sprung. Moreover, that portion of the human soul which is endowed with sensation, motion, and carnal desire is inseparable from bodily influence; while that portion which thinks and reasons is most vigorous when it is most distant from the body. 71 And so, after giving examples of true prophecies through frenzy and dreams, Cratippus usually concludes his argument in this way:
" 'Though without eyes it is impossible to perform the act and function of sight, and though the eyes p303 sometimes cannot perform their appointed function, yet when a person has even once so employed his eyes as to see things as they are, he has a realization of what correct vision is. Likewise, therefore, although without the power of divination it is impossible for the act and function of divining to exist, and though one with that power may sometimes be mistaken and may make erroneous prophecies, yet it is enough to establish the existence of divination that a single event has been so clearly foretold as to exclude the hypothesis of chance. But there are many such instances; therefore, the existence of divination must be conceded.'
33 72 "But those methods of divination which are dependent on conjecture, or on deductions from events previously observed and recorded, are, as I have said before,83 not natural, but artificial, and include the inspection of entrails, augury, and the interpretation of dreams. These are disapproved of by the Peripatetics and defended by the Stoics. Some are based upon records and usage, as is evident from the Etruscan books on divination by means of inspection of entrails and by means of thunder and lightning, and as is also evident from the books of your augural college; while others are dependent on conjecture made suddenly and on the spur of the moment. An instance of the latter kind is that of Calchas in Homer, prophesying the number of years of the Trojan War from the number of sparrows.84 We find another illustration of conjectural divination in the history of Sulla in an occurrence which you witnessed. While he was offering sacrifices in front of his head-quarters in the Nolan district85 a snake suddenly came out from p305 beneath the altar. The soothsayer, Gaius Postumius, begged Sulla to proceed with his march at once. Sulla did so and captured the strongly fortified camp of the Samnites which lay in front of the town of Nola.
73 "Still another instance of conjectural divination occurred in the case of Dionysius, a little while before he began to reign. He was travelling through the Leontine district, and led his horse down into a river. The horse was engulfed in a whirlpool and disappeared. Dionysius did his utmost to extricate him but in vain and, so Philistus writes, went away greatly troubled. When he had gone on a short distance he heard a whinny, looked back and, to his joy, saw his horse eagerly following and with a swarm of bees in its mane. The sequel of this portent was that Dionysius began to reign within a few days.
34 74 "Again: what a warning was given to the Spartans just before the disastrous battle of Leuctra,86 when the armour clanked in the temple of Hercules and his statue dripped with sweat! But at the same time, according to Callisthenes, the folding doors of Hercules' temple at Thebes, though closed with bars, suddenly opened of their own accord, and the armour which had been fastened on the temple walls, was found on the floor. And, at the same time, at Lebadia, in Boeotia, while divine honours were being paid to Trophonius,87 the cocks in the neighbourhood began to crow vigorously and did not leave off. Thereupon the Boeotian augurs declared that the victory belonged to the Thebans, because it was the habit of cocks to keep silence when conquered and to crow when victorious.
p307 75 "The Spartans received many warnings given at that time of their impending defeat at Leuctra. For example, a crown of wild, prickly herbs suddenly appeared on the head of the statue erected at Delphi in honour of Lysander, the most eminent of the Spartans. Furthermore, the Spartans had set up some golden stars in the temple of Castor and Pollux at Delphi to commemorate the glorious victory88 of Lysander over the Athenians, because, it was said, those gods were seen accompanying the Spartan fleet in that battle. Now, just before the battle of Leuctra these divine symbols — that is, the golden stars at Delphi, already referred to — fell down and were never seen again. 76 But the most significant warning received by the Spartans was this: they sent to consult the oracle of Jupiter at Dodona as to the chances of victory. After their messengers had duly set up the vessel in which were the lots, an ape, kept by the king of Molossia for his amusement, disarranged the lots and everything else used in consulting the oracle, and scattered them in all directions. Then, so we are told, the priestess who had charge of the oracle said that the Spartans must think of safety and not of victory.
35 77 "Again, did not Gaius Flaminius89 by his neglect of premonitory signs in his second consulship in the Second Punic War cause great disaster to the State? For, after a review of the army, he had moved his camp and was marching towards Arretium to meet Hannibal, when his horse, for no apparent reason, suddenly fell with him just in front of the statue of Jupiter Stator. Although the soothsayers considered this a divine warning not to join battle, he did not so regard it. Again, after the p309 auspices by means of the tripudium90 had been taken, the keeper of the sacred chickens advised the postponement of battle. Flaminius then asked, 'Suppose the chickens should never eat, what would you advise in that case?' 'You should remain in camp,' was the reply. 'Fine auspices indeed!' said Flaminius, 'for they counsel action when chickens' crops are empty and inaction when chickens' crops are filled.' So he ordered the standards to be plucked up and the army to follow him. Then, when the standard-bearer of the first company could not loosen his standard, several soldiers came to his assistance, but to no purpose. This fact was reported to Flaminius, and he, with his accustomed obstinacy, ignored it. The consequence was that within three hours his army was cut to pieces and he himself was slain. 78 Coelius has added the further notable fact that, at the very time this disastrous battle was going on, earthquakes of such violence occurred in Liguria, in Gaul, on several islands, and in every part of Italy, that a large number of towns were destroyed, landslips took place in many regions, the earth sank, rivers flowed upstream, and the sea invaded their channels.
36 "Trustworthy conjectures in divining are made by experts. For instance, when Midas, the famous king of Phrygia, was a child, ants filled his mouth with grains of wheat as he slept. It was predicted that he would be a very wealthy man; and so it turned out. Again, while Plato was an infant, asleep in his cradle, bees settled on his lips and this was interpreted to mean that he would have a rare sweetness of speech. Hence in his infancy his future eloquence was foreseen. 79 And what about your p311 beloved and charming friend Roscius?91 Did he lie or did the whole of Lanuvium lie for him in telling the following incident: In his cradle days, while he was being reared in Solonium, a plain in the Lanuvian district, his nurse suddenly awoke during the night and by the light of a lamp observed the child asleep with a snake coiled about him. She was greatly frightened at the sight and gave an alarm. His father referred the occurrence to the soothsayers, who replied that the boy would attain unrivalled eminence and glory. Indeed, Pasiteles has engraved the scene in silver and our friend Archias has described it in verse.
"Then what do we expect? Do we wait for the immortal gods to converse with us in the forum, on the street, and in our homes? While they do not, of course, present themselves in person, they do diffuse their power far and wide — sometimes enclosing it in caverns of the earth and sometimes imparting it to human beings. The Pythian priestess at Delphi was inspired by the power of the earth92 and the Sibyl by that of nature. Why need you marvel at this? Do we not see how the soils of the earth vary in kind? Some are deadly, like that about Lake Ampsanctus93 in the country of the Hirpini and that of Plutonia in Asia, both of which I have seen. Even in the same neighbourhood, some parts are salubrious and some are not; some produce men of keen wit, others produce fools. These diverse effects are all the result of differences in climate and differences in the earth's exhalations. 80 It often happens, too, that the soul is violently stirred by the sight of some object, or by the deep tone of a voice, or by singing. Frequently anxiety p313 or fear will have that effect, as it did in the case of Hesione, who
Did rave like one by Bacchic rites made mad
And mid the tombs her Teucer called aloud.94
37 "And poetic inspiration also proves that there is a divine power within the human soul. Democritus says that no one can be a great poet without being in a state of frenzy, and Plato says the same thing. Let Plato call it 'frenzy' if he will, provided he praises it as it was praised in his Phaedrus.95 And what about your own speeches in law suits. Can the delivery of you lawyers be impassioned, weighty, and fluent unless your soul is deeply stirred? Upon my word, many a time have I seen in you such passion of look and gesture that I thought some power was rendering you unconscious of what you did; and, if I may cite a less striking example, I have seen the same in your friend Aesopus.
