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Roman Templum (Augury)

A templum was the sacred space defined by an augur for ritual purposes, most importantly the taking of the auspices, a place “cut off” as sacred: compare Greek temenos, from temnein to cut.[549] It could be created as temporary or permanent, depending on the lawful purpose of the inauguration. Auspices and senate meetings were unlawful unless held in a templum; if the senate house (Curia) was unavailable, an augur could apply the appropriate religious formulae to provide a lawful alternative.[550]

To create a templum, the augur aligned his zone of observation (auguraculum, a square, portable surround) with the cardinal points of heaven and earth. The altar and entrance were sited on the east-west axis: the sacrificer faced east. The precinct was thus “defined and freed” (effatum et liberatum).[551] In most cases, signs to the augur’s left (north) showed divine approval and signs to his right (south), disapproval.[552]

Source: Glossary of ancient Roman religion – Wikipedia


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  1. Tim B.


    The solicitation of formal auspices required the marking out of ritual space (auguraculum) from within which the augurs observed the templum, including the construction of an augural tent or hut (tabernaculum). There were three such sites in Rome: on the citadel (arx), on the Quirinal Hill, and on the Palatine Hill. Festus said that originally the auguraculum was in fact the arx. It faced east, situating the north on the augur’s left or lucky side.[25] A magistrate who was serving as a military commander also took daily auspices, and thus a part of camp-building while on campaign was the creation of a tabernaculum augurale. This augural tent was the center of religious and legal proceedings within the camp.[26] “

  2. Tim B.

    “According to Festus, there were five kinds of auspicia to which augurs paid heed: ex caelo, celestial signs such as thunder and lightning; ex avibus, signs offered by birds; ex tripudiis, signs produced by the actions of certain sacred chickens; ex quadrupedibus, signs from the behavior of four-legged animals; and ex diris, threatening portents.[41] In official state augury at Rome, only the auspicia ex caelo and ex avibus were employed.

    The taking of the auspices required ritual silence (silentium). Watching for auspices was called spectio or servare de caelo. The appearance of expected signs resulted in nuntiatio, or if they were unfavourable obnuntiatio. If unfavourable auspices were observed, the business at hand was stopped by the official observer, who declared alio die (“on another day”).[42] “

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