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[82] Moreover, there is no uniformity, and no consistent and constant agreement between augurs. Ennius, speaking with reference to the Roman system of augury, said:

Then on the left, from out a cloudless sky,
Jove's thunder rolled its goodly omen forth.

From the Annales, ii. 5.
But Homer's Ajax1 in complaining to Achilles of some ferocious deed or other of the Trojans, speaks in this wise:
For their success Jove thunders on the right.
[p. 465] So we regard signs on the left as best—Greeks and barbarians, those on the right. And yet I am aware that we call favourable signs sinistra, or 'left-hand' signs, even though they may be on the right.2 Undoubtedly our ancestors in choosing the left side and foreign nations the right were both influenced by what experience had shown them was the more favourable quarter in most cases.

1 Cf. Iliad, ix. 236. Cicero's memory again deceives him, the reference being to Ulysses.

2 In taking the auspices Roman augurs faced the south, Greek augurs faced the north, and hence the left of the Roman observer would be the right of the Greek. Put some right-hand signs were favourable to the Romans—e.g. the croaking of a crow; cf. i. 7. 12.

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load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
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