Friday, May 20, 2011

Cicero, On Prophecy (De Divinatione)

Marcus Tullius Cicero [Cicero or Tully]
106-43 BC
*executed by 2nd Triumvirate (specifically Mark Antony)
Trans RMBullard
Latin (Republican Era/Golden Age of Latin Literature)


I 1 Vetus opinio est iam usque ab heroicis ducta temporibus,
[There is an old opinion, already taken now from the times of legendary heroes,]

eaque et populi Romani et omnium gentium firmata consensu,
[and one that has been approved by the consensus of both the Roman people, and the entire world,]

versari quandam inter homines divinationem, quam Graeci mantikh/n appellant,
[that a certain practice of communicating with the gods needs be conducted, one which the Greeks call μαντικειν]

id est praesensionem et scientiam rerum futurarum.
[to be more specific, the divining and knowledge of future events.]

Magnifica quaedam res et salutaris, si modo est ulla,
[A magnificent and beneficial thing it would be, if there is any way now,]

 quaque proxime ad deorum vim natura mortalis possit accedere.
[by which nature a mortal man can possible manage to approached, in any degree, the power of the gods.]

 Itaque ut alia nos melius multa quam Graeci, sic huic praestantissimae rei nomen nostri a divis, Graeci, ut Plato interpretatur, a furore duxerunt.
[And so, the Greeks, who know many things much better than ourselves, the Greeks, as Plato is interpreted to have said, took the name that we most readily assign to this kind of affair by the gods, from their word for "fury".]

 2 Gentem quidem nullam video
neque tam humanam atque doctam neque tam immanem tamque barbaram,
[I can find no race of people, neither so humane and wise, or so uncivilized and barbaric,]

 quae non significari futura et a quibusdam intellegi praedicique posse censeat.
[that they do not conclude that the future has no sense and cannot be understood or predicted by specific practices.]

 Principio Assyrii, ut ab ultimis auctoritatem repetam, propter planitiam magnitudinemque regionum quas incolebant,
[In the beginning, the Assyrians, as I shall reiterate their importance in my very last words, used to worship, account of the wideness and sizes of their domain,]

cum caelum ex omni parte patens atque apertum intuerentur, traiectiones motusque stellarum observitaverunt,
[they frequently gave significance to the paths and motions of the stars, since they could watch an open and clear sky from end to end,]

quibus notati, quid cuique significaretur memoriae prodiderunt.
[from which things they could know why or to whom something pertained, and record it for memory's sake.]