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[71] "In my opinion the consuls, Publius Claudius and Lucius Junius, who set sail contrary to the auspices, were deserving of capital punishment; for they should have respected the established religion and should not have treated the customs of their forefathers with such shameless disdain. Therefore it was a just retribution that the former was condemned by a vote of the people and that the latter took his own life. ' Flaminius,' you say,' did not obey the auspices, therefore he perished with his army.' But a year later Paulus did obey them; and did he not lose his army and his life in the battle of Cannae? Granting that there are auspices (as there are not), certainly those which we ordinarily employ—whether by the tripudium or by the observation of the heavens— are not auspices in any sense, but are the mere ghosts of auspices.1

34. "'Quintus Fabius, I wish you to assist me at the auspices.' He answers, ' I will.' (In our forefathers' time the magistrates on such occasions used to call in some expert person to take the [p. 453] auspices—but in these days anyone will do. But one must be an expert to know what constitutes ' silence,' for by that term we mean 'free of every augural defect.'

1 Cicero now proceeds to illustrate his point by giving the empty formulae used by the magistrates in taking the auspices. He represents himself as the celebrant and addresses his assistant, the augur, as “Quintus Fabius”— the name of any free man you please and as indefinite and impersonal as “John Doe,” or “Richard Roe.”

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