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Auspices ( Latin auspicia (plural), singular auspicium ', from the Latin Vogelschau avis , bird' and spectare , look ') refers to the religious practice of institutionalized Roman state religion, on behalf of a political officer of the Municipal Council , commissioned by the implementation cult specialists , the augurs , to obtain the approval of the gods for all important projects. The Romans probably adopted the practice of observing and interpreting bird flight from the Etruscans .

Interpretation of divine signs

This interpretation does not generally refer to the future, so it is not an unspecific fortune-telling in the sense that the fixed future is explained to a person or an institution (see predestination ), but the interpretation exclusively includes the divine consent to a planned action or their rejection. According to Roman custom, the auspices had to be obtained before all important state acts. The responsible magistrate was responsible for this and was also able to change the interpretation of the augurs. However, the validity of the relevant act could be challenged in this case, which occurred in the political battles and elections in the late republic .

Classification of characters

For this purpose, signs ( auguria ; Sing. Augurium , "the sign that shows itself to the augur") were interpreted by means of written interpretation procedures which, in the case of auspices, were deliberately brought about through systematically organized rituals (auguria or auspicia impetrativa), otherwise but could also occur spontaneously (auguria oblativa). There are also further subdivisions of the signs into different types (genera) , but not all of them have been preserved and are source-based. Well-known signs (signa) from which one could read were birds (especially their flight route and screams) and lightning (time, place and direction).


For the auspication - according to its status as a cultic ritual - a square place (templum) was designated in the immediate vicinity of the action taking place on the same day to which the auspication referred, usually a popular assembly ( comitia ) or a senate session .

For this purpose, the augur marked the exact limits of the place with his crook ( lituus ) . This could be in a room or in an open field. The Augur also determined the orientation: both east and south are documented. Auspications required by the magistrate always took place in Rome and had to be renewed there if necessary.

The ceremony itself is poorly documented, an augural formula has been handed down from Varro , but the source is uncertain. Two such observation sites , auguracula , are mentioned in ancient written sources for Rome : one was located in arce on the Capitol , another on the Quirinal .


From the fact that the official acts of magistrates were always carried out auspicato (after obtaining the auspices), the phrase "under someone's auspices", ie under his direction, responsibility, patronage or leadership arose.

In Austria you can do a sub auspiciis (ie in the presence of the Federal President).

See also


Web links

Wiktionary: Auspician  - explanations of meanings, word origins , synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. A. Walde, JB Hofmann: Latin etymological dictionary . 3rd revised edition. Winter, Heidelberg 1938, p. 87 ( online ). (English).
  2. ^ Massimo Pallottino: Etruscology: History and culture of the Etruscans. 7th edition, Springer, Basel 1988, ISBN 303486048X , p. 314.