|2. Cicero, On Divination, 1.118, 1.131, 2.34-2.39 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)
Tagged with subjects: • entrails, reading • interpretation, of entrails • oracles, reading of entrails
Found in books: Eidinow and Driediger-Murphy (2019), Esther Eidinow, Ancient Divination and Experience, 181; Eidinow and Kindt (2015), The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Greek Religion, 485; Johnston (2008), Ancient Greek Divination, 127, 128
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.
1.131 Democritus autem censet sapienter instituisse veteres, ut hostiarum immolatarum inspicerentur exta; quorum ex habitu atque ex colore tum salubritatis, tum pestilentiae signa percipi, non numquam etiam, quae sit vel sterilitas agrorum vel fertilitas futura. Quae si a natura profecta observatio atque usus agnovit, multa adferre potuit dies, quae animadvertendo notarentur, ut ille Pacuvianus, qui in Chryse physicus inducitur, minime naturam rerum cognosse videatur: nam isti quí linguam avium intéllegunt Plusque éx alieno iécore sapiunt quam éx suo, Magis aúdiendum quam aúscultandum cénseo. Cur? quaeso, cum ipse paucis interpositis versibus dicas satis luculente: Quídquid est hoc, ómnia animat, fórmat, alit, augét, creat, Sépelit recipitque ín sese omnia ómniumque idémst pater, Índidemque eadem aéque oriuntur de íntegro atque eodem óccidunt. Quid est igitur, cur, cum domus sit omnium una, eaque communis, cumque animi hominum semper fuerint futurique sint, cur ii, quid ex quoque eveniat, et quid quamque rem significet, perspicere non possint? Haec habui, inquit, de divinatione quae dicerem.
2.34 Quid de fretis aut de marinis aestibus plura dicam? quorum accessus et recessus lunae motu gubertur. Sescenta licet eiusdem modi proferri, ut distantium rerum cognatio naturalis appareat)—demus hoc; nihil enim huic disputationi adversatur; num etiam, si fissum cuiusdam modi fuerit in iecore, lucrum ostenditur? qua ex coniunctione naturae et quasi concentu atque consensu, quam sumpa/qeian Graeci appellant, convenire potest aut fissum iecoris cum lucello meo aut meus quaesticulus cum caelo, terra rerumque natura? Concedam hoc ipsum, si vis, etsi magnam iacturam causae fecero, si ullam esse convenientiam naturae cum extis concessero; 2.35 sed tamen eo concesso qui evenit, ut is, qui impetrire velit, convenientem hostiam rebus suis immolet? Hoc erat, quod ego non rebar posse dissolvi. At quam festive dissolvitur! pudet me non tui quidem, cuius etiam memoriam admiror, sed Chrysippi, Antipatri, Posidonii, qui idem istuc quidem dicunt, quod est dictum a te, ad hostiam deligendam ducem esse vim quandam sentientem atque divinam, quae toto confusa mundo sit. Illud vero multo etiam melius, quod et a te usurpatum est et dicitur ab illis: cum immolare quispiam velit, tum fieri extorum mutationem, ut aut absit aliquid aut supersit; 2.36 deorum enim numini parere omnia. Haec iam, mihi crede, ne aniculae quidem existimant. An censes, eundem vitulum si alius delegerit, sine capite iecur inventurum; si alius, cum capite? Haec decessio capitis aut accessio subitone fieri potest, ut se exta ad immolatoris fortunam accommodent? non perspicitis aleam quandam esse in hostiis deligendis, praesertim cum res ipsa doceat? Cum enim tristissuma exta sine capite fuerunt, quibus nihil videtur esse dirius, proxuma hostia litatur saepe pulcherrime. Ubi igitur illae minae superiorum extorum? aut quae tam subito facta est deorum tanta placatio? Sed adfers in tauri opimi extis immolante Caesare cor non fuisse; id quia non potuerit accidere, ut sine corde victuma illa viveret, iudicandum esse tum interisse cor, cum immolaretur. 2.37 Qui fit, ut alterum intellegas, sine corde non potuisse bovem vivere, alterum non videas, cor subito non potuisse nescio quo avolare? Ego enim possum vel nescire, quae vis sit cordis ad vivendum, vel suspicari contractum aliquo morbo bovis exile et exiguum et vietum cor et dissimile cordis fuisse; tu vero quid habes, quare putes, si paulo ante cor fuerit in tauro opimo, subito id in ipsa immolatione interisse? an quod aspexit vestitu purpureo excordem Caesarem, ipse corde privatus est? Urbem philosophiae, mihi crede, proditis, dum castella defenditis; nam, dum haruspicinam veram esse vultis, physiologiam totam pervertitis. Caput est in iecore, cor in extis; iam abscedet, simul ac molam et vinum insperseris; deus id eripiet, vis aliqua conficiet aut exedet. Non ergo omnium ortus atque obitus natura conficiet, et erit aliquid, quod aut ex nihilo oriatur aut in nihilum subito occidat. Quis hoc physicus dixit umquam? haruspices dicunt; his igitur quam physicis credendum potius existumas? 