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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



9617
Plutarch, Sulla, 9.6-9.8
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1. Cicero, On Divination, 1.72, 2.65 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

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. 2.65. Cur autem de passerculis coniecturam facit, in quibus nullum erat monstrum, de dracone silet, qui, id quod fieri non potuit, lapideus dicitur factus? postremo quid simile habet passer annis? Nam de angue illo, qui Sullae apparuit immolanti, utrumque memini, et Sullam, cum in expeditionem educturus esset, immolavisse, et anguem ab ara extitisse, eoque die rem praeclare esse gestam non haruspicis consilio, sed imperatoris. 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. 2.65. But, pray, by what principle of augury does he deduce years rather than months or days from the number of sparrows? Again, why does he base his prophecy on little sparrows which are not abnormal sights and ignore the alleged fact — which is impossible — that the dragon was turned to stone? Finally, what is there about a sparrow to suggest years? In connexion with your story of the snake which appeared to Sulla when he was offering sacrifices, I recall two facts: first, that when Sulla offered sacrifices, as he was about to begin his march against the enemy, a snake came out from under the altar; and, second, that the glorious victory won by him that day was due not to the soothsayers art, but to the skill of the general. [31]
2. Plutarch, Sulla, 5.5, 9.7-9.8, 12.5-12.14, 17.1-17.2, 17.4, 17.6, 19.9, 27.7, 27.10, 27.12-27.13, 28.7-28.8, 37.2 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

3. Augustine, The City of God, 2.24 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

2.24. It is certain that Sylla - whose rule was so cruel that, in comparison with it, the preceding state of things which he came to avenge was regretted - when first he advanced towards Rome to give battle to Marius, found the auspices so favourable when he sacrificed, that, according to Livy's account, the augur Postumius expressed his willingness to lose his head if Sylla did not, with the help of the gods, accomplish what he designed. The gods, you see, had not departed from every fane and sacred shrine, since they were still predicting the issue of these affairs, and yet were taking no steps to correct Sylla himself. Their presages promised him great prosperity but no threatenings of theirs subdued his evil passions. And then, when he was in Asia conducting the war against Mithridates, a message from Jupiter was delivered to him by Lucius Titius, to the effect that he would conquer Mithridates; and so it came to pass. And afterwards, when he was meditating a return to Rome for the purpose of avenging in the blood of the citizens injuries done to himself and his friends, a second message from Jupiter was delivered to him by a soldier of the sixth legion, to the effect that it was he who had predicted the victory over Mithridates, and that now he promised to give him power to recover the republic from his enemies, though with great bloodshed. Sylla at once inquired of the soldier what form had appeared to him; and, on his reply, recognized that it was the same as Jupiter had formerly employed to convey to him the assurance regarding the victory over Mithridates. How, then, can the gods be justified in this matter for the care they took to predict these shadowy successes, and for their negligence in correcting Sylla, and restraining him from stirring up a civil war so lamentable and atrocious, that it not merely disfigured, but extinguished, the republic? The truth is, as I have often said, and as Scripture informs us, and as the facts themselves sufficiently indicate, the demons are found to look after their own ends only, that they may be regarded and worshipped as gods, and that men may be induced to offer to them a worship which associates them with their crimes, and involves them in one common wickedness and judgment of God. Afterwards, when Sylla had come to Taranto, and had sacrificed there, he saw on the head of the victim's liver the likeness of a golden crown. Thereupon the same soothsayer Postumius interpreted this to signify a signal victory, and ordered that he only should eat of the entrails. A little afterwards, the slave of a certain Lucius Pontius cried out, I am Bellona's messenger; the victory is yours, Sylla! Then he added that the Capitol should be burned. As soon as he had uttered this prediction he left the camp, but returned the following day more excited than ever, and shouted, The Capitol is fired! And fired indeed it was. This it was easy for a demon both to foresee and quickly to announce. But observe, as relevant to our subject, what kind of gods they are under whom these men desire to live, who blaspheme the Saviour that delivers the wills of the faithful from the dominion of devils. The man cried out in prophetic rapture, The victory is yours, Sylla! And to certify that he spoke by a divine spirit, he predicted also an event which was shortly to happen, and which indeed did fall out, in a place from which he in whom this spirit was speaking was far distant. But he never cried, Forbear your villanies, Sylla! - the villanies which were committed at Rome by that victor to whom a golden crown on the calf's liver had been shown as the divine evidence of his victory. If such signs as this were customarily sent by just gods, and not by wicked demons, then certainly the entrails he consulted should rather have given Sylla intimation of the cruel disasters that were to befall the city and himself. For that victory was not so conducive to his exaltation to power, as it was fatal to his ambition; for by it he became so insatiable in his desires, and was rendered so arrogant and reckless by prosperity, that he may be said rather to have inflicted a moral destruction on himself than corporal destruction on his enemies. But these truly woeful and deplorable calamities the gods gave him no previous hint of, neither by entrails, augury, dream, nor prediction. For they feared his amendment more than his defeat. Yea, they took good care that this glorious conqueror of his own fellow citizens should be conquered and led captive by his own infamous vices, and should thus be the more submissive slave of the demons themselves.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
ages,etruscan Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
amphiaraia,personnel Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
amphiaraos,historical resonances of Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
amphiaraos,military associations of Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
amphiareion,alignment with oropos Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
astrologer Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
babylon Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
berossus Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
carthage Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
chaeronea Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
cornelius sulla,l.,and postumius Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
cornelius sulla,lucius,and the amphiareion Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
cornelius sulla,lucius,treatment of cities and sanctuaries Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
delphi Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
disciplina,etrusca,and astrology Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
disciplina,etrusca Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
etruria Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
exempt,exemption Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
first mithridatic war Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
fortune Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
hermodoros son of olynpichos of oropos Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
intellect,intelligence of beasts Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
lebadeia,sanctuary of zeus basileus and trophonios Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
libri fulgurales Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
narrative,battle Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
omens Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
oracles Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
orchomenos,sullan victory at Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
oropos,and cornelius sulla,lucius Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
plutarchs lives,life of sulla Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
predictions Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
priest,and interstate association Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
prodigy' Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94
prophecy Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
rome,romans Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
rome Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
sacrifices Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
senatus consultum Wilding (2022), Reinventing the Amphiareion at Oropos, 215
spirit Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
sulla/ sylla Leão and Lanzillotta (2019), A Man of Many Interests: Plutarch on Religion, Myth, and Magic, 125
vegoia Santangelo (2013), Roman Frugality: Modes of Moderation from the Archaic Age to the Early Empire and Beyond, 94