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Roman Republic: Res publica Romana • View topic - Matters of Augury

Matters of Augury

This message board is dedicated to the ancient Roman Religion, the Cultus Deorum Romanorum. Here both historical practices and the living modern tradition is to be celebrated and discussed. The members of the Collegium Pontiificum and Collegium Augurum host this board as moderators and are happy to answer questions.

Matters of Augury

Postby Gaius Claudius Quadratus » Fri Aug 05, 2016 7:45 pm

Salvete!

By tradition, the Nones is the day for consideration of matters relating to Augury. Today is Nonae Augusti. Since we do not yet have an officially functioning Collegium Augurum, I will take this opportunity to initiate informal discussion. Everyone may participate and is encouraged to contribute. Feel free to introduce new subjects. This discussion shall continue until the Ides.

I would like to raise the issue of just how Augurs and Magistrates jointly participate in the taking of auspices in the modern Roman world. In ancient times, Magistrates were the primary agents of taking auspices, with Augurs participating with them as assistants. In a sense, to be a Magistrate meant that one was also an Augur. Today, joint participation in such activity is not normally possible. So what should the current practice be?
Note that the question involves what is known as Auspicia Impetrativa - the taking of auspices with regard to major public activities, where a specific question of whether or not to proceed with an activity needs to be answered. This does not relate to Auspicia Oblativa, where an omen or a prodigy is received out of the blue without solicitation.

Please contribute to this discussion.

May the gods look with favor upon our Republic, its activities and its citizens!

Valete!

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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Octavia Iunia Agrippina » Fri Aug 05, 2016 8:01 pm

Salve!

I admit that I know next to nothing about augury. Is it possible for augurs to work alone? What is the benefit of having that "assistant"?
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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Lucius Aurelius Curio » Fri Aug 05, 2016 9:32 pm

Curio Quadrato Sal.

Thank you for raising this question. As you stated, it's difficult for the traditional practices of magistrates and Augurs to be in place. It is my humble opinion that the responsibility for the taking of auspices be on the Augurs. This is for two reasons. First, the distance issue between people. Secondly, Augurs are specifically trained in this field whereas most magistrates are not (though I would love to learn! :) )

Now, as we build our communities up, accumulating more Romans in a centralized area, to train magistrates in Augury would be much more feasible, and I personally would welcome a return to tradition.

Di te incolumem custodiant!

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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Fri Aug 05, 2016 10:51 pm

I agree with Curio. If one day it is possible it would be best to have the Magistrates perform Auspices in conjunction with an Augur, but until that is so I think the safest route both to respect the Gods as well as the institutions of the Republic would be to leave this matter on the hands of the Learned, on those that study the art of Auspices to the fullest and are specialists on the art. Thus, auspices should be carried out by Augurs whenever possible until we come to a point where joint auspices are feasable. My personal view on the matter.
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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Gaius Claudius Quadratus » Sat Aug 06, 2016 12:04 am

Salve, Agrippina!

Thank you for participating in our discussion. At present it is pretty much a requirement that we work alone since it is not likely for an Augur and a Magistrate to reside in the same neighborhood. With regard to the "assistant" - it was actually the Augur who was the assistant, the Magistrate being the one primarily responsible for the taking of the auspices in matters of public importance.

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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Gaius Claudius Quadratus » Sat Aug 06, 2016 12:26 am

Salvete, Curio et Victor!

I agree that for the foreseeable future, it is likely the Augur will be the one to perform the rite and then transmit the finding to the Magistrate. But, still, the Magistrate is the one who is responsible. If the Magistrate requests auspices for a specific event and then is the one who publishes the result that should suffice. By Imperial times, the situation degenerated into formality, as no Augur who valued his head would dare interfere with the plans of a Caligula. We must avoid that kind of rubber-stamp formality.

Valete!
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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Sat Aug 06, 2016 1:33 am

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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Lucius Aurelius Curio » Sat Aug 06, 2016 4:49 am

Curio Quadrato Sal

I echo Victor's thoughts in this regard. The Collegium Augurum as an independent body should be responsible for such a thing, with the Magistrates publishing the results. This would act in a way that ensures both parties are on the level, if you will. Utilizing auspices as a weapon to further a person's agenda should be guarded against at all times.

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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Publius Iunius Brutus » Sun Aug 07, 2016 10:08 am



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Re: Matters of Augury

Postby Gaius Curtius Philo » Sun Aug 07, 2016 6:13 pm

Agreed. It divides the power in a way that avoids abuse, but it also leaves the ultimate interpretation in the hands of the Collegium Augurum (a collective body, instead of an individual). In that sense, if an Augur made their report and the magistrate refused their interpretation, the Augur could report them to the government or to the Collegium Pontificum. If the government, by some ill chance, is composed only of people that disrespect the Gods and our Traditions, the Collegium Pontificum would stand as a last defense mechanism against it, denouncing the auspices as false and asking the Collegium Augurum to nullify it. This maintains power very spread out and permits an efficient protection of each party against most injustices. I like it.

This musy be codified into law as soon as we have a Collegium Augurum.
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