Julius Obsequens:   Book of Prodigies


This translation of Obsequens, by Alex Nice, is no longer available online in its original location. Therefore it has been copied here, with a few minor alterations.  Click on the L symbols to go to the Latin text of each section.   

[1] L   Consuls:  L. Scipio, C. Laelius     { 190 B.C. }

The temple of Juno Lucina was struck by a thunderbolt in such a way that the pediment and doors were melted. In neighbouring areas many places were struck from the sky. At Nursia storm-clouds appeared in a tranquil sky and two men were killed. At Tusculum it rained earth. A mule gave birth at Reate. A ceremony of supplication was celebrated by ten boys and the same number of maidens whose fathers and mothers were still living.

[2] L   Consuls:  M. Messala, C. Livius     { 188 B.C. }

In daylight, between the third and fourth hour, darkness descended. On the Aventine, rains of stones were expiated by a nine-day ceremony. In Spain military affairs went well.

[3] L   Consuls:  [Sp. Postumius Albinus, Q. Marcius Philippus]     { 186 B.C. }

A nine day ceremony was held because it rained stones in Picenum and heavenly fires which arose in many places with by a gentle breeze burnt away the clothes of several people. The temple of Jupiter on the Capitol was struck by lightning. In Umbria a half-male almost twelve years old was found and was killed on the orders of the haruspices. The Gauls, who had crossed the Alps into Italy, were driven away without battle.

[4] L   Consuls:  M. Claudius, Q. Fabius Labeo     { 183 B.C. }

It rained blood for two days in the precinct of Vulcan and for the same number of days in the precinct of Concord. In Sicily there was a new maritime island. Hannibal died in Bithynia by poison. The Celtiberians were defeated.

[5] L   Consuls:  L. Aemilius Paulus, Cn. Baebius Tamphilus     { 183 B.C. }

A tempestuous storm created havoc in the city. It cast down the bronze statues on the Capitol, and overturned the statues in the Circus Maximus with their columns, and shattered the pediments of several temples, having torn several off at the summit. A three-footed mule was born at Reate. The shrine of Apollo at Caieta was struck by lightning.

[6] L   Consuls:  [P. Cornelius Cethegus, M. Baebius Tamphilus]     { 181 B.C. }

In the precinct of Vulcan and Concord it rained blood. The spears of Mars moved. At Lanuvium the statue of Juno Sospita cried. Libitina did not have sufficient resources for a plague. There was a ceremony of supplication in accordance with the [recommendation of the] Sibylline books, when it had not rained for six months. The Ligurians were defeated in battle and destroyed.

[7] L   Consuls:  Q. Fulvius, L. Manlius     { 179 B.C. }

Through continuous rain several statues on the Capitol were cast down. At Rome and the surrounding area several places were struck by lightning. During a lectisternium to Jupiter the heads of the gods turned round because of an earth tremor; a dish with its coverings, which had been placed next to Jupiter, fell down. Mice gnawed away at the olives on the table.

[8] L   Consuls:  M. Junius, [A.] Manlius     { 178 B.C. }

The forum along with many other places around about were burnt by fire, without a shred of evidence the shrine of Venus was consumed by flames.   The fire in Vesta's inner sanctuary went out. On the orders of the pontifex maximus, M. Aemilius, a [ Vestal ] Virgin was killed by flogging, although she claimed that the fire would not go out any more.

[8a]   Consuls:  C. Claudius, [Ti. Sempronius Gracchus]     { 177 B.C. }

[9] L   Consuls:  [Cn. Cornelius, Q.] Petillius     { 176 B.C. }

When the consuls had offered the victims for sacrifice, the liver wasted away. As Cornelius was returning from the Alban Mount he became paralysed and died at the waters of Cumae; Petillius was killed fighting against the Ligurians.

[10] L   Consuls:  M. Lepidus, Q. Mucius     { 175 B.C. }

When the corpses of men and cattle were strewn around because of a terrible plague, Libitina was unable to cope, and no vulture appeared. The Celtiberians were destroyed.

[11] L   Consuls:  Q. Aelius Paetus, M. Junius     { 167 B.C.

At Rome several sacred and secular places were struck from the sky. At Anagnia it rained earth. At Lanuvium a blazing torch was seen in the sky. At Calatia in public land for three days and two nights blood flowed. The king of Illyricum, Gentius, and Perses of Macedonia were defeated.

[12] L   Consuls:  M. Marcellus, C. Sulpicius     { 166 B.C. }

In Campania it rained earth in many places. In the territory of Praeneste showers of blood fell. At Veii wool sprouted from trees. At Tarracina in the temple of Minerva, three women, who were seated working, were killed by lightning. At the grove of Libitina water poured for a long time from the mouth and foot of a bronze equestrian statue. The Ligurian Gauls were destroyed.

There were assemblies that were overly competitive, and because of this the senate was held on the Capitol; a flying kite sent a weasel that had been snatched up from the cella of Jupiter into the middle of the senators meeting. Around the same time the temple of Salus was struck from the sky. On the Quirinal hill blood drenched the earth. At Lanuvium a torch was seen in the night sky. Many places at Cassinum were shattered by lightning and the sun was seen at night for some hours. At Teanum Sidicinum a boy with four hands and the same number of feet was born. After the city had been lustrated there was peace at home and abroad.

[13] L   Consuls:  Cn. Octavius, T. Manlius     { 165 B.C. }

A pestilence and famine was so draining that, in accordance with the Sibylline Books, the people sat down around the cross-roads and shrines to observe religious rites. In the temple of the Penates at night the doors opened of their own accord, and wolves appeared on the Esquiline and on the Quirinal hill at midday and were driven off. After the city had been lustrated nothing bad occurred.

