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Fortune-telling events

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Fighting eagles
Fighting eagles | Author: René Visser

Valerius Maximus in his work Factorum et dictorum memorabilium libri novem presents interesting events in the history of Rome, in which omens and the superstition of the Romans were to play an important role.

One of the stories tells of the Battle of Philippi between Cassius and Brutus and Antony and Octavian in 42 BCE Namely, when Brutus was leading his troops into battle, he suddenly noticed that two eagles flew out of the camps of both armies and fought with each other. The eagle that flew over Brutus’ army was wounded and fled, which was to herald the defeat of his army.

Another story about signs is presented by Valerius Maximus in reference to Gaius Marius and his escape to Africa. For when in 88 BCE power in Rome was taken over by Sulla, Gaius Marius was captured and declared a public enemy. Unexpectedly on his way to the detention centre, Gaius noticed a donkey that refused to eat the feed, and instead ran to the water. The multiple time consul took it as a sign and, thanks to the crowds who came to his aid, he got out of the hands of his opponents and went to the sea, from where he sailed towards Africa.

  • Valerius Maximus, Factorum et dictorum memorabilium libri novem, 1.4.7-1.5.1

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