Text #1890

Dio Cassius. Roman History. Vol. 3
[DioCass. 37. Translated by Earnest Cary. Harvard University Press. 1914. (9 Vols.) p. 139]


All of this took place in the course of time. Temporarily the Romans had a respite from war for the remainder of the year, so that they even held the so called augurium salutis after a very long interval. This is a kind of augury, which is in the nature of an inquiry whether the god permits them to ask for prosperity for the people, as if it were unholy even to ask for it until permission is granted. It was observed on that day of each year on which no army was going out to war, or was preparing itself against any foes, or was fighting a battle. For this reason, amid the constant perils, especially those of civil strife, it was not observed. For it was very difficult for them in any case to determine accurately upon a day free from all such disturbances, and furthermore it would be most absurd, when they were voluntarily causing one another unspeakable woes through party strife and were destined to suffer ills whether they were defeated or victorious, that they should still ask Heaven for safety. Nevertheless, it was in someway possible at that time for the divination to be held; but it did not prove to be regular, since some birds flew up from an unlucky quarter, and so it was repeated.

Other unlucky omens, too, occurred. Many thunderbolts fell from a clear sky, the earth was mightily shaken, and human apparitions were visible in many places, and in the west flashes of fire darted up into heaven, so that any one, even a layman, was bound to know in advance what was signified by them. For the tribunes united with Antonius, the consul, who was very much like themselves in character, and one of them supported for office the sons of those exiled by Sulla, while a second wished to grant to Publius Paetus and to Cornelius Sulla, who had been convicted with him, the right to be members of the senate and to hold office; 4 another made a motion for a cancelling of debts, and yet another for allotments of land to be made both in Italy and in the subject territory.

Text #9722

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

C. Antonius Hibrida was consular colleague to Cicero in 63 BC. Much of what Dio writes in this passage appears to be conflated from the years 65 and 63. Nevertheless, it seems that the augurium salutis was revived after a considerable hiatus probably because of the number of portents. Cicero might not have wished to draw attention to the portents occurring in the year of his own consulship as it might be inferred that he was somehow at fault. Nevertheless, his behavior in respect of the Catilinarian affair suggests that a great deal more was going on in the background than the written record has transmitted to us.

Please view our Legal Notice before you make use of this Database.

See also our Credits page for info on data we are building upon.