Talk:Augur

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Untitled[edit]

To Seindal: auspices, haruspices and augures, were three kinds of (let's say) "priests". I don't well remember the differences now, but they probably were distinguished by the respective methods of divination. And augures were (perhaps in elder times) called auspices. The word "auspices" means therefore the result of divination, as well as the ancient name of augures. Do you think we should render this with more depth?

Ciao :-) -- Gianfranco

I just wrote out of memory. I have a book on Roman Religion in order in the local library, so more will come when I get it. Nel frattempo, pazienza. Seindal, Saturday, April 6, 2002

Certo, che aspetto! :-)
I hope in your book there is also something about the cults in Ager Vaticanus, that should be related with this matter: while editing about Vatican this morning, I was thinking to the fact that it always was a sacred area, with some relationships with these vaticinii and also, in some way, with the roman Decumanus (this could be another interesting argument, given that it should have been one of the considerations accepted when projecting the plan of St.Peter's and its orientation). In the meanwhile, I'll try to investigate in my old sources.
Buona Domenica -- Gianfranco

The article presents the roots of augury a little too matter of factly, given the debate. Romululus and Remus, for instance, are depicted in a number of the ancient sources as having used augury to settle their quarrel (remember the twelve vultures?). Augury itself came out of Italian roots.

Also, without looking up the source, I'm pretty sure the line immediately below the Attius Navius quote (about the role of the augur) is plagiarized.

Article needs complete rewrite[edit]

This is very bad. Compare with the article in Smith's Dictionary (external links). Without going into the detail and Greek citations etc. of that article, the Ickypedia article should at least give an overview of augury, the various classes, who performed it, etc. Someone with some time on their hands could do worse than to condense and modernize the Smith's article and use that instead of the fluff we now have. Bill 11:23, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

I'm not going to knock myself out, but I did clear some of the brush just now. Stuff about omens, haruspices, etc. does not belong here: but under the general article, I presume there is one, divination, of which, along with augury, they are subsets. The business about auspices primarily being taken when statues sweat blood, or there was an eclipse, is wrong: a complete misunderstanding, and needlessly confusing auspices (which are not in fact the subject of this article) with omina and so on. Bill 17:53, 30 March 2006 (UTC)

A tool?[edit]

In the 'Medieval Sourcebook: Medieval Prices' (i. e. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/medievalprices.html ) an augur is listed as a tool. I now augurs as in the Wiki-article, but what kind of tool is an augur???? 89.166.133.57 18:02, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

An augur that you're thinking of is a type of drill, generally used to pierce ice on lakes to create holes for fishing. It is unrelated (as far as I know) to the practice of augury.--CaesarGJ 15:29, 14 August 2006 (UTC)

does augur mean - Not siutable? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.227.74.129 (talk) 12:54, 29 January 2008 (UTC)

Roman augurs and augury[edit]

I've intruded some material from a current version of Imperial cult (ancient Rome). Some is not relevant here, but I'll attend to the worst and add annotated refs ASAP. Haploidavey (talk) 17:32, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

China[edit]

This doesn't go in an article on ancient Rome:

Augurs in Han China

Historian Hans Bielenstein translates the title of one of the subordinate officers of the Ministry of Ceremonies as "Prefect Grand Augur," a post established in 104 BC during the Han Dynasty of China. This officer was in charge of rituals of divination that were used to influence state policy. For example, the Prefect Grand Augur performed a ceremony in 90 BC on whether or not Han forces should assault the northern nomadic Xiongnu Empire. Another example was the ceremony in 3 AD, when the Prefect Grand Augur performed a ritual to determine whether or not it was auspicious for Wang Mang's daughter to become the empress.

It's referenced with:

  • Bielenstein, Hans. (1980). The Bureaucracy of Han Times. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521225108.

Since this is a translation of a Chinese title, I'm not sure it should be listed under the Latin term "augur" unless that's really the standard translation. And then it needs its article, or to be placed somewhere else. Cynwolfe (talk) 00:14, 3 June 2010 (UTC)

material from glossary[edit]

The following material might already be in this article, or might need to be incorporated. It was moved from the Glossary of ancient Roman religion. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:35, 9 September 2010 (UTC)


The collegium of augurs was supposedly founded by Romulus, first king of Rome and himself an augur. They were originally three in number; by the time of Julius Caesar, there were sixteen. Augurs functioned under their own religious authority as collegial equals, independent of the pontifex maximus who supervised the other priestly colleges.[NOTE: Veit Rosenberger, in Rüpke, Jörg (Editor), A Companion to Roman Religion, Wiley-Blackwell, 2007. p298-9.] According to Roman tradition, the independence of augurs was a mainstay and source of their religious integrity: one of the earliest, Attus Navius was said to have shown miraculous powers when challenged by King Tarquin.[NOTE: Mary Beard, Simon Price, John North, Religions of Rome: Volume 1, a History, Cambridge University Press, 1998. pp 23 - 4.]