2.38 Quid? cum pluribus deis immolatur, qui tandem evenit, ut litetur aliis, aliis non litetur? quae autem inconstantia deorum est, ut primis minentur extis, bene promittant secundis? aut tanta inter eos dissensio, saepe etiam inter proxumos, ut Apollinis exta bona sint, Dianae non bona? Quid est tam perspicuum quam, cum fortuito hostiae adducantur, talia cuique exta esse, qualis cuique obtigerit hostia? At enim id ipsum habet aliquid divini, quae cuique hostia obtingat, tamquam in sortibus, quae cui ducatur. Mox de sortibus; quamquam tu quidem non hostiarum causam confirmas sortium similitudine, sed infirmas sortis conlatione hostiarum. 2.39 An, cum in Aequimaelium misimus, qui adferat agnum, quem immolemus, is mihi agnus adfertur, qui habet exta rebus accommodata, et ad eum agnum non casu, sed duce deo servus deducitur? Nam si casum in eo quoque dicis esse quasi sortem quandam cum deorum voluntate coniunctam, doleo tantam Stoicos nostros Epicureis inridendi sui facultatem dedisse; non enim ignoras, quam ista derideant.'' None
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.
1.131 Again, Democritus expresses the opinion that the ancients acted wisely in providing for the inspection of the entrails of sacrifices; because, as he thinks, the colour and general condition of the entrails are prophetic sometimes of health and sometimes of sickness and sometimes also of whether the fields will be barren or productive. Now, if it is known by observation and experience that these means of divination have their source in nature, it must be that the observations made and records kept for a long period of time have added much to our knowledge of this subject. Hence, that natural philosopher introduced by Pacuvius into his play of Chryses, seems to show very scanty apprehension of the laws of nature when he speaks as follows:The men who know the speech of birds and moreDo learn from other livers than their own —Twere best to hear, I think, and not to heed.I do not know why this poet makes such a statement when only a few lines further on he says clearly enough:Whateer the power may be, it animates,Creates, gives form, increase, and nourishmentTo everything: of everything the sire,It takes all things unto itself and hidesWithin its breast; and as from it all thingsArise, likewise to it all things return.Since all things have one and the same and that a common home, and since the human soul has always been and will always be, why, then, should it not be able to understand what effect will follow any cause, and what sign will precede any event?This, said Quintus, is all that I had to say on divination. 58
2.34 There is no need to go on and mention the seas and straits with their tides, whose ebb and flow are governed by the motion of the moon. Innumerable instances of the same kind may be given to prove that some natural connexion does exist between objects apparently unrelated. Concede that it does exist; it does not contravene the point I make, that no sort of a cleft in a liver is prophetic of ficial gain. What natural tie, or what symphony, so to speak, or association, or what sympathy, as the Greeks term it, can there be between a cleft in a liver and a petty addition to my purse? Or what relationship between my miserable money-getting, on the one hand, and heaven, earth, and the laws of nature on the other?15 However, I will concede even this if you wish, though it will greatly weaken my case to admit that there is any connexion between nature and the condition of the entrails; 2.35 yet, suppose the concession is made, how is it brought about that the man in search of favourable signs will find a sacrifice suitable to his purpose? I thought the question insoluble. But what a fine solution is offered! I am not ashamed of you — I am actually astonished at your memory; but I am ashamed of Chrysippus, Antipater, and Posidonius who say exactly what you said: The choice of the sacrificial victim is directed by the sentient and divine power which pervades the entire universe.But even