Volume 1: 1771 Edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica!
Augury, in antiquity, a species of divination, or the art of foretelling
future events, is distinguished into five sorts. 1. Augury from the
heavens. 2. From birds. 3. From chickens. 4. From quadrupeds.
5. From portentuous events. When an augury was taken, the augur divided
the heavens into four parts, and having sacrificed to the gods, he observed,
with great attention, from what part the sign from heaven appeared. If,
for instance, there happened a clap of thunder from the left, it was taken as a
good omen. If a flock of birds came about a man, it was favourable
presage; but the flight of vultures was unlucky. If, when corn was flung
before the sacred chickens, they crouded about it, and ate it greedily, it was
looked upon as a favourable omen; but if they refused to eat and drink, it was
an unlucky sign. See the article Divination.