81 "Frequently, too, apparitions present themselves and, though they have no real substance, they seem to have. This is illustrated by what is said to have happened to Brennus96 and to his Gallic troops after he had made an impious attack on the temple of Apollo at Delphi. The story is that the Pythian priestess, in speaking from the oracle, said to Brennus:
To this the virgins white97 and I will see.
The result was that the virgins were seen fighting against the Gauls, and their army was overwhelmed with snow.
38 "Aristotle thought98 that even the people who rave from the effects of sickness and are called 'hypochondriacs'99 have within their souls some power p315 of foresight and of prophecy. But, for my part, I am inclined to think that such a power is not to be distributed either to a diseased stomach or to a disordered brain. On the contrary, it is the healthy soul and not the sickly body that has the power of divination. 82 The Stoics, for example, establish the existence of divination by the following process of reasoning:
" 'If there are gods and they do not make clear to man in advance what the future will be, then they do not love man; or, they themselves do not know what the future will be; or, they think that it is of no advantage to man to know what it will be; or, they think it inconsistent with their dignity to give man forewarnings of the future; or, finally, they, though gods, cannot give intelligible signs of coming events. But it is not true that the gods do not love us, for they are the friends and benefactors of the human race; nor is it true that they do not know their own decrees and their own plans; nor is it true that it is of no advantage to us to know what is going to happen, since we should be more prudent if we knew; nor is it true that the gods think it inconsistent with their dignity to give forecasts, since there is no more excellent quality than kindness; nor is it true that they have not the power to know the future; 83 therefore it is not true that there are gods and yet that they do not give us signs of the future; but there are gods, therefore they give us such signs; and if they give us such signs, it is not true that they give us no means to understand those signs — otherwise their signs would be useless; and if they give us the means, it is not true that there is no divination; therefore there is divination.'
p317 39 84 "Chrysippus, Diogenes, and Antipater employ the same reasoning. Then what ground is there to doubt the absolute truth of my position? For I have on my side reason, facts, peoples, and races, both Greek and barbarian, our own ancestors, the unvarying belief of all ages, the greatest philosophers, the poets, the wisest men, the builders of cities, and the founders of republics. Are we not satisfied with the unanimous judgement of men, and do we wait for beasts to give their testimony too? 85 The truth is that no other argument of any sort is advanced to show the futility of the various kinds of divination which I have mentioned except the fact that it is difficult to give the cause or reason of every kind of divination. You ask, 'Why is it that the soothsayer, when he finds a cleft in the lung of the victim, even though the other vitals are sound, stops the execution of an undertaking and defers it to another day?' 'Why does an augur think it a favourable omen when a raven flies to the right, or a crow to the left?' 'Why does an astrologer consider that the moon's conjunction with the planets Jupiter and Venus at the birth of children is a favourable omen, and its conjunction with Saturn or Mars unfavourable?' Again, 'Why does God warn us when we are asleep and fail to do so when we are awake?' Finally, 'Why is it that mad Cassandra foresees coming events and wise Priam cannot do the same?'
86 "You ask why everything happens. You have a perfect right to ask, but that is not the point at issue now. The question is, Does it happen, or does it not? For example, if I were to say that the magnet attracted iron and drew it to itself, and I could not p319 tell you why, then I suppose you would utterly deny that the magnet had any such power. At least that is the course you pursue in regard to the existence of the power of divination, although it is established by our reading and by the traditions of our forefathers. Why, even before the dawn of philosophy, which is a recent discovery, the average man had no doubt about divination, and, since its development, no philosopher of any sort of reputation has had any different view. 87 I have already cited Pythagoras, Democritus, and Socrates and, of the ancients, I have excluded no one except Xenophanes. To them I have added the Old Academy, the Peripatetics, and the Stoics. The only dissenter is Epicurus. But why wonder at that? for is his opinion of divination any more discreditable than his view that there is no such thing as a disinterested virtue?
40 "But is there a man anywhere who is uninfluenced by clear and unimpeachable records signed and sealed by the hand of Time? For example, Homer writes that Calchas was by far the best augur among the Greeks and that he commanded the Greek fleet before Troy. His command of the fleet I suppose was due to his skill as an augur and not to his skill in seamanship. 88 Amphilochus and Mopsus were kings of Argos, but they were augurs too, and they founded Greek cities on the coasts of Cilicia. And even before them were Amphiaraus and Tiresias. They were no lowly and unknown men, nor were they like the person described by Ennius,
Who, for their own gain, uphold opinions that are false,
p321 but they were eminent men of the noblest type and foretold the future by means of augural signs. In speaking of Tiresias, even when in the infernal regions, Homer says that he alone was wise, that the rest were mere wandering shadows.100 As for Amphiaraus, his reputation in Greece was such that he was honoured as a god, and oracular responses were sought in the place where he was buried.
89 "Furthermore, did not Priam, the Asiatic king, have a son, Helenus, and a daughter, Cassandra, who prophesied, the first by means of auguries and the other when under a heaven-inspired excitement and exaltation of soul? In the same class, as we read in the records of our forefathers, were those famous Marcian brothers,101 men of noble birth. And does not Homer relate that Polyidus of Corinth102 not only made many predictions to others, but that he also foretold the death of his own son, who was setting out for Troy? As a general rule among the ancients the men who ruled the state had control likewise of augury, for they considered divining, as well as wisdom, becoming to a king. Proof of this is afforded by our State wherein the kings were augurs; and, later, private citizens endowed with the same priestly office ruled the republic by the authority of religion.103
41 90 "Nor is the practice of divination disregarded even among uncivilized tribes, if indeed there are Druids104 in Gaul — and there are, for I knew one of them myself, Divitiacus, the Aeduan, your guest and eulogist. He claimed to have that knowledge of nature which the Greeks call 'physiologia,' and he used to make predictions, sometimes p323 by means of augury and sometimes by means of conjecture. Among the Persians the augurs and diviners are the magi, who assemble regularly in a sacred place for practice and consultation, just as formerly you augurs used to do on the Nones. 91 Indeed, no one can become king of the Persians until he has learned the theory and the practice of the magi. Moreover, you may see whole families and tribes devoted to this art. For example, Telmessus in Caria is a city noted for its cultivation of the soothsayer's art, and there is also Elis in Peloponnesus, which has permanently set aside two families as soothsayers, the Iamidae and the Clutidae,105 who are distinguished for superior skill in their art. In Syria the Chaldeans are pre-eminent for their knowledge of astronomy and for their quickness of mind.
92 "Again, the Etruscans are very skilful in observing thunderbolts, in interpreting their meaning and that of every sign and portent. That is why, in the days of our forefathers, it was wisely decreed by the Senate, when its power was in full vigour, that, of the sons of the chief men, six should be handed over to each of the Etruscan tribes106 for the study of divination, in order that so important a profession should not, on account of the poverty of its members, be withdrawn from the influence of religion, and converted into a means of mercenary gain. On the other hand the Phrygians, Pisidians, Cilicians, and Arabians rely chiefly on the signs conveyed by the flights of birds, and the Umbrians, according to tradition, used to do the same.
