De divinatione

Online Latin Course

September 1st-November 1st, 2021


Divination in antiquity was very much a wide-spread practice for peoples throughout Europe and Asia, even to the point of shaping several crucial moments of ancient history. Efforts to do so happened in the interpretation of dreams and omens, signs in the heavens and in the entrails of sacrificial animals. Often these same viscera when too swollen or an ill-boding flight path of an eagle would prevent kings and generals from crossing a river or entering enemy territory. Likewise for a soothsayer whose words at times would prompt the sacrifice of innocent blood to placate the wrath of a god. Several emperors had men decapitated on the suspicion of conspiracy at the urging of an astrologer or sorcerer.


Over the centuries, philosophers of the major schools of thought questioned the methods and validity of divination: Stoics considered it to be a useful tool for discerning the divine design of the cosmos; Epicureans discounted the practice as pure superstition; those of the Academy and the Peripatetic school of thought on the other hand were more cautious and nuanced in their assessment of divination. Regardless of these divergent views, there is no doubt that divination in its array of languages and often disturbing images served as an apt vehicle to shed light on the unknown and its concomitant anxiety.


In this course, conducted entirely in Latin, we will explore several texts pertaining to divination in its various forms: haruspicy, the interpretation of dreams, astrology, augury, omens, inspiration, and divine possession. In addition to Cicero‘s De Divinatione and De Fato, we will touch upon the works of other ancient and modern authors who treated this theme including Manilius, Pliny, Apuleius, Marsilio Ficino, and Pico della Mirandola. The texts will be presented in five videos of an hour each, made available at the convenience of the viewer between September 1st and November 1st, 2021. We will also send you a printable packet with all the texts for the course.


To facilitate group interaction, there will also be an option to participate in three live seminars with our instructors and course participants. Each meeting will center on one of the themes for the course and will furnish you with an opportunity to converse with other participants and interact with them, even if virtually. In addition, optional exercises designed to refine conversational capacity with the language will be provided.




Schedule Topic
Wednesday, September 1st , 2021 17:00-18:15 CEST 
Divine Possession
Wednesday, September 22nd, 2021 17:00-18:15 CEST Dreams
Wednesday October 13th, 2021 17:00-18:15 CEST  Astrology





Video Topic
Schola prima Ancient Wisdom of the Etruscans
Schola altera “Omen accipio”
Schola tertia Omens in the Night
Schola quarta The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac
Schola quinta Wars, the Founding of Cities, and the Techniques of Augury


Registration deadline:

August 31st, 2021






    Paolo Pezzuolo

    Intended course audience

    Teachers, students and scholars of the ancient world.


    Online, using Zoom as a platform




    Intermediate or advanced

    Professional development credit

    At the end of the course, a certificate of participation will be issued.




    Once enrolled, you will be placed on the participants’ list and you will be sent an email with the necessary login information for your course.

    Lesson materials

    Lesson materials will be distributed during the lesson to deepen our exploration of the themes for the course.