The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.


same fashion as the sciences of ira\iMKov or extispication, from the necessity of calling in experts to decide the true significance of an omen and the natural tendency of an art to emerge when a profession of interpreters is created. The Romans distinguished the science of augury from the chance occurrence of an omen given by a bird: "augurium petitur et certis avibus ostenditur, auspicium qualibet avi demonstratur et non petitur."J The former is the science of the professional who retires to his observatory and deduces from the signs he observes the course of the future, or examines the messages of the gods which are vouchsafed at the solemn moment of sacrifice. Possibly there was such an observatory at the temple of Skiradian Athena,2 and there seems to have been an " observatory of Teiresias " at Thebes.3 The species of birds visible, their number, the orientation of their flight, its direction and even its detailed movements, claimed the attention of the diviner as well as their cries.4 The principal birds, which were of importance in


1 Servius, Aen. i. 398.

2 Hesychios, s.v. Z/apijiuu'Tis; Photius, s.v. 2/apoc.

3 Pausanias ix. 16. I.

4 We have as a matter of fact but little evidence directly from Greek sources. An inscription containing some of the rules for inter­pretation has been found at Ephesos, C. I. G. 2953.

About | Preface | Contents | Index



page #  
Search this site