"In discussing separately the various methods
of divination, I shall begin with soothsaying, which,
according to my deliberate judgement, should be
cultivated from reasons of political expediency and
in order that we may have a state religion. But
we are alone and for that reason we may, without
causing ill-will, make an earnest inquiry into the
truth of soothsaying—certainly I can do so, since
in most things my philosophy is that of doubt.1
In the first place, then, if you please, let us make
an inspection' of entrails! Now can anybody be
induced to believe that the things said to be predicted by means of entrails were learned by the soothsayers through 'long-continued observation'? How
long, pray, did the observations last? How could
the observations have continued for a long time?
How did the soothsayers manage to agree among
themselves what part of the entrails was unfavourable, and what part favourable; or what cleft in
the liver indicated danger and what promised some
advantage? Are the soothsayers of Etruria, Elis,
Egypt, and of Carthage in accord on these matters?
Apart from such an agreement being impossible in
fact, it is impossible even to imagine; and, moreover, we see some nations interpreting entrails in one
way and some in another; hence there is no uniformity of practice.