[14] L   Consuls:  [Ti.] Gracchus, M'. Juventius     { 163 B.C. }

At Capua the sun was seen at night. In the Ager Stellatis part of a flock of wethers was killed by lightning. At Terracina triplet boys were born. At Formiae two suns were seen during the day. The sky blazed with fire. At Antium a man was burnt alive by a beam which was generated from a spy glass. At Gabii it rained milk. On the Palatine many places were shaken by lightning. In the Temple of Victory a swan slipped through the hands of its captors and escaped. At Privernum a girl was born without a hand. In Cephallenia a trumpet seemed to sound in the sky. A tempestuous storm destroyed buildings and created carnage on the land. It thundered frequently. At night at Pisaurum an image of the sun shone forth. At Caere a pig was born with human hands and feet, and boys with four-feet and four-hands. At Forum Aesi flames which came from its very mouth did not harm a bull.

[15] L   Consuls:  P. Scipio Nasica, C. Marcius     { 162 B.C. }

At Anagnia the sky blazed with fire at night. Many places were shattered by lightning. At Frusino a bull spoke. At Reate a mule was born with three feet. Cn. Octavius, legate in Syria, was killed in a gymnasium by command of Lysias, tutor of the boy Antiochus.

[16] L   Consuls:  L. Lentulus, C. Marcius     { 156 B.C. }

Because of a tempestuous storm on the Capitol the temple of Jupiter and all the places around were shaken violently. The house of the pontifex maximus with its columns was hurled down into the Tiber. In the Circus Flaminius the portico between the temple of Juno Regina and Fortuna was struck, and around about many buildings were completely destroyed. A bull when it was being led to its sacrifice, because of this, fell down. The Dalmatian Scordisci were overcome.

[17] L   Consuls:  Q. Opimius, L. Postumius     { 154 B.C. }

As he was setting out for his province the consul Postumius when he made a sacrifice did not find the head of the liver in several victims. And on the seventh day after he set out, news was brought to Rome that he had passed away through sickness. At Compsa weapons were seen flying in the sky. Many places were struck by lightning. The Romans were greatly troubled in war by the Gauls and by the Lusitanians.

[18] L   Consuls:  M. Claudius Marcellus, L. Valerius Flaccus     { 152 B.C. }

Through the force of a whirlwind in the Campus a column in front of the temple of Jupiter was shattered with its gilded statue; and when the haruspices responded that there would be deaths of magistrates and priests, all the magistrates resigned immediately. Because it had rained stones at Aricia, also because at Rome in many places there appeared visions of toga-wearing men which tricked the eyes of those approaching them, a ceremony of supplication was held. In Lusitania the war met with varying success; in Gaul the war went well.

[19] L   Consuls:  Spurius Postumius, L. Piso     { 148 B.C. }

After a huge fire at Rome when the Regia was also burnt, the sanctuary and one of the two laurel trees remained unviolated in the middle of the flames. Pseudophilippus was defeated.

[20] L   Consuls:  P. Africanus, C. Livius     { 147 B.C. }

At Amiternum a boy with three feet and one hand was born. At Rome and around many places were struck by lightning. At Caere the land flowed with a river of blood and at night the sky and earth seemed to be on fire. At Frusino mice gnawed the sacred gold. At Lanuvium between the third and fifth hour two variegated halos encircled the sun, the one with a red line, the other with a white one. A star blazed for thirty two days . . . and when Carthage was besieged, by command of Hasdrubal there was cruelty inflicted on the Roman captives according to barbarian custom; then Carthage was razed by Aemilianus.

[21] L   Consuls:  Appius Claudius, Q. Metellus     { 143 B.C. }

At Amiternum a boy was born with three feet. At (?) Caura rivers of blood flowed from the earth. When a defeat was inflicted on the Romans by the Salassi, the decemviri pronounced that they had found in the Sibylline books that whenever war was to be waged against the Gauls they ought to make sacrifices within their borders.

[22] L   Consuls:  L. Metellus, Q. Fabio Maximus     { 142 B.C. }

When there was famine and pestilence, a ceremony of supplication was decreed by the decemviri. At Luna a hermaphrodite was born and on the orders fo the haruspices was carried down to the sea. The plague was so great amongst the people of Luna, that there were corpses lying everywhere in public and there were insufficient people to make the funeral arrangements. In Macedonia the Roman army was troubled in battle. Against Viriathus the army fought with varying fortune.

[23] L   Consuls:  Q. Caepio, C. Laelius     { 140 B.C. }

At Praeneste and in Cephallenia statues were seen to have fallen from the sky. Mount Etna overflowed with fire. The prodigy was expiated with forty greater victims. The year was peaceful after the defeat of Viriathus.

[24] L   Consuls:  M. Aemilius, C. Hostilius Mancinus     { 137 B.C. }

When they were taking the auspices at Lavinium, the chickens flew from their coops into the Laurentine Forest and could not be found. At Praeneste a blazing torch was seen in the sky, and it thundered on a tranquil day. At Terracina the praetor M. Claudius was burnt up in his ship by a thunderbolt. The Fucine lake overflowed for almost five miles in all directions. In the Graecostasis and in the Comitium it flowed with blood. On the Esquiline a foal with five feet was born. Many places were shattered by lightning. The consul Hostilius Mancinus at the Port of Hercules when he had embarked on his ship as he headed for Numantia, heard an unexpected voice: "Stay, Mancinus." When he had left there and afterwards embarked on a ship at Genua, a snake was found on the ship and escaped from his hands. The consul himself was defeated, then handed over to the Numantines.

[25] L   Consuls:  L. Furius, Sex. Atilius Serranus     { 136 B.C. }

Rhegium was almost wholly consumed by fire without any trace of human crime or carelessness. A maidservant bore a boy with four hands, feet, eyes, and ears, and double private parts. In the hot springs at Puteoli streams of blood issued. Several things were overthrown by lightning. The boy was burned by order of the haruspices, and his ashes were thrown into the sea. A Roman army was cut to pieces by the Vaccaei. 

