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[33] Moreover, according to tradition, the whetstone and razor were buried in the comitium and a stone curbing placed over them.

"Let us declare this story wholly false; let us burn the chronicles that contain it; let us call it a myth and admit almost anything you please rather than the fact that the gods have any concern in human affairs. But look at this: does not the story about Tiberius Gracchus found in your own writings1 acknowledge that augury and soothsaying are arts? [p. 263] He, having placed his tabernaculum,2 unwittingly violated augural law by crossing the pomerium before completing the auspices; nevertheless he held the consular election.3 The fact is well known to you since you have recorded it. Besides, Tiberius Gracchus, who was himself an augur, confirmed the authority of auspices by confessing his error; and the soothsayers, too, greatly enhanced the reputation of their calling, when brought into the Senate immediately after the election, by declaring that the election supervisor had acted without authority.

1 Cf. Cic. De nat. d. ii. 4.

2 The tabernaculum was the tent placed in the centre of the station on which the augur made his observation. The pomerium was the sacred boundary of the city, and in it the tabernaculum was placed. If the celebrant crossed the pomerium before completing the auspices he must choose a new station and take the auspices again.

3 An alternative translation is: “He having made a technical error in placing his tabernaculum, without realizing what he had done—he crossed the pomerium before completing the auspices—held the consular election.”

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load focus Introduction (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
load focus Latin (William Armistead Falconer, 1923)
load focus Latin (C. F. W. Müller, 1915)
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