Saturday, November 04, 2017



Cicero, On Divination 1.58.132 (tr. W.A. Falconer):
I will assert, however, in conclusion, that I do not recognize fortune-tellers, or those who prophesy for money, or necromancers, or mediums, whom your friend Appius makes it a practice to consult. In fine, I say, I do not care a fig for Marsian augurs, village mountebanks, astrologers who haunt the circus grounds, or Isis-seers, or dream interpreters: —for they are not diviners either by knowledge or skill,—
But superstitious bards, soothsaying quacks,
Averse to work, or mad, or ruled by want,
Directing others how to go, and yet
What road to take they do not know themselves;
From those to whom they promise wealth they beg
A coin. From what they promised let them take
Their coin as toll and pass the balance on.
Such are the words of Ennius...

nunc illa testabor, non me sortilegos neque eos qui quaestus causa hariolentur, ne psychomantia quidem, quibus Appius, amicus tuus, uti solebat, agnoscere; non habeo denique nauci Marsum augurem, non vicanos haruspices, non de circo astrologos, non Isiacos coniectores, non interpretes somnium; non enim sunt ii aut scientia aut arte divini,
sed superstitiosi vates inpudentesque harioli
aut inertes aut insani aut quibus egestas imperat,
qui sibi semitam non sapiunt alteri monstrant viam;
quibus divitias pollicentur ab iis drachumam ipsi petunt.
de his divitiis sibi deducant drachumam, reddant cetera.
atque haec quidem Ennius...
It would be an easy matter to enumerate their modern equivalents. "I do not recognize pundits, gurus, television preachers," etc. I especially like the line "qui sibi semitam non sapiunt alteri monstrant viam."

A.S. Pease in his commentary on De Divinatione takes five pages of double columns in fine print to explicate this passage.

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