42 93 "Now, for my part, I believe that the character of the country determined the kind of divination which its inhabitants adopted. For p325 example, the Egeans and Babylonians, who live on the level surface of open plains, with no hills to obstruct a view of the sky, have devoted their attention wholly to astrology. But the Etruscans, being in their nature of a very ardent religious temperament and accustomed to the frequent sacrifice of victims, have given their chief attention to the study of entrails. And as on account of the density of the atmosphere signs from heaven were common among them, and furthermore since that atmospheric condition caused many phenomena both of earth and sky and also certain prodigies that occur in the conception and birth of men and cattle — for these reasons the Etruscans have become very proficient in the interpretation of portents. Indeed, the inherent force of these means of divination, as you like to observe,107 is clearly shown by the very words so aptly chosen by our ancestors to describe them. Because they 'make manifest' (ostendunt), 'portend' (portendunt), 'intimate' (monstrant), 'predict' (praedicunt), they are called 'manifestations,' 'portents,' 'intimations, and 'prodigies.' 94 But the Arabians, Phrygians, and Cilicians, being chiefly engaged in the rearing of cattle, are constantly wandering over the plains and mountains in winter and summer and, on that account, have found it quite easy to study the songs and flight of birds. The same is true of the Pisidians and of our fellow-countrymen, the Umbrians. While the Carians, and especially the Telmessians, already mentioned, because they live in a country with a very rich and prolific soil, whose fertility produces many abnormal growths, have turned their attention to the study of prodigies.
p327 43 95 "But who fails to observe that auspices and all other kinds of divination flourish best in the best regulated states? And what king or people has there ever been who did not employ divination? I do not mean in time of peace only, but much more even in time of war, when the strife and struggle for safety is hardest. Passing by our own countrymen, who do nothing in war without examining entrails and nothing in peace without taking the auspices, let us look at the practice of foreign nations. The Athenians, for instance, in every public assembly always had present certain priestly diviners, whom they call manteis. The Spartans assigned an augur to their kings as a judicial adviser, and they also enacted that an augur should be present in their Council of Elders, which is the name of their Senate. In matters of grave concern they always consulted the oracle at Delphi, or that of Jupiter Hammon or that of Dodona. 96 Lycurgus himself, who once governed the Spartan state, established his laws by authority of Apollo's Delphic oracle, and Lysander, who wished to repeal them, was prevented from doing so by the religious scruples of the people. Moreover, the Spartan rulers, not content with their deliberations when awake used to sleep in a shrine of Pasiphaë which is situated in a field near the city, in order to dream there, because they believed that oracles received in repose were true.
97 "I now return to instances at home. How many times the Senate has ordered the decemvirs to consult the Sibylline books! How often in matters of grave concern it has obeyed the responses of the soothsayers! Take the following examples: When p329 at one time, two suns and, at another, three moons, were seen; when meteors appeared; when the sun shone at night; when rumblings were heard in the heavens; when the sky seemed to divide, showing balls of fire108 enclosed within; again, on the occasion of the landslip in Privernum, report of which was made to the Senate; and when Apulia was shaken by a most violent earthquake and the land sank to an incredible depth — in all these cases of portents which warned the Roman people of mighty wars and deadly revolutions, the responses of the soothsayers were in agreement with the Sibylline verses.
98 "And what of those other instances? As when, for example, the statue of Apollo at Cumae and that of Victory at Capua dripped with sweat; when that unlucky prodigy, the hermaphrodite, was born; when the river Atratus109 ran with blood; when there were showers frequently of stone, sometimes of blood, occasionally of earth and even of milk; and finally, when lightning struck the statue of the Centaur on the Capitoline hill, the gates and some people on the Aventine and the temples of Castor and Pollux at Tusculum and of Piety at Rome — in each of these cases did not the soothsayers give prophetic responses which were afterwards fulfilled? And were not these same prophecies found in the Sibylline books?
44 99 "In recent times, during the Marsian war,110 the temple of Juno Sospita was restored because of a dream of Caecilia, the daughter of Quintus Caecilius Metellus. This is the same dream that Sisenna discussed as marvellous, in that its prophecies were fulfilled to the letter, and yet later p331 — influenced no doubt by some petty Epicurean — he goes on inconsistently to maintain that dreams are not worthy of belief. This writer, however, has nothing to say against prodigies; in fact he relates that, at the outbreak of the Marsian War, the statues of the gods dripped with sweat, rivers ran with blood, the heavens opened, voices from unknown sources were heard predicting dangerous wars, and finally — the sign considered by the soothsayers the most ominous of all — the shields at Lanuvium were gnawed by mice.
100 "And what do you say of the following story which we find in our annals? During the Veientian War,111 when Lake Albanus had overflowed its banks, a certain nobleman of Veii deserted to us and said that, according to the prophecies of the Veientian books, their city could not be taken while the lake was at flood, and that if its waters were permitted to overflow and take their own course to the sea the result would be disastrous to the Roman people; on the other hand, if the waters were drained off in such a way that they did not reach the sea the result would be to our advantage. In consequence of this announcement our forefathers dug that marvellous canal to drain off the waters from the Alban lake.112 Later when the Veientians had grown weary of war and had sent ambassadors to the Senate to treat for peace, one of them is reported to have said that the deserter had not dared to tell the whole of the prophecy contained in the Veientian books, for those books, he said, also foretold the early capture of Rome by the Gauls. And this, as we know, did occur six years after the fall of Veii.
p333 45 101 "Again, we are told that fauns have often been heard in battle and that during turbulent times truly prophetic messages have been sent from mysterious places. Out of many instances of this class I shall give only two, but they are very striking. Not long before the capture of the city by the Gauls, a voice, issuing from Vesta's sacred grove, which slopes from the foot of the Palatine Hill to New Road, was heard to say, 'the walls and gates must be repaired; unless this is done the city will be taken.'113 Neglect of this warning, while it was possible to heed it, was atoned for after the supreme disaster had occurred; for, adjoining the grove, an altar, which is now to be seen enclosed with a hedge, was dedicated to Aius the Speaker. The other illustration has been reported by many writers. At the time of the earthquake a voice came from Juno's temple on the citadel commanding that an expiatory sacrifice be made of a pregnant sow. From this fact the goddess was called Juno the Adviser. Are we, then, lightly to regard these warnings which the gods have sent and our forefathers adjudged to be trustworthy?
102 "Nor is it only to the voices of the gods that the Pythagoreans have paid regard but also to the utterances of men which they term 'omens.' Our ancestors, too, considered such 'omens' worthy of respect, and for that reason, before entering upon any business enterprise, used to say, 'May the issue be prosperous, propitious, lucky, and successful.' At public celebrations of religious rites they gave the command, 'Guard your tongues'; and in issuing the order for the Latin festival the customary injunction was, 'Let the people refrain from strife p335 and quarrelling.' So too, when the sacred ceremony of purification was held by one starting on an expedition to found a colony, or when the commander-in‑chief was reviewing his army, or the censor was taking his census, it was the rule to choose men with names of good omen to led the victims. Furthermore, the consuls in making a levy of troops take pains to see that the first soldier enlisted is one with a lucky name. 103 You, of course, are aware that you, both as consul at home and later as commander in the field, employed the same precaution with the most scrupulous care. In the case, too, of the prerogative tribe or century, our forefathers determined that it should be the 'omen' of a proper election.114
46 "Now let me give some well-known examples of omens: When Lucius Paulus was consul the second time, and had been chosen to wage war against King Perses, upon returning home on the evening of the day on which he had been appointed, he noticed, as he kissed his little daughter Tertia (at that time a very small child), that she was rather sad. 'What is the matter, Tertia, my dear? Why are you sad?' 'Oh! father, Persa is dead.' Paulus clasped the child in a closer embrace and said, 'Daughter, I accept that as an omen.' Now 'Persa' was the name of a little dog that had died. 104 I heard Lucius Flaccus,115 the high priest of Mars, relate the following story: Metellus' daughter, Caecilia, who was desirous of arranging a marriage for her sister's daughter, went, according to the ancient custom, to a small chapel to receive an omen. A long time passed while the maiden stood and Caecilia was seated on a chair without p337 any word being spoken. Finally, the former grew weary and said to her aunt: 'Let me sit awhile on your chair.' 'Certainly, my child,' said Caecilia, 'you may have my place.' And this was an omen of what came to pass, for in a short time Caecilia died and the girl married her aunt's husband. I realize perfectly well that the foregoing omens may be lightly regarded and even be laughed at, but to make light of signs sent by the gods is nothing less than to disbelieve in the existence of the gods.
