Divination in the Roman World

Topics: Ancient Rome, Divination, Roman Empire Pages: 2 (769 words) Published: August 28, 2012
In the ancient Roman world prayer and sacrifice became a fundamental aspect of all Roman life. Romans made continuous sacrifices in order to keep the gods pleased and to uphold their ‘give and take’ relationship. Pious Romans sought to maintain ‘Pax deorum’ or a harmonious relationship with the gods, by finding out their will in advance, this was called Divination. Divination consisted of , one: Augury, which was the interpretation of the flight and song of birds, two: Haruspicy which is the art of ‘gut gazing’ or otherwise known as examining the entrails of animal sacrifices and lastly the consultation of the Sibylline books. These methods were used to examine what was thought to be omens or signs sent from the gods themselves. Augury was one of the first methods of divination that was used in the roman world; in fact Augury was what founded Rome itself. This form of divination was performed by the augurs and magistrates in whom they would interpret the flight patterns and songs of birds. Like all other divination methods, Augury was practised to determine whether or not a proposed action such as holding an assembly or even going to war was given divine approval. A bird such as a swallow meant that rain was on its way and winter thrushes told the Augurs that it was going to be cold. When interpreting the song of birds they would listen out for bird such as ravens, crows and owls. As for the dipping and diving patterns, the augurs and magistrates would keep a close eye out for eagles and vultures. Another way that the romans were able to find out the gods will was through Haruspicy, this was the art of gut gazing and would be performed during a sacrifice to the gods in a ceremony . The roman senate held Haruspicy in the highest regard and consulted the Haruspex or Haruspices before all important state decisions. In ancient times the Haruspex interpreted the will of the gods through examining and inspecting the entrails of a sacrificial animal....
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