[26] L   Consuls:  Ser. Flaccus, Q. Calpurnius     { 135 B.C. }

Mount Etna blazed with greater fires than normal. At Rome a boy was born without an opening in his anus. At Bononia corn grew on trees. The cry of an owl was heard firstly on the Capitol, then around the city. After a reward was offered for this bird it was captured by a fowler and incinerated. Its ashes were scattered in the Tiber. A bull spoke. In Numantia things went badly, since the Roman army was defeated.

[27] L   Consuls:  P. Africanus, C. Fulvius     { 134 B.C. }

In Amiternum the sun was seen at night, and its light was seen for some time. A bull spoke and was nourished at public expense. It rained blood. At Anagnia a slave's tunic burst into flame and when the fire had died no trace of a flame was apparent. On the Capitol at night a bird emitted groans like those of a man. In the temple of Juno Regina a Ligurian shield was struck by lightning. The war of the runaway slaves began in Sicily. A conspiracy of slaves was crushed in Italy.

[27a]   Consuls:  [P. Mucius, L. Piso]     { 133 B.C. }

Tiberius Gracchus was killed * * * when his laws were being carried. It is handed down by memory, that Tiberius Gracchus, on the day he died, took no notice of bad omens. When he was making a sacrifice at home and on the Capitol dire things were portended. And as he was going out of his home he struck his left foot against the threshhold and broke his big toe and ravens dropped a fragment of tile from the guttering in front of his feet. In the Roman lake the rivers ran with milk. At Luna an area of land, four iugera in extent, disappeared into an abyss and then a lake emerged from the hole. At Ardea it rained earth. At Minturnae a wolf lacerated a guard and escaped amid the confusion. At Rome an owl and another unknown bird was seen. In the temple of Juno Regina for two days the voice of a baby was heard through the closed doors. A shield was speckled with fresh blood. A girl with four feet was born. In the territory of Ferentinum a hermaphrodite was born and thrown into the river.

[27b]   Consuls:  [P. Popillius, P. Rupilius]     { 132 B.C. }

In Italy many thousands of slaves, who had formed a conspiracy, were caught with difficulty and killed through torture. In Sicily the runaway slaves slaughtered the Roman armies. Numantia was destroyed.

[28] L   Consuls:  C. Claudius, M. Perperna     { 130 B.C. }

At Reate a mule was born with five feet. At Rome in the Graecostasis it rained milk. At Hostia a wolf and a dog were killed by lightning while fighting. A flock of sheep in Apulia were killed by lightning. A praetor of the Roman people was killed by one strike of lightning. At Terracina on a tranquil day the sail of ship was thrown down into the water, and fire consumed all the goods which were there. Publius Crassus was killed while fighting against Aristonicus. The statue of Apollo cried for four days. The prophets predicted that there woud be an end to Greece, from where the statue had been brought. Then a sacrifice was made by the Romans and gifts deposited in the temple. When Phrygia had been recovered Asia was bequeathed to the Romans by the will of Attalus. When Antiochus king of Syria was fighting with a vast army swallows made a nest in his tent. After ignoring this prodigy battle commenced and he was killed by the Parthians.

[28a]   Consuls:  [C. Sempronius, M'. Aquilius]     { 129 B.C. }

. . . of M. Fulvius Flaccus the triumvir . . . when there was disagreement in carrying the laws . . . Two black snakes which fell into the cella of Minerva portended civic bloodshed

[29] L   Consuls:  M. Aemilius, L. Aurelius     { 126 B.C. }

Some temples on the Capitol were shaken by a storm at night. At Rome and around many places were destroyed by lightning. After an earth tremor Mount Etna spewed out fires from its cone wide and far. At the Lipara islands the sea boiled and burnt several ships and killed many sailors with its vapour, and a great number of dead fish were scattered about. The Liparian people too eagerly sought them for their banquets, and were ravaged by a stomach illness, to such an extent that a new plague devastated the island. According to the response of the haruspices, the prodigy portended sedition, which occurred after this time.

[30] L   Consuls:  M. Plautius, M. Fulvius     { 125 B.C. }

Corn grew on trees. It rained oil and milk at Veii. An owl was seen on the Capitol. At Arpi a rain of stones for three days * * * there appeared a huge horde of locusts in Africa, which were driven by the wind into the sea and emitted from the waves an intolerable odour, and with their death-bearing stench they caused at Cyrene a grave plague for animals. And as for men it is handed down that 800 thousand were consumed by this pestilence. At Fregellae, those who had conspired against the Romans, were destroyed. The Ligurian Sallyes were annihilated.

[31] L   Consuls:  C. Cassius Longinus, C. Sextius     { 124 B.C. }

In the Graecostasis it rained milk. At Croton a flock of sheep with a dog and three shepherds was killed by lightning. At Satura a two headed calf was born. There was dissension in the city as C. Gracchus carried his laws.

[32] L   Consuls:  Cn. Domitius, C. Fannius     { 122 B.C. }

At Forum Vessanum a hermaphrodite was born and was carried down to the sea. In Gaul three suns and three moons were seen. A two-headed calf was born. An owl was seen on the Capitol. Catina was destroyed by the fire of Etna. The Sallyes and Allobroges were defeated.

[33] L   Consuls:  L. Opimius, Q. Fabius Maximus     { 121 B.C. }

A pack of wolves scattered the boundary markers that had been placed by Gaius Gracchus in the distribution of lands. Gracchus himself was killed on the Aventine Hill.

[34] L   Consuls:  L. Aurelius Cotta, L. Caecilius     { 119 B.C. }

A hermaphrodite eight years old was discovered in the region of Rome and consigned to the sea. Thrice nine virgins sang the purification rite in the city.

