Valerius Maximus

-   Book 1 , chapters 1-5

Adapted from the translation by S. Speed (1678). Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.   

Contents:   I. Of Religion
II. Of Feigned Religion
III. Of Superstitions
IV. Of Auspices
V. Of Omens
VI. Of Prodigies
VII. Of Dreams
VIII.   Of Miracles

Preface { To Augustus Tiberius Caesar }

I have resolved to collect together the deeds and sayings of most note, and most worthy to be remembered, of the most eminent persons both among the Romans and other nations, taken out of the most approved authors, where they lie scattered so widely, that makes them hard to be known; to save the trouble of a tedious search, for those who are willing to follow their examples. Yet I have not been over-desirous to comprehend everything. For who in a small volume is able to set down the deeds of many ages? Or what wise man can hope to deliver the course of domestic and foreign history, which our predecessors have done in such happy styles, either with greater care, or more abounding eloquence? Therefore, Caesar, your country's only safety, I invoke you at the beginning of my undertaking, whom the consent of gods and men has ordained the great commander both of sea and land; by whose divine providence those virtues, of which I am to discourse, are most favourably cherished, and vices most severely punished. For if the ancient orators did well to begin from omnipotent Jove, if the most excellent poets did always call some particular deity to assist them; much the rather does my little work fly to your protection. For other gods we adore only in opinion, you we behold equal to your father's and your grandfather's stars in brightness, whose resplendent lustres have added not a little to the ceremonies of our religion. Others we receive for gods, Caesars we make such. And because it is my intention to begin with the worship of the gods, I shall discourse briefly of its nature.

I.   Of Religion


[1.1] L   Our ancestors appointed that the set and solemn ceremonies should be ordered by the knowledge of the pontiffs; the right administration of these ceremonies, and authority for so doing, by the observations of the augurs; the predictions of Apollo should depend upon the books of the seers; but that the mysteries of portents should be unfolded according to the rules of the Etruscan discipline. For by the ancient institutions, when we were to commend anything to the gods, we gave ourselves to prayer; when anything was earnestly to be desired of the gods, then to vows; when anything to be paid, to thanksgiving; when enquiry after future success was made, to obtain by request; when any solemn sacrifice was to be done, to sacrifice. By which means the significations of portents and thunders were likewise discovered.

So great also was the care of our ancestors, not only to observe, but to increase religion, that by decree of senate, ten of the sons of the chief men were sent out of their most flourishing and opulent city to the several peoples of Etruria, to learn the order and discipline of sacred lore. And when they had resolved to worship Ceres after the Greek manner, they sent for Calliphana, from Velia, which had not yet received citizenship, to be their priestess, that they might not lack a skilful mistress of the ancient ceremonies of the goddess.     { see also: Cicero Div_1.92 }

To Ceres in the city a most stately temple was dedicated; and being warned in the Sibylline Books to appease the ancient goddess Ceres in the time of Gracchus' tumult, they sent ten persons to Henna, where they believed her sacred rites were first instituted, to make an atonement for themselves. And many times our emperors and commanders, having obtained great victories, have gone themselves to Pessinus, there to perform their vows to the Mother of the Gods.     { see also: Plutarch Mar_31 }

[1.2] L   Metellus the pontifex maximus, when Postumius the consul, and also a flamen of Mars, desired Africa for his province to make war in, commanded him under a penalty not to depart the city, and thereby to desert his function; believing that Postumius could not safely commit himself to martial combats, when the ceremonies of Mars were neglected.     { see also: 242/2 }

[1.3] L   Praiseworthy was the reverence of the twelve fasces, but more to be extolled, the obedience of the twenty-four fasces: for Tiberius Gracchus sent letters to the college of augurs out of his province, by which he gave them to understand, that having perused certain books concerning the sacred rites of the people, he found that the augural tent was erroneously sited at the consular elections, which he had caused to be made; which thing being reported to the senate, by their command C. Figulus returning out of Gaul, and Scipio Nasica from Corsica, both laid down their consulships.     { see also: 162/3 }

