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HARUSPEX
An Etruscan soothsayer, whose function it was to interpret the divine will from the entrails of sacrificial victims, to propitiate the anger of the gods as indicated by lightning or other marvels, and to interpret their significance according to Etruscan formulae. This art had long been practised in Etruria, and was referred to a divine origin. In the course of the republican era it found a home in the private and public life of the Romans, winning, its way as the native priesthoods, entrusted with similar functions, lost in repute. From the time of the kings to the end of the republic, haruspices were expressly summoned from Etruria by decrees of the senate on the occurrence of prodigies which were not provided for in the Pontifical and Sibylline books. Their business was to interpret the signs, to ascertain what deity demanded an expiation, and to indicate the nature of the necessary offering. It then lay with the priests of the Roman people to carry out their instructions. Their knowledge of the signs given by lightning was only applied in republican Rome for the purpose of averting the omen portended by the flash. (See PUTEAL.) But under the Empire it was also used for consulting the lightning, either keeping it off, or rawing, it down. From about the time of the Punic Wars, haruspices began to settle in Rome, and were employed both by private individuals and state officials to ascertain the divine will by examination of the liver, gall, heart, lungs, and caul of sacrificial victims. They were especially consulted by generals when going to war. Their science was generally held in high esteem, but the class of haruspices who took pay for their services did not enjoy so good a reputation. Claudius seems to have been the first emperor who instituted a regular collegium of Roman haruspices, consisting of sixty members of equestrian rank, and presided over by a haruspex maximus, for the regular service of the State. This collegium continued to exist till the beginning of the 5th century A.D.
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gutter splint