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Of divination.

From an unseasonable regard to divination, we omit many duties; for what can the diviner contemplate besides death, danger, sickness, and such matters? When it is necessary, then, to expose one's self to danger for a friend, or even a duty to die for him, what occasion have I for divination? Have not I a diviner within, who has told me the essence of good and evil, and who explains to me the indications of both? What further need, then, have I of signs or auguries? Can I tolerate the other diviner, when he says, "This is for your interest "? For does he know what is for my interest? Does he know what good is? Has he learned the indications of [p. 1131] good and evil, as he has those of the victims? If so, he knows the indications likewise of fair and base, just and unjust. You may predict to me, sir, what is to befall me, - life or death, riches or poverty. But whether these things are for my interest or not, I shall not inquire of you. "Why?" Because you cannot even give an opinion about points of grammar; and do you give it here, in things about which all men differ and dispute? Therefore the lady who was going to send a month's provision to Gratilla,1 in *her banishment, made a right answer to one who told her that Domitian would seize it. "I had rather," said she, "that he should seize it, than I not send it."

What, then, is it that leads us so often to divination? Cowardice; the dread of events. Hence we flatter the diviners. "Pray, sir, shall I inherit my father's estate? " " Let us see; let us sacrifice upon the occasion." "Nay, sir, just as fortune pleases." Then if he predicts that we shall inherit it, we give him thanks, as if we received the inheritance from him. The consequence of this is, that they impose upon us.

What, then, is to be done?

We should come without previous desire or aversion; as a traveller inquires the road of the person he meets, without any desire for that which turns to [p. 1132] the right hand, more than for that to the left; for he wishes for neither of these, but only for that road which leads him properly. Thus we should come to God as to a guide,--just as we make use of our eyes; not persuading them to show us one object rather than another, but receiving such as they present to us. But now we conduct the augury with fear and trembling, and in our invocations to God, entreat him: " Lord, have mercy upon me, suffer me to come off safe." Foolish man! would you have anything then but what is best? And what is best but what pleases God? Why would you then, so far as in you lies, corrupt your judge and seduce your adviser?


1 A lady of high rank at Rome, banished from Italy, among many noble persons, by Domitian. - C.

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