47 105 "Why need I speak of augurs? That is your rôle; the duty to defend auspices, I maintain, is yours. For it was to you, while you were consul, that the augur Appius Claudius declared that because the augury of safety116 was unpropitious a grievous and violent civil war was at hand. That war began few months later, but you brought it to an end in still fewer days. Appius is one augur of whom I heartily approve, for not content merely with the sing-song ritual of augury,117 he, alone, according to the record of many years, has maintained a real system of divination. I know that your colleagues used to laugh at him and call him the one time 'a Pisidian' and at another 'a Soran.'118 They did not concede to augury any power of prevision or real knowledge of the future, and used to say that it was a superstitious practice shrewdly invented to gull the ignorant. But the truth is far otherwise, for neither those herdsmen whom Romulus governed, nor Romulus himself, could have had cunning enough to invent miracles with which to mislead the people. It is the trouble and hard work involved in mastering the art that has induced this p339 eloquent contempt; for men prefer to say glibly that there is nothing in auspices rather than to learn what auspices are.
106 "Now — to employ you as often as I can as my authority — what could be more clearly of divine origin than the auspice which is thus described in your Marius?119
Behold, from out the tree, on rapid wing,
The eagle that attends high-thundering Jove
A serpent bore, whose fangs had wounded her;
And as she flew her cruel talons pierced
Quite through its flesh. The snake, tho' nearly dead,
Kept darting here and there its spotted head;
And, as it writhed, she tore with bloody beak
Its twisted folds. At last, with sated wrath
And grievous wounds avenged, she dropped her prey,
Which, dead and mangled, fell into the sea;
And from the West she sought the shining East.
When Marius, reader of divine decrees,
Observed the bird's auspicious, gliding course,
He recognized the goodly sign foretold
That he in glory would return to Rome;
Then, on the left, Jove's thunder pealed aloud
And thus declared the eagle's omen true.
48 107 "As for that augural art of Romulus of which I spoke, it was pastoral and not city-bred, nor was it 'invented to gull the ignorant,' but received by trustworthy men, who handed it on to their descendants. And so we read in Ennius120 the following story of Romulus, who was an augur, and of his brother Remus, who also was an augur:
When each would rule they both at once appealed
Their claims, with anxious hearts, to augury.
Then Remus took the auspices alone
And waited for the lucky bird; while on
The lofty Aventine121 fair Romulus
p341 His quest did keep to wait the soaring tribe:
Their contest would decide the city's name
As Rome or Remora. The multitude
Expectant looked to learn who would be king.
As, when the consul is about to give
The sign to start the race, the people sit
With eyes intent on barrier doors from whose
108 Embellished jaws the chariots soon will come;
So now the people, fearful, looked for signs
To know whose prize the mighty realm would be.
Meantime the fading sun into the shades
Of night withdrew and then the shining dawn
Shot forth its rays. 'Twas then an augury,
The best of all, appeared on high — a bird
That on the left did fly. And, as the sun
Its golden orb upraised, twelve sacred birds
Flew down from heaven and betook themselves
To stations set apart for goodly signs.
Then Romulus perceived that he had gained
A throne whose source and proper was augury.
49 109 "But let us bring the discussion back to the point from which it wandered. Assume that I can give no reason for any of the instances of divination which I have mentioned and that I can do no more than show that they did occur, is that not a sufficient answer to Epicurus and to Carneades? And what does it matter if, as between artificial and natural divination, the explanation of the former is easy and of the latter is somewhat hard? For the results of those artificial means of divination, by means of entrails, lightnings, portents, and astrology, have been the subject of observation for a long period of time. But in every field of inquiry great length of time employed in continued observation begets an extraordinary fund of knowledge, which may be acquired even without the intervention or inspiration of the gods, since repeated observation p343 makes it clear what effect follows any given cause, and what sign precedes any given event.
110 "The second division of divination, as I said before,122 is the natural; and it, according to exact teaching of physics, must be ascribed to divine Nature, from which, as the wisest philosophers maintain, our souls have been drawn and poured forth. And since the universe is wholly filled with the Eternal Intelligence and the Divine Mind, it must be that human souls are influenced by their contact with divine souls. But when men are awake their souls, as a rule, are subject to the demands of everyday life and are withdrawn from divine association because they are hampered by the chains of the flesh.
111 "However, there is a certain class of men, though small in number, who withdraw themselves from carnal influences and are wholly possessed by an ardent concern for the contemplation of things divine. Some of these men make predictions, not as the result of direct heavenly inspiration, but by the use of their own reason. For example, by means of natural law, they foretell certain events, such as a flood, or the future destruction of heaven and earth by fire. Others, who are engaged in public life, like Solon of Athens,123 as history describes him, discover the rise of tyranny long in advance. Such men we may call 'foresighted' — that is, 'able to foresee the future'; but we can no more apply the term 'divine' to them than we can apply it to Thales of Miletus, who, as the story goes, in order to confound his critics and thereby show that even a philosopher, if he sees fit, can make money, bought up the entire olive crop in the district of Miletus p345 before it had begun to bloom.124 112 Perhaps he had observed, from some personal knowledge he had on the subject, that the crop would be abundant. And, by the way, he is said to have been the first man to predict the solar eclipse which took place in the reign of Astyages.
50 "There are many things foreseen by physicians, pilots, and also by farmers, but I do not call the predictions of any of them divination. I do not even call that a case of divination when Anaximander, the natural philosopher, warned the Spartans to leave the city and their homes and to sleep in the fields under arms, because an earthquake was at hand. Then the whole city fell down in ruins and the extremity of Mount Taygetus was torn away like the stern of a ship in a storm. Not even Pherecydes, the famous teacher of Pythagoras, will be considered a prophet because he predicted an earthquake from the appearance of some water drawn from an unfailing well.125
113 "In fact, the human soul never divines naturally, except when it is so unrestrained and free that it has absolutely no association with the body, as happens in the case of frenzy and of dreams. Hence both these kinds of divination have been sanctioned by Dicaearchus and also, as I said, by our friend Cratippus. Let us grant that these two methods (because they originate in nature) take the highest rank in divination; but we will not concede that they are the only kind. But if, on the other hand, Dicaearchus and Cratippus believe that there is nothing in observation, they hold a doctrine destructive of the foundation on which many things in everyday p347 life depend. However, since these men make us some concession — and that not a small one — in granting us divination by frenzy and dreams, I see no cause for any great war with them, especially in view of the fact that there are some philosophers who do not accept any sort of divination whatever.
114 "Those then, whose souls, spurning their bodies, take wings and fly abroad — inflamed and aroused by a sort of passion — these men, I say, certainly see the things which they foretell in their prophecies. Such souls do not cling to the body and are kindled by many different influences. For example, some are aroused by certain vocal tones, as by Phrygian songs, many by groves and forests, and many others by rivers and seas. I believe, too, that there were certain subterranean vapours which had the effect of inspiring persons to utter oracles.126 In all these cases the frenzied soul sees the future long in advance, as Cassandra did in the following instance:
Alas! behold! some mortal will decide
A famous case between three goddesses:
Because of that decision there will come
A Spartan woman, but a Fury too.127
It is in this state of exaltation that many predictions have been made, not only in prose but also
In verse which once the fauns and bards did sing.128
115 Likewise Marcius and Publicius,129 according to tradition, made their prophecies in verse, and the cryptic utterances of Apollo were expressed in the same form.
p349 51 "Such is the rationale of prophecy by means of frenzy, and that of dreams is not much unlike it. For the revelations made to seers when awake are made to us in sleep. While we sleep and the body lies as if dead, the soul is at its best, because it is then freed from the influence of the physical senses and from the worldly cares that weigh it down. And since the soul has lived from all eternity and has had converse with numberless other souls, it sees everything that exists in nature, provided that moderation and restraint have been used in eating and in drinking, so that the soul is in a condition to watch while the body sleeps. Such is the explanation of divination by dreams.
