A term deriving its name from the fact that the officials of the Roman state who were legally and constitutionally empowered to practice the art of divination for official purposes were called Augurs. The Roman College of Augurs, consisting eventually of 16 members, had as its function not to foretell the future but to discover by observation of signs (the flight of birds, the behavior of chickens, etc.) whether the gods did or did not approve a proposed action. Such signs could be accidental, such as the flight or cry of birds, or could be carefully studied, such as the manner in which domestic fowls pecked at their food.
See Also: divination.
Bibliography: h. j. rose, The Oxford Classical Dictionary 120. f. mÜller, Reallexikon für Antike und Christentum 1:975–980.
[t. a. brady]