[35] L   Consuls:  M. Cato, Q. Marcius     { 118 B.C. }

As the consul Cato was offering sacrifice, the animal's inner organs were decayed and the lobe of the liver was not found. It rained milk. The earth rumbled and trembled. A swarm of bees invaded the forum. Sacrifice was offered in accordance with the Sibylline Books.

[36] L   Consuls:  L. Caecilius, L. Aurelius     { 117 B.C. }

At Rome and around many places were struck by lightning. At Praeneste it rained milk. The spears of Mars in the Regia moved. At Privernum the land subsided over an area of seven iugera. At Saturnia a hermaphrodite ten years old was found and drowned in the sea. Twenty seven virgins lustrated the city with a song. The rest of the year passed by in peace.

[37] L   Consuls:  M'. Acilius, C. Porcius     { 114 B.C. }

When P. Elvius a Roman knight was returning to Apulia from the Roman Games, in the Ager Stellatis, his unmarried daughter, who was sitting astride her horse, was struck and killed by lightning; her clothing was stripped from her privates, and her tongue stuck out, as though the fire had leapt through her lower regions to her mouth. The response was given that this portended disgrace to young maidens and the equestrian order, because the trappings of the horse had been disarrayed. At the same time three of the most noble Vestal Virgins paid the penalty for incest with some Roman knights. A temple to Venus Verticordia was built.

[38] L   Consuls:  C. Caecilius, Cn. Papirius     { 113 B.C. }

The Alban Mount seemed to be on fire at night. A small temple and a statue were struck from the sky. The altar of Salus was smashed asunder. The land in Lucania and Privernum gaped open. In Gaul the sky seemed to be on fire. After crossing the Alps, the Cimbri and Teutones cruelly slaughtered the Romans and their allies.

[39] L   Consuls:  P. Scipio, L. Calpurnius     { 111 B.C. }

A very great part of the city was burnt down along with the temple of the Great Mother. It rained milk for three days, and this was expiated by greater victims. The war against Jugurtha began.

[40] L   Consuls:  Servius Galba, M. Scaurus     { 108 B.C. }

A firebird and an owl were seen in the city. In the quarries a man was eaten by a man. In accordance with the Sibylline Books on the island of Cimolos there was a sacrifice by thirty free born boys and the same number of maidens whose fathers and mothers were still living. Many thousands of men were overwhelmed by the swollen Po and the Arretine marsh. Twice it rained milk. At Nursia twins were born to a free-born women, the girl with all her limbs intact, the boy with his stomach gaping open in this way so that his exposed intestine could be seen, he was also born without an opening in his anus, he died after crying out. The fighting against Jugurtha went well.

[41] L   Consuls:  Q. Servilius Caepio, [C.] Atilius Serranus     { 106 B.C. }

At Amiternum when a boy was born of a slave-girl, he said 'hello'. In the territory of Perusia and in some places at Rome it rained milk. At Atellae among many places struck by lightning four fingers of a man were sliced off as though with a sword. Silver coinage melted after a flash of lightning. In the territory of Trebula a woman married to a Roman citizen was struck by a thunderbolt and not killed. A celestial groan was heard and javelins seemed to fall from the sky. It rained blood. At Rome a torch was seen flying through the heavens for a long time. In the temple of the Lares a flame pierced through from the pediment to the top of a column without any damage. At the instigation of the consul Caepio, the jury courts were shared between the senators and the equites. The rest was at peace.

[42] L   Consuls:  P. Rutilius, Cn. Manlius     { 105 B.C. }

At Trebula Mutusca before the games commenced, as the flautist was playing black snakes surrounded the altar; when the playing stopped they slid away. On the following day they came back and were killed by the people with stones. When the doors of his temple were opened the wooden statue of Mars was found standing on its head. The Roman army was slaughtered by the Lusitanians.

[43] L   Consuls:  C. Marius, C. Flavius     { 104 B.C. }

An owl was seen outside the city. A bull spoke. At Trebula Mutusca a statue in the temple, whose head had been covered, was found uncovered. At Nuceria an elm-tree overturned by wind straightened of its own accord and grew strong roots. In Lucania it rained milk, at Luna blood. At Ariminum a dog spoke. Celestial armies from the east and the west were seen fighting at (?) both times, and those from the west were being defeated. Upon the response of the haruspices, the people bore a contribution to Ceres and Proserpina. Twenty seven singing maidens bore gifts. The moon with a star appeared for a long time between the third and the seventh hour. Regions were ransacked by runaways and deserters in Thurii. The Cimbri crossed the Alps after Spain had been devastated, and joined the Teutones. A wolf entered the city. Vultures on a tower were killed by a lightning bolt. At the third hour of the day the disappearance of the sun obscured the light. A swarm of bees settled in front of the temple of Salus. In the comitium it rained milk; in Picenum three suns were seen. In the territory of Vulsinii flames rose out of the earth and seemed to touch the sky. In Lucania two lambs were born with horses' feet, another with the head of a monkey. In the territory of Tarquinii rivers of milk arose gushing out over the land. Upon the response of the haruspices, two armed olive-wood statues were set up and a supplication was made. In Macedonia the Thracians were subdued.

[44] L   Consuls:  C. Marius, Q. Lutatius     { 102 B.C. }

There was a nine-day festival, because in the territory of the Tuscans it had rained stones. On the orders of the haruspices the city was lustrated. The ashes of the victims were scattered in the sea, and for nine days by order of the magistrates a procession of supplication was led around all the temples and districts. The spears of Mars in the Regia moved of their own accord. It rained blood around the river Anio. A swarm of bees settled in the Forum Boarium in the small sanctuary. In Gaul in the camp a light gleamed at night. A free-born boy at Aricia was enveloped in flames, but was not consumed. The temple of Jupiter which was closed was struck by lightning. Because he had first demonstrated the expiation of this, the haruspex Aemilius Potensis received a reward, and for the others who concealed it, it portended death for them and their children. The pirates were annihilated in Cilicia by the Romans. The Teutones were slaughtered by Marius.