116 "At this point it is pertinent to mention Antiphon's130 well-known theory of the interpretation of dreams. His view is that the interpreters of dreams depending upon technical skill and not upon inspiration. He has the same view as to the interpretation of oracles and of frenzied utterances; for they all have their interpreters, just as poets have their commentators. Now it is clear that divine nature would have done a vain thing if she had merely created iron, copper, silver, and gold and had not shown us how to reach the veins in which those metals lie; the gift of field crops and orchard fruits would have been useless to the human race without a knowledge of how to cultivate them and prepare them for food; and building material would be of no service without the carpenter's art to convert it into lumber. So it is with everything that the gods have given for the advantage of mankind, there has been joined some art whereby that advantage may be turned to account. The same is true p351 of dreams, prophecies, and oracles: since many of them were obscure and doubtful, resort was had to the skill of professional interpreters.
117 "Now there is a great problem as to how prophets and dreamers can see things, which, at the time, have no actual existence anywhere. But that question would be solved quite readily if we were to investigate certain other questions which demand consideration first. For the theory in regard to the nature of the gods, so clearly developed in the second book of your work on that subject, includes this whole question. If we maintain that theory we shall establish the very point which I am trying to make: namely, 'that there are gods; that they rule the universe by their foresight; and that they direct the affairs of men — not merely of men in the mass, but of each individual.' If we succeed in holding that position — and for my part I think it impregnable — then surely it must follow that the gods give to men signs of coming events.
52 118 "But it seems necessary to settle the principle on which these signs depend. For, according to the Stoic doctrine, the gods are not directly responsible for every fissure in the liver or for every song of a bird; since, manifestly, that would not be seemly or proper in a god and furthermore is impossible. But, in the beginning, the universe was so created that certain results would be preceded by certain signs, which are given sometimes by entrails and by birds, sometimes by lightnings, by portents, and by stars, sometimes by dreams, and sometimes by utterances of persons in a frenzy. And these signs do not often deceive the persons p353 who observe them properly. If prophecies, based on erroneous deductions and interpretations, turn out to be false, the fault is not chargeable to the signs but to the lack of skill in the interpreters.
"Assuming the proposition to be conceded that there is a divine power which pervades the lives of men, it is not hard to understand the principle directing those premonitory signs which we see come to pass. For it may be that the choice of a sacrificial victim is guided by an intelligent force, which is diffused throughout the universe; or, it may be that at the moment when the sacrifice is offered, a change in the vitals occurs and something is added or taken away; for many things are added to, changed, or diminished in an instant of time. 119 Conclusive proof of this fact, sufficient to put it beyond the possibility of doubt, is afforded by incidents which happened just before Caesar's death. While he was offering sacrifices on the day when he sat for the first time on a golden throne and first appeared in public in a purple robe, no heart was found in the vitals of the votive ox.131 Now do you think it possible for any animal that has blood to exist without a heart? Caesar was unmoved by this occurrence, even though Spurinna132 warned him to beware lest thought and life should fail him — both of which, he said, proceeded from the heart. On the following day there was no head to the liver of the sacrifice. These portents were sent by the immortal gods to Caesar that he might foresee his death, not that he might prevent it. Therefore, when those organs, without which the victim could not have lived, are found wanting in the vitals, we should understand that the absent p355 organs disappeared at the very moment of immolation.
53 120 "The Divine Will accomplishes like results in the case of birds, and causes those known as alites,133 which give omens by their flight, to fly hither and thither and disappear now here and now there, and causes those known as oscines, which give omens by their cries, to sing now on the left and now on the right. For if every animal moves its body forward, sideways, or backward at will, it bends, twists, extends, and contracts its members as it pleases, and performs these various motions almost mechanically; how much easier it is for such results to be accomplished by a god, whose divine will all things obey! 121 The same power sends us signs, of which history has preserved numerous examples. We find the following omens recorded: when just before sunrise the moon was eclipsed in the sign of Leo, this indicated that Darius and the Persians would be overcome in battle by the Macedonians under Alexander, and that Darius would die.g Again, when a girl was born with two heads, this foretold sedition among the people and seduction and adultery in the home. When a woman dreamed that she had been delivered of a lion, this signified that the country in which she had the dream would be conquered by foreign nations.
"Another instance of a similar kind is related by Herodotus:134 Croesus's son, when an infant, spoke, and this prodigy foretold the utter overthrow of his father's family and kingdom. What history has failed to record the fact that while Servius Tullius slept his head burst into flame?135 Therefore, just as a man has clear and trustworthy dreams, provided he p357 goes to sleep, not only with his mind prepared by noble thoughts, but also with every precaution taken to induce repose; so, too, he, when awake, is better prepared to interpret truly the messages of entrails, stars, birds, and all other signs, provided his soul is pure and undefiled.
54 122 "It is the purity of soul, no doubt, that explains that famous utterance which history attributes to Socrates and which his disciples in their books often represent him as repeating: 'There is some divine influence' — δαιμόνιον, he called it — 'which I always obey, though it never urges me on, but often holds me back.' And it was the same Socrates — and what better authority can we quote? — who was consulted by Xenophon136 as to whether he should join Cyrus. Socrates, after stating what seemed to him the best thing to do, remarked: 'But my opinion is only that of a man. In matters of doubt and perplexity I advise that Apollo's oracle be consulted.' This oracle was always consulted by the Athenians in regard to the more serious public questions.
123 "It is also related of Socrates that one day he saw his friend Crito with a bandage on his eye. 'What's the matter, Crito?' he inquired. 'As I was walking in the country the branch of a tree, which had been bent, was released and struck me in the eye.' 'Of course,' said Socrates, 'for, after I had had divine warning, as usual, and tried to call you back, you did not heed.' It is also related of him that after the unfortunate battle was fought at Delium under command of Laches, he was fleeing in company with his commander, when they came to a place where three roads met. Upon his refusal p359 to take the road that the others had chosen he was asked the reason and replied: 'The god prevents me.' Those who fled by the other road fell in with the enemy's cavalry. Antipater has gathered a mass of remarkable premonitions received by Socrates, but I shall pass them by, for you know them and it is useless for me to recount them. 124 However, the following utterance137 of that philosopher, made after he had been wickedly condemned to death, is a noble one — I might almost call it 'divine': 'I am very content to die,' he said; 'for neither when I left my home nor when I mounted the platform to plead my cause, did the god give any sign, and this he always does when some evil threatens me.'
55 "And so my opinion is that the power of divination exists, notwithstanding the fact that those who prophesy by means of art and conjecture are oftentimes mistaken. I believe that, just as men may make mistakes in other callings, so they may in this. It may happen that a sign of doubtful meaning is assumed to be certain or, possibly, either a sign was itself unobserved or one that annulled an observed sign may have gone unnoticed. But, in order to establish the proposition for which I contend it is enough for me to find, not many, but even a few instances of divinely inspired prevision and prophecy. 125 Nay, if even one such instance is found and the agreement between the prediction and the thing predicted is so close as to exclude every semblance of chance or of accident, I should not hesitate to say in such a case, that divination undoubtedly exists and that everybody should admit its existence.
p361 "Wherefore, it seems to me that we must do as Posidonius does and trace the vital principle of divination in its entirety to three sources: first, to God, whose connexion with the subject has been sufficiently discussed; secondly to Fate; and lastly, to Nature. Reason compels us to admit that all things happen by Fate. Now by Fate I mean the same that the Greeks call εἱμαρμένη, that is, an orderly succession of causes wherein cause is linked to cause and each cause of itself produces an effect. That is an immortal truth having its source in all eternity. Therefore nothing has happened which was not bound to happen, and, likewise, nothing is going to happen which will not find in nature every efficient cause of its happening. 126 Consequently, we know that Fate is that which is called, not ignorantly, but scientifically, 'the eternal cause of things, the wherefore of things past, of things present, and of things to come.' Hence it is that it may be known by observation what effect will in most instances follow any cause, even if it is not known in all; for it would be too much to say that it is known in every case. And it is probable that these causes of coming events are perceived by those who see them during frenzy or in sleep.
