|1. Cicero, On Divination, 1.11-1.12, 1.18, 1.34, 1.63, 1.72, 1.79, 1.109-1.111, 1.117-1.118, 2.27 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)
Tagged with subjects: • Divination (Greek and Roman), natural vs. artificial • Divination, artificial • artificial divination • artificial vs. natural divination • divination, artificial • light and darkness, artificial
Found in books: Bowen and Rochberg (2020), Hellenistic Astronomy: The Science in its contexts, 615; Johnston (2008), Ancient Greek Divination, 9; Ker and Wessels (2020), The Values of Nighttime in Classical Antiquity: Between Dusk and Dawn, 266; Levison (2009), Filled with the Spirit, 362; Renberg (2017), Where Dreams May Come: Incubation Sanctuaries in the Greco-Roman World, 3, 5; Wynne (2019), Horace and the Gift Economy of Patronage, 185, 202, 208, 245, 261
1.11 Ego vero, inquam, philosophiae, Quinte, semper vaco; hoc autem tempore, cum sit nihil aliud, quod lubenter agere possim, multo magis aveo audire, de divinatione quid sentias. Nihil, inquit, equidem novi, nec quod praeter ceteros ipse sentiam; nam cum antiquissimam sententiam, tum omnium populorum et gentium consensu conprobatam sequor. Duo sunt enim dividi genera, quorum alterum artis est, alterum naturae. 1.12 Quae est autem gens aut quae civitas, quae non aut extispicum aut monstra aut fulgora interpretantium aut augurum aut astrologorum aut sortium (ea enim fere artis sunt) aut somniorum aut vaticinationum (haec enim duo naturalia putantur) praedictione moveatur? Quarum quidem rerum eventa magis arbitror quam causas quaeri oportere. Est enim vis et natura quaedam, quae tum observatis longo tempore significationibus, tum aliquo instinctu inflatuque divino futura praenuntiat. Quare omittat urguere Carneades, quod faciebat etiam Panaetius requirens, Iuppiterne cornicem a laeva, corvum ab dextera canere iussisset. Observata sunt haec tempore inmenso et in significatione eventis animadversa et notata. Nihil est autem, quod non longinquitas temporum excipiente memoria prodendisque monumentis efficere atque adsequi possit.
1.18 Nam primum astrorum volucris te consule motus Concursusque gravis stellarum ardore micantis Tu quoque, cum tumulos Albano in monte nivalis Lustrasti et laeto mactasti lacte Latinas, Vidisti et claro tremulos ardore cometas, Multaque misceri nocturna strage putasti, Quod ferme dirum in tempus cecidere Latinae, Cum claram speciem concreto lumine luna Abdidit et subito stellanti nocte perempta est. Quid vero Phoebi fax, tristis nuntia belli, Quae magnum ad columen flammato ardore volabat, Praecipitis caeli partis obitusque petessens? Aut cum terribili perculsus fulmine civis Luce sereti vitalia lumina liquit? Aut cum se gravido tremefecit corpore tellus? Iam vero variae nocturno tempore visae Terribiles formae bellum motusque monebant, Multaque per terras vates oracla furenti Pectore fundebant tristis minitantia casus,
1.34 Iis igitur adsentior, qui duo genera divinationum esse dixerunt, unum, quod particeps esset artis, alterum, quod arte careret. Est enim ars in iis, qui novas res coniectura persequuntur, veteres observatione didicerunt. Carent autem arte ii, qui non ratione aut coniectura observatis ac notatis signis, sed concitatione quadam animi aut soluto liberoque motu futura praesentiunt, quod et somniantibus saepe contingit et non numquam vaticitibus per furorem, ut Bacis Boeotius, ut Epimenides Cres, ut Sibylla Erythraea. Cuius generis oracla etiam habenda sunt, non ea, quae aequatis sortibus ducuntur, sed illa, quae instinctu divino adflatuque funduntur; etsi ipsa sors contemnenda non est, si et auctoritatem habet vetustatis, ut eae sunt sortes, quas e terra editas accepimus; quae tamen ductae ut in rem apte cadant, fieri credo posse divinitus. Quorum omnium interpretes, ut grammatici poe+tarum, proxime ad eorum, quos interpretantur, divinationem videntur accedere.