[44a] L.  Consuls:  [C. Marius, M'. Aquilius]     { 101 B.C. }

The sacred shields moved of their own accord with a rattle. A slave of Q. Servilius Caepio castrated himself in honour of the Idaean mother, and was deported across the sea, so that he should never return to Rome. The city was lustrated. A goat with blazing horns was led through the city; at the Naevian gate  it was released and set free. On the Aventine it rained mud. After the Lusitanians were defeated, Further Spain was pacified. The Cimbri were destroyed.

[45] L   Consuls:  C. Marius, L. Valerius     { 100 B.C. }

At Tarquinii a blazing torch was seen far and wide and fell suddenly dropping. Around the setting of the sun an orb similar to a shield seemed to be borne across [the sky] from the west to the east. In Picenum houses were reduced to ruins by an earth tremor; but after their foundations had been destroyed, some remained in a tottering state. The sound of armed men was heard from the depths of the earth. A gilded four-horse chariot in the forum perspired from its feet. The runaway slaves in Sicily were slaughtered in battle.

[46] L   Consuls:  M. Antonius, A. Postumius     { 99 B.C. }

When an owl was seen in the city, the city was lustrated. A storm cloud and a whirlwind demolished a large number of places; many places were struck by lightning. At Lanuvium in the temple of Juno Sospita in the chamber of the goddess drops of blood were seen. At Nursia a sacred shrine was destroyed by an earth tremor. The Lusitanians who were rebelling were subjugated. When Sex. Titius, tribune of the people, stubbornly introduced a law about the division of land for the people in spite of his colleagues' opposition, ravens, two in number, flying through the sky fought so viciously above the assembly that they tore each other with their beaks and talons. The haruspices pronounced that sacred rites ought to be offered to Apollo and with respect to the law, which was being passed, that it should be abandoned. A roaring which seemed to rise from the underworld to the heavens portended shortages and famine. The people brought a donation, the married women a treasure, and the unmarried women gifts to Ceres and Proserpina. There was singing by twenty seven maidens. Two cypress wood statues were erected for Juno Regina. In Lusitania, the war was fought successfully by the Romans.

[47] L   Consuls:  Q. Metellus, T. Didius     { 98 B.C. }

When an owl was seen on the Capitol above the statues of the gods, it was atoned for; a bull intended as a sacrifice fell down dead. Many places were shattered by lightning. The spears of Mars in the Regia moved. At the games in the theatre it rained white chalk. It portended good crops and weather. It thundered on a tranquil day. At the temple of Apollo, when the decemviri were making a sacrifice, the head of the liver was missing, ahd as they were sacrificing a snake was found at the altar. Also a hermaphrodite was carried down to the sea. In the Circus fire radiated among the javelins of the soldiers. The Spanish were defeated in several battles.

[48] L   Consuls:  Cn. Cornelius Lentulus, P. Licinius     { 97 B.C. }

There was a ceremony of supplication in the city, because a hermaphrodite had been found and had been carried down to the sea. At Pisaurum a roaring was heard from the ground. When the crenellations of the walls were destroyed everywhere without earth tremors, it portended civil discord. At Nursia the statue of Jupiter was turned to its left side. A cypress wood statue was erected for Juno Regina and the city was lustrated by twenty seven maidens. The Celtiberians, Maedi and Dardani were defeated.

[49] L   Consuls:  Cn. Domitius, C. Cassius     { 96 B.C. }

When a wolf entered the city it was killed in a private home. An owl was killed on the Capitol. Many places were damaged by lightning. Golden statues of Jupiter were destroyed along with their top and column. At Faesulae the earth flowed with blood. At Arretium a spike of corn grew from a woman's nose and that same corn discharged kernels. After the city was lustrated, Ptolemy, king of Egypt, died at Cyrene and left the left the senate and people of Rome as his heir.

[50] L   Consuls:  L. Crassus, Q. Scaevola     { 95 B.C. }

At Caere it rained milk. At Lebadia when Eutychides had entered the temple of Jupiter Trophonius he brought out a bronze tablet, on which it was written, things which were pertinent to the affairs of the Roman state. Many animals were killed by lightning strikes. At Venafrum the ground subsided with a deep cleft. Vultures tearing away at a dead dog were killed by other vultures and eaten by them. A two-headed lamb, and a boy with three hands and as many feet were born at . . . The spears of Mars in the Regia moved. At Urbinum a hermaphrodite was born and carried down to the sea. At home and abroad there was peace.

[51] L   Consuls:  C. Caelius, L. Domitius     { 94 B.C. }

There was a nine-day sacrifice, because among the Volscian tribe it had rained stones. At Vulsinii a new moon waned and did not reappear except on the following day at the third hour. A two-headed, four-footed, four-handed girl with twin sets of female genitalia was born dead. A fire-bird was seen and killed. In the territory of the Vestini it rained stones in a villa. A torch appeared in the sky and the whole sky seemed to be ablaze. The earth flowed with blood and congealed. Dogs gnawed stones and tiles in public. At Faesulae a huge multitude was seen wearing funereal garments and with pallid expressions, walking as a group among the tombs. The Spanish chieftains who were in revolt, were put to death by Nasica, and their cities laid waste.