[1.4] L   For the same reason, P. Cloelius Siculus, M. Cornelius Cethegus, and C. Claudius, because the entrails were less reverently brought to the altars of the gods than they ought to have been, at different times, and in different wars, were commanded and compelled to leave the office of flamen.      { see also: Livy 26.23.8 }

[1.5] L   And because the cap fell from the head of Sulpicius while he was sacrificing, he lost the priesthood. The peeping of a mouse being overheard, was the reason that Fabius Maximus quitted the dictatorship, and that C. Flaminius ceased to be master of the horse.     { see also: Plutarch Marc_5 }

[1.6] L   To this we may add, that P. Licinius the pontifex maximus thought fit to give the lash to a Vestal Virgin, for that one night she had been negligent of the holy fire.     { see also: Livy 28.11.6 }

[1.7] L   But Vesta herself saved the handmaid of Aemilia the Vestal, who had let the fire out; for while she was worshipping, and had laid her veil which was very fine upon the hearth, the fire promptly caught hold of it.     { see also: Dionysius 2.68 }

[1.8] L   No wonder then that the indulgence of the gods was so great in preserving and increasing their empire: for such a scrupulous care seemed to examine the smallest details of religion, so that our city is to be thought never to have had her eyes off from the most exact worship of the gods. And therefore when Marcellus, five times consul, having taken Clastidium, and after that Syracuse, would have in performance of his vows, erected a temple to Honour and Virtue, he was opposed by the college of pontiffs, who denied that one shrine could be rightly dedicated to two gods. For if any prodigy should happen, it would remain doubtful to which deity should be made address: nor was it the custom to sacrifice at once to two deities, unless in some particular cases. Upon which admonition of the pontiffs, Marcellus in two separate temples set up the images of Honour and Virtue; whereby it came to pass, that neither the authority of so great a man was any hindrance to the college, nor the addition of expense any impediment to Marcellus, but that all justice and observation was given to religion.     { see also: 208/9 }

[1.9] L   Lucius Furius Bibaculus has hardly any example to parallel him, unless that of Marcellus. Nor is he to be deprived of the praise of a most pious and religious mind, who while he was praetor, being commanded by his father, principal of the college of the Salian priests, carried the ancilia, six lictors going before him; though he might have pleaded an excuse from that duty, by virtue of his position. But our city valued religion above all things, preferring it before the authority of all sovereign majesty: therefore their magistrates have not scrupled to obey in sacred matters; believing they should the more easily obtain the sole command of human things, if they were constantly and truly obedient to the divine power.

[1.10] L   Which resolution hath been also bred within the breasts of private persons. For when the city was taken by the Gauls, and the Quirinal flamen and the Vestal Virgins were forced to carry the sacred objects, taking every one a share of the burden. Having now passed the Sublician Bridge, and ready to descend the rock that leads to Janiculum, they were spied by L. Albanius, who was driving a cart wherein he had put his wife and children, who no sooner saw them in that condition, but regarding public religion more than private charity, he commanded them to alight; and then placing the holy objects, and ordering the Vestal to get in, he left his own intended journey, and drove them till he came to the town of Caere; where, because they were courteously and reverently received, we testify our thanks, and honour the memory of their humanity. For thence it came to be instituted, that those sacred rites were called ceremonies, because the Caeretans worshipped and observed them as well in the low as in the flourishing state of the commonwealth. And that mean and country cart, on a sudden the receptacle of so much honour, came to equal, if not surpass, the glory of a triumphal chariot.     { see also: Livy 5.40 }

[1.11] L   About the same time, memorable was the example of observed religion which Gaius Fabius Dorsuo gave us: for when the Gauls besieged the Capitol, lest the accustomed sacrifice of the Fabii should be put off, clad in a Gabine habit, and carrying the sacred objects in his hands and upon his shoulders, he at length passed through the midst of the enemy to the Quirinal hill, where having performed what was to be done, he returned to the Capitol with divine adoration of his victorious achievement, as if he had been a victor indeed.     { see also: Livy 5.46 }

[1.12] L   Great also was the care of preserving religion among our ancestors, when Publius Cornelius and Baebius Tamphilus were consuls. For the labourers that were digging a field of L. Petillius the scribe, at the foot of Janiculum, delving somewhat deeper than ordinary, found two little stone-chests; in one whereof was some writing, declaring that it was the body of Numa Pompilius, son of Pomponius. In the other were seven books in the Latin language, treating of the law of the pontiffs; and as many books in Greek, discoursing of wisdom. For the preservation of the Latin books they took especial care; but the Greek ones, (for there seemed to be some things therein prejudicial to their religion) Q.  Petillius the praetor by decree of senate caused to be burnt in a public fire made by the attendants of the sacrifices: for the ancient Romans could not endure that anything should be kept in the city, which might be a means to draw the minds of men from the worship of the gods.     { see also: 181/11 }

[1.13] L   Tarquinius the king caused Marcus Tullius the duumvir to be sewed in a sack after the ancient manner, and to be thrown into the sea, because he had for a bribe delivered to Petronius Sabinus a certain book containing the mysteries of the civic sacred rituals committed to his keeping: most justly, seeing that violation of trust deserves the same punishment among men, as from the gods.     { see also: Dionysius 4.62 }

[1.14] L   But as to those things which concern the observation of religion, I know not whether Atilius Regulus has not excelled all that ever went before him. Instead of a famous conqueror being now made a captive, through the wiles and ambuscades of Hasdrubal and Xanthippus the Lacedaemonian, he was sent to the senate and people of Rome, to try if he could get himself - being but one, and old - redeemed for several young and noble Carthaginians. When he came, he advised the senate to the contrary, and went back to Carthage, well knowing to what, cruel and inveterate enemies he returned; but he had sworn so to do, if he could not obtain the release of their captives. Surely the immortal gods had reason to have mitigated their fury; but that the glory of Atilius might be the greater, they permitted the Carthagians to take their own inhumane courses - as those who in the Third Punic War would severely recompense the death of so noble a soul with the destruction of their city.     { see also: 250/23 }

[1.15] L   How much more religious toward the gods did our senate show themselves! After the fatal defeat at Cannae, they decreed that no women should mourn longer than thirty days, to the end that the rites of Ceres might be by them performed. For now, the greatest part of the men lying slain upon the bloody accursed earth, there was no family in the city that did not partake of the general calamity. And therefore the mothers and daughters, wives and sisters of the slain were compelled to put off their mourning-clothes, and put on their white garments, and to perform the office of priests. Through which constancy of observing religion, they forced the deities themselves to blush, and be ashamed of raging any more against such a nation, that could not be drawn from adoring them that had with so much cruelty destroyed them.     { see also: Livy 22.56 }


[1.16] L   It is believed, that the reason why Varro fought with so much ill success at Cannae against the Carthaginians, was through the wrath of Juno : for when he presented the Circensian Games, being aedile, he put a young player of extraordinary beauty in the chariot of Jupiter, to hold the appurtenances: which fact being called to mind after some years, was expiated with sacrifices.

[1.17] L   Hercules also is reported to have very severely avenged the abuse of his worship: for when the family of the Potitii had  entrusted entrusted his ceremonies, the ministry whereof belonged to them as it were by inheritance, to be performed by servants and persons of mean degree - which was caused by Appius the censor - all the flower of the family, who were above thirty young men, died within the space of one year; and the name of the Potitii, that was branched into twelve families, became almost extinct; also Appius the censor was stricken blind.     { see also: 312/23 }

[1.18] L   A sharp avenger also was Apollo, of an injury done to himself, who after he was spoiled of his robe of gold at the sack of Carthage, never ceased till the hands of the sacrilegious soldier were found cut off among the broken pieces of his image. 