56 127 "Moreover, since, as will be shown elsewhere,138 all things happen by Fate, if there were a man whose soul could discern the links that join each cause with every other cause, then surely he would never be mistaken in any prediction he might make. For he who knows the causes of future events necessarily knows what every future event will be. But since such knowledge is possible only to a god, it is left to man to presage the future by means of certain p363 signs which indicate what will follow them. Things which are to be do not suddenly spring into existence, but the evolution of time is like the unwinding of a cable: it creates nothing new and only unfolds each event in its order. This connexion between cause and effect is obvious to two classes of diviners: those who are endowed with natural divination and those who know the course of events by the observation of signs. They may not discern the causes themselves, yet they do discern the signs and tokens of those causes. The careful study and recollection of those signs, aided by the records of former times, has evolved that sort of divination, known as artificial, which is divination by means of entrails, lightnings, portents, and celestial phenomena.
128 "Therefore it is not strange that diviners have a presentiment of things that exist nowhere in the material world: for all things 'are,' though, from the standpoint of 'time,' they are not present. As in seeds there inheres the germ of those things which the seeds produce, so in causes are stored the future events whose coming is foreseen by reason or conjecture, or is discerned by the soul when inspired by frenzy, or when it is set free by sleep. Persons familiar with the rising, setting, and revolutions of the sun, moon, and other celestial bodies, can tell long in advance where any one of these bodies will be at a given time. And the same thing may be said of men who, for a long period of time, have studied and noted the course of facts and the connexion of events, for they always know what the future will be; or, if that is putting it too strongly, they know in a majority of cases; or, if that will not be conceded either, then, surely, they sometimes know what the future will be. p365 These and a few other arguments of the same kind for the existence of divination are derived from Fate.
57 129 "Moreover, divination finds another and a positive support in nature, which teaches us how great is the power of the soul when it is divorced from the bodily senses, as it is especially in sleep, and in times of frenzy or inspiration. For, as the souls of the gods, without the intervention of eyes or ears or tongue, understand each other and what each one thinks (hence men, even when they offer silent prayers and vows, have no doubt that the gods understand them), so the souls of men, when released by sleep from bodily chains, or when stirred by inspiration and delivered up to their own impulses, see things that they cannot see when they are mingled with the body. 130 And while it is difficult, perhaps, to apply this principle of nature to explain that kind of divination which we call artificial, yet Posidonius, who digs into the question as deep as one can, thinks that nature gives certain signs of future events. Thus Heraclides of Pontus records that it is the custom of the people of Ceos, once each year, to make a careful observation of the rising of the Dog-star and from such observation to conjecture whether the ensuing year will be healthy or pestilential. For if the star rises dim and, as it were enveloped in a fog, this indicates a thick and heavy atmosphere, which will give off very unwholesome vapours; but if the star appears clear and brilliant, this is a sign that the atmosphere is light and pure and, as a consequence, will be conducive to good health.
131 "Again, Democritus expresses the opinion that the ancients acted wisely in providing for the p367 inspection of the entrails of sacrifices; because, as he thinks, the colour and general condition of the entrails are prophetic sometimes of health and sometimes of sickness and sometimes also of whether the fields will be barren or productive. Now, if it is known by observation and experience that these means of divination have their source in nature, it must be that the observations made and records kept for a long period of time have added much to our knowledge of this subject. Hence, that natural philosopher introduced by Pacuvius into his play of Chryses, seems to show very scanty apprehension of the laws of nature when he speaks as follows:
The men who know the speech of birds and more
Do learn from other livers139 than their own —
'Twere best to hear, I think, and not to heed.
I do not know why this poet makes such a statement when only a few lines further on he says clearly enough:
Whate'er the power may be, it animates,
Creates, gives form, increase, and nourishment
To everything: of everything the sire,
It takes all things unto itself and hides
Within its breast; and as from it all things
Arise, likewise to it all things return.140
Since all things have one and the same and that a common home, and since the human soul has always been and will always be, why, then, should it not be able to understand what effect will follow any cause, and what sign will precede any event?
"This," said Quintus, "is all that I had to say on divination."
p369 58 132 "I will assert, however, in conclusion, that I do not recognize fortune-tellers, or those who prophesy for money, or necromancers, or mediums, whom your friend Appius141 makes it a practice to consult.
In fine, I say, I do not care a fig
For Marsian augurs, village mountebanks,
Astrologers who haunt the circus grounds,
Or Isis-seers, or dream interpreters:
— for they are not diviners either by knowledge or skill, —142
But superstitious bards, soothsaying quacks,
Averse to work, or mad, or ruled by want,
Directing others how to go, and yet
What road to take they do not know themselves;
From those to whom they promise wealth they beg
A coin. From what they promised let them take
Their coin as toll and pass the balance on.
Such are the words of Ennius who only a few lines further back143 expresses the view that there are gods and yet says that the gods do not care what human beings do. But for my part, believing as I do that the gods do care for man, and that they advise and often forewarn him, I approve of divination which is not trivial and is free from falsehood and trickery."
When Quintus had finished I remarked, "My dear Quintus, you have come admirably well prepared."
1 Phaedrus 244C μαντική = μανική from μανία (furor).
2 Cicero adds this because Chaldaei had come to be used = "astrologers." They were the ruling class among the Babylonians.
3 The haruspex divines by the inspection of entrails.
4 From the gods.
5 This number was changed to fifteen in the time of Sulla.
Thayer's Note: For details on the decemviri (quindecemviri) sacris faciundis, see the article Decemviri in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
6 The Octavian War occurred in 87 B.C., between Octavius and Sulla on the one side and Cinna and Marius on the other.
7 This was in 105 B.C. when Cicero was one year old.
8 Q. Caecilius Metellus Balearicus, consul 123 B.C.
9 Cicero approved of the practice of divination, especially of augury, from reasons of political expediency, not because he thought it had any prophetic value; cf. II.33.70.
10 i.e. Panaetius.
11 Cicero had two gymnasia at Tusculum: the Lyceum, so called from the place in which Aristotle taught at Athens, the other, the Academia, named from the place where Plato lectured. Cf. Cic. Tusc. II.3.
12 Gaius Aurelius Cotta, consul 75 B.C., an eminent orator, and Q. Lucilius Balbus were two of the disputants in The Nature of the Gods, the former as an Academician and the latter as a Stoic.
13 Cf. Cic. N.D. III.40.95 "haec cum essent dicta, ita discessimus, ut Velleio Cottae disputatio verior, mihi Balbi ad veritatis similitudinem videretur esse propensior."
14 This question, however, is briefly discussed in De nat. d. II.3‑5.
15 Cf. Cic. N.D. II.12.
16 Cicero here refers to the deplorable condition of Roman politics and his exclusion from the courts and from any leading part in the government.
17 Vaticinatio is employed here and elsewhere in this work to mean the prophecies of those in a frenzy or under the influence of great mental excitement.
18 The following verses and those in §§ 14, 15 are from Cicero's translation of the Diosemeia of Aratus.
19 Fulix is really "coot"; but Aratus, Dios. 181 has ἐρωδιός, ardea, heron.
20 Acredula (Cicero's translation of ὀλολυγών of Aratus, 216) is used nowhere else in Latin except in this passage and its meaning is uncertain. The rendering "nightingale" accords with the sense, whereas "owl," the translation of Meyer, Hottinger, and Kühner, does not. Others understand it to mean "tree-frog," "dove," etc.
21 For frogs as weather-prophets cf. Arat. 214; Pliny H. N. XVIII.87; Virg. Georg. I.378.
22 Convolvulus scammonia.
23 Birthwort, Aristolochia rotunda.
24 For cometa = aurora septentrionalis cf. Sen. Q. N. VII.6.
25 The feriae Latinae, in honour of the Latin League, were celebrated by the consuls immediately upon assuming office, in the presence of all the magistrates, in part on the Alban Mount and in part on the Capitol, and lasted four days.
