Of all such cases it is enough to say that it is impossible for the serious inquirer to establish any causal connexion between the omen and the event which it is presumed to foreshadow.
Thus if on a certain occasion the rise of the new moon in a cloudy sky was followed by victory over an enemy or by abundant rain, the sign in question was thus proved to be a favourable one and its recurrence would be regarded as a good omen, though the prognostication would not necessarily be limited to the one or the other of those occurrences, but might be extended to apply to other circumstances.
By the powers of the Quadruple Alliance this event was regarded as of the most sinister omen, and the question was even raised of a fresh armed intervention in France under the terms of the secret treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.
See also the articles AUGURS, ORACLE, ASTROLOGY, OMEN, &C. Authorities.
Their appearance at sea was regarded as a good omen, for although it presaged a tempest, yet it enabled the sailors to steer for a place of safety.
On the other hand, the appearance of the new moon earlier than was expected was regarded as an unfavourable omen - prognosticating in one case defeat, in another death among cattle, in a third bad crops - not necessarily because these events actually took place after such a phenomenon, but by an application of the general principle resting upon association of ideas whereby anything premature would suggest an unfavourable occurrence.
We find in the Babylonian-Assyrian omen-texts special designations for the three main lobes of the sheep's liver - the lobus dexter, the lobus sinister and the lobus caudatus; the first-named being called "the right wing of the liver," the second "the left wing of the liver," and the third "the middle of the liver."
It was the chief town of the Samnites, who took refuge here after their defeat by the Romans in 314 B.C. It appears not to have fallen into the hands of the latter until Pyrrhus's absence in Sicily, but served them as a base of operations in the last campaign against him in 275 B.C. A Latin colony was planted there in 268 B.C., and it was then that the name was changed for the sake of the omen, and probably then that the Via Appia was extended from Capua to Beneventum.
To this day there are numerous traces in popular belief, especially in Germany, of respect for the snake, which seems to be a survival of ancestor worship, such as still exists among the Zulus and other savage tribes; the "house-snake," as it is called, cares for the cows and the children, and its appearance is an omen of death, and the life of a pair of house-snakes is often held to be bound up with that of the master and mistress themselves.
He is god of omens and ruler of the omen birds; but the hawk is not his messenger, for he never leaves his house; stories are, however, told of his attending feasts in human form and flying away in hawk form when all was over.
One other cry He uttered, and the end came, and at that moment the veil of the Temple was rent from top to bottom - an omen of fearful import to those who had mocked Him, even on the cross, as the destroyer of the Temple, who in three days should build it anew.
The early explorers of the great Southern Sea cheered themselves with the companionship of the albatross in its dreary solitudes; and the evil hap of him who shot with his cross-bow the bird of good omen is familiar to readers of Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
The interpretation of the evil omen is explained by an allusion to the bondage of the Israelites in Egypt and their return in the fourth generation (xv.
Finally, it may be noted that many immoral acts, such as the use of false weights, lying, &c., which could not be brought into court, are severely denounced in the Omen Tablets as likely to bring the offender into " the hand of God " as opposed to " the hand of the king."
Johns (Interpreter, April 1 9 06, "The Prophets of Babylonia") thinks that longer discourses moral, and predictive, fully equal to those of the Hebrew prophets, existed in Babylonia as early as the 3rd millennium B.C. but were curtailed into the brief sentences of the omen tablets.
It is said that while the archbishop was blessing the fleet the silver cross of his archiepiscopal staff fell off, but that the omen was disregarded by .the irreverence of the Pisans, who declared that if they had the wind they could do without divine help. They advanced in line abreast to meet the first line of the Genoese, fighting according to the medieval custom to ram and board.