Birds in Roman Life and Myth

Birds in Roman Life and Myth

Exploring Auspices and the Sacred Chickens

Event Description

Ashleigh Green: Birds in Roman Life and Myth

July 27th, 2023 at 7:00pm EDT

In Roman augury and auspices, birds were among the foremost signs by which the gods communicated their assent or displeasure with a proposed action. Public auspices had to be taken before important events and before a magistrate could exercise his authority, while private auspices could be taken by individuals whenever they wished for guidance. This talk outlines how Romans took auspices from wild birds, which birds were chiefly observed during the ritual, and what each augural bird signified. It then looks at military auspices, the auspicia ex tripudiis, which were taken by observing the feeding patterns of ‘sacred chickens’. Generals had to consult the chickens at many critical junctures in the field, including before they engaged the enemy in battle. By exploring the ‘sacred chickens’ within the wider context of augural birds, we can discover the origin of this strange ritual and explain why and how the Romans used chickens in this way.

N.B. - You can view a recording of this, and other past events on Paideia's Youtube Channel.

Event Info

Jul 27, 2023 at 07:00 PM - 08:00 PM EDT


Guest Speaker