Newnham College, Cambridge
This article explores the religious importance of Cicero's De Haruspicum Responso against the background of prodigy-handling in Republican Rome. Comparing the prodigy in question to an ‘auditory epiphany’, it argues that key issues raised by the speech include the nature of the divine voice, the relationship of the prodigious ‘rumbling and clattering’ to the gods themselves, and the ambiguous temporalities implied by Roman practices of divination. The article also suggests that De Haruspicum Responso proposes a significant overlap between religious and political speech, and it questions the radical split often assumed between the religious ideology of Cicero's philosophical and his more ‘public’ works.
* An early version of this paper was first given in 2001 at a conference on ancient divination in Philadelphia (organized by Sarah Iles Johnston and Peter Struck), and later at a seminar in Oxford, hosted by my much missed friend and ally Simon Price. I thank the audience and discussants on both occasions, and since then — especially — John North and Joyce Reynolds; as well as the Editor of the Journal, Greg Woolf, the Editorial Committee and the anonymous readers. Throughout this article I refer to Cicero's De Haruspicum Responso as ‘Har.’, with chapter number; and to the commentary by J. O. Lenaghan — A Commentary on Cicero's Oration De Haruspicum Responso (1969) — as ‘Lenaghan, Har.’. Quotations follow the text of the 1981 Teubner edition, by T. Maslowski.