The taking of omens may be said to be a part of all systems of divination, in which the future is predicted by means of indications of one sort or another; and tradition has thus gathered round many subjects - events, actions, colours, numbers, &c. - which are considered "ominous," an adjective which generally connotes ill-fortune.
One of the oldest and most widespread methods of divining the future, both among primitive people and among several of the civilizations of antiquity, was the reading of omens in the signs noted on the liver of the animal offered as a sacrifice to some deity.
Hepatoscopy in the Euphrates valley can be traced back to the 3rd millennium before our era, which may be taken as sufficient evidence for its survival from the period of primitive culture, while the supreme importance attached to signs read on the livers of sacrificial animals - usually a sheep - follows from the care with which omens derived from such inspection on occasions of historical significance were preserved as guides to later generations of priests.
With this in view, omens given in the reigns of prominent rulers were preserved with special care as guides to the priests.
The new reign began, therefore, under sinister omens, with the suppression of liberty in Italy, Hungary and Germany.
But Chrysanthius declined on the strength of unfavourable omens, as he said, but probably because he realized that the scheme was unlikely to bear fruit.
Vespasian, who had a strong vein of superstition, was made to believe that he was himself to fulfil this expectation, and all manner of omens and oracles and portents were applied to him.
Shortly afterwards, however, led by unfavourable omens to despair of final success, he killed himself on his daughter's tomb.
It is probable that the first collection of astronomical observations and terrestrial omens was made for a library established by Sargon.
When the latter desired to double the number of the equestrian centuries, Navius opposed him, declaring that it must not be done unless the omens were propitious, and, as a proof of his powers of divination, cut through a whetstone with a razor.
Teiresias' grave was at the Tilphusian spring; but there was a cenotaph of him at Thebes, and also in later times his "observatory," or place for watching for omens from birds, was pointed out (Pausanias ix 16; Sophocles, Antigone, 999).
Etrennes) and taking omens for the coming year.
The voice of the god might be uttered in omens which the skilled could read, or conveyed in the inspired rhymes of soothsayers, but frequently it was sought in the oracle of the sanctuary, where the sacred lot was administered for a fee by the sadin.
The mullahs or priests enjoy very great influence, but the people are very superstitious, believing in witchcraft, omens, spirits and the evil eye.
This probably facilitated the adoption of the term by the Hellenists of Alexandria, for, when Philo distinguishes the prophet from the spurious diviner by saying that the latter applies his own inferences to omens and the like while the true prophet, rapt in ecstasy, speaks nothing of his own, but simply repeatg what is given to him by a revelation in which his reason has no part (ed.
The revelation thus looked for may be found in natural omens, in the priestly lot or some similar sacral oracle, or, finally, in the words of a seer who is held to be in closer contact with the deity than common men.
An essential element in the new policy was the substitution of an alliance with France for the old Burgundian friendship. The affair of San Juan de Ulua and the seizure of the Spanish treasure-ships in 1568 had been omens of the inevitable conflict with Spain; Ridolfi's plot and Philip II.'s approaches to Mary Stuart indicated the lines upon which the struggle would be fought; and it was Walsingham's business to reconcile the Huguenots with the French government, and upon this reconciliation to base an Anglo-French alliance which might lead to a grand attack on Spain, to the liberation of the] Netherlands, to the destruction of Spain's monopoly in the New World, and to making Protestantism the dominant force in Europe.
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.
The fleet was at once despatched to secure Liguria, and on the 14th of March Otho, undismayed by omens and prodigies, started northwards at the head of his troops in the hopes of preventing the entry of the Vitellian troops into Italy.
The fairy women who come to the births of children and foretell their fortunes (Fata, Moerae, ancient Egyptian Hathors, Fees, Dominae Fatales), with their spindles, are refractions of the human "spae-women" (in the Scots term) who attend at birth and derive omens of the child's future from various signs.
Tacitus tells of horses consecrated to the service of the gods, and of omens drawn from them, and we meet again with such horses in Norway nearly a thousand years later.
As he must have asserted himself in Mesopotamia before he advanced into the maritime district (and perhaps beyond: see Sargon), what is referred to in the Omens and the Chronicle 26,472 may be, as Winckler argued (Or.
296), an immigration of new elements into Suri - in that case perhaps one of the early representatives of the "Hittite" group. According to the Omens text Sargon seems to have settled colonies in Suri, and suggestions of an anticipation of the later Assyrian policy of transportation have been found by King (op. cit.) under the rulers of this time, and there are evidences of lively intercommunication.
They believe also in omens and divination, but they have neither temples nor idols, nor religious rites.
Accounts of omens, portents, prodigies and other remarkable things apparently took up a considerable portion of the work.
He tried to calm the unrest of his conscience by correspondence with the leaders of the evangelical revival on the continent, and sought for omens and supernatural guidance in texts and passages of scripture.
The omens were evil for England; and her forces bivouacked, reserving the general attack 'for the following day.
In his name, and with his approval as indicated by favourable omens, the Assyrian armies march to battle.
It left its trace in incantations, omens and hymns, and it gave birth to astronomy, which was assiduously cultivated because a knowledge of the heavens was the very foundation of the system of belief unfolded by the priests of Babylonia and Assyria.
These stones are anointed with oil, and worshipped with prayer and offerings, and are also used for purposes of divination, in which, and in various omens, there is a general belief.
He pandered to the emperor's love of magic and theurgy, and by judicious administration of the omens won a high position at court.
Omens and portents, he explained, are the natural symptoms of certain occurrences.
The great library of Nineveh was to a considerable extent his creation, and scribes were kept constantly employed in it copying the older tablets of Babylonia, though unfortunately their patron's tastes inclined rather to omens and astrology than to subjects of more modern interest.
DIVINATION, the process of obtaining knowledge of secret or future things by means of oracles, omens or astrology.
In classical times the view was, in fact, general, as may be seen by Cicero's De divinatione, that not only oracles but also omens were signs sent by the gods; even the astrologer held that he gained his information, in the last resort, from the same source.
Haruspication, or the inspection of entrails, was justified on similar grounds, and in the case of omens from birds or animals, no less than in astrology, it was held that the facts from which inferences were drawn were themselves in part the causes of the events which they foretold, thus fortifying the belief in the possibility of divination.
Somewhat different are the omens drawn from books; in ancient times the poets were often consulted, more especially Virgil, whence the name sortes virgilianae, just as the Bible is used for drawing texts in our own day, especially in Germany.
(iii.) In the case of augury and omens, on the other hand, that is not necessary.
Yet there were elements of weakness in his character which his short life only half revealed: an impetuosity which made him twice threaten to take his own life; a superstitious vein which impelled him to consult oracles and shrink from bad omens; an amiable dilettantism which led him to travel in Egypt while his enemy was plotting his ruin; a want of nerve and resolution which prevented him from coming to an open rupture with Piso till it was too late.
In like manner magic still exists in the civilized world as a survival from the savage and barbaric times to which it originally belongs, and in which is found the natural source and proper home of utterly savage practices still carried on by ignorant peasants in Great Britain, such as taking omens from the cries of animals, or bewitching an enemy by sticking full of pins and hanging up to shrivel in the smoke an image or other object, that similar destruction may fall on the hated person represented by the symbol (Tylor, Primitive Culture, ch.