Text #1895

Dio Cassius. Roman History. Vol. 3
[DioCass. 37. Translated by Earnest Cary. Harvard University Press. 1914. (9 Vols.) p. 193]


This was the condition into which these men (Crassus, Pompey and Caesar) brought the affairs of Rome at that time, after concealing their alliance as long as possible. For they did whatever they had decided on, while feigning and putting forward utterly opposite motives, in order that they might still remain undiscovered for a long period, until they should have made sufficient preparations. Yet Heaven was not ignorant of their doings, but then and there revealed very plainly to those who could understand any such signs all that was to result later because of them. For of a sudden such a storm descended upon the whole city and all the country that quantities of trees were torn up by the roots, many houses were shattered, the boats moored in the Tiber both near the city and at its mouth were sunk, and the wooden bridge destroyed, and a theatre built of timbers for some festival collapsed, and in the midst of all this great numbers of human beings perished. These signs were revealed in advance, as an image of what should befall the people both on land and on water.

Text #9720

Cicero. Orations. Vol. 2
[Cic. Catil. 8. Translated by C. D. Yonge. George Bell and Sons. 1917. (4 Vols.) p. 312]



Although all these things, O Romans, have been so managed by men that they appear to have been done and provided for by the order and design of the immortal gods; and as we may conjecture this because the direction of such weighty affairs scarcely appears capable of having been carried out by human wisdom; so, too, they have at this time so brought us present aid and assistance, that we could almost behold them without eyes. For to say nothing of those things, namely, the firebrands seen in the west in the night time, and the heat of the atmosphere,—to pass over the falling of thunderbolts and the earthquakes,—to say nothing of all the other portents which have taken place in such number during my consulship, that the immortal gods themselves have been seeming to predict what is now taking place; yet, at all events, this which I am about to mention, O Romans, must be neither passed over nor omitted.

For you recollect, I suppose, when Cotta and Torquatus were consuls, that many towers in the Capitol were struck with lightning, when both the images of the immortal gods were moved, and the statues of many ancient men were thrown down, and the brazen tablets on which the laws were written were melted. Even Romulus, who built this city, was struck, which, you recollect, stood in the Capitol, a gilt statue, little and sucking, and clinging to the teats of the wolf. And when at this time the soothsayers were assembled out of all Etruria, they said that slaughter, and conflagration, and the overthrow of the laws, and civil and domestic war, and the fall of the whole city and empire was at hand, unless the immortal gods, being appeased in every possible manner, by their own power turned aside, as I may say, the very fates themselves.

Therefore, according to their answers, games were celebrated for ten days, nor was anything omitted which might tend to the appeasing of the gods. And they enjoined also that we should make a greater statue of Jupiter, and place it in a lofty situation, and (contrary to what had been done before) turn it towards the east. And they said that they hoped that if that statue which you now behold looked upon the rising of the sun, and the forum, and the senate-house, that those designs which were secretly formed against the safety of the city and empire would be brought to light so as to be able to be thoroughly seen by the senate and by the Roman people. And the consuls ordered it to be so placed; but so great was the delay in the work, that it was never set up by the former consuls nor by us before this day.

Text #9725

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

In his Third Catilinarian Oration, Cicero mentions “to say nothing of all the other portents which have taken place in such number during my consulship, that the immortal gods themselves have been seeming to predict what is now taking place…” referring specifically to the alleged Catiline Conspiracy. Perhaps Dio has preserved some indication of what these “other portents” were from a source now lost to us. Note that Dio attributes it to the conspiring of Crassus, Pompey and Caesar, two of whom were suggested to have been involved in backing Catiline. With all this going on in the background, no wonder Cicero was spooked.

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