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[30] 13. "Nevertheless Democritus jests rather prettily for a natural philosopher—and there is no more arrogant class—when he says:
No one regards the things before his feet,
But views with care the regions of the sky.1
And yet Democritus gives his approval to divination by means of entrails only to the extent of believing that their condition and colour indicate whether hay and other crops will be abundant or the reverse, and he even thinks that the entrails give signs of future health or sickness. O happy mortal! He never failed to have his joke—that is absolutely certain. But was he so amused with petty trifles as to fail to see that his theory would be plausible only on the assumption that the entrails of all cattle [p. 405] changed to the same colour and condition at the same time? But if at the same instant the liver of one ox is smooth and full and that of another is rough and shrunken, what inference can be drawn from 'the condition and colour of the entrails'?

1 This is the third of three verses quoted by Cicero from the Iphigenia of Ennius in De rep. i. 18. 30, but the apophthegm is common. It is sometimes attributed to Thales.

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load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
load focus Latin (C. F. W. Müller, 1915)
load focus Latin (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
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