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[24] 14. "'But,' it is objected, 'sometimes predictions are made which do not come true.' And pray what art—and by art I mean the kind that is dependent on conjecture and deduction—what art, I say, does not have the same fault? Surely the practice of medicine is an art, yet how many mistakes it makes! And pilots—do they not make mistakes at times? For example, when the armies of the Greeks and the captains of their mighty fleet set sail from Troy, they, as Pacuvius says,1
Glad at leaving Troy behind them, gazed upon the fish at play,
Nor could get their fill of gazing—thus they whiled the time away.
Meantime, as the sun was setting, high uprose the angry main;
Thick and thicker fell the shadows; night grew black with blinding rain.
[p. 253] Then, did the fact that so many illustrious captains and kings suffered shipwreck deprive navigation of its right to be called an art? And is military science of no effect because a general of the highest renown recently lost his army and took to flight?2 Again, is statecraft devoid of method or skill because political mistakes were made many times by Gnaeus Pompey, occasionally by Marcus Cato, and once or twice even by yourself? So it is with the responses of soothsayers, and, indeed, with every sort of divination whose deductions are merely probable; for divination of that kind depends on inference and beyond inference it cannot go.

1 In his Dulorestes.

2 Referring to Pompey's defeat by Caesar at Pharsalus, 48 B.C.

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load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
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load focus Latin (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
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