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[29] For example, Publius Claudius, son of Appius Caecus,1 and his colleague Lucius Junius, lost very large fleets by going to sea when the auguries were adverse. The same fate befell Agamemnon; for, after the Greeks had begun to

Raise aloft their frequent clamours, showing scorn of augur's art,
Noise prevailed and not the omen: he then bade the ships depart.

Probably from the Dulorestes of Pacuvius.

"But why cite such ancient instances? We see what happened to Marcus Crassus2 when he ignored the announcement of unfavourable omens. It was on the charge of having on this occasion falsified the auspices that Gaius Ateius, an honourable man and a distinguished citizen, was, on insufficient evidence, stigmatized by the then censor Appius, who was your associate in the augural college, and an able one too, as I have often heard you say. I grant you that in pursuing the course he did Appius was within his rights as a censor, if, in his judgement, Ateius had announced a fraudulent augury. But he showed no capacity whatever as an augur in holding Ateius responsible for that awful disaster which befell the Roman people. Had this been the cause then the fault would not have been in Ateius, who made the announcement that the augury was unfavourable, but in Crassus, who disobeyed it; for the issue proved that the announce- [p. 259] ment was true, as this same augur and censor admits. But even if the augury had been false it could not have been the cause of the disaster; for unfavourable auguries—and the same may be said of auspices, omens, and all other signs—are not the causes of what follows: they merely foretell what will occur unless precautions are taken.

1 In the first Punic War 249 B.C.; cf. Cic. De nat. d. ii, 3. 7; Polyb. i. 54.

2 Triumvir with Caesar and Pompey, killed in the Parthian War, 53 B.C. See ii. 84.

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