Admission to the college was through co-option. Augurs were not subject to the kind of priestly prohibitions and constraints that bound in particular the flamens. Although augurs held no direct political power, their right to withhold religious ratification could amount to a veto. The office was extremely prestigious; Cicero was only able to obtain it ten years after he was consul.[NOTE: Niall Rudd, Cicero. The Republic; The Laws (Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 173.] Cicero filled the vacancy left by the untimely death of Publius Crassus, who obtained it by the age of 30 through his demonstrated potential and the prestige of his father just before dying at the Battle of Carrhae.

off topic[edit]

This article at times wanders pretty far from the subject. If there a few sentences in a row that don't include the word "augur", a pronoun referring to an augur or augurs, or the name of somebody identified as an augur, that's probably an indication we've wandered off topic. It should probably also be kept in mind that the article is "augur," not "augury." The latter is a difficult, complex, and technical topic; explaining what an augur is and does is a little more manageable. Cynwolfe (talk) 14:09, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Appropos of topic, Augury currently redirects to this article. I don't know how to undo the redirect. I assume we should have an article Augury (ancient Rome). Any opinions on this? Haploidavey (talk) 16:11, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
The material you Cynwolfe tagged was taken or copied from another article – I don't remember which, but Religion in ancient Rome seems the most likely source, maybe Imperial cult (ancient Rome) – and dumped here without further editing. I'm the most likely dumper; you might find the same material cropping up here, there, and elsewhere, looking for a home. As said elsewhere, I think dumping in article space is not good policy; in this instance, the material's definitely off-topic, and the article would benefit from its wholesale removal. Haploidavey (talk) 14:43, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Have removed the tagged section. Further problems of organisation and narrative remain. Haploidavey (talk) 15:01, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
I guess it helps to read one's own earlier comments on talk-pages: I dumped the now-deleted material from Imperial cult (ancient Rome). Other sections here seem to duplicate material removed from Glossary of ancient Roman religion as excessively detailed and wanting in clarity of expression, focus and organisation. Haploidavey (talk) 15:24, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Ah yes. I would guess I've been a dumper too, though last time I dumped it was in the preceding talk section, not the article. I think the ira deorum goes here, though, because didn't the augur play a role, as was said, in maintaining its opposite, the pax deorum? Perhaps all we needed was less explanation of the ira. As Aldrasto has noted elsewhere, there are plenty of articles on topics related to Roman religion and 'morality' that require attention. One of the problems is their interconnectedness: you start working on one, and realize that it requires a link to another for an expanded explanation, and when you go to that article, find it doesn't quite explain what you need it to, and so on until you find yourself writing articles about the curio maximus or Vercondaridubnus instead of working on an article people might actually visit, like Roman mythology (27,714 hits in August, as compared to the curio's 297). Cynwolfe (talk) 16:19, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
And actually, there is no separate article on augury or augurium or any of that; "augury" redirects to "augur." Cynwolfe (talk) 16:46, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
Snap! See above. On obscurity, I reckon I can beat you hands down: Mater Larum scored a magnificent 95 visitors in August. I await my award. On the ira deorum, no less its correlative pax deorum, yes, but succinctly and in sequence - thus, as part of the explanatory section above the deleted section. We need narrative vigour and clarity. Whenever I work with remnants, it ends with a string of assorted and ill-matched beads. Haploidavey (talk) 17:02, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
OK, IMHO no independent article needed for Augury (ancient Rome), contra my statement above, which I now recognize was about structure and organization. Sections will do it. May I suggest that as we reserve grand theorizing for a deeper section, near the beginning we describe as concretely as possible the physical circumstances? I might further suggest an exercise: read two or three sources until you understand them, close them, and describe what the augur did as you would to an interested 15-year-old. I at least am trying to break the habit of defensive Wiki-density and trying instead to focus on readability and accessibility in articles (or the first sections of articles) that get a couple thousand hits or more a month. Then go back and put in the footnotes after you have something that reads well (perhaps written in a user space or offline). An experiment. It's one I'm going to try more often, anyway. As WP has become more reliable, it's become more unreadable. Cynwolfe (talk) 18:01, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Augur and auspice[edit]

Please see the question regarding these two articles over at Talk:Auspice#Augur vs Auspice. —Akrabbimtalk 15:18, 11 December 2013 (UTC)