more absurd is that other pronouncement of theirs which you adopted: At the moment of sacrifice a change in the entrails takes place; something is added or something taken away; for all things are obedient to the Divine Will. 2.36 Upon my word, no old woman is credulous enough now to believe such stuff! Do you believe that the same bullock, if chosen by one man, will have a liver without a head, and if chosen by another will have a liver with a head? And is it possible that this sudden going or coming of the livers head occurs so that the entrails may adapt themselves to the situation of the person who offers the sacrifice? Do you Stoics fail to see in choosing the victim it is almost like a throw of the dice, especially as facts prove it? For when the entrails of the first victim have been without a head, which is the most fatal of all signs, it often happens that the sacrifice of the next victim is altogether favourable. Pray what became of the warnings of the first set of entrails? And how was the favour of the gods so completely and so suddenly gained?16 But, you say, Once, when Caesar was offering a sacrifice, there was no heart in the entrails of the sacrificial bull; and, and, since it would have been impossible for the victim to live without a heart, the heart must have disappeared at the moment of immolation. 2.37 How does it happen that you understand the one fact, that the bull could not have lived without a heart and do not realize the other, that the heart could not suddenly have vanished I know not where? As for me, possibly I do not know what vital function the heart performs; if I do I suspect that the bulls heart, as the result of a disease, became much wasted and shrunken and lost its resemblance to a heart. But, assuming that only a little while before the heart was in the sacrificial bull, why do you think it suddenly disappeared at the very moment of immolation? Dont you think, rather, that the bull lost his heart when he saw that Caesar in his purple robe had lost his head?Upon my word you Stoics surrender the very city of philosophy while defending its outworks! For, by your insistence on the truth of soothsaying, you utterly overthrow physiology. There is a head to the liver and a heart in the entrails, presto! they will vanish the very second you have sprinkled them with meal and wine! Aye, some god will snatch them away! Some invisible power will destroy them or eat them up! Then the creation and destruction of all things are not due to nature, and there are some things which spring from nothing or suddenly become nothing. Was any such statement ever made by any natural philosopher? It is made, you say, by soothsayers. Then do you think that soothsayers are worthier of belief than natural philosophers? 17 2.38 Again, when sacrifices are offered to more than one god at the same time, how does it happen that the auspices are favourable in one case and unfavourable in another? Is it not strange fickleness in the gods to threaten disaster in the first set of entrails and to promise a blessing in the next? Or is there such discord among the gods — often even among those who are nearest of kin — that the entrails of the sacrifice you offer to Apollo, for example, are favourable and of those you offer at the same time to Diana are unfavourable? When victims for the sacrifice are brought up at haphazard it is perfectly clear that the character of entrails that you will receive will depend on the victim chance may bring. Oh! but someone will say, The choice itself is a matter of divine guidance, just as in the case of lots the drawing is directed by the gods! I shall speak of lots presently; although you really do not strengthen the cause of sacrifices by comparing them to lots; but you do weaken the cause of lots by comparing them with sacrifices. 2.39 When I send a slave to Aequimelium to bring me a lamb for a sacrifice and he brings me the lamb which has entrails suited to the exigencies of my particular case, it was not chance, I suppose, but a god that led the slave to that particular lamb! If you say that in this case too chance is, as it were, a sort of lot in accordance with the divine will, then I am sorry that our Stoic friends have given the Epicureans so great an opportunity for laughter, for you know how much fun they make of statements like that.'' None