Ausptces

Ausptces (Lat. avis, a bird, and specio, to look at), originally divination by birds, but subsequently all kinds of augury. SEE AUGURS. Among the ancient Romans, the singing of birds, the direction of their flight, the very motion of their wings, were viewed as having a meaning which was, in some cases, capable' of being explained by all, but in others only explicable by the regularly authorized augurs. Auspices were taken on every occasion of importance, such as the entering upon expeditions, the celebration of marriage, the election of magistrates, the undertaking of war, and many others. At an early hour the augur went forth to an open place on the Palatine Hill, or perhaps in the Capitol, and, with his head veiled and a rod in his hand, he pointed out the divisions of the heavens and solemnly declared corresponding divisions on the earth. This augural temple, as it was called, was then separated into four parts-east and west, north and south. A sacrifice was offered, at the close of which a set form of prayer was repeated, when the signs were expected to appear. On his way home, if the augur came to a running stream, he again repeated the form of prayer and purified himself in its waters. Sometimes on a military expedition" the auspices were taken from the feeding of tame birds in a cage. If on throwing them pulse they refused to eat, or uttered a cry, or fluttered with their wings, the sign was unfavorable; but if they ate with avidity, striking the earth quickly and sharply with their bills, the sign was favorable. A favorable omen was sometimes obtained by previously keeping the birds without food for. some time. SEE DIVINATION.

 
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