[52] L   Consuls:  C. Valerius, M. Herennius     { 93 B.C. }

At Rome and around many places were damaged by lightning. A slave girl gave birth to a one-handed boy. At Fregellae the temple of Neptune opened up at night. When the entrails of a male calf were being removed, twin calfs were found in its stomach. At Arretium a bronze statue of Mercury perspired. In the territory of Lucania flames surrounded a flock of wethers, when it was feeding at night in the stable, and nothing was burnt. At Carseoli a torrent of blood flowed. Wolves entered the city. At Praeneste wool flew about. In Apulia a mule gave birth. A kite was caught in the temple of Apollo at Rome. When the consul Herennius was making a sacrifice, twice the head of the liver was lacking. During a nine-day festival the dinner placed before the goddess was eaten by a dog, before it had been tasted. At Vulsinii at daybreak flames were seen bursting from the sky. When they had come together, the flames displayed a dark-red appearance, and the sky seemed to divide, and from this opening, coils of flame appeared. It was expiated successfully through ceremonies of lustration. For the whole year there was concord at home and abroad.

[53] L   Consuls:  C. Claudius, M. Perpenna     { 92 B.C. }

An owl was caught in the Temple of Fortuna Equestris and died in its captor's hands. At Faesulae roaring was heard from the earth. A boy was born of a slave-girl without an aperture in his genitals through which urine might pass. A woman was found with two sets of genitalia. A torch was seen in the sky. A bull spoke. A swarm of bees settled on the rooftop of a private house. At Volaterrae a river flowed with blood. At Rome it rained milk. At Arretium two hermaphrodites were found. A farm-yard chicken was born with four-feet. Many places were struck by lightning. There was a ceremony of supplication. The people bore contributions to Ceres and Proserpina. Twenty seven maidens lustrated the city singing a song. In Macedonia the tribe of the Maedi cruelly ravaged the province.

[54] L   Consuls:  L. Marcius, Sex. Julius     { 91 B.C. }

When Livius Drusus, tribune of the people, was passing his laws, at the start of the Italian War, many prodigies appeared in the city. Around sunrise a ball of fire flashed out of the sky with a mighty sound from the northern regions. At Arretium as they were breaking bread blood flowed from the middle of the loaves. In the territory of the Vestini for seven days it rained stones and potsherds. At Aenaria a flame which came out of a cleft in the earth flashed out to the sky. Around Regium part of the city and the walls were destroyed by an earth tremor. At Spoletium a ball of fire with a golden hue rolled down to earth. It increased in size and after it was seen being carried from the land to the east it covered the sun with its magnitude. At Cumae on the citadel the statue of Apollo perspired. In the Circus Flaminius the temple of Piety which was closed was struck by lightning. At Asculum Romans were killed during the games. When the Latins drove flocks and herds from the fields into the city, it caused carnage of men everywhere. The herds were agitated into such a state of madness that they attacked their masters as if  in hostile war, grimly foretelling calamity for many loved ones.

[55] L   Consuls:  L. Julius Caesar, P. Rutilius     { 90 B.C. }

Caecilia Metella said that, in a dream, with her prayers she had with difficulty recalled Juno Sospita as she was fleeing because her temple had been foully defiled. She also said that the temple had been polluted through the the attendance of matrons with disgusting and obscene bodily needs, and a dog with her litter even had her bed under the goddess's statue. After it was thoroughly cleaned with the customary ceremonies of supplication, the temple was restored to its former splendour. In the territory of Picenum Romans were tortured in barbaric custom; everywhere in Latium defeats were suffered. Rutilius Lupus after disregarding religious matters, when he did not find a head to the liver in the entrails, after losing his army was killed in battle.

[56] L   Consuls:  L. Sylla, Q. Pompeius     { 88 B.C. }

Poppedius Silo in triumph rode into the town of Bovianum which he had captured, and offered an omen of victory to the enemy; because a triumph ought to lead into a victorious city and not into a defeated city. In the next battle, after losing his army he was killed. Prodigies appeared as Mithridates was preparing for war against the allies. In the Camp, where the council was normally held, ravens killed a vulture by beating it with their beaks. In the same place a huge star was sent down from heaven. A vision of Isis seemed to attack with a thunderbolt. When Mithridates set fire to the grove of the Furies, a mighty laugh without a source was heard. When on the orders of the seers he sacrificed a maiden to the Furies, a laugh that rose from the girl's throat disturbed the sacrifice. In Thessaly the fleet of Mithridates was lost in battle against (?) the Romans.

[56a]   Consuls:  Cn. Octavius, L. Cinna     { 87 B.C. }

When Cinna and Marius were cruelly ravaging Rome through civil war, in the camp of Gnaeus Pompeius the sky seemed to fall down, weapons and standards were struck and killed the soldiers. Pompeius himself perished from the star's fiery breath. The people tore down his bier and the body was dragged on a hook, because during the civil disturbance he had pursued his own interests and had not come to the help of the state, when he had both the military authority and the largest army

[56b]   Consuls:  L. Cinna, C. Marius     { 86 B.C. }

At the Piraeus when Sulla had fought hard for a long time, one of his soldiers who was carrying brushwood was killed by lightning. The haruspex replied that, because the head of the dead man was turned towards the town, it signified a triumphal entrance for the Romans. After a short time Athens and the Piraeus were captured by Sulla. At Ilium when the temple of Minerva had also burnt down after being set on fire by C. Fimbria, the most venerable statue stood untouched among the ruins and it portended hope for the restoration of the town.

[57] L   Consuls:  L. Scipio, C. Norbanus     { 83 B.C. }

During the Sullan period, between Capua and Vulturnum a mighty sound of standards and weapons was heard accompanied by a terrifying clamour, so that it seemed that two battlelines had met for several days. For those who observed the miraculous event more intently traces of horses and men and freshly trampled grass and bushes were seen and this portended the burden of a huge war. In Etruria at Clusium a mother of a family gave birth to a live serpent, which, on the orders of the haruspices, was thrown into the flowing water and swam against the current. After five years, Lucius Sulla returned to Italy as victor and caused great fear amongst his enemies. * * * of a temple keeper the Capitol burnt down in one night. Because of Sulla's cruelty, there was a horrific proscription of leading citizens. One hundred thousand men are said to have been killed in the Italian and Civil Wars.