[1.19] L   Nor was Apollo's son Aesculapius a less violent avenger of flouted religion, who, not enduring to behold a wood consecrated to his temple cut down by Turullius in order to build ships for the use of M. Antonius, by a strange power so ordered it, that Turullius was by the command of Caesar judged to death while he was in the midst of this business, and executed in the very wood: And so the god ordained it, that being in that place slain by Caesar's soldiers, with the same death he expiated the loss of those trees that were cut down, and secured the safety of those that were standing.     { see also: 30/6 }

[1.20] L   Nor did Q. Fulvius Flaccus go unpunished, who in his censorship transferred the marble tiles from the temple of Lacinian Juno to the shrine of Fortuna Equestris, which he was then building at Rome: for he no sooner had done it, but he fell mad, and for very grief expired, hearing that of his two sons, both soldiers in Illyria, one of them was dead, the other slain; by whose misfortune the senate being warned, ordered the tiles to be carried back to Locri.     { see also: Livy 42.28.10-12 }

[1.21] L   Much after the same manner did they punish the covetousness of Q. Pleminius, legate to Scipio, in robbing the treasure of Proserpina: for when he was brought in fetters to Rome, before he could come to his trial, he died in prison of a most filthy disease. The goddess, by command of the senate, had not only her money restored, but double the sum.     { see also: Livy 29.8-9 }


[1e.1] L   As to the deed of Pleminius, it was well punished by the conscript fathers. But against the sordid violence of king Pyrrhus, the goddess herself defended herself well enough: for after the Locrians were compelled to give him money out of her treasury, while he was sailing upon the sea laden with his impious booty, by force of a mighty tempest his whole fleet was cast upon the shore adjoining to the said city ; where the money being found entire, was restored to the most sacred treasury of the goddess.     { see also: Livy 29.18 }

[1e.2] L   But the act of Masinissa was of another nature, whose admiral had landed in Melita, and taken out of the shrine of Juno certain ivory-tusks of an immense proportion, and given them as a present to the king; Masinissa no sooner understood from whence they came but he commanded them to be carried back in a quinquereme, and put in the place whence they were taken, having caused certain words to he carved upon them, signifying that the king had received them in ignorance, and willingly restored them.     { see also: Cicero Verr_2.4.103 }

[1e.3] L   But why should manners be judged by nationality? Masinissa, brought up in the midst of a barbarians, undid another man's sacrilege; but Dionysius, born at Syracuse, used to make jests of his sacrileges, of which he committed more than we have now room to recount: for having plundered the temple of Proserpina at Locri, and sailing upon the sea with a prosperous gale, laughing to his friends, he said, "What a pleasant voyage have the gods granted to us sacrilegious robbers!" Having taken also a golden cloak of great weight from Olympian Jupiter, which Hieron the tyrant had dedicated to him out of the spoils of the Carthaginians; and throwing over the statue a woollen mantle, told his companions that a cloak of gold was too heavy in the summer, too cold in the winter; but a woollen cloak would serve for both seasons. The same person commanded the golden beard of Aesculapius to be taken from his statue in his temple at Epidaurus, saying that it was not appropriate for Apollo the father to be without a beard, and the son to have so large a one. He also took away the silver and golden tables out of other temples, where finding certain inscriptions, after the manner of Greece, that they belonged to the good gods, then said he, "Through their goodness we will make use of them." He also took away the little statues of Victory, cups and crowns which they held in their hands being all of gold, saying that he did but borrow them, not take them quite away, saying that was an idle thing, when we pray to the gods for good things, not to accept them when they hold them forth to us. Who in his own person though he was not punished according to his deserts, yet in the infamy of his son, he suffered after death what in his life-time he had escaped. For divine anger proceeds at a slow pace to avenge itself, and compensates for the slowness with the gravity of the punishment.     { see also: Cicero ND_3.83-84 }

[1e.4] L   In avoiding such a punishment Timasitheus, a leading man of the Liparitans, by his wisdom provided for his own and his country's safety: for when certain of his citizens, using piracy, had taken a golden cup of a very great weight, and the people were gathered together to divide the spoil, he, understanding that is was consecrated to Pythian Apollo in lieu of their tithes by the Romans, took it from them, and carefully sent it to Delphi.     { see also: Livy 5.28 }

{ There is a long gap in the manuscripts starting here; the text is only available in epitomes }

[1e.5] L   Milesian Ceres, when Miletus was taken by Alexander, and several soldiers broke into her temple to plunder it, suddenly deprived them all of their sight.

