Cicero, de Haruspicum Responso (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Har.].
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Although, if indeed a certain indignation which I cannot help feeling were to lead me who have exerted myself so much in the cause of the public safety at times to speaking some what boastfully when refuting the aspersions of wicked men who would not excuse me for so doing? For I did see yesterday someone murmuring: and people said that he declared that he could not endure me because when I was asked by that foul traitor to his country to what city I belonged, I answered, with the approval of you and of the Roman knights also, that I belonged to a city which could not do without me. He, I imagine, groaned at this. What then was I to answer? (I ask that very man who cannot endure me.) That I was a Roman citizen? It would have been a truly learned answer. Should I have held my tongue? That would have been a betrayal of my own cause. Can any man when it is attempted to excite odium against him with respect to important affairs, reply with sufficient dignity to the abuse of his enemy without some praise of himself? But no doubt he himself, when he is attacked, not only answers as well as he can, but is even glad to be prompted by his friends and to have an answer suggested to him.

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ch. 9


But since I have now said enough respecting my own case, let us see now what it is that the soothsayers say. For I confess that I have been greatly moved both by the magnitude of the prodigies, and by the solemnity of the answer, and by the unanimous and consistent language of the soothsayers. Nor am I a man who,—though I may perhaps appear to some men to be more addicted to the study of literature than the rest of those are who are occupied about state affairs as much as myself—at all incline to derive delight from or to pursue those branches of learning which have a tendency to divert and deter our minds from the study of religion. But in the first place, I have our ancestors as my leaders and tutors in paying proper respect to religion,—men whose wisdom appears to me to have been so great, that those men are sufficiently, and more than sufficiently prudent, who are able—I will not say to equal their prudence, but to be thoroughly aware how great it was; who thought that the stated and regular ceremonies were provided for by the establishment of the Pontificate, that due authority for the performance of all actions was to he derived from the auspices, that the ancient prophecies of our destinies were contained in the books of the prophets of Apollo, and the explanations of prodigies in the system of the Etrurians; and this last is of such weight that within our own recollection they have predicted to us in no obscure language, first of all those fatal beginnings of the Italian war, and after that the imminent danger and almost destruction of the time of Sulla and Cinna, and very lately this recent conspiracy for burning the city and destroying the empire.

19 In the next place, I knew that the most learned and the wisest men have both said many things and have left behind them many written books concerning the divine power of the immortal gods. And although I see that those books are written with a godlike eloquence, still they are such that our ancestors appear to have taught those things to the writers, and not to have learnt of them. In truth, who is there so senseless as either, when he looks up to heaven, not to feel that there are gods, or to think that those things are done by chance which are done with such wisdom, that scarcely any one by any amount of skill can comprehend their order and necessary dependence on each other? or, when he has arrived at the knowledge that there are gods, not to understand that all this

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mighty empire has been originated, and increased, and preserved by their divine authority? Let us, O conscript fathers, think as highly of ourselves as we please; and yet it is not in numbers that we are superior to the Spaniards, nor in personal strength to the Gauls, nor in cunning to the Carthaginians, nor in arts to the Greeks, nor in the natural acuteness which seems to be implanted in the people of this land and country, to the Italian and Latin tribes; but it is in and by means of piety and religion, and this especial wisdom of perceiving that all things are governed and managed by the divine power of the immortal gods, that we have been and are superior to all other countries and nations.

ch. 10


Wherefore, not to say any more about a doubtful matter, give, I pray you, your thoughts and attention, and do not lend your ears alone to the language of the soothsayers: “Because a noise and roaring has been heard in the Latin district.” I say nothing of the soothsayers, I say nothing of that ancient system, given, as men report, to Etruria by the immortal gods themselves; but cannot we ourselves be soothsayers here? “A certain obscure noise, and a horrible rattling of arms, has been heard in a neighbouring and suburban district.” Who is there of all those giants, whom the poets relate to have waged war against the immortal gods, so impious as not to confess that by this novel and mighty commotion the gods are foreshowing and predicting something important to the Roman people? Concerning that matter it is written down that entreaties are to be addressed to Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Tellus, and the gods of heaven.

21 Well, I hear what gods have been offended and to whom atonement is due; but I want to know on account of what offences committed by men they have been offended. “On account of the games having been carelessly exhibited and polluted.” What games? I appeal to you, O Lentulus; for the sacred cars and chariots, the singing, the sports, the libations, and feasts of the public games belong to your priesthood; and I appeal to you, O pontiffs, to whom those who prepare the banquet for the all-good and all-powerful Jupiter report it if anything has been neglected or done improperly, and if you give sentence that it shall be so, those ceremonies are celebrated anew and repeated over again. What games are they which have been exhibited without due diligence? By what wickedness, by what sort of

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crime have they been polluted? You will answer on behalf of yourself; and of your colleagues, and of the college of pontiffs, that none of these things have been treated contemptuously through the carelessness of anyone, or polluted by any wickedness, but that all the solemnities and practices of the games have been attended to with a proper observance of all necessary things, and with the strictest performance of all the usual ceremonies.

ch. 11

Cicero, de Haruspicum Responso (English) (XML Header) [genre: prose] [word count] [Cic. Har.].
<<Cic. Har. 15 Cic. Har. 19 (Latin) >>Cic. Har. 24

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