[58] L   Consuls:  Mam. Aemilius, D. Brutus     { 77 B.C. }

D. Laelius a legate of Pompey, suffered a prodigy at Rome when two snakes were seen in his wife's bedroom and they slid away in different directions; and as he was sitting very close to Pompey in the camp a hawk settled on his head. He was killed among the foragers while fighting in Spain against Sertorius.

[59] L   Consuls:  Cn. Octavius, C. Scribonius     { 76 B.C. }

At Reate sacred shrines in the town and in the country were shaken by an earth tremor, the stones laid down in the forum were shattered, bridges were broken apart, the banks of the river which glides past the city fell into the water, rumbles were heard from underground and after a few days, those places which had been shaken, collapsed. As though alive a rock, as it was rolling along, halted motionless on a precipitous rock. In Spain the army of the Romans was slaughtered by Sertorius. Against the Maedi the battles were indecisive.

[60] L   Consuls:  C. Aurelius, L. Octavius     { 75 B.C. }

When Sertorius was leading his army in Spain, a prodigy of the following sort happened. The outer part of the cavalry's shields, their javelins and the chests of the horses seemed bloody. Sertorius interpreted this as good for himself, because the outside parts are usually spotted with the blood of the enemy. His continuous battles met with success.

[60a]   Consuls:  M. Varro, C. Cassius     { 73 B.C. }

When Mithridates was besieging Cyzicus, Proserpina appeared in a dream to Aristagoras, who held the highest magistracy, and said that she had matched a trumpeter against flute players. On the following day the towers of the enemy were destroyed by wind. A sacred sacrificial bull involuntarily came down from the mountains, swam through the enemy fleet, and presented itself at the altar for the blow of the axe.

[61] L   Consuls:  M. Cicero, C. Antonius     { 63 B.C. }

Many places were struck by lightning. At Pompeii Vargunteius was struck dead from a clear sky. A fiery javelin stretched to the sky from the west. The whole of Spoletum was shaken by an earth tremor, and some places collapsed. Among other things it was related that two years previously on the Capitol the wolf of Remus and Romulus was struck by lightning, and the statue of Jupiter with its column was split apart; upon the response of the haruspices it was moved to a position in the forum. The laws on the bronze tablets * * * the letters were melted. After these prodigies the nefarious conspiracy of Catiline began.

[61a]   Consuls:  [D. Junius, L. Murena]     { 62 B.C. }

When C. Antonius as proconsul had defeated Catiline in the territory of Pistoria, he bore his laurel-wreathed fasces into his province. There he was defeated by the Dardani and, after losing his army, fled. It appeared that he had portended victory to the enemy, since he had borne to them the victor's laurel, which ought to have been placed on the Capitol.

[62] L   Consuls:  Q. Metellus, L. Afranius     { 60 B.C. }

Although the entire day previously had been clear, around the eleventh hour night extended itself, then restored the gleam of day. Buildings were destroyed by the force of a whirlwind. When a bridge collapsed men were thrown headlong into the Tiber. In the country many trees were upturned by their roots. The Lusitanian Gallaeci were defeated.

[63] L   Consuls:  [Cn. Domitius, M. Messala]     { 53 B.C. }

Wolves were seen in the city. At night a tearful wailing of dogs was heard. The statue of Mars sweated. Lightning overran the entire city and destroyed many statues of the gods and killed men. The city was lustrated. Because of the dictatorship of Pompeius there was much rioting in the city.

[64] L   Consuls:  L. Domitius, Appius Claudius     { 54 B.C. }

When M. Crassus had crossed the Euphrates after he had set out against the Parthians, he ignored many prodigies. Even when a storm arose and tore away the standard of the standard bearer and sank it in the eddying current, and when the spreading darkness of clouds prevented him from crossing, he stubbornly persisted, and perished with his son and his army.

[65] L   Consuls:  L. Paulus, C. Marcellus     { 50 B.C. }

A mule that gave birth signified civil discord, the death of the good, a change in laws, and abominable offspring for married womem. Fire, by which a large part of the city was destroyed, was regarded as a prodigy. There was civil war between Caesar and Pompey.

[65a]   Consuls:  C. Caesar, P. Servilius     { 48 B.C. }

When Pompey had drawn up his forces against Caesar in Macedonia along with the friendly tribes he had summoned, as they came from Dyrracchium, lightning flashed repeatedly. A swarm of bees on the standards * * * portended. At night there was terror amongst the army. Pompey himself on the day prior to the battle seemed to be welcomed in his own theatre to huge applause. Then after his army was defeated he was killed in Egypt. On that very same day it is agreed that statues in many places turned round of their own accord; that there was a clamour and uproar of arms at Antioch, so that twice the army ran to the walls; that this was heard also at Ptolemais ; and that at Pergamum the sound of drums was heard. At Tralles in the temple of Victory under the statue of Caesar between the paving stones a young palm grew to full maturity. On that day at Patavium the augur C. Cornelius, when the birds indicated it, proclaimed that a battle was being waged and that Caesar had won.

[66] L   Consuls:  C. Caesar, M. Lepidus     { 46 B.C. }

Ten eagles of the legions seemed to [Gnaeus], the son of Cn. Pompeius, to release the thunderbolts which were holding, and to fly into the sky. The young Pompeius himself was defeated and killed as he fled.

[67] L   Consuls:  C. Caesar, M. Antonius     { 44 B.C. }

When Caesar was dictator, the entrails were found to have no heart. His wife Calpurnia dreamt that the pediment of the house, which had been added in accordance with a senatorial decree, fell down. At night when the doors of the bedroom were closed, they opened of their own accord, so that the light of the moon came inside and awoke Calpurnia. Caesar himself was pierced through with twenty three wounds in the Pompeian Senate House by the conspirators.