1.63 Cum ergo est somno sevocatus animus a societate et a contagione corporis, tum meminit praeteritorum, praesentia cernit, futura providet; iacet enim corpus dormientis ut mortui, viget autem et vivit animus. Quod multo magis faciet post mortem, cum omnino corpore excesserit. Itaque adpropinquante morte multo est divinior. Nam et id ipsum vident, qui sunt morbo gravi et mortifero adfecti, instare mortem; itaque iis occurrunt plerumque imagines mortuorum, tumque vel maxume laudi student, eosque, qui secus, quam decuit, vixerunt, peccatorum suorum tum maxume paenitet.
1.72 in quo haruspices, augures coniectoresque numerantur. Haec inprobantur a Peripateticis, a Stoicis defenduntur. Quorum alia sunt posita in monumentis et disciplina, quod Etruscorum declarant et haruspicini et fulgurales et rituales libri, vestri etiam augurales, alia autem subito ex tempore coniectura explicantur, ut apud Homerum Calchas, qui ex passerum numero belli Troiani annos auguratus est, et ut in Sullae scriptum historia videmus, quod te inspectante factum est, ut, cum ille in agro Nolano inmolaret ante praetorium, ab infima ara subito anguis emergeret, cum quidem C. Postumius haruspex oraret illum, ut in expeditionem exercitum educeret; id cum Sulla fecisset, tum ante oppidum Nolam florentissuma Samnitium castra cepit.
1.79 Quid? amores ac deliciae tuae, Roscius, num aut ipse aut pro eo Lanuvium totum mentiebatur? Qui cum esset in cunabulis educareturque in Solonio, qui est campus agri Lanuvini, noctu lumine apposito experrecta nutrix animadvertit puerum dormientem circumplicatum serpentis amplexu. Quo aspectu exterrita clamorem sustulit. Pater autem Roscii ad haruspices rettulit, qui responderunt nihil illo puero clarius, nihil nobilius fore. Atque hanc speciem Pasiteles caelavit argento et noster expressit Archias versibus. Quid igitur expectamus? an dum in foro nobiscum di immortales, dum in viis versentur, dum domi? qui quidem ipsi se nobis non offerunt, vim autem suam longe lateque diffundunt, quam tum terrae cavernis includunt, tum hominum naturis implicant. Nam terrae vis Pythiam Delphis incitabat, naturae Sibyllam. Quid enim? non videmus, quam sint varia terrarum genera? ex quibus et mortifera quaedam pars est, ut et Ampsancti in Hirpinis et in Asia Plutonia, quae vidimus, et sunt partes agrorum aliae pestilentes, aliae salubres, aliae, quae acuta ingenia gigt, aliae, quae retunsa; quae omnia fiunt et ex caeli varietate et ex disparili adspiratione terrarum.
1.109 Sed ut, unde huc digressa est, eodem redeat oratio: si nihil queam disputare, quam ob rem quidque fiat, et tantum modo fieri ea, quae commemoravi, doceam, parumne Epicuro Carneadive respondeam? Quid, si etiam ratio exstat artificiosae praesensionis facilis, divinae autem paulo obscurior? Quae enim extis, quae fulgoribus, quae portentis, quae astris praesentiuntur, haec notata sunt observatione diuturna. Adfert autem vetustas omnibus in rebus longinqua observatione incredibilem scientiam; quae potest esse etiam sine motu atque inpulsu deorum, cum, quid ex quoque eveniat, et quid quamque rem significet, crebra animadversione perspectum est.
1.111 Rarum est quoddam genus eorum, qui se a corpore avocent et ad divinarum rerum cognitionem cura omni studioque rapiantur. Horum sunt auguria non divini impetus, sed rationis humanae; nam et natura futura praesentiunt, ut aquarum eluviones et deflagrationem futuram aliquando caeli atque terrarum; alii autem in re publica exercitati, ut de Atheniensi Solone accepimus, orientem tyrannidem multo ante prospiciunt; quos prudentes possumus dicere, id est providentes, divinos nullo modo possumus, non plus quam Milesium Thalem, qui, ut obiurgatores suos convinceret ostenderetque etiam philosophum, si ei commodum esset, pecuniam facere posse, omnem oleam, ante quam florere coepisset, in agro Milesio coe+misse dicitur.