[1e.6] L   The Persians coming to Delos with a fleet of a thousand ships, behaved themselves more religiously than rapaciously toward the temple.     { see also: Herodotus 6.97 }

[1e.7] L   The Athenians banished Protagoras the philosopher, because he ventured to affirm that he knew not whether there were any gods or no; or if there were any, of what nature they were. They also condemned Socrates, because he endeavoured to introduce a new religion. They endured Phidias when he affirmed that it was better to make the statue of Minerva of marble rather than of ivory, because it was more lasting; but when he added, that it was also cheaper, they commanded him silence.     { see also: Cicero ND_1.63 }

[1e.8] L   Diomedon was one of the ten captains who at Arginusae won a great victory for the Athenians, but for himself received the reward of condemnation; being now led to his undeserved execution, he said nothing else, but only that the vows which he had made for the safety of the army might be performed.     { see also: Diodorus 13.102 }

II.   Of Feigned Religion

[2.1] L   Numa Pompilius, so that he might oblige his people to the observance of holy things, feigned to have familiarity by night with the goddess Egeria; and that by her direction only, the appropriate worship of the gods which he proposed was instituted.     { see also: Livy 1.19 }

[2.2] L   Scipio, surnamed Africanus, never went about any private or public business, till he had been for some while in the shrine of Capitoline Jupiter; and was therefore thought to have been begot by Jove. 183/9

[2.3] L   Lucius Sulla, whenever he resolved to give battle, embracing a little image of Apollo, which was taken out of the temple of Delphi, in the sight of all his soldiers, asked the deity to bring to pass what he had promised.     { see also: Plut Sull_29 }

[2.4] L   Q. Sertorius had a tame white hart, which he taught to follow him over all the cragged mountains of Lusitania, by which he feigned himself instructed what to do, or what not.     { see also: 80/5 }


[2e.1] L   Minos king of Crete used to withdraw every ninth year into a deep and anciently-consecrated den; and there staying some time, he brought forth new laws, which he feigned were delivered to him by Jupiter, whose son he claimed to be.     { see also: Strabo 10.476 }

[2e.2] L   Pisistratus, to recover the tyranny of Athens, which he had lost, pretended that Minerva herself had led him into the citadel; deceiving the Athenians by showing an unknown woman who was called Phya, in the costume of Minerva.     { see also: Herodotus 1.60 }

[2e.3] L   Lycurgus persuaded the people that the laws which he composed for the grave city of Lacedaemon, were made by the counsel of Apollo.*.html#65 Herodotus 1.65

[2e.4] L   Zaleucus, in the name of Minerva, was accounted the wisest man among the Locrians.     { see also: Plutarch Mor_543A }

III.   Of Superstitions

[3.1] L   The new custom which was introduced in the Bacchanalia, when it grew to madness, was quite eliminated.     { see also: 186/8  }

[3.2] L   Lutatius Cerco, who finished the First Punic War, was forbidden by the senate to go to Praeneste to consult Fortune; they judged it right that the affairs of the commonwealth should be governed by their own national auspices, and not those of foreign countries.

[3.3] L   C. Cornelius Hispallus, a praetor of foreigners, in the time when M. Popilius Laenas and L. Calpurnius were consuls, by edict commanded the Chaldeans to depart out of Italy, who by their false interpretations of the stars cast a profitable mist before the eyes of shallow and foolish characters. The same person banished those who with a counterfeit worship of Jupiter Sabazius sought to corrupt Roman customs.

[3.4] L   Lucius Aemilius Paulus the consul, when the senate had decreed that the temples of Isis and Serapis should be destroyed, and none of the workmen dared lay hands upon the work, laying his consular costume aside, and taking a hatchet, was the first that broke open the gates.

