previous next
[105] 47. "Why need I speak of augurs? That is your role; 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 safety1 was unpropitious a grievous and violent civil war was at hand. That war began a 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,2 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 at one time ' a Pisidian ' and at another ' a Soran.'3 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 [p. 339] eloquent contempt; for men prefer to say glibly that there is nothing in auspices rather than to learn what auspices are.

1 For the augury of safety cf. Dio Cass. xxxvii. p. 40; 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.

2 Cf. ii.34. 71–72.

3 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.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
load focus Latin (C. F. W. Müller, 1915)
load focus Latin (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: