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The Philosophy of Natural Magic, by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, L. W. de Laurence ed. [1913], at

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How Auspicias Are Verified by the Light of Natural Instinct, and of Some Rules of Finding It Out.

AUSPICIA and Auguria, which foretell things to come by animals and birds, Orpheus, the divine, himself, as we read, did teach and show first of all, which afterwards were had in great esteem with all nations. Now they are verified by the light of natural instinct, as if from this some lights of divination may descend upon four-footed beasts, those winged, and other creatures, by which they are able to presage to us of the events of things; which Virgil seems to be sensible of when he sings:

Nor think I Heaven on them such knowledge states,
Nor that their prudence is above the Fates.

Now, this Instinct of Nature, as saith William of Paris, is more sublime than all human apprehension, and very near, and most like to prophecy. By this instinct there is a certain wonderful light of divination in some animals naturally, as is manifested in some dogs, who know thieves by this instinct and men that are hid, unknown both to themselves and men, and find them out and apprehend them, falling upon them with a full mouth. By the like instinct vultures foresee future slaughters in battles, and gather together into places where they shall be, as if they foresaw the flesh of dead carcasses. By the same instinct partridges know their dam, whom they never saw, and leave the partridge which stole away her dam's eggs and sate upon them. By the same instinct, also, certain hurtful and terrible things are perceived, the soul being ignorant of them, whence terror and horror ceaseth when men think nothing of these things. So a thief, lying hid in a house, al-

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though no one knows or thinks of his being there, strikes fear and terror and a troublesomeness of mind into the inhabitants of that house, although, haply, not of all, because the brightness of this instinct is not common to all men, yet possessed of some of them. So an evil person, being hid in some large building, is sometimes perceived to be there by some one that is altogether ignorant of their being there. It is mentioned in history that Heraiscus, a certain Egyptian, a man of a divine nature, could discern evil persons, not only by his eyes but also by their voice, he hearing them afar off, and thereupon did fall into a most grievous headache. William of Paris also makes mention of a certain woman in his time that, by the same instinct, perceived a man whom she loved coming two miles off. He relates, also, that in his time a certain stork was convicted of unchastity by the smell of the male, who, being judged guilty by a multitude of storks whom the male gathered together, discovering to them the fault of his mate, was, her feathers being pulled off, torn in pieces by them. The same doth Varro, Aristotle and Pliny relate concerning horses. And Pliny makes mention of a certain serpent, called the asp, that did such a like thing, for she, coming to a certain man's table in Egypt, was there daily fed, and she, having brought forth some young, by one of which a son of her host was killed, after she knew of it, killed that young one, and would never return to that house any more. Now, by these examples, you see how the lights of presage may descend upon some animals, as signs, or marks of things, and are set in their gesture, motion, voice, flying, going, meat, color, and such like. For, according to the doctrine of the Platonists, there is a certain power put into inferior things by which, for the most part, they agree with the superiors; whence also the tacit consents of animals seem to agree with divine bodies, and their bodies and

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affections to be affected with their powers, by the name of which they are ascribed to the deities. We must consider, therefore, what animals are Saturnine, what are Jovial and what Marital, and so of the rest; and, according to their properties, to draw forth their presages; so those birds which resemble Saturn and Mars, are all of them called terrible and deadly, as the screech owl, the hawlet, and others which we have mentioned before; also the horn owl, because she is a Saturnine, solitary bird, also nightly, and is reputed to be most unfortunately ominous, of which the poet saith:

The ugly Owl, which no bird well resents,
Foretells misfortunes and most sad events.

But the swan is a delicious bird, under Venus, and dedicated to Phœbus, and is said to be most happy in her presages, especially in the auspices of mariners, for she is never drowned in water, whence Ovid Sings:

Most happy is the cheerful, singing Swan In her presages——

There are also some birds that presage with their mouth and singing, as the crow, pie, and daw, whence Virgil:

             —This did foreshow
Oft from the hollow holm that ominous Crow.

Now, the birds that portend future things by their flying are, viz., buzzards, the bone-breakers, vultures, eagles, cranes, swans, and the like, for they are to be considered in their flying, whether they fly slowly or swiftly; whether to the right hand or to the left; how many fly together. Upon this account, if cranes fly apace, they signify a tempest; and, when slowly, fair weather. When two eagles fly together, they are said to portend evil, because two is a number of confusion. In like manner thou shalt enquire into the reason of the rest, as this is shown by number. Moreover, it

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belongs to an artist to observe a similitude in these conjectures, as in Virgil, Venus, dissembling, teacheth her son, Æneas, in these verses:

        —All this is not for naught,
Else me in vain my parents Augury taught;
Lo! twice six Swans in a glad company
Jove's bird pursued through the etherial Sky
In Heaven's broad tracks; now earth in a long train
They seem to take, or taken, to disdain;
As they return with sounding wings they sport,
And Heaven surrounding in a long consort.
Just so, I say, thy friends and fleet have gained
The port, or with full sails the Bay obtained.

Most wonderful is that kind of auguring of theirs, who hear and understand the speeches of animals, in which, as amongst the ancients, Melampus, Tiresias, Thales, and Apollonius, the Tyanean, who, as we read, excelled, and whom, they report, had excellent skill in the language of birds; of whom Philostratus and Porphyrius speak, saying, that of old, when Apollonius sat in company amongst his friends, seeing sparrows sitting upon a tree, and one sparrow coming from elsewhere unto him, making a great chattering and noise, and then flying away, all the rest following him, he said to his companions that that sparrow told the rest that an ass, being burdened with wheat, fell down in a hole near the city and that the wheat was scattered upon the ground. Many, being much moved with these words, went to see, and so it was, as Apollonius said, at which they much wondered. Phorphyrius, the Platonist, in his third book of sacrifices, saith that there is certainly a swallow language, because every voice of every animal is significative of some passion of its soul, as joy, sadness, or anger, or the like, which voices, it is not so wonderful a thing, could be understood by men conversant about them. But Democritus himself declared this art, as saith Pliny, by naming the birds, of whose blood mixed together was produced a serpent, of which whosoever did eat should understand the voices of birds. And

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[paragraph continues] Hermes saith that if any one shall go forth to catch birds on a certain day of the Kalends of November, and shall boil the first bird that he catcheth with the heart of a fox, that all that shall eat of this bird shall understand the voices of birds and all other animals. Also, the Arabians say that they can understand the meaning of brutes who shall eat the heart and liver of a dragon. Proclus, also, the Platonist, believed and wrote that the heart of a mole conduceth to presages. There were also divinations and auspices which were taken from the inwards of sacrifices, the inventor whereof was Tages, of whom Lucan sang:

And if the Inwards have no credit gained,
And if this Art by Tages was but feigned.

The Roman religion thought that the liver was the head of the inwards. Hence the soothsayers enquiring after future things in the inwards, did first look into the liver, in which were two heads, whereof the one was called the head for the city, the other for the enemy; and the heads of this, or another part, being compared together, they then gave judgment and pronounced for victory; as we read, in Lucan, that the inwards did signify the slaughter of Pompey's men and the victory of Cæsar's, according to these verses:

In the inwards all defects are ominous
One part and branch of the entrails doth increase,
Another part is weak, and flagging lies,
Beats, and moves with quick pulse the arteries.

Then, the bowels being finished, they search the heart. Now, if there were a sacrifice found without a heart, or a head was wanting in the liver, these were deadly presages, and were called piacularia. Also, if a sacrifice fled from the altar, or, being smitten, made a lowing, or fell upon any part of his body than he ought to do, it was the like ominous. We read that when Julius Cæsar on a day went forth to procession with his purple robe, and sitting in a golden chair

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and sacrificing, there was twice a heart wanting. When C. Marius Utica was sacrificing, there was wanting a liver. Also when Caius, the prince, and M. Marcellus, C. Claudius and L. Petellius Coss, were offering sacrifices, that the liver was consumed suddenly away and, not long after, one of them died of a disease, another was slain by men of Lyguria, the entrails foretelling so much; which was thought to be done by the power of the Gods, or help of the devil. Hence it was accounted a thing of great concernment amongst the ancients as oft as any thing unusual was found in the inwards, as when Sylla was sacrificing at Laurentum, the figure of a crown appeared in the head of the liver, which Posthumius, the soothsayer, interpreted to portend a victory with a kingdom, and therefore advised that Sylla should eat those entrails himself. The color, also, of the inwards is to be considered. Of these Lucan made mention:

Struck at the color Prophets were with fear,
For with foul spots pale entrals tinged were.
Both black and blue, with specks of sprinkled blood
They were—

There was in times past such a venerable esteem of these arts that the most potent and wise men sought after them; yea, the senate and kings did nothing without the counsel of the Augures. But all these in these days are abolished, partly by the negligence of men and partly by the authority of the fathers.

Next: Chapter LVI. Of the Soothsayings of Flashes and Lightnings, and how Monstrous and Prodigious Things are to be Interpreted