IV.   Of Auspices.

[4.1] L   Lucius Tarquinius the king, having a mind to add other troops of knights to the troops which Romulus had enrolled in accordance with the auspices, was opposed by the augur Attus Navius, and in a great fury asked him, if that which he thought of might be done. When Attus took the auspices and answered that it might, the king commanded him to cleave a whet-stone with a razor. As soon as it was brought, Attus achieved this incredible task, and made the king admire the effect of his profession.     { see also: Livy 1.36 }

[4.2] L   Tiberius Gracchus, planning tumult and sedition, sought for auspices in his home at dawn; which fell out very sad, and contrary to his expectation: for as he was going out of doors, he stumbled in such sort, that he broke one of his toes. Then three crows cawing on the wrong side, let fall a piece of a tile just before him. But he, disregarding all these signs, was expelled from the Capitol by Scipio Nasica the pontifex maximus, and fell down after he was struck on the head with a piece of a bench.     { see also: Plutarch TGrac_17 }

[4.3] L   P. Claudius, in the First Punic War, being ready to join battle, yet wishing to know the auspices in the traditional manner, when he that kept the birds told him that the chickens would not come out of the pens, commanded them to be cast into the sea, saying, "If they will not eat, let them drink." { see also: Cicero ND_2.7 }

[4.4] L   L. Junius, the colleague of P. Claudius, lost the Roman fleet in a storm after ignoring the auspices. He avoided the ignominy of condemnation by killing himself.     { see also: 248/6 }

[4.5] L   When Metellus the pontifex maximus was travelling towards Tusculum, two crows flew directly towards his face, as if they went to stop his journey; and eventually they prevailed on him to return home. The next night the temple of Vesta was burnt, and Metellus saved the Palladium out of the fire.     { see also: 241/41 }

[4.6] L   M Cicero had his death foretold by an unlucky omen: for when he was  at the village of Caieta, a crow struck off the gnomon of a sun-dial before his eyes, and by and by flying towards  him, it held him by biting the hem of his garment, till his servants came and told him that certain soldiers were come to kill him.     { see also: Plutarch Cic_47 }

[4.7] L   When M. Brutus had rallied the remains of his army against Caesar and Antonius, two eagles flew out - one from one camp, and the other from the other camp - and encountering one another, the eagle which came out of Brutus' camp was worsted and fled.     { see also: Plutarch Brut_48  }


[4e.1] L   When Alexander was about to build a city in Egypt, Dinocrates the architect for lack of chalk laid out the streets with barley groats. By and by a vast number of birds from the nearby lake devoured the barley; from which the Egyptian priests made this interpretation, that that city should in time supply provisions to a great number of strangers.     { see also: Plutarch Alex_26 }

[4e.2] L   King Deiotarus, who almost always acted in accordance with auspices, was preserved by the sight of an eagle: for seeing the place whence she came out, he would by no means go in there; and the house fell the next night down to the ground.     { see also: Cicero Div_1.26 }

{ The manuscripts resume at this point. }

V.   Of Omens

The observation of omens is founded upon a certain connection with religion, because the omens depend not upon any fortuitous chance, but upon divine providence.

[5.1] L   So it came to pass, that after the city was destroyed by the Gauls, the senate was consulting whether they should move to Veii, or rebuild their own walls; but then some cohorts returned from their post, and a centurion cried out in the assembly place to his eagle-bearer, "Fix your standard, we'd best stay here." The Senate hearing his voice, took it for a good omen, and abandoned their plan of going for Veii. In how few words was the choice of domicile for the future empire of the world decided? The gods disdained that the Roman name, sprung from happy omens, should be changed to adopt the name of the city of Veii, or that the glory of victory itself should lie buried in the ruins of a city recently overthrown.     { see also: Livy 5.55 }

[5.2] L   The author of that most famous deed, Camillus, while he was praying, that if the happiness of the people of Rome seemed to any of the gods to be too great, that they would satisfy their envy by any harm done to himself, at the end of his prayer suddenly stumbling fell down. This omen is thought to have related to the condemnation which he afterwards underwent. But deservedly did the victory and the prayers of this great man vie with each other for praise: for he showed equal virtue in increasing the good fortune of his country, and in wishing that all its evil fortune might fall upon his own head.     { see also: Livy 5.21 }