Thayer's Note: For details, see the article Feriae in Smith's Dictionary.
26 Concreto lumine, i.e. quum iunctis cornibus pleno orbe luceret, Hott.
27 Phoebi fax = bolida, an arrow-shaped torch.
28 They were consuls 65 B.C., two years before Cicero; cf. Cic. Cat. III.8.19.
29 The Etruscans were thought to have come originally from Lydia.
30 Cf. Cic. Cat. I.1; ib. III.8.
31 Plato lectured in the Academy, and Aristotle in the Lyceum.
32 The Venus throw occurred when each of the four dice fell with a different number on its upper face.
33 This was a painting by Apelles and one of the greatest of antiquity. Later it was brought to Rome by Augustus.
34 In his Dulorestes.
35 Referring to Pompey's defeat by Caesar at Pharsalus, 48 B.C.
36 Cicero was elected to the college and became a colleague of Pompey and Hortensius in 53 B.C. Quintus proceeds now to contrast the state of augury in 53‑63 B.C. with that of the time of the dialogue, 44.
37 Deiotarus was tetrarch of Gallograecia and king of Lesser Armenia; cf. II.37.78; Bell. Alex. 67.
38 In such cases the chickens were so fed that the sign desired must be given; cf. II chaps. 34 and 35.
39 When the chickens ate so eagerly that some of the food fell to ground and struck it — that was a good omen. See II chaps. 34 and 35 where terripudium is explained as = terripavium (from terra and pavire) and solistimum as apparently almost the same meaning. Quintus seems to complain that this was not a true method of divination, as the result was inevitable.
40 Cf. Val. Max. II.1; Juv. Sat. X.336; Suet. Claud. ch. 26.
41 In the first Punic War 249 B.C.; cf. Cic. De nat. d. II.3.7; Polyb. I.54.
42 Probably from the Dulorestes of Pacuvius.
43 Triumvir with Caesar and Pompey, killed in the Parthian War, 53 B.C. See II.84.
44 i.e. marked out with his staff a certain quarter (templum) where he would take his augury. In Livy I.6 Romulus takes the Palatine as his templum, Remus the Aventine; but usually templum = a quarter in the sky.
45 This temple was burned 390 B.C. by the Gauls when they sacked the city, and everything in the temple, except this staff, was burned. Cf. Val. Max. I.1; Livy V.41; Plut. Camil. 32.
Thayer's Note: "Temple" is not a good translation. The curia Saliorum is properly the "meeting-place" or "lodge" of the Salii, priests of Mars Gradivus. Plutarch — a Greek, and by a full century farther from the events — is the only one of those authors to refer to the place as a temple. Less strictly, it may be possible to infer that the curia was attached a small temple or shrine; the Salii also had a number of street shrines thruout the City. See the articles Curia Saliorum and Mansiones Saliorum Platinorum in Platner & Ashby's Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome and the article Salii in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
46 Cf. Cic. De nat. d. II.4.
47 The tabernaculum was the tent placed in the centre of the station on which the augur made his observation. The pomerium was the sacred boundary of the city, and in it the tabernaculum was placed. If the celebrant crossed the pomerium before completing the auspices he must choose a new station and take the auspices again.
48 An alternative translation is: "He having made a technical error in placing his tabernaculum, without realizing what he had done — he crossed the pomerium before completing the auspices — held the consular election."
49 This Sibyl was Herophile, who finally went to Cumae.
50 What is meant by aequatis sortibus is not known.
51 These were small oak tablets which were in the temple of Fortuna at Praeneste (II.41.86), and had words engraved on them.
52 Cf. Plato, Ion 533 seq. where the rhapsodist Ion claims a θεία δύναμις in interpreting Homer.
53 For another instance see Herod. III.151‑153.
54 Cf. Diodorus Sic. Bibl. II p118 (473,000); Lactantius, Div. Inst. VII ch. 14. But see Pliny, H. N. VII.56.
55 From his Annales. The Vestal was Rhea Silvia, or Ilia, the daughter of Numitor, and mother by Mars of Romulus and Remus.
56 The god Mars is referred to. Cf. Ovid, Fast. III.13.
57 The author of this quotation is not known.
58 This is the length of his reign as usually given, but some give it as thirty-one years. Cf. Herod. I.214; Sulpic. Sev. H.S. II.9.
59 343 B.C.
60 For the ceremony of devotion see Livy VIII.9.
61 Iliad IX.363, where Achilles says ἥματί κεν τριτάτῳ Φθίην ἐρίβωλον ἱκοίιμην. Phthia, in Thessaly, was his home, and to Socrates death was a "return home"; cf. § 54 at end. To Socrates Phthia implied his heavenly home.
62 Xen. Anab. III.1.11; IV.3.8.
63 His work Eudemos, or Περὶ ψυχῆς, is lost. Cf. Plut. Dion, 22.
64 He was killed by his brothers-in‑law about 350 B.C. Cf. Xen. Hellen. VI.4.35.
65 i.e. the slave just referred to. The games were opened by beating him round the arena. The name of the rustic was Tib. Atinius, Liv. II.36; Val. Max. I.7.4.
66 In 61 B.C.; cf. Ad Att. I.15 Asiae Quinto obtigisse audisti. Quintus had been praetor (not consul) in 62.
67 Referring to the banishment of Cicero in 58 B.C. at the instigation of Clodius, and his triumphal recall in 57 B.C.
68 M. Cicero's freedman who followed him into banishment.
69 i.e. as a token of victory.
70 This was the temple erected by Marius to Jupiter to commemorate his victory over the Cimbri, 101 B.C. The Senate sat in this temple when the act for Cicero's recall was passed.
Thayer's Note: Not a temple of Jupiter — see JRS 6:183, n44; rather, the temple of Honos and Virtus.
71 i.e. Publius Lentulus; cf. Cic. In Pison. ch. 15; Pro Sest. 55, 63, 69; Ad fam. I.9; Red. in senat. 4.9.
72 Plato, de rep. IX p571.
73 Adopting Hottinger's interpretation: nihil subtilius cogitatum, nihil philosopho dignum.
74 Cf. Tertull. De anima, ch. 48; Plut. Sympos. 9.10; Pliny, H. N. XVIII.12.
75 Iliad, XXII.358.
77 i.e. witches.
78 This quotation and the two succeeding are probably from the Hecuba of Accius, or from the Alexander of Ennius. Cf. I.50.114.
79 The reference is to Paris, who, after being exposed on Ida, lived there a long time as a shepherd.
80 Exitium examen = turbam malorum, Hottinger; cf. Cic. Orat. 46.
81 During the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, and just before the battle of Pharsalus (Aug. 9, 48 B.C.).
84 Cf. Homer's Il. II.301‑329; and below II.30.63, where the verses from Homer are quoted.
85 Nola is in Campania and still bears the same name. This campaign was in 91‑88 B.C.
86 Leuctra was a small town in Boeotia, memorable for the victory won there in 371 B.C. by the Thebans under Epaminondas over the Spartans.
87 The oracle of Zeus Trophonius was located in a cave in Lebadia and was much resorted to. Cf. Aristoph. Nubes 508; Athenaeus, 614A.
88 At Aegospotami 405 B.C.
89 Gaius Flaminius Nepos was defeated and slain 217 B.C., by Hannibal at Lake Trasimenus with the loss of 15,000 troops. Cf. Livy XXI.57, 63.
