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But since I have now said enough respecting my own case, let us see now what it is that the soothsayers say. For I confess that I have been greatly moved both by the magnitude of the prodigies, and by the solemnity of the answer, and by the unanimous and consistent language of the soothsayers. Nor am I a man who,—though I may perhaps appear to some men to be more addicted to the study of literature than the rest of those are who are occupied about state affairs as much as myself—at all incline to derive delight from or to pursue those branches of learning which have a tendency to divert and deter our minds from the study of religion. But in the first place, I have our ancestors as my leaders and tutors in paying proper respect to religion,—men whose wisdom appears to me to have been so great, that those men are sufficiently, and more than sufficiently prudent, who are able—I will not say to equal their prudence, but to be thoroughly aware how great it was; who thought that the stated and regular ceremonies were provided for by the establishment of the Pontificate, that due authority for the performance of all actions was to he derived from the auspices, that the ancient prophecies of our destinies were contained in the books of the prophets of Apollo, and the explanations of prodigies in the system of the Etrurians; and this last is of such weight that within our own recollection they have predicted to us in no obscure language, first of all those fatal beginnings of the Italian war, and after that the imminent danger and almost destruction of the time of Sulla and Cinna, and very lately this recent conspiracy for burning the city and destroying the empire.

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