This page cannot be viewed in frames

Go to page

If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Haruspices – divination from insides

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Etruscan inscriptions on a bronze liver of a sheep from Piacenza
Etruscan inscriptions on a bronze liver of a sheep from Piacenza | Photo: Lokilech | Na licencji Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Haruspices were priests who were active long ago. Originally, they appeared in the state of Mari (northern Mesopotamia) and the Hittites. Then the haruspices appeared in Etruria. Etruscans were taken over by the ancient Romans. Haruspices began to appear in Rome during the Punic Wars (mid-3rd century BCE). Haruspices gave advice to both the state and individuals.

The primary task of the haruspices was to interpret the will of the gods based on the shape of the livers of sacrificial animals. Most often, their services were used by chieftains who wanted to assess the favour of the gods for their combat activities. Emperor Claudius (known for his love of history and Etruscan times) established the first official haruspicy college, which consisted of sixty equites – headed by a certain haruspex maximus. It is said that the college operated until the 5th century CE. Later, Alexander Severus was to create the cathedral of haruspices.

The Haruspiks shaped their interpretations based on the prevailing principles and the canon of knowledge. among others 16 regions of the sky and 40 fields corresponding to the influence of the gods were distinguished. Based on the liver and this knowledge, they could judge the will of the gods. Their speciality was disciplina etrusca, which was considered especially sacred and venerable.

  • Mircea Eliade, Historia wierzeń i idei religijnych, t. 2, Warszawa 1994
  • Jean-Claude Fredouille, Słownik cywilizacji rzymskiej
  • Oktawiusz Jurewicz, Lidia Winniczuk, Starożytni Grecy i Rzymianie w życiu prywatnym i państwowym, Warszawa 1968
  • Maciej Popko, Mitologia hetyckiej Anatolii, Warszawa 1987
  • Józef Wolski, Historia powszechna. Starożytność, Warszawa 2002

IMPERIUM ROMANUM needs your support!

If you like the content that I collect on the website and that I share on social media channels I will be grateful for the support. Even the smallest amounts will allow me to pay for further corrections, improvements on the site and pay the server.



Find out more!

Check your curiosity and learn something new about the ancient world of the Romans. By clicking on the link below, you will be redirected to a random entry.

Random curiosity

Random curiosity

Discover secrets of ancient Rome!

If you want to be up to date with newest articles on website and discoveries from the world of ancient Rome, subscribe to the newsletter, which is sent each Saturday.

Subscribe to newsletter!

Subscribe to newsletter

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: