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date: 29 November 2022



  • J. Linderski


Auspicium, literally ‘watching the birds’ (avis, specio), but the term was applied to various types of *divination. Festus (Paulus, Gloss. Lat. 367) records five types of auspical signs: from the sky (ex caelo, mostly thunder and lightning), from birds (ex avibus; observed were the number, position, flight, cries, and feeding of birds), from sacred chickens, the pulli (ex tripudiis; they were kept hungry in a cage; if food dropped from their beaks when they were eating, this was an excellent sign, auspicium sollistimum), from quadrupeds (ex quadrupedibus, e.g. a wolf eating grass), and from unusual, threatening occurrences (ex diris). They were either casually met with (oblativa) or specially watched for (impetrativa). The first two categories could be both oblative and impetrative, the third only impetrative, the fourth and fifth only oblative. Through the auspices the gods did not foretell the future but only expressed their approval or disapproval of an action either contemplated or in progress (the latter only through the oblativa).


  • Roman Myth and Religion

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