[5.3] L   How memorable was that omen which befell L. Paullus the consul! After he was appointed by lot to make war with Perseus king of Macedonia, on his return to his house met his youngest daughter at the door, and observing her to look something sad, kissed her, and asked the cause of her discontent. She answered that Persa was dead: that was the name of a little dog which she highly esteemed, which died a little before. Paullus laid hold of the omen, and upon a fortuitous saying, built his hopes of a glorious triumph.     { see also: Cicero Div_1.103 }

[5.4] L   But Caecilia the wife of Metellus, when after the ancient custom she sought at night-time a nuptial-omen for her sister's daughter, a virgin of adult years, gave occasion to the omen herself: for after she had stayed in a certain shrine for some time, but had heard no word suitable to her purpose, the virgin, wearied with long standing, asked her aunt to let her have some place to sit down for a while; to whom her aunt replied, "I freely give you my seat." This saying proceeded out of kindness, but proved ominous in the event; for not long after Caecilia died, and Metellus married the virgin of whom I have spoken.     { see also: Cicero Div_1.104 }

[5.5] L   The observation of omens certainly brought about the preservation of Gaius Marius, at the time when, being adjudged an enemy by the senate, he was staying at the house of one Fannia at Minturnae for his security. For he observed that an donkey, when he gave him food, neglected that, and ran still to the water. At which sight, thinking that what had been offered by the providence of the gods, was to be followed, being himself otherwise very skilful in religious interpretations, he asked of the multitude that came to his aid, that he might be conducted to the sea; and so getting aboard a little ship, he sailed to Africa, and so avoided the victorious arms of Sulla.     { see also: Plutarch Mar_38 }

[5.6] L   Pompey the Great, when he was defeated by Caesar at the battle of Pharsalia and sought to save himself by flight, directed his course to the island of Cyprus, to gather more forces there; and approaching the city of Paphos, and viewing a stately building, he asked the pilot the name of it; when he answered that it was called King's Evil, Pompey promptly lost all that little hope which he had remaining, nor could he dissemble it; turning his head another way, and weeping, he betrayed the grief which he conceived from so dire an omen.

[5.7] L   To M. Brutus an outcome befitting the parricide which he had committed, was indicated by an omen. For after that wicked deed, as he was celebrating his birthday, and looking for some convenient Greek verse, by accident he happened upon one in Homer: "Me cruel Fate and the son of Leto slew." This god - being given by Caesar and Antonius as a password at the battle of Philippi - seemed as it were to be the cause of his overthrow.     { see also: Plutarch Brut_24 }

[5.8] L   With a similarly strange saying, Fortune astonished the ears of Cassius, who when the Rhodians begged of him that they might not be deprived of all the images of the gods, answered that he had left them the Sun - so that he worsened the harshness of his rapacious victory with the arrogance of his speech. Having lost the battle in Macedonia, he was not only forced to leave the effigies of the Sun, which he had granted them as suppliants, but also the sun itself.     { see also: Dio 47.33 }

[5.9] L   Worthy of remark is that omen under which Petillius fell in the Ligurian War: for being about to assail a mountain that was called Letum {"Death"}, he boasted in his exhortation to his soldiers, saying, "This day I will surely take Letum." And fighting recklessly, he confirmed by his death the truth of his fortuitous speech.     { see also: Livy 41.18 }


[5e.1] L   To our own examples, we may add two foreign examples of the same nature. The Samians when the men of Priene sent to them for aid against the Carians, instead of ships and men, being puffed up with arrogance, sent them in mockery a Sibyl. The men of Priene interpreted this as an aid sent from heaven; they willingly received her, and by her true prediction of the fates, found her to be the leader of their victory.

[5e.2] L   Nor did the men of Apollonia repent; for being pressed in war against the Illyrians, they begged aid of the Epidamnians, and received the answer, that they would lend the river Aeas, running by the walls, for their assistance. They replied, "We accept your gift;" and so gave Aeas the first place in their army, as if their general. After which, having unexpectedly vanquished their enemies, they attributed their success to the acceptance of the omen. From then onwards they sacrificed to Aeas as a god, and made him their general in all their battles.

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