91 The famous actor.
92 The divine afflatus was supposed to be connected with an exhalation (spiritus) from a chasm.
93 Lake Ampsanctus was in Samnium and reputed to be an entrance to the infernal regions. Cf. Virgil, Aen. VII.563.
94 The verses are from the Teucer of Pacuvius. Hesione was mother of Teucer.
95 Plato, Phaedr. p244A.
96 This was not the Brennus who captured Rome, but a later one who invaded Macedonia and perished there in 278 B.C.
97 Athena and Artemis. The Greek line is ἐμοὶ μελήσει ταῦτα καὶ λευκαῖς κόραις.
98 Cf. Aristot. Prob. XXX p471.
99 Lit. 'sufferers from black bile' (μέλαινα χολή).
100 Cf. Homer, Od. X.492.
101 Mentioned by Servius in Aen. VI.70 and 72 as having their oracles preserved along with the Sibylline books.
102 Cf. Homer, Il. XIII.663.
103 The priestly functions of the "king" were afterwards exercised by a rex sacrorum.
104 Cf. Caes. B. G. VI.13; Pomp. Mel. III.2; Strabo IV p302.
105 Cf. Herod. IX.33.
106 Val. Max. I.1 says that ten (not six) were handed over. Editors differ as to whether the youths set apart were Roman or Etruscan. See Moser, De div. p106, note; Wissowa, Relig. und Kult.2 p548.
107 Cf. Cic. N.D. II.3.7, which the present passage almost repeats.
108 The word ignei may have dropped out; cf. Sen. Nat. Quaest. I.14 "caelum visum discedere cuius hiatu vertices flammae apparuerunt." Davies suggests ignei animadversi globi.
Thayer's Note: An inexplicable kind of mistake in the Loeb edition. The passage quoted is not from Seneca but in the Prodigies of Julius Obsequens, ch. 52. Since Sen. Nat. Quaest. I does in fact also deal with balls of fire and similar phenomena, maybe a line has been skipped in the note.
109 Nothing is known of this river.
110 91‑89 B.C.
111 After a siege of ten years, 406‑396 B.C., Veii was captured by Camillus. Cf. Livy V.15; Plutarch, Camil. 4.
112 For an account of how this irrigation project was begun cf. Plutarch, Camillus, ch. 3 ff.
114 Cf. Pro Murena 18.38 omen praerogativae. "The order of voting being determined by lot, the vote of the first century was taken as an omen of the vote to follow." — Heitland.
115 Probably L. Valerius Flaccus, praetor 63 B.C., and defended for embezzlement by Cicero in 60.
116 For the augury of safety cf. Dio Cass. XXXVII p40; Tac. Annal. XII.23; it could be made only in time of peace, and decided (apparently) whether prayers could be made on behalf of the state. Catiline's conspiracy is referred to here.
117 Cf. II.34.71‑72.
118 The Pisidians devoted themselves to auspices, cf. I.2; the Sorans, who lived in Sora, a small town in Latium, were noted for their superstition.
119 This poem, written by Cicero in his early youth, eulogizes Marius, who like Cicero, was born at Arpinum. Cf. Cic. De leg. I.1.
120 Annales, I.94 et seq.
121 According to other accounts, Romulus stood on the Palatine and Remus on the Aventine. Cf. Livy I.5; Dionys. Halicar. I.86; Florus I.6.
123 Cf. Diog. Laert. I.48; Val. Max. V.3.3.
124 Cf. Aristot. Polit. I.11. Pliny tells this story of Democritus, Hist. Nat. XVIII.28.
125 The appearance of the water indicated the internal disturbance. Cf. Pliny, Hist. Nat. II.83.
126 In I.50.114, after commovent and before quorum, I insert the last two lines of chapter 50 (I.50.115) credo etiam . . . funderent, and strike them out of their present place in the MS. Hottinger suggested transposition, which Giese and Moser approved, though they did not make it in their texts.
127 Cassandra is speaking of the judgement of Paris and the coming of Helen. The author of the lines is not known.
128 From Ennius, Annales, VII.2.
129 Publicius is mentioned again in II.55.113. Nothing else is known of him.
131 Cf. Pliny, Hist. Nat. XI.71; Val. Max. I.6.13; Plut. Caes.
132 Spurinna was the soothsayer who warned Caesar to beware of the Ides of March. Cf. Suet. Iul. Caes. 81.
133 Alites were birds, like the eagle, hawk, and osprey, that gave omens by their flight; oscines were birds, like the raven, crow, and owl, that gave omens by their voices. Cf. Festus, p193.
135 Cf. Flor. I.6.1; Livy I.39.1; Pliny, Hist. Nat. II.110; XXXVI.27.
136 Cf. Xen. Anab. III.1.4.
137 Cf. Plato, Apol. ch. 31.
138 The genuineness of the words, id quod . . . ostendetur, is doubted because (1) in the extant portions of Cicero's work on Fate the opposite of the position here contended for is taken; and (2) they indicate that Marcus, forgetting for the moment that Quintus is talking, imagines that he himself is the speaker. However, the MSS. support the reading adopted.
139 Often spoken of as the seat of the emotions, but here of the intelligence.
140 The earth is meant and is personified as Dis or Pluto; cf. Cic. N.D. II.26.66 Terrena autem vis omnis atque natura Diti patri dedicata est, qui Dives, ut apud Graecos Πλούτων, quia et recidunt omnia in terras et oriuntur e terris.
141 Appius Claudius, colleague of Cicero in the augural college; cf. I.47.105.
142 The words non habeo. . . arte divini are written in verse form in four lines by Giese, Davies, and Moser, and in prose form by Müller.
143 Cf. II.50.104; Cic. N.D. III.32.79.
a The only eclipse of the moon visible in Rome that year occurred on October 27th; as usual, see Fred Espenak's immensely useful eclipse tables. Catiline's conspiracy broke open within the week: this timeline is useful.
b Who this (presumably notable) Roman was who died in 63 B.C., and apparently struck by lightning at that, I've been unable to discover. Q. Caecilius Metellus Pius died in 63, but after the discovery of Catiline's conspiracy — while these verses strongly suggest that "impending disaster" followed our mystery man's death.
c "Canvas" is a loose translation; the Latin text has tabula — board — and the student should not take this English translation as an authority for painting on cloth canvases in ancient Rome.
d The closest first-hand knowledge I have of an animal writing a classical play is of our cat Boo, in one of her walks across a computer keyboard, typing out her name, sort of: boooooooooo. No dire consequence followed this omen, that I remember.
e For comprehensive details, pictures, etc., see the article Lituus in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities.
f The life and works of Antiphon are very thoroughly treated in Dobson's Greek Orators, chapter II.
g The eclipse usually taken as foretelling the defeat and death of Darius is that of Sept. 20, 331 B.C. (in astronomical notation, Sept. -20, -330): for the astronomical details, see Fred Espenak's Table of Lunar Eclipses of Historical Interest, where the link will take you to a map and the elements of the eclipse; for the divinatory aspects, the page at Livius. That eclipse took place not just before sunrise, but in the early part of the night, the moon entering the Earth's umbra at 17:49 UT and leaving it at 18:53 UT (at Babylon, roughly 20:49 to 21:53).
Our text of the de Divinatione, however, may still reflect a real eclipse, though. The Table of Lunar Eclipses for the 4c B.C. shows that Cicero would be speaking not of the eclipse just summarized, but of another one altogether; exactly which one is the question — although in no case did the eclipse occur just before sunrise.
For the moon to be eclipsed in Leo the Sun would have to have been in Aquarius, and the date in late January or February; in the decade before the death of Darius (July 330), these are the choices:
The eclipse of Jan. 22, -335 occurred when the Sun was at longitude 299.0 and the Moon therefore in 119.0 or 29 Cancer, 1 degree shy of the cusp of Leo. It was, however, only a penumbral eclipse; and, in the Near East, took place in the middle of the night rather than "just before sunrise".
The eclipse of Feb. 3, -336, though total and putting the Moon over the cusp, firmly in Leo, was not visible at Babylon or elsewhere in the Near East.
The eclipse of Feb. 13, -337 was both total and visible in the Near East; but again, took place in the middle of the night.
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