auspiceˈɔ spɪs; ˈɔ spə sɪz
a favorable omen
Patronage or protection.
An omen or a sign.
Divination from the actions of birds.
An auspice is literally "one who looks at birds", a diviner who reads omens from the observed flight of birds. This type of omen reading was already a millennium old in the time of Classical Greece: in the fourteenth-century BCE diplomatic correspondence preserved in Egypt called the "Amarna correspondence", the practice was familiar to the king of Alasia in Cyprus who has need of an 'eagle diviner' to be sent from Egypt. This earlier, indigenous practice of divining by bird signs, familiar in the figure of Calchas, the bird-diviner to Agamemnon, who has led the army, was largely replaced by sacrifice-divination through inspection of the sacrificial victim's liver— haruspices— during the Orientalizing period of archaic Greek culture. Plato notes that hepatoscopy held greater prestige than augury by means of birds. In ancient Roman religion, the auspices provided divine signs to be interpreted by an augur. An augur would perform a ceremony and would read flight patterns of birds in the sky. Depending upon the birds, the auspices from the gods could be favorable or unfavorable. Sometimes bribed or politically motivated augures would fabricate unfavorable auspices in order to delay certain state functions, such as elections. Pliny the Younger attributes the invention of auspicy to Tiresias the seer of Thebes, the generic model of a seer in the Greco-Roman literary culture.
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