[68] L   Consuls:  M. Antonius, P. Dolabella     { 44 B.C. }

Through the will of his father Caesar, C. Octavius was adopted into the Julian family, at Brundisium. When at the third hour of the day he entered Rome surrounded by a huge crowd, the sun encircled by a thin circle of pure and tranquil sky, surrounded him with a halo of its outermost line, as a rainbow normally stretches into the clouds. At the games of Venus Genetrix, which he performed on behalf of the magistrates, at the eleventh hour a comet appeared from under the North Star and attracted everyone's attention. Because this star had appeared at the games of Venus, he decided that it should be consecrated to deified Julius as a distinction above his head (?). Although Caesar suffered much because of the monstrous malice of the consul Antony, he showed a noble persistence in resisting him. There were frequent earth tremors. The docks and many other places were struck by lightning. A violent whirlwind threw down with shattered limbs a statue, which M. Cicero had placed in front of the sanctuary of Minerva, on the day before he went into exile in accordance with the plebiscite, and with its shoulders, arms and head broken it portended dreadful things for Cicero himself. The bronze tablets from the temple of Fides were torn off by a whirlwind. At the temple of Ops the doors were broken. Trees were torn up by their roots and many buildings were demolished. A torch in the sky seemed to move towards the west. A star blazed conspicuously for seven days. Three suns gleamed, and around the lowest sun a crown similar to ears of grain in a circle gleamed out and afterwards when the sun had been reduced to one globe the light was limpid for months. In the temple of Castor some letters from the names of the consuls Antony and Dolabella were shaken out, which indicated that both of them would be exiled from their homeland. The baying of a dog was heard during the night in front of the home of the pontifex maximus, [Lepidus]; from these things, especially as the dog was mutilated by the others, it portended scandalous disgrace to Lepidus. At Ostia a shoal of fish was left on dry land by the ebb and flow of the sea. The Po flooded and when it subsided below its banks it left a large number of vipers. There was civil war between Antony and Caesar.

[69] L   Consuls:  C. Pansa, [A.] Hirtius     { 43 B.C. }

When distinctions were decreed to Caesar and military authority was decreed to him against Antony, two-fold entrails appeared while he was making a sacrifice. Successful affairs followed. The equestrian statue of the consul C. Pansa collapsed in the home of (?) Antony. A decorated horse fell down dead as it hurried into his sight. One of the people fell down in the blood of the sacrifices and offered him his hand spattered with blood as he set out. These were funereal prodigies for him, and then when he was fighting against Antony he was fatally wounded. An appearance of arms and weapons seemed to be borne from the land to the sky with a loud tumult. The standards of the legion, which had been left by Pansa as a garrison for the city, seemed to be cloaked in spiders' webs which had spun as though after they had remained stationery for too long. Many places were struck by lightning. In the camp of Caesar at first light an eagle settled on top of the headquarters above the lintel, then after it was driven away by smaller birds which were flying around, it disappeared from sight. A voice was heard from the oracle of Apollo: Madness to wolves in winter, a lack of grain in summer. There was a terrible disturbance at Rome when the veterans demanded Caesar's consulship. When Caesar led his army down into the Campus Martius, six vultures appeared, then when he ascended the rostra after being created consul another six vultures were seen, and they gave a sign for the new foundation of the city just like the auspices offered to Romulus. When Caesar, Antony and Lepidus were reconciled, there was a disgraceful proscription of leading citizens.

[70] L   Consuls:  M. Lepidus, Munatius Plancus     { 42 B.C. }

At Rome a mule gave birth by the Twelve Gates. A dead bitch belonging to a temple keeper was dragged away by a dog. Light so shone at night, that it seemed that people woke up for work as though it was daybreak. At Mutina the south facing statue of the Marian victory monument, of its own accord, turned northward at the fourth hour. When these things were being expiated by sacrificial victims, three suns were seen at around the third hour of the day, then they drew together as one globe. At the Latin festival on the Alban Mount when a sacrifice was taking place, blood flowed from the shoulder and thumb of Jupiter. War was waged by Cassius and Brutus in the provinces accompanied by the plundering of the allies. It was designated as a prodigy that the praetor P. Titius had deposed a colleague because of dissension; and before the end of the year he was dead. It is agreed that no-one who had deposed a colleague had lived another year. But these men deposed others: L. Junius Brutus as consul deposed Tarquinius Collatinus, Tib. Gracchus M. Octavius; [ Cn. Octavius, L.  Cinna ]; C. Cinna, as tribune of the people, C. Marullus, Tullius * * *. As Brutus and Cassius were preparing for their battle against Caesar and Antony, a swarm of bees settled in the camp of Cassius. On the orders of the haruspices the place was encircled with a rampart raised inside. A vast multitude of vultures and other winged creatures which feed on the carnage of dead bodies, flew up to the army. When a boy was being carried in a procession for the rites of Victory, he fell off the litter. When there was a ceremony of lustration the lictor placed the laurel wreath on the fasces when they were the wrong way round. As Brutus and his army were going out to battle an Ethiopian met them at the gate and was run through by the soldiers. Cassius and Brutus perished.

[71] L   Consuls:  C. Furnius, C. Silanus     { 17 B.C. }

Under the Appennines in the villa of Livia, the wife of Caesar, the earth trembled with a vast tremor. A heavenly torch stretched from the west to the east and made the night like the light of the day. A tower in the gardens of Caesar near the Colline Gate was struck from the sky. After an ambush by the Germans the Romans were surrounded and under the legate M. Lollius were seriously troubled.

[72] L   Consuls:  Consuls: Paulus Fabius, Q. Aelius     { 11 B.C. }

In Drusus' camp in Germany a swarm of bees settled in the tent of the camp prefect, Hostilius Rufus, massing on a guy line and a spear fixed in the ground in front of the tent. A large Roman army was defeated through ambush.

Attalus' home page   |   30.08.21   |   Any comments?