How should one employ Divination?
1Because we employ divination when there is no occasion for it, many of us neglect many of the duties of life. 2For what can the diviner see that is of greater import than death, or danger, or illness, or in general such things as these? 3If, then, it becomes necessary for me to risk my life for my friend, and if it becomes mv duty even to die for him, where do I find beyond that any occasion to employ divination? Have I not within me the diviner that has told me the true nature of good and of evil, that has set forth tlie signs characteristic of both of them? 4What further use have I, then, ot entrails, or of bitds.- But when he says, "It is expedient for you," do I accept it? Why, does he know what is expedient? Does he know what is good? 5Has he learned the signs characteristic of things good and things evil, as he has the signs characteristic of entrails? For if he knows the signs characteristic of these, he knows also those of things honourable and base, and right and wrong. 6Man, it is for you to tell me what is indicated by signs—life or death, poverty or wealth; but whether these things are expedient or inexpedient, am I going to ask of you? 7Why don't you speak on points of grammar? Well then, on this matter, in which we mortals are all astray and in conflict with one another, you do speak? 8Wherefore, that was an admirable answer which the woman gave who wished to send a boatload of supplies to Gratilla after she had been exiled. To a man who said, "Domitian will confiscate them," she replies, "I should rather have him confiscate them than myself fail to send them."
9What, then, induces us to employ divination so constantly? Cowardice, fear of the consequences. This is why we flatter the diviners, saying: "Master, shall I inherit my father's property?" "Let us see; let us offer a sacrifice about that matter." "Yes, master, as fortune wills." Then if the diviner says, "You will inherit the property," we thank him as though we had received the inheritance from him. That is why they in their turn go on making mock of us. Well, what then? 10We ought to go to them without either desire or aversion, just as the wayfarer asks the man who meets him which of two roads leads to his destination, without any desire to have the right-hand road lead there any more than the left-hand road; for he does not care to travel one particular road of the two, but merely the one that leads to his destination. 11So also we ought to go to God as a guide, making use of Him as we make use of our eyes; we do not call upon them to show us such-and-such things by preference, but we accept the impressions of precisely such things as they reveal to us. 12But as it is, we tremble before the bird-augur, lay hold upon him, and appealing to him as if he were a god, we beg of him, saying: "Master, have mercy; grant that I come off safe." 13You slave! What, do you want anything but what is best for you? Is anything else best for you than what pleases God? 14Why do you do all that in you lies to corrupt your judge, to mislead your counsellor?
1 The idea seems to be: We go to a diviner in order to find out what acts to avoid if we would escape evils to ourselves. But the things in life that are accounted our chief ills are death, danger, illness, and the like. These evils one must sometimes, in self-respect, accept, and they are in fact, not evils at all. Hence the petty things about which men consult the diviner fall into insignificance.
2 That is, on a subject about which you do not profess to know anything.