1.117 Quo modo autem aut vates aut somniantes ea videant, quae nusquam etiam tunc sint, magna quaestio est. Sed explorata si sint ea, quae ante quaeri debeant, sint haec, quae quaerimus, faciliora. Continet enim totam hanc quaestionem ea ratio, quae est de natura deorum, quae a te secundo libro est explicata dilucide. Quam si obtinemus, stabit illud, quod hunc locum continet, de quo agimus, esse deos, et eorum providentia mundum administrari, eosdemque consulere rebus humanis, nec solum universis, verum etiam singulis. Haec si tenemus, quae mihi quidem non videntur posse convelli, profecto hominibus a dis futura significari necesse est.
1.118 Sed distinguendum videtur, quonam modo. Nam non placet Stoicis singulis iecorum fissis aut avium cantibus interesse deum; neque enim decorum est nec dis dignum nec fieri ullo pacto potest; sed ita a principio inchoatum esse mundum, ut certis rebus certa signa praecurrerent, alia in extis, alia in avibus, alia in fulgoribus, alia in ostentis, alia in stellis, alia in somniantium visis, alia in furentium vocibus. Ea quibus bene percepta sunt, ii non saepe falluntur; male coniecta maleque interpretata falsa sunt non rerum vitio, sed interpretum inscientia. Hoc autem posito atque concesso, esse quandam vim divinam hominum vitam continentem, non difficile est, quae fieri certe videmus, ea qua ratione fiant, suspicari. Nam et ad hostiam deligendam potest dux esse vis quaedam sentiens, quae est toto confusa mundo, et tum ipsum, cum immolare velis, extorum fieri mutatio potest, ut aut absit aliquid aut supersit; parvis enim momentis multa natura aut adfingit aut mutat aut detrahit.
2.27 Illud autem naturale aut concitatione mentis edi et quasi fundi videbatur aut animo per somnum sensibus et curis vacuo provideri. Duxisti autem divinationem omnem a tribus rebus, a deo, a fato, a natura. Sed tamen cum explicare nihil posses, pugnasti commenticiorum exemplorum mirifica copia. De quo primum hoc libet dicere: Hoc ego philosophi non esse arbitror, testibus uti, qui aut casu veri aut malitia falsi fictique esse possunt; argumentis et rationibus oportet, quare quidque ita sit, docere, non eventis, iis praesertim, quibus mihi liceat non credere.' ' None
1.11 Really, my dear Quintus, said I, I always have time for philosophy. Moreover, since there is nothing else at this time that I can do with pleasure, I am all the more eager to hear what you think about divination.There is, I assure you, said he, nothing new or original in my views; for those which I adopt are not only very old, but they are endorsed by the consent of all peoples and nations. There are two kinds of divination: the first is dependent on art, the other on nature.
1.11 The second division of divination, as I said before, is the natural; and it, according to exact teaching of physics, must be ascribed to divine Nature, from which, as the wisest philosophers maintain, our souls have been drawn and poured forth. And since the universe is wholly filled with the Eternal Intelligence and the Divine Mind, it must be that human souls are influenced by their contact with divine souls. But when men are awake their souls, as a rule, are subject to the demands of everyday life and are withdrawn from divine association because they are hampered by the chains of the flesh. 1.12 Now — to mention those almost entirely dependent on art — what nation or what state disregards the prophecies of soothsayers, or of interpreters of prodigies and lightnings, or of augurs, or of astrologers, or of oracles, or — to mention the two kinds which are classed as natural means of divination — the forewarnings of dreams, or of frenzy? of these methods of divining it behoves us, I think, to examine the results rather than the causes. For there is a certain natural power, which now, through long-continued observation of signs and now, through some divine excitement and inspiration, makes prophetic announcement of the future. 7 Therefore let Carneades cease to press the question, which Panaetius also used to urge, whether Jove had ordered the crow to croak on the left side and the raven on the right. Such signs as these have been observed for an unlimited time, and the results have been checked and recorded. Moreover, there is nothing which length of time cannot accomplish and attain when aided by memory to receive and records to preserve. 1.12 The Divine Will accomplishes like results in the case of birds, and causes those known as alites, which give omens by their flight, to fly hither and thither and disappear now here and now there, and causes those known as oscines, which give omens by their cries, to sing now on the left and now on the right. For if every animal moves its body forward, sideways, or backward at will, it bends, twists, extends, and contracts its members as it pleases, and performs these various motions almost mechanically; how much easier it is for such results to be accomplished by a god, whose divine will all things obey!
1.18 You, being consul, at once did observe the swift constellations,Noting the glare of luminous stars in direful conjunction:Then you beheld the tremulous sheen of the Northern aurora,When, on ascending the mountainous heights of snowy Albanus,You offered joyful libations of milk at the Feast of the Latins;Ominous surely the time wherein fell that Feast of the Latins;Many a warning was given, it seemed, of slaughter nocturnal;Then, of a sudden, the moon at her full was blotted from heaven —Hidden her features resplendent, though night was bejewelled with planets;Then did that dolorous herald of War, the torch of Apollo,Mount all aflame to the dome of the sky, where the sun has its setting;Then did a Roman depart from these radiant abodes of the living,Stricken by terrible lightning from heavens serene and unclouded.Then through the fruit-laden body of earth ran the shock of an earthquake;Spectres at night were observed, appalling and changeful of figure,Giving their warning that war was at hand, and internal commotion;Over all lands there outpoured, from the frenzied bosoms of prophets,Dreadful predictions, gloomy forecasts of impending disaster.
1.34 I agree, therefore, with those who have said that there are two kinds of divination: one, which is allied with art; the other, which is devoid of art. Those diviners employ art, who, having learned the known by observation, seek the unknown by deduction. On the other hand those do without art who, unaided by reason or deduction or by signs which have been observed and recorded, forecast the future while under the influence of mental excitement, or of some free and unrestrained emotion. This condition often occurs to men while dreaming and sometimes to persons who prophesy while in a frenzy — like Bacis of Boeotia, Epimenides of Crete and the Sibyl of Erythraea. In this latter class must be placed oracles — not oracles given by means of equalized lots — but those uttered under the impulse of divine inspiration; although divination by lot is not in itself to be despised, if it has the sanction of antiquity, as in the case of those lots which, according to tradition, sprang out of the earth; for in spite of everything, I am inclined to think that they may, under the power of God, be so drawn as to give an appropriate response. Men capable of correctly interpreting all these signs of the future seem to approach very near to the divine spirit of the gods whose wills they interpret, just as scholars do when they interpret the poets.
1.63 When, therefore, the soul has been withdrawn by sleep from contact with sensual ties, then does it recall the past, comprehend the present, and foresee the future. For though the sleeping body then lies as if it were dead, yet the soul is alive and strong, and will be much more so after death when it is wholly free of the body. Hence its power to divine is much enhanced by the approach of death. For example, those in the grasp of a serious and fatal sickness realize the fact that death impends; and so, visions of dead men generally appear to them and then their desire for fame is strongest; while those who have lived otherwise than as they should, feel, at such a time, the keenest sorrow for their sins.
1.72 But those methods of divination which are dependent on conjecture, or on deductions from events previously observed and recorded, are, as I have said before, not natural, but artificial, and include the inspection of entrails, augury, and the interpretation of dreams. These are disapproved of by the Peripatetics and defended by the Stoics. Some are based upon records and usage, as is evident from the Etruscan books on divination by means of inspection of entrails and by means of thunder and lightning, and as is also evident from the books of your augural college; while others are dependent on conjecture made suddenly and on the spur of the moment. An instance of the latter kind is that of Calchas in Homer, prophesying the number of years of the Trojan War from the number of sparrows. We find another illustration of conjectural divination in the history of Sulla in an occurrence which you witnessed. While he was offering sacrifices in front of his head-quarters in the Nolan district a snake suddenly came out from beneath the altar. The soothsayer, Gaius Postumius, begged Sulla to proceed with his march at once. Sulla did so and captured the strongly fortified camp of the Samnites which lay in front of the town of Nola.
1.79 And what about your beloved and charming friend Roscius? Did he lie or did the whole of Lanuvium lie for him in telling the following incident: In his cradle days, while he was being reared in Solonium, a plain in the Lanuvian district, his nurse suddenly awoke during the night and by the light of a lamp observed the child asleep with a snake coiled about him. She was greatly frightened at the sight and gave an alarm. His father referred the occurrence to the soothsayers, who replied that the boy would attain unrivalled eminence and glory. Indeed, Pasiteles has engraved the scene in silver and our friend Archias has described it in verse.Then what do we expect? Do we wait for the immortal gods to converse with us in the forum, on the street, and in our homes? While they do not, of course, present themselves in person, they do diffuse their power far and wide — sometimes enclosing it in caverns of the earth and sometimes imparting it to human beings. The Pythian priestess at Delphi was inspired by the power of the earth and the Sibyl by that of nature. Why need you marvel at this? Do we not see how the soils of the earth vary in kind? Some are deadly, like that about Lake Ampsanctus in the country of the Hirpini and that of Plutonia in Asia, both of which I have seen. Even in the same neighbourhood, some parts are salubrious and some are not; some produce men of keen wit, others produce fools. These diverse effects are all the result of differences in climate and differences in the earths exhalations.
