The disasters of the early part of the second Punic War revealed an unparalleled religious nervousness: portents and prodigies were announced from all quarters, it was felt that the divine anger was on the state, yet there was no belief in the efficacy of the old methods for restoring the pax deum.
Accounts of omens, portents, prodigies and other remarkable things apparently took up a considerable portion of the work.
Strange portents and warning phantasms did not check James: he sent forth a fleet of thirteen ships and 3000 men, which faded into nothingness: he declared war on Henry; and on the 22nd of August he crossed the border with all his force, including the highlanders and islesmen.
Sentiment and tradition have magnified his achievements, and confused his career with tales of portents and magical powers.
In the former class he places supernatural beings (including men with man y as well as ghosts and spirits), blood, new-born children with their mothers, and corpses; which list might be considerably extended, for instance, by the inclusion of natural portents, and animals and plants such as are strikingly odd, dangerous or useful.
13), but only a debased superstition will look for their hand in every petty incident, or abandon itself to an indiscriminate belief in the portents and miracles in which popular credulity delights.
They also interpreted all portents or unusual phenomena of nature, especially thunder and lightning, and prescribed the expiatory ceremonies after such events.
19 northern: - Ursa major, Ursa minor, Bootes, Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Perseus, Triangulum, Pegasus, Delphinus, Auriga, Hercules, Lyra, Cygnus, Aquila, Sagitta, Corona and Serpentarius; 13 central or zodiacal: - Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricornus, Aquarius, Pisces and the Pleiades; and 12 southern: - Orion, Canis, Lepus, Argo, Cetus, Eridanus, Piscis australis, Ara, Centaurus, Hydra, Crater and The Phoenicians - a race dominated by the spirit of commercial enterprise - appear to have studied the stars more especially with respect to their service to navigators; according to Homer " the stars were sent by Zeus as portents for mariners."
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.
Omens and portents, he explained, are the natural symptoms of certain occurrences.
3); but the significance of prodigies and portents is not denied (ii.