1.109 But let us bring the discussion back to the point from which it wandered. Assume that I can give no reason for any of the instances of divination which I have mentioned and that I can do no more than show that they did occur, is that not a sufficient answer to Epicurus and to Carneades? And what does it matter if, as between artificial and natural divination, the explanation of the former is easy and of the latter is somewhat hard? For the results of those artificial means of divination, by means of entrails, lightnings, portents, and astrology, have been the subject of observation for a long period of time. But in every field of inquiry great length of time employed in continued observation begets an extraordinary fund of knowledge, which may be acquired even without the intervention or inspiration of the gods, since repeated observation makes it clear what effect follows any given cause, and what sign precedes any given event.
1.111 However, there is a certain class of men, though small in number, who withdraw themselves from carnal influences and are wholly possessed by an ardent concern for the contemplation of things divine. Some of these men make predictions, not as the result of direct heavenly inspiration, but by the use of their own reason. For example, by means of natural law, they foretell certain events, such as a flood, or the future destruction of heaven and earth by fire. Others, who are engaged in public life, like Solon of Athens, as history describes him, discover the rise of tyranny long in advance. Such men we may call foresighted — that is, able to foresee the future; but we can no more apply the term divine to them than we can apply it to Thales of Miletus, who, as the story goes, in order to confound his critics and thereby show that even a philosopher, if he sees fit, can make money, bought up the entire olive crop in the district of Miletus before it had begun to bloom.
1.117 Now there is a great problem as to how prophets and dreamers can see things, which, at the time, have no actual existence anywhere. But that question would be solved quite readily if we were to investigate certain other questions which demand consideration first. For the theory in regard to the nature of the gods, so clearly developed in the second book of your work on that subject, includes this whole question. If we maintain that theory we shall establish the very point which I am trying to make: namely, that there are gods; that they rule the universe by their foresight; and that they direct the affairs of men — not merely of men in the mass, but of each individual. If we succeed in holding that position — and for my part I think it impregnable — then surely it must follow that the gods give to men signs of coming events. 52
1.118 But it seems necessary to settle the principle on which these signs depend. For, according to the Stoic doctrine, the gods are not directly responsible for every fissure in the liver or for every song of a bird; since, manifestly, that would not be seemly or proper in a god and furthermore is impossible. But, in the beginning, the universe was so created that certain results would be preceded by certain signs, which are given sometimes by entrails and by birds, sometimes by lightnings, by portents, and by stars, sometimes by dreams, and sometimes by utterances of persons in a frenzy. And these signs do not often deceive the persons who observe them properly. If prophecies, based on erroneous deductions and interpretations, turn out to be false, the fault is not chargeable to the signs but to the lack of skill in the interpreters.Assuming the proposition to be conceded that there is a divine power which pervades the lives of men, it is not hard to understand the principle directing those premonitory signs which we see come to pass. For it may be that the choice of a sacrificial victim is guided by an intelligent force, which is diffused throughout the universe; or, it may be that at the moment when the sacrifice is offered, a change in the vitals occurs and something is added or taken away; for many things are added to, changed, or diminished in an instant of time.
2.27 Natural divination, on the other hand, according to your view, is the result — the effusion, as it were — of mental excitement, or it is the prophetic power which the soul has during sleep while free from bodily sensation and worldly cares. Moreover, you derived every form of divination from three sources — God, Fate, and Nature. And although you could not give a reason for any kind of divination, still you carried on the war by marshalling an astonishing array of examples from fiction. of such a course I wish to say emphatically that it is not becoming in a philosopher to introduce testimony which may be either true by accident, or false and fabricated through malice. You ought to have employed arguments and reason to show that all your propositions were true and you ought not to have resorted to so‑called occurrences — certainly not to such occurrences